Snow Covers US Capital Causing Delays for School, Work, and Travel

A winter storm packing heavy snow blew into the nation’s capital Monday, closing government offices and schools and grounding the president’s helicopter as 6 to 11 inches (15 to 28 centimetres) of snow ringed the area around Washington.

Snow spotters for the National Weather Service reported accumulations of 11.5 inches (29.2 centimetres) in the D.C. suburb of Capitol Heights, Maryland, and 10 inches (25.4 centimetres) in Rose Hill, Virginia, by the time the storm wound down Monday afternoon. At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, 6.7 inches (17 centimetres) of snow was reported. Farther south, in Chancellorsville, Virginia, 12.1 inches (30.7 centimetres) was reported.

The heavy snowfall, coupled with closings caused by the surge in coronavirus cases, forced much of Washington to shut down. Four of the Smithsonian museums had already closed in late December due to a COVID-19 outbreak, and the National Zoo announced Monday that it would close for the day because of the snow.

Strong wind gusts and snow falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimetres) per hour made travel treacherous. In Virginia, state police responded to more than 500 traffic accidents, including a crash involving six tractor-trailers. State police said no injuries were reported in the crash.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a snow emergency and advised residents to stay home.

“Stay off the roads and allow our crews to work,” she said.

President Joe Biden made a slow return to Washington after spending about a week in Delaware, though he could have departed Sunday to avoid the worst of the weather.

The snow grounded Biden’s helicopter, so he motorcades to the White House from Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, a slow slog that took nearly an hour. The White House Press briefing was cancelled, although Biden’s other public events were still on.

More than half the flights were delayed or cancelled Monday at Washington’s three major airports, according to FlightAware.com’s misery map. A quarter of the flights at New York’s three major airports were delayed or cancelled as well.

Many COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites were closed in D.C., Virginia and in Maryland due to the weather. Multiple school districts in the region also said they would be closed, delayed or have virtual learning Monday.

Other parts of the country were also dealing with a snowy start to the new year.

Western Washington state and Oregon were seeing a mix of rain and snow while heavy snow, gusty winds, drifts and crashes shut down mountain passes and some highways.

Even Florida woke up to a dusting of snow, with temperatures plunging in parts of the Panhandle after typical beach weather Sunday.

The storm also damaged the docks and flooded closed several streets in the coastal North Carolina town of Morehead City, WITN-TV reported.

As much as 6 inches (15 centimetres) of snow accumulated in north Alabama, where authorities reported multiple roads were blocked because of icy spots and wrecks.


This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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