Snow causes few problems in the Washington area

The biggest weather event of the winter so far ended up being rather puny.

Overnight flurries and sleet quickly became slush and ice by Saturday evening, making driving challenging and delaying commutes throughout the Washington region.

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But for the most part, Saturday went by like any normal winter day would — smoothly and nippily.

And that set Saturday apart. There was snow. That in itself is an oddity in this already odd winter, during which residents have enjoyed 60-degree weather five times.

Temperatures throughout Saturday hovered around freezing point, and up to an inch and a half of snow fell across the region, said The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

That’s nothing compared with two years ago, when a freak blizzard hurled 2 to 3 feet of snow along the East Coast.

Saturday’s storm dropped about 4 inches of snow on New York, Philadelphia and central New Jersey, while as much as 10 inches was expected in southeastern Massachusetts, the Associated Press reported.

Police across the Washington region received only a few calls and reported no major accidents related to the weather. Metro also reported no delays, although passengers on all five rail lines were affected by scheduled track work.

Runways for Reagan National and Dulles International airports were operational between Friday and Saturday, although several airlines delayed some flights and canceled about 10, said Kimberly Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Most disruptions occurred at school districts in the region. Most school systems canceled Saturday events in anticipation of the storm. Isolated power outages also occurred in the region, mainly in Anne Arundel County, according to utility Web sites.

Local officials said they were prepared for the storm. For example, on a tour of Montgomery County’s storm operations center near the Kentlands last week, officials had said they were anticipating snow within days.

Early Saturday morning, crews treated primary roads, bridges and overpasses in the city of Alexandria. Virtually all key highways in Maryland, Virginia and the District were pre-treated with ice-melting chemicals.

Staff at the two airports sanded runways. Gibbs said they would keep crews on site and on standby through early Sunday morning in case of further freezing.

At McPherson Square, Occupy D.C. protesters appeared to have some fun with Saturday’s wintriness. A message with letters more than 50 feet long appeared on a field of snow near the powder-covered tents: “Occupy 99%.”

The region still has to brace for more icy weather this weekend. Sleet and light freezing rain may fall Sunday afternoon.

But temperatures will pick up by Monday. That means residents would have escaped relatively unscathed from what the National Climate Date Center has historically considered the coldest period in the region — Jan. 12 to Jan. 23.

Then again, anything can happen. Snowmaggedon in 2010 started less than a week into that February.

For now, the Capital Weather Gang says the region will likely see showers and temperatures reaching close to 60 degrees on Monday. So enjoy the warm(ish), wet weather. Break out the shorts.

Staff reporters Ashley Halsey III, Dana Hedgpeth and Patricia Sullivan; Capital Weather Gang forecaster Ian Livingston; and Capital Weather Gang meteorologists Jason Samenow and Dan Stillman contributed to this report.

 
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