As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang had increased the amounts of snow it expected to fall, predicting that five to 10 inches could come down inside the Capital Beltway, with more in Fairfax County and to the west.
By early Wednesday, snow had moved northeast into Fairfax County. The Office of Personnel Management decided shortly before 4 a.m. to close all federal offices in the D.C. area for the day. Major school systems — the District of Columbia and Alexandria, and Arlington, Fauquier, Fairfax and Prince William counties in Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George’s County in Maryland — announced that they would be closed Wednesday. Arlington County government offices and courts are also closed. (Find more closings here.)
Airlines canceled hundreds of flights even before the first flake fell, and air travel in the region figured to be snarled for at least a couple of days. Business gatherings were cut short so people could fly home Tuesday, and many meetings scheduled for Wednesday were called off over concern that no one could fly in to attend.
Metro canceled its paratransit service and cautioned that there might be delays in bus and rail service if the storm’s worst-case scenario plays out.
That winter’s days seemed numbered was foretold by the high temperatures predicted for Thursday and the days to follow: 45, 47, 53, 57, 58, 55, 58, 63. This big snowfall would not lie around for days, like the massive storms two years ago, and its true threat may be in flooding by the weekend.
It could be the worst winter weather to wax the Washington region since the onset of an era when snowstorms are elevated to the stature of hurricanes and given names.
The people charged with making snow go away urged people not to drive until the roads are passable.
“Let our crews clear the roads,” said Branco Vlacich of the Virginia Department of Transportation, which sent out 4,000 salt trucks and plows in Northern Virginia. “Roads likely will be treacherous at times.”
In the District, clear sidewalks also were a priority.
“We urge commercial and residential property owners to clear their sidewalks of snow within 24 hours after the storm ends,” said William O. Howland Jr., director of the D.C. Department of Public Works. “We need property owners to handle the sidewalks so pedestrians can travel safely.”
Even as the region enjoyed temperatures close to 50 degrees on a sunny Tuesday, airlines were busy canceling flights at the major airports — Reagan National, Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International Marshall.