Got Milk? And Bread and Shovels?

Seemingly unmindful of predictions of rough weather, horses graze on farmland in Jefferson. Humans, however, flocked to stores for food, shovels, videos and other such snowed-in staples.
Seemingly unmindful of predictions of rough weather, horses graze on farmland in Jefferson. Humans, however, flocked to stores for food, shovels, videos and other such snowed-in staples. (By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)

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By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 12, 2006

Winter reasserted itself over metropolitan Washington yesterday in the form of a powerful nor'easter that was forecast to yield the region's heaviest snow in three years.

The storm sent residents racing to stores to stock up on supplies and shovels after an unseasonably warm January. In logistical terms, however, the timing could not have been better.

The snow swept in lazily yesterday afternoon and was expected to depart by midday today, giving residents ample time to dig out before the start of the workweek. Airlines canceled scores of flights. But schools and most workplaces were already closed, and it was too soon for most to make decisions for tomorrow.

The storm formed Friday over the Gulf of Mexico and swung into the deep South, bringing thunder to Alabama and Georgia and snow to the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. It was forecast to bring a total of six to 10 or more inches of snow to the Washington region, a bit less toward the Atlantic coast and in Western Maryland.

As of 10 p.m. yesterday, reports to the National Weather Service ranged from four inches in Fairfax City to two inches at Camp Springs and less than an inch at Reagan National Airport. Most main roads glistened with moisture, but some were slush-streaked; medians were white.

Fine-tuning its forecast, the Weather Service said at 10 that the heaviest snow would fall along the Interstate 95 corridor between Virginia and Baltimore.

Snow flurries might continue through this morning, giving way to "a little peek of sunshine in the afternoon," Jackie Hale, a Weather Service spokeswoman said earlier. "There should be some accumulation of snow out there, but hopefully by Monday morning, the roads will be nice and clean -- unfortunately -- for them to get back to work," she joked.

The core of the storm was expected to push today into New York and Boston, "and they'll have it worse than us, both in terms of precipitation and wind, because the storm will be deeper, stronger, as it gets further northeast," said Brandon Peloquin, a Weather Service meteorologist.

Numerous airlines, including U.S. Airways, Delta, American Eagle, United, Continental and American, canceled flights, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. American canceled more than 400 flights along the East Coast, from Boston and Rhode Island to the Washington area, spokesman Tim Wagner said. Delta was canceling today's arrivals and departures in the same region, according to the Associated Press.

"We are expected to have eight to 10 inches of accumulation," Wagner said yesterday. "The biggest factors [in canceling flights] were the wind gusts expected this evening."

He said American flights would resume at the three Washington area airports after 4 p.m. today. On Friday, American initiated a policy allowing passengers "to change any flight until the 13th without a change fee or extra costs," Wagner said.

Metro officials were preparing yesterday for slight bus delays, but trains were not expected to be affected unless more than eight inches fell.

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