Area Gets a Coating But Dodges Trouble

In a foggy mist of light snow, crew teams row past a parallel line of ducks and East Potomac Park. The snow fell most of the day but posed few problems.
In a foggy mist of light snow, crew teams row past a parallel line of ducks and East Potomac Park. The snow fell most of the day but posed few problems. (By Jacquelyn Martin -- Associated Press)
By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 8, 2007

A fast-moving storm system left a light coating of snow on the Washington region yesterday, causing slick roads and school closures, but little of the wide-scale disruption that winter weather often brings here.

The first flakes fell before 8 a.m., and the shower seemed to peak in mid-afternoon. In general, meteorologists said, the snow was heaviest to the west and north of the District: The National Weather Service reported snowfall totals of eight inches in Cumberland, Md., and 10 inches in Frostburg, Md., to the northwest. In the metropolitan area, two inches fell in Vienna, 1.4 inches in Sterling, and 1.3 at Reagan National Airport.

It was all over by early evening. David Manning, a meteorologist with the Weather Service office in Sterling, said this was the typical pattern of an Alberta Clipper, a kind of low-snow snowstorm that forms over the prairie provinces of Canada.

"They bring us a quick shot of snow, and then they're out of here," he said.

Temperatures stayed below freezing all day -- reaching highs of 30 degrees at Dulles International Airport and 28 at National. But in many places, snowflakes melted on contact with warmer surfaces such as roads and sidewalks. Around the White House, for instance, the grass of Lafayette Square had a powdered-sugar dusting, but surrounding streets were clear.

Some school systems, including those in Anne Arundel, Howard, Fauquier, Frederick and Loudoun counties, closed for the day because of concerns about slippery roads. Schools also closed early yesterday across Southern Maryland, in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties. But most Washington area schools kept to their normal schedules.

School officials said they planned to reevaluate road conditions before deciding whether to open schools today.

The snow was blamed for a series of minor traffic accidents yesterday morning. Preparing for a nasty evening rush hour, road crews in Maryland, Virginia and the District sent out crews to spread salt or brine on the roads.

What followed was a wet, but otherwise fairly normal, evening commute.

"Mother Nature is cooperating in that she is dropping the precipitation slowly,'' Erik Linden, spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, said during the day. "It's giving our crews the chance to get out in front of the snow sticking to the roadways.''

Yesterday afternoon, flight operations at Dulles, National and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall airports were running normally, with no weather-related delays. Still, because weather might have caused delays in other cities, airport officials recommended that travelers contact their airlines before heading to the airport for a flight.

The forecast for today was clear and slightly warmer in the D.C. area, with highs in the 40s and lows around 20 overnight. The Weather Service said highs could reach the 50s by this weekend, with a chance of rain.

There is no more snow in the forecast.

Staff writer Eric Weiss contributed to this report.

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