A Very Messy Winter Medley

A winter storm settled over the Washington area late in the morning of Jan. 17, bringing big, white flakes to the metro area.
By Dan Morse and Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 18, 2008

A winter storm dumped as much as six inches of sticky snow in the Washington region yesterday, causing some schools to let out early and touching off dozens of collisions as commuters rushed home to try to beat the weather.

In Loudoun County alone, officials reported 67 accidents from 11 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. In Prince George's County, at the peak of the storm, Interstate 95 was closed in both directions for about an hour because of a downed utility cable.

And Metrobus cut, limited or ran detours on about eight routes, most of them in Northern Virginia, officials said.

Today should be better. Rush-hour temperatures are expected to be above freezing in most areas, with a projected high of 48 in the District, said Ken Reeves, a senior meteorologist with Accu-Weather.

Officials said snowplows and salt trucks will work through the night, looking for icy patches to melt and preparing the roads for today's commute.

No serious injuries or fatalities were immediately attributed to yesterday's weather. And the temperature climbed slightly late in the afternoon, turning snow into rain and improving road conditions. Still, there were problems.

"They're actually trying to pass snowplows, which is not a good idea," Virginia State Police spokesman Deborah Cox said of drivers.

Maryland State Police Sgt. M. McGuire said troopers from the College Park barracks were handling five times as many wrecks as usual. "People are just in a hurry," McGuire said. "They think they can go as fast as they always do."

School systems throughout the region canceled after-school activities, and some dismissed students early.

In Loudoun, 10,400 customers lost power about 4:30 p.m., said Le-Ha Anderson, a spokeswoman for Dominion Virginia Power. In the Herndon and Great Falls area, about 2,400 customers lost power a short time later, Anderson said. About 2,400 customers remained without power at 9:30 p.m.

She said that both incidents appeared to be weather-related and that she expected power to be fully restored by last night.

Yesterday's storm was caused by relatively mild air trying to push its way in from the south and running into cold air, Reeves said.

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