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Sun helps Washington area get on feet after storms, but road clearing criticized

After two recent snowstorms closed the federal government and schools across the region, people began digging out. The season's snow tally in D.C. reached 55.6 inches Wednesday -- more than the last record of 54.4 inches, set in 1898-99.

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By Ashley Halsey III
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 12, 2010

The Washington region wobbled to its feet Thursday as mass transit and commerce lurched back to life after a record-breaking blizzard, and officials pleaded for patience from frustrated prisoners of some unplowed residential streets.

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Although many roads remained treacherous, snowplows and rising temperatures made pavement visible on major arteries for the first time in days. Some bus service resumed on about four dozen Metro routes and two Circulator routes. Planes began flying out of the area's three airports, and Amtrak said service would be "close to normal" Friday.

The federal government announced that it will reopen Friday with a two-hour delay for its several hundred thousand workers.

Metro restored some aboveground service Thursday and said only nine stations will be closed when trains start up at 5 a.m. Friday.

But officials said they did not expect to know until Friday morning whether the rest will resume in time for the morning commute. About 4,000 homes and businesses remained without power at the end of the day.

Most schools and local governments will be closed Friday. Arlington County was one of the few to announce that its county and court offices will be open, although employees can take unscheduled leave.

More snow is predicted for Monday. But on Thursday, the sun shone brightly, and melting snow dripped onto sidewalks sprinkled with salt. Alexandria authorities warned of falling icicles.

The wet snow caused more roof collapses, but no injuries were reported. Canopies that shelter boats at an Anacostia yacht club collapsed, damaging 11 of them.

Around Frederick, police and rescue workers spent the day trying to reach vehicles that skidded into snowbanks Wednesday. Some motorists had abandoned their cars. Some spent the night inside. At one point, rescue workers were trying to get to 39 cars.

Late Thursday night, rescuers were still trying to reach the last of those vehicles, but they thought that it was empty. Then it was on to the next job: calls of six additional cars stranded behind Mount St. Mary's College in the northern part of the county.

Mail is delivered

In many neighborhoods, a sense of purpose prevailed as residents ventured outside to shovel out their buried cars and resume a semblance of a normal life. Post offices were open and mail was delivered on passable streets; supermarkets started to replenish shelves; and some stores were back in business.

"On the first day, it was fun to drink and play board games with friends," Tiffany Williams, a social worker, said as she did office work on her laptop at an Adams Morgan coffeehouse. "But after that, you really want to get back to your life."

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