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Snow in the Washington area is minimal, but everyone knows it's windy

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 28, 2010; 12:59 AM

Sunday was snowy - just not so much in Washington. But Monday was windy, and the wind was right here, stinging faces, flinging trash cans and causing some damage.

It appeared late Monday that the day qualified as the year's windiest, based on average wind speed.

"Steady 40-50 mph gusts covered the region today," National Weather Service forecasters said in an online discussion of the day's forecast.

At Reagan National Airport, the peak wind speed Monday was 37 mph, with a peak gust of 55 mph, figures matched or exceeded only once since early August.

The average wind speed through the entire day was 22 miles an hour, and compared with 20.3 for the January day that appeared to be Monday's windiness rival.

"Today I put on long johns, just to walk to and from the car to the grocery store," read a comment on The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang site. "It is brutal out there."

The temperature was below freezing for much of the morning, and 40-mph gusts made it seem even frostier.

The "nasty thing is all this darned wind," read another comment on the Weather Gang site.

The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department dealt with "a lot of weather-related issues," spokesman Pete Piringer said. On H Street NE, part of a roof on a building under contruction collapsed, he said.

Piringer said the collapse in the 1200 block of H Street occurred amid "strong wind."

Strong wind apparently brought down trees, branches and electrical wires.

Wires fell at 42nd and Warren streets, energizing a chain-link fence and igniting a wooden stockade fence, Piringer said.

In the Palisades area of Northwest, grass and bushes caught fire Monday morning after electrical wires came down on Manning Place NW. Within two hours or so after the foliage fire was extinguished, Piringer said, a fire was reported in a house there.

Piringer said authorities were looking into the possibility that the fire was of electrical origin and related to the fallen wires. He added that no cause had been established.

Although snow totals in the immediate Washington area were meager, some snow did fall. At Reagan National Airport, the official total for Sunday was four-tenths of an inch. The figure is paltry compared with totals in New York and New Jersey, but it brought the total for the month through Sunday to 2.1 inches, according to the weather service.

That is almost twice the normal December total through Monday.

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