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Washington area largely spared from snow; travel up and down East Coast affected

A thick layer of snow has been falling across much of the coast, stranding thousands of airline, train and bus passengers and making motorists think twice about hitting after-Christmas sales.

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Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, December 27, 2010; 2:53 PM

The East Coast struggled to recover Monday from a massive storm that merely brushed Washington but dumped double-digit snowfalls across New England and shut down holiday travel.

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Numerous passengers stranded overnight at Washington area airports sought to rebook their flights after widespread cancellations. Airports in New York and New Jersey remained closed, but the Federal Aviation Administration reported that they were expected to reopen by Monday evening.

Bus travel north from the District to Philadelphia and New York was mostly canceled. Operators planned to resume service Tuesday.

Amtrak officials restored holiday service between New York and Boston on Monday morning after the heavy snow shut down service Sunday. Spokesman Steve Kulm said some service from Washington to New York was being delayed and canceled because equipment was snowed under in New York.

The Washington region avoided the blizzard that blanketed many other areas, from nearly two feet in Brooklyn to at least eight inches in Bethany Beach. Instead, area residents saw hours of flurries result in virtually no accumulation.

Elsewhere, heavy snow and high winds forced many people to change their plans for returning home from holiday travel. Roads were impassable. Flights could not take off. Most buses and trains were canceled, and seats on others filled quickly.

Kulm said Amtrak was seeing "a heavy passenger volume" because of the airline cancellations.

Monday morning brought frigid temperatures and strong winds in the Washington area. Downed wires caused power outages for about 10,000 households and even sparked fires in Northwest Washington. No injuries were reported.

Motorists encountered the occasional dark traffic signal and debris in the roadways.

Dan Stillman of The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang said expected highs are near 30.

The good news, Stillman said, is that a warming trend is expected as the week wears on, with the possibility of hitting the 50s by the New Year's weekend.

The federal government was operating on a normal schedule Monday.

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