The area's first major storm of the year, which left four inches of snow here Sunday night, has moved to the north and turned rambunctious, dumping a foot of snow in some sections of Massachusetts and up to 14 inches in upstate New York.
The storm, which formed Sunday near Cape Hatteras, N.C., has caused at least two highway deaths--one in upstate New York yesterday and the other in North Carolina Sunday. No deaths in the D.C. area were reported as a result of the storm, and the snow caused only limited inconvenience to commuters yesterday, mostly in upper Northwest Washington.
Motorists zipped to work yesterday morning from Virginia and Maryland on virtually any bridge or highway of their choice, police reported. But when they reached upper Connecticut and Wisconsin avenues and Reno Road, many were delayed up to 45 minutes by residue from the storm. Like harried winter commuters everywhere, they were treated to the buzz-saw sound of spinning tires and the sight of cars floating in slow motion across crowded intersections.
The reason for the problem in upper Northwest is that that area is the highest point in the city, city road officials said. The temperature was just low enough there to glaze roadways while other, lower areas posed no problem. While downtown is near sea level, the highest point in town--Fort Reno near Wisconsin Avenue--is 410 feet above sea level.
City officials said they waited until midnight Sunday, long after snow had started accumulating on the pavement, to begin sanding and salting major arteries in the District because weather forecasts had held out hope for rain that would have at least partially cleared the streets. But the rain never came, and city workers went out in force to begin the clean-up job before rush hour began. They continued to dump snow-melting materials until the rush hour, spreading 200 tons of material, according to Al Perkins, deputy assistant director of the city's Department of Transportation.
Some motorists reported a hectic trip to work that in some cases required more than twice the usual time to negotiate.
"My Irish temper just got up," said Jerri Hoffman of Alexandria, who said she counted 52 cars stranded at odd angles along Reno Road yesterday. Her trip from downtown to her office in Bethesda usually takes 20 minutes, but yesterday it took an hour and a half, she said. "I was a nervous wreck when I got to the office. I went through every red light because I was afraid to stop."
A 7:10 a.m. four-car accident on I-295 near Suitland Parkway stalled one lane of inbound traffic briefly. Icy patches on New York Avenue NE and potholes on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge also caused problems, city officials said.
Several stalled Metro buses delayed traffic, Metro and city officials said, in the Glover Park area of Northwest, on the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, in the Dominion Hills section of Arlington and the Pimmit Hills area of Fairfax, among other places.
Weather officials said temperatures are expected to remain above freezing today, and foresaw no delays for commuters.
There were literally hundreds of fender-bender accidents in the region, but the only serious mishap reported occurred in Annandale. Four people were injured when a car skidded on an icy road into the path of a county school bus on Dearborn Drive, Fairfax County police said.
The car's driver, Anthony Zyvoloski, 18, of 6079 Brook Dr., Falls Church, was charged with failure to maintain proper control of his car. Two 17-year-old passengers on the bus and two passengers in Zyvoloski's car were treated at Northern Virginia Doctors Hospital, police said.
Public schools were closed in Montgomery and five other Maryland counties yesterday: Frederick, Howard, Baltimore, Carroll and Harford. Most public schools in Northern Virginia remained open, but schools in Loudoun and Prince William counties were closed. Public schools in the District opened on time.