Despite their reputation as being spineless when it comes to weather, Washington area residents got up yesterday morning, saw snow on the ground, and, with few exceptions, went about business as usual.
The storm, it turned out, was better in anticipation than precipitation, leaving behind only two inches of snow before it blew out to sea yesterday morning. Most schools opened an hour or two late, but only a few in the area, all of them outer counties, took a day off.
Law enforcement agencies for the District, Maryland and Virginia reported only minor traffic accidents caused by the wet roads. State police said highways were clear and there were no major delays yesterday.
Metro officials said there were no weather-related accidents or equipment problems.
The night before, however, it was only the faithful who braved the flurries to show up at Dosie York's jazzercise class in College Park. Just an inch of snow on the ground was excuse enough for most of the class of 50 to skip an hour of jumping and sweating in the American Legion Hall.
"Even if it's raining, people won't come," said York of the exercise class she has taught for four years. " . . . Even if there's something big on TV, like 'The Thornbirds.' "
While the faint of heart stayed home by the fire Thursday night, the storm came and went without fury, disappointing children who wanted schools to close. Among public school systems in the Washington area, only Charles, Frederick and Stafford counties did not open yesterday.
"The back country roads were nothing but sheer ice," said Joseph Shifflette, director of transportation for Charles County. Some school buses in the county set out Friday morning but were instructed to turn back when rural roads remained icy even at midmorning, Shifflette said.
According to the National Weather Service, the flurries that began in the late afternoon Thursday left two inches of snow in most of the metropolitan area by the time they ended around 8 a.m. Friday.
The low-pressure center that brought the precipitation to this area has, weather officials said, moved into the North Atlantic. And for the immediate future, no more snow is expected. The weather service predicts that temperatures will reach only to the low 30s Saturday and slightly higher, from 35 to 40, on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the country, brutal temperatures continued to plague the Northeast, ice-clogged rivers flooded the Midwest, Texas braced for snow and Michigan requested disaster aid.
Shelters for the homeless in New York and Boston were overflowing, while in Washington, the Community for Creative Non-Violence reported that the number of homeless seeking shelter was up slightly, to about 800, Thursday night.
Locally, there were other problems. About 250 homes in a Charles County subdivision were without water most of yesterday and Thursday afternoon, according to residents there.
"You can't cook . . . . Last night we ate TV dinners. Right now, I've got a sink full of dirty dishes," said Lloyd Groves, a resident of Strawberry Hills Estates in western Charles County.
A spokesman for Potomac Utilities, which services the development, said the problem was caused by a pipe that broke in the cold weather. He said water service was restored yesterday afternoon.
While the snow has inconvenienced some, it has delighted others.
"We had one youngster who just arrived from Long Beach, Calif. This was his first snowfall," said Rennie Quible, principal at Chillum Elementary School, where more than a quarter of the students are foreign-born.
The snow, she said, is "interesting and bewildering" to the immigrant students from Southeast Asia and Africa, many of whom resist wearing stockings with their native sandles, even in the snow.