The second mini-snowstorm of the week dusted the Washington area yesterday, complicating the evening rush hour by causing traffic snarls and a number of minor accidents.
Other slight complications were felt at National Airport, where runways were shut down for a half-hour starting about 2:30 p.m. for snow removal.
By midevening, between one and three inches of snow had fallen on various parts of the area, and the National Weather Service reported that no further significant amount was expected.
Today's weather is expected to be partly sunny, with the high between 30 and 35 degrees. Tonight, it will be mostly clear, with lows of 15 to 20 degrees. Friday's forecast calls for partly sunny weather, with a high of 35 to 40 degrees. Temperatures yesterday climbed to the high 20s.
By midday, the Washington branch of the American Automobile Association had logged 1,300 calls, or about twice the usual number, said spokesman Norman Grimm. Most were for dead car batteries, but some were for towing or frozen car locks, he said.
About a dozen accidents involving Metrobuses were reported, but none was considered serious and there were no major injuries, according to Metro spokeswoman Marilyn Dicus.
"That's a lot," she said. "We usually have only a handful if the roads are clear and the weather is good." Bus service in some areas ran an hour behind schedule, Dicus said.
The Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation had an estimated 200 employes operating snow-removal equipment in the northern part of the state by midafternoon.
At National Airport, operations duty officer Russell Crum noted that when the main runway is shut down for plowing and sanding, the other two that cross it, have to be closed, too. "It's a domino effect," he said.
The District began mobilizing its snow equipment at 11 a.m., salting the bridges first because they are most vulnerable to freezing. By 3 p.m., 80 to 85 trucks were on the streets, plowing and spreading salt.
In Virginia, some after-school activities were canceled, and some students who live in the outer counties were sent home early.
None of the D.C. schools was forced to close early yesterday, although children in special education classes were sent home at 1:45 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., a spokeswoman said. There was no early closing for federal government workers, either, according to Ed Shell, a government spokesman.
Prince George's County students were scheduled to attend only a half-day of classes to allow for parent-teacher conferences. In Montgomery County, schoolchildren were sent home one hour early.
At the Piney Branch Elementary School in Takoma Park, the elation at being released early caused a spontaneous snowball fight among school patrol members.
It lasted until Principal Robert Hatchel reminded them of their responsibilities: "School patrols are not supposed to throw snowballs," he yelled.