Sandwiched between the thick white snow layer underfoot and the heavy white cloud layer overhead, most Washington area residents were able to venture out of their homes yesterday to enjoy Day 2 of a surprise three-day weekend.
For some, however, yesterday was among the busiest of workdays.
"It's been a zoo," said Cathy Chauvette, librarian in charge at Fairfax County's George Mason Regional Library, which was inundated with cabin-fevered bibliophiles.
"They get crazy from being cooped up," Chauvette said as patrons stripped the shelves around her of current novels, favorite classics and videos, cleaning out everything from Michener tomes to the ever-popular tape "How to Hang a Door."
"It's amazing. All the old dogs that usually never move are off the shelf," Chauvette said as she watched the lines at the checkout desk stretch to double their usual Saturday afternoon length.
Nearby, employees at Erol's Video Club in Arlington braced for a repeat of the storm of film buffs that wiped the shelves clean Thursday night, as people prepared for Friday's snow.
"You will probably see organized chaos," assistant manager Jack Resch said as the store readied for the evening rush.
Friday's snowstorm dropped up to nine inches of powder across the metropolitan area, shutting down governments, businesses and schools. As the flakes fell, the Arlington Erol's, the largest local store in the chain, rented 3,700 tapes, a quarter of its inventory, Resch said.
"No one went to work but everyone came to rent movies," he said.
The National Weather Service yesterday predicted chilly sunshine for today, with a high in the mid-30s, said forecaster George Maglaras. Forecasters are expecting partly cloudy weather and temperatures in the 30s on Monday and Tuesday, with a chance of precipitation on Wednesday. Overnight lows are expected to reach down to the teens on Monday and the 20s on Tuesday and Wednesday, Maglaras said.
As yesterday's temperatures rose to a high of 31 degrees at National Airport at 3:30 p.m., hibernators focused on indoor entertainment.
"Just about anything with Sylvester Stallone" was moving at Erol's, as were popular action films such as "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and the "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" series, Resch said.
"People will rent just about anything" in a blizzard, he said. The exceptions? Educational and exercise videos.
Bookworms were buying "everything and anything" at the Crown Books in Cleveland Park, said manager Bob Peebles as he restocked the shelves. "I guess it's cabin fever."
Across the street at the Cleveland Park branch of the D.C. Public Library, Janet Lieberman had selected three books on film after returning the books and movies she checked out on Friday. "I like to curl up with a good book on a cold day," she said.
Up the block, the Potomac Video Center Inc. was doing a brisk business, to the frustration of some customers. "It seems everything I ask for, they are out of," said Nancy Fiedler, who said her taste tends toward the classics and foreign and cult films.
The selection was ample enough to satisfy those with time to peruse. Patsy McGovern said she was disappointed to find "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" out, and "Bringing Up Baby" not yet released on tape. "Roman Holiday" and "Little Women" would have to do.
Fiedler kept looking. "All I've been doing is reading, eating and watching," she said.