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Live updates: Winter storm hits East Coast

February 13, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: Snow falls in front of the U.S. Capitol building on February 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. The east coast was hit with a winter snow storm with the Washington area expecting up to 8 inches of snow before it ends. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Snow falls in front of the U.S. Capitol building on Feb. 13, 2014. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A winter storm dropped several inches of snow around Washington overnight. The winter weather continues Thursday, with the storm expected impacting Washington and spots all along the East Coast. We’re bringing you the latest updates here.

(For the latest forecasts, head to the Capital Weather Gang’s liveblog.)

  • Emma Brown
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Another blast of snow is moving through the Washington region, but the worst appears to be behind us. We’re winding down our live coverage, but here are some other resources for more information about the storm:

Stay with the Capital Weather Gang for the latest updates on tonight’s snow and tomorrow’s forecast.

Here is the Post’s most up-to-date story on the ongoing storm, as well as our photo gallery of the snowed-in city and a map of snowfall totals across the region and

Friday’s Closings and delays.

  • Emma Brown
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Trucks plow snow, ice and rain water on 23rd street with the Lincoln Memorial seen behind. (EPA/Michael Reynolds)

Trucks plow snow, ice and rain water on 23rd street with the Lincoln Memorial seen behind. (EPA/Michael Reynolds)

Tara Bahrampour reports:

Across the Washington metro area, the fact that there was so much advance warning of this storm helped seniors and the organizations that serve them. Although most adult day care facilities remained closed and many routine medical appointments were cancelled, municipal and non-profit organizations said they had made sure older residents had meals or shelf-stable food delivered in advance, and many were calling at-risk seniors at home to make sure they were all right.

Across the region, aging service departments said they had not heard of any seniors lacking power or heat, and crisis phone lines remained largely quiet.

“Most services know how to plan for inclement weather,” said John Thompson, executive director of the District’s Office on Aging, adding that no seniors had called in with emergency situations. “What we’re getting calls for now is snow removal.”

Crisis hotlines in Fairfax and Montgomery Counties were also calm.

“We’ve been very lucky with this storm in that three are no power outages that I’m aware of,” said Sharon Lynn, director of the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. She added that most older people have a plan in place for when their home aides are unable to arrive.

Mary Anderson, a spokesperson for Montgomery County Health and Human Services, said the dearth of calls may be attributable to the area’s rise in senior villages, neighborhood organizations that help older residents with household tasks and transportation. The county also has a shelter-in-place plan for home care clients, which makes sure they have necessary items at home such as flashlights.

  • Emma Brown
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The National Weather Forecast is warning people in the greater Washington and Baltimore areas not to travel unless absolutely necessary because of a band of heavy snow east of the Blue Ridge.

The NWS says in a statement:


In most parts of the region, today’s sleet and freezing rain has given way again to snow, according to NWS forecasters, who agree with the Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow: The heaviest snow is likely to fall along and east of Interstate 95.

Click here for a map of snowfall totals around the region so far.

  • Emma Brown
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Reagan National Airport reopened its main runway Thursday at 5:05 p.m. after working for hours to dig out from the storm that buried the Washington region.

Dulles International Airport reopened one of its runways shortly after 12:30 Thursday, but it is likely to be a long time before flights are back to normal.

Air travel has been a nightmarish experience for many passengers over the last two days, with hundreds of flights cancelled in the Washington area — and more than 6,700 flights canceled nationwide — on Thursday alone.

The Post’s Debbi Wilgoren filed this dispatch from Reagan National shortly before the first flight took off:

Gate 28 at National Airport’s main terminal was crowded at 4:30 Thursday, but just about every other gate in sight was totally deserted.

American Airlines Flight 1575 was the only one to Chicago that had not been canceled. Gate attendants told the passengers the airport was set to open a runway at 5 pm, and the flight, scheduled for 5:20, might just leave on time.

When the flight crew arrived about an hour before the scheduled departure, the passengers started to cheer.

Many of those at the gate were hunched over laptops or smartphones, trying to book seats after having their original flights canceled. Others were speaking in quiet, urgent tones with gate attendants, asking whether they were likely to land a coveted standby seat on Flight 1575.

Among the luckier ones were Terri Grimes, of Freeport, Ill., and Matt Bordner, of the tiny town of Dakota, Ill., population 500. Grimes, an official at Highland Community College and Bordner, a sophomore there, had come to Washington for a conference of the Association of Community College Trustees. It was Bordner’s first trip to Washington, and first time on an airplane.

Terri Grimes, of Freeport, Ill., and Matt Bordner, of the town of Dakota, Ill., population 500.  (Courtesy Isaac Silber)

Terri Grimes, of Freeport, Ill., and Matt Bordner, of the town of Dakota, Ill., population 500. (Courtesy Isaac Silber)

Because of the weather, they arrived at the airport hours early on Thursday, and watched the electronic boards nervously as flight after flight was delayed or canceled.

“It’s crazy to see all the cancellations, and then ours is the only one on schedule,” said Bordner, 19.

  • Emma Brown
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Update 5:45 p.m.:

Robbie’s owners decided that they would put the 31-year-old horse down, Lynh Bui reports.

“Showing no signs of improvement and not being able to stand on his own, the owner and a vet made a very difficult decision to euthanize the horse earlier this afternoon,” according to a statement from the Prince George’s fire and rescue department.

Lynh Bui’s earlier report:

About four hours after Prince George’s County firefighters were first called to help rescue a horse from the snow in Springdale, “Robbie” still hasn’t stood up on his back legs, officials said.

When firefighters last checked at about 2 p.m., the family was trying to decide whether or not to put the 31-year-old horse down, county fire spokesman Mark Brady said. The family has been consulting several vets and even got help from the mounted unit of the U.S. Park Police.

“They’re giving the horse as much time as possible to get feeling back in its legs and maybe stand up,” Brady said. “When a horse lies on its side for an extended period, it develops some circulation problems.”

Earlier in the day firefighters helped rig a system to try to lift the horse up after heavy snow trapped it in a barn. But after a while, Robbie stopped making attempts to stand up, Brady said. The horse was eating some straw out of the bed the family made with help from firefighters. Robbie was left in a seated position as rescue crews left.

“Certainly the firefighters have personal concern for the horse and family and they’ll check in on them a little bit later on this evening,” Brady said.

  • Emma Brown
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Prepare for another wallop: Conditions are going to deteriorate over the next hour and we could be in for another one to four inches of snow, Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow reports:

The very heavy band of precipitation south of the District, which may contain thunder, is heading north. Reports are that it’s initially a mixed bag of sleet and rain but transitions to more snow as time wears on. Rain and sleet changed back to snow in Richmond.

Virginia Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) offers a peek of current conditions in Richmond:

  • Emma Brown
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Shawna DeWitt, an organic farmer and a doula who lives in Loudoun County, had a feeling Wednesday night. Two of her clients were due this week. She told one pregnant woman, half-jokingly: Don’t do it. And as she went to bed, she thought, “Oh please not tonight. Please not tonight.”

The other woman, sure enough, called from Washington at 3 a.m. Thursday morning: She was going into labor.


DeWitt got up, got dressed, and got ready to drive from western Loudoun to the District to help coach the woman through childbirth. She figured she could be there in two hours, maybe.

Her husband plowed the long dirt road from their house in Neersville out to the road, only to discover that the main road hadn’t been touched. It was buried in snow. Meanwhile, the pregnant woman sending updates about what should have been a 15-minute drive to the hospital; with contractions coming more and more quickly, she was getting panicky and wanted to ditch their car and call an ambulance because the roads in the city were so bad.

DeWitt had been certain she could make it there, but had to admit it seemed crazy. “It was hard to let go,” she said.

The woman eventually got to the hospital, and had the baby at about 9 a.m. “She made it!” DeWitt said.

By that time, DeWitt estimated, about 20 inches of snow had fallen at her Mountain View Farm. She and her husband and brother-in-law set to work clearing it off their greenhouses, where their bok choy crop had long since frozen to death, to keep the metal frame from collapsing. They tended to their animals – the donkeys seemed grumpy, as though they had had it with winter, she said – and built a snow cave with her 3- and 5-year-olds.


Then — with another round of snow forecast for Thursday evening — she just has to hope the other mother-to-be can hold off, just a little longer.


  • Emma Brown
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Aaron C. Davis reports:

The District’s first snow emergency in four years will last exactly 24 hours, city officials said Thursday  afternoon. All parking and travel restrictions will lift at 6:30 p.m.

In addition, the District will keep its impound lots open until 10 p.m., officials said, to assist the more than 200 people who had their vehicles towed from emergency routes late Wednesday and early Thursday.

All major D.C. roads were cleared by noon, said D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D). He had initially said the emergency could be lifted as early as 2 p.m., but with another wave of snow heading into the region, officials held off for a few extra hours.

If your car was towed, you can search for it here, or call the city’s Towing Control Dispatch Center at (202) 541-6083.

  • Emma Brown
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Fairfax County schools, the largest system in our region, has announced that it will be closed Friday. For an updated list of all school closings, click here.

Fairfax student lobbies county school board members Ryan McElveen and Elizabeth Schultz:

McElveen responds:

  • Emma Brown
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Brigid Schulte reports:

Ten homeless families have been staying on cots at a D.C. recreation center during the most recent cold snap, city census records show, including 14 adults and 17 children. City officials have described the rec centers as “congregate” settings with makeshift cots lined up in a large open area and the only privacy in nearby bathrooms, much like the Red Cross provides after natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods.

In the wake of an explosion of city homelessness – a projected 100 percent increase over last year — city officials say they have no other option than to provide shelter in rec centers. They are not releasing the names of the rec centers to protect the privacy of the families, they said.

The District is one of only a handful of jurisdictions nationwide, including New York and the state of Massachusetts, that gives residents a legal right to shelter on nights when temperatures drop below freezing.

More than 700 D.C. families are now in emergency shelters. Nearly 300 are staying at DC General, the city’s family homeless shelter. Children have few places to play inside the shelter, and no place to play outside, save for a parking lot and a sidewalk near a meth clinic, said Jamila Larson, with the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project.

“A snow day for kids at the shelter isn’t the same as a snow day for most kids,” she said. “They have nothing to do.” Her group brought activity packets to snowed-in children at DC General on Thursday.

More than 450 families, including more than 800 children, are sheltered in low-cost hotels in the District and Maryland. D.C. began placing homeless families in rec centers after coming to an agreement recently with officials in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties that they would no longer send homeless families into Maryland.

  • Emma Brown
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Montgomery County Public Schools will be closed Friday, the school system has announced.

Montgomery joins several Virginia jurisdictions that have already announced they are closing Friday because of the snow, including Prince William and Culpeper counties and Manassas City.

With forecasts saying that the D.C. area may take another hit of heavy snow this evening, more closures seem likely. Many area school systems are already facing tough decisions about how to make up days lost to weather this year.

Friday is a long-scheduled day off for students in the District and Prince George’s County and was supposed to be a teacher workday. The snow means D.C. teachers also get the day off; Prince George’s teachers were never expected to come to school for their workday, Ovetta Wiggins reports. 

  • Mark Berman
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  • Emma Brown
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Some folks cleared their sidewalks hours ago, but not everyone is so diligent. The District requires home and business owners to clear sidewalks of snow within eight daylight hours after the last flake falls, but the law is rarely enforced.

Curious what the snow-shoveling rules are where you live? Here is a helpful roundup of requirements in jurisdictions around the D.C. area, courtesy of WAMU-FM. Meanwhile, anyone who has extra energy after shoveling out their own house can sign up to help D.C. senior citizens dig out.

  • Emma Brown
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Metro has restored bus service to area airports. The 5A bus to Washington Dulles international Airport and B30 bus to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport are expected to run every hour for the remainder of the service day, Luz Lazo reports.

The transit agency had suspended all bus operations early Thursday because of poor road conditions, but resumed limited bus service on major roadways at 2 p.m. Routes now operating include:

  • District of Columbia: 32, 36, 52, 54, 70, 90, 92, A6/A8, S2, X2
  • Maryland: 81, A12, C4, C21, D12, F4, J2, K6, P12, Q1, T18, Y9, Z8
  • Virginia: 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 7A, 9A, 10B, 16A, 22A/25A, 23A, 28A, 29N and shuttle service between Pentagon & Rosslyn stations
  • Emma Brown
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Aficionados of cross-country skiing don’t get many chances to indulge in the District. Thursday was one of those rare opportunities.

Ellie Seats enjoys a once-every-few-years ski workout in city streets in Mount Pleasant. (Michael Alison Chandler/The Washington Post)

Ellie Seats enjoys a once-every-few-years ski workout in city streets in Mount Pleasant. (Michael Alison Chandler/The Washington Post)

Michael Alison Chandler reports:

Ellie Seats may have been one of the only a few District residents actually excited to commute during the storm Thursday. The Mount Pleasant resident donned snow pants, snapped on her cross-country skis and headed onto the snowy streets to meet her co-workers for a lunch meeting in Adams Morgan. She plans to cut through Rock Creek Park on her way home.

“I am going to ski as long as people stop shoveling snow,” she said.

Her last cross-country commute was four years ago during Snowmageddon, she said.

“I was the only one getting around D.C. those days,” she said.

Matt McCleskey, morning host for D.C. public radio station WAMU-FM, also strapped on skis for his 4 a.m. commute.

  • Mark Berman
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Air travel remained snarled for a second consecutive day, with a powerful expanse of snow closing runways around Washington and leading to more than 6,000 flight cancellations nationwide.

Dulles International Airport reopened one runway shortly after 12:30 p.m., several hours after the snowfall caused the runways there to shut down.

The runways remain closed at Reagan National Airport, reports The Post’s Lori Aratani. While the runways are clear, officials say they are still trying to clear snow from the taxiways to get planes from the runway to the gates. Flights may not resume until 5 p.m., she reports.

As a result, hundreds of flights through those airports have been canceled. National has had 740 flights nixed by 2:20 p.m., while Dulles has had more than 520 flights halted, according to FlightAware.

While the runways remained open at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, about 470 flights were canceled there.

Nationwide, there have been 6,200 flights canceled. Nearly 1,200 of those flights have been in Charlotte, about 850 flights in Atlanta and another 850 flights in Philadelphia. New York’s three airports — Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy — have had a combined 1,600 cancellations.

With more snow building on Thursday afternoon and evening, additional cancellations are likely. And there have already been more than 400 flights canceled on Friday.

  • Emma Brown
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Justin Jouvenal reports:

Lloyd Hepner, 72, of Strasburg, Va., leaned on a snow shovel deep into his 20th straight hour of shoveling snow around 1:30 p.m. Thursday. It might be a snow day for some, but for Hepner it was all work. He is a professional snow remover and has done for it about 25 years.

“I can make $4,000 to $5,000 in a day,” Hepner said. “Four to five inches of snow works good, but this is too much.”

Hepner looked out over the driveway and a parking lot of an office park in Fairfax. As he spoke, his girlfriend plowed the parking lot with a white pickup truck equipped with a yellow plow. His comments were punctuated by the plow’s loud scraping on the pavement and a partner’s loud snow blower, which shot up fluffy white mounds of snow.

Hepner said they had begun work at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening and worked right through the night, finishing about 10 separate jobs before this one. The epic workday – or more precisely days – was hardly over. He said they would complete about 10 more jobs before heading back to the Shenandoah Valley tomorrow morning. All in all, he was looking at roughly 36 hours of uninterrupted toil. Asked how he was able to work for so long, the former Chantilly resident just smiled.

“I guess I’m used to it,” Hepner said.

  • Mark Berman
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Prince William County Public Schools will be closed on Friday, the school system announced.

This is the first school system in the region to announce a weather-related closure for Friday. Closures of schools, universities and government offices were widespread on Thursday owing to the looming storm. With several inches of snow still on the ground and more coming on Thursday afternoon and evening, it’s expected that some of these closures will recur on Friday.

Make sure to revisit this page, which will round up all of the closures for Friday.

  • Emma Brown
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Most of Washington has shut down for the snow, but the Pentagon is open, and the Department of Defense is pitching in across the District, Virginia and a number of other states hard-hit by this storm.

South Carolina National Guard members support the state Department of Public Safety along I-26 looking for stranded motorists (South Carolina National Guard photo/Released)

South Carolina National Guard members support the state Department of Public Safety along I-26 looking for stranded motorists (Courtesy of South Carolina National Guard)

There are more than 2,300 Army and Air National Guard personnel on active duty in the following states, according to a DoD news release:

District of Columbia: 180 personnel and 30 vehicles assisting D.C. emergency management officials.

Virginia: 285 personnel assisting stranded motorists and supporting local first responders.

Alabama:  90 personnel supporting state emergency management staff throughout the state.

Delaware:  130 personnel and 26 vehicles assisting stranded motorists and supporting local first responders.

Georgia: 620 personnel and 150 vehicles patrolling assigned routes and helping local first responders.

North Carolina: 190 personnel and 48 vehicles supporting local first responders.

Pennsylvania: 775 personnel conducting health and welfare checks in hard-hit communities, assisting stranded motorists and manning traffic control points.

South Carolina: 180 personnel supporting local first responders.

  • Emma Brown
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Luz Lazo reports:

Some Montgomery County’s Ride On buses will resume limited service at  2 p.m. today, focusing on service to hospitals. Buses will run until 10 p.m.

The routes that will operate are Routes 1, 5, 8, 15, 16, 17, 23, 30, 34, 43, 46, 47, 55, 56, 59, 61 and 100.  Passengers should expect delays, with bus service every 30 to 60 minutes.

Check for more information.

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