The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Winter storm sideswipes D.C. and hits the Eastern Shore before slamming Northeast

People walk along the National Mall dusted with snow on Saturday. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
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A powerful winter storm hit parts of the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday while intensifying into a potentially historic blizzard aimed at New England, lashing the Eastern Shore with frigid winds and dumping about a foot of snow on Ocean City, Md.

Snow totals hit over 8 inches at Wallops Island, Va., 9 inches in Salisbury, Md., 10 inches in Somerset, Md., and 12 inches at Lewes, Del. The storm dumped a fraction of those totals in the immediate Washington region, which generally saw totals of less than an inch, with 0.2 inches at Reagan National Airport. Parts of southern Maryland recorded more than 4 inches, with totals generally higher south and east of the city.

Despite the lower snow totals near Washington, Saturday brought blustery conditions to the nation’s capital, with highs in the 20s and winds gusting to about 40 mph.

As the storm pummeled the coast, white-out conditions were reported in Ocean City, with northwest winds blowing sideways east of the Chesapeake Bay, reducing visibility and slowing the limited traffic on roads.

“We’ve got quite a bit of snow, probably up to 12 inches, and we’re seeing significant driftings,” Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan told WBAL-TV news. Meehan called street clearing the town’s top priority, praising residents for hunkering down and keeping roadways open. “We’re still seeing the snow, and plows are out. There’s nobody out.”

Maryland State Police reported receiving more than 880 calls for service, and responding to 125 crashes and 102 disabled vehicles as of Saturday afternoon. The Hatem and Chesapeake Bay bridges were under limited restrictions, prohibiting house trailers or empty box trailers.

Liveblog for updates on the winter storm impacts on the Eastern Shore

State officials said wind gusts added to the challenges of keeping snow off roads on the Eastern Shore.

In Virginia, state Department of Transportation officials said 325 trucks equipped with snow removal equipment were mobilized, with a focus on the Eastern Shore.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Friday declared a state of emergency for counties east of the Chesapeake Bay. He mobilized 125 National Guard members with 50 tactical vehicles to assist state and local agencies with response or evacuation needs.

Disruptions in Maryland and Delaware were a forerunner to the effects of a nor’easter that brought wind gusts up to 75 mph and was expected to leave as much as 2 feet of snow in parts of New England.

Heavy snow spanned from the southern Delmarva Peninsula to eastern Maine, with blizzard warnings posted through several states, including coastal Virginia and Maryland. Blizzard conditions were reported in Lewes, Del., with winds sustained at 44 mph and gusts up to 66 mph.

In Delaware, Gov. John Carney (D) thanked state Department of Transportation crews working in rough conditions, and he asked residents to stay off the roads.