After a powerful winter storm dumped up to a foot of snow over the weekend, residents hoping for a return to normal Monday were left with slick roads and sidewalks, while sleds, shovels and salt were in short supply.
Snow fell at Reagan National Airport for 35 straight hours, from 3 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Monday, bringing much of the region to a halt. Federal offices in Washington were closed, as were most local governments and schools. Several school districts planned to open two hours late Tuesday.
The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang nicknamed the storm “Snurlough,” as heavy snow coincided with a partial government shutdown that has furloughed much of the federal workforce. Like the shutdown — which was into its 24th day Monday — Capital Weather Gang said “this storm had staying power.”
National and Dulles International airports picked up 10.3 and 10.6 inches, respectively — the most snow Washington has received since a January 2016 blizzard.
In the District, 800 city employees are part of a snow team that worked 12-hour shifts, beginning midday Saturday, using more than 200 snow trucks and plows.
District officials said Monday they had used 18,400 gallons of liquid brine — a mix of water, salt and beet juice — to treat roads and about 9,000 tons of rock salt. Crews across the Washington region expected to work into Monday night, when plummeting temperatures would refreeze the melted snow.
Virginia Department of Transportation officials said interstates were clear by midmorning Monday and crews were working to clear secondary and neighborhood streets.
They warned, however, that it would take time to clear all 16,000 streets in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, but they expected to tackle all roads by Monday night. The agency said it takes up to 72 hours to clear all of the region’s roads if the snow accumulation reaches six inches.
“For this storm, we got snow over two days and it was spaced out so we were able to keep up with it,” said VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord.
In Maryland, more than 2,600 pieces of equipment were out at the height of the storm as crews also worked 12-hour shifts. Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said roads were pre-treated ahead of the storm, which helped prevent snow and ice from bonding.
On Monday morning, he said state-maintained roads were in “good shape” but cautioned that many people were driving too fast in icy and snowy conditions.
“It’s winter,” Gischlar said. “If it looks wet, assume it is and slow your speed down.”
During a Monday morning commute in which many stayed home, drivers faced a few icy spots and delays. There also were delays and cancellations on planes, trains and buses.
About 50 flights were delayed or canceled Monday at the Washington region’s three airports, according to FlightAware.com. Metrobuses operated only on major roads, while on Metro’s rail system, ridership was “extremely light,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. Normal bus service was to resume on Tuesday.
On commuter rail lines, Virginia Railway Express canceled service for the day, while MARC advised passengers it was running a limited schedule.
Walking south on 14th Street NW with a yoga mat after a class, Carina Lakovits, an urban specialist at the World Bank, said she was working from home after being snowed out of the office.
Lakovits, a native of Vienna, couldn’t help but compare Washington’s relative paralysis after the storm with that of European capitals. She said the way some American cities grind to a halt after snow has “always been fascinating.”
“That amount of snow doesn’t shut off any part of the city,” she said, pointing to a unintimidating mound of snow melting in the sunshine.
At the corner of 15th and P streets NW, Baltimore resident Eric Campbell and his son were shoveling snow while working for a contractor. He had arrived in the District in the middle of the snowstorm Monday to do some sightseeing.
“The roads was good,” he said. “The roads was even good yesterday.”
In Richmond, Virginia’s General Assembly met as scheduled while some legislators came in business suits and snow boots. It has had two snow days in the past decade, one in 2016 and one in 2010.
Forecasters said the origin of the weekend snowstorm wasn’t typical of the nor’easter storms that brought heavy snow in 2016 and the “Snowmaggedon” storm in February 2010.
The first round hit Saturday afternoon, with snow falling into Sunday morning, bringing four to six inches. Then another round of snow late in the afternoon and evening Sunday dumped another two to six inches.
The storm total at National ranks as the city’s ninth-largest January snowfall on record.
Few power outages were reported in the D.C. region Monday, a day after Dominion Energy reported that nearly 21,000 were without electricity.
Two people were killed in crashes in Virginia overnight Saturday and Sunday morning, and officials said they believed the cause was probably bad road conditions because of the weather. The storm was part of a widespread weather front that also hit parts of the Midwest, killing at least nine people.
At the True Value hardware store on 17th Street NW, near Dupont Circle, manager Joe Trotter said by midmorning Monday his inventory consisted of fewer than 20 shovels, about five sleds and no salt bags.
The store had seen slower sales with the partial government shutdown in recent days, so he was relieved to see the wintry weather.
“Snow is always good for a hardware store,” Trotter said.
Forecasters said the Washington area could face another bout with winter this weekend, although the prospects for snow were uncertain.
A weak weather system will slide through the region Thursday night into Friday, which could bring wet snow and sleet, before possibly changing to light rain. Late Saturday, snow and ice are possible again and could continue into Sunday, with lows near the freezing mark.
Jason Samenow, Justin Wm. Moyer and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.