Just as the winter storm that hit the D.C. region with sleet and freezing rain ended around mid-morning Monday, weather forecasters said that another batch of snow — possibly up to five inches in some areas --could hit the area Monday night and into Tuesday.
The sleet and freezing rain from Sunday made for a rough start to the work week, as the conditions lead to some early-morning crashes, school closings, and left thousands of customers without power. Temperatures slowly headed toward 32 degrees or above Monday morning as the precipitation turned to rain.
By 9 a.m., the National Weather Service lifted its winter-storm warning. But shortly after, the weather service gave a winter storm watch, saying there is a potential for up to five or more inches of snow Monday night and into Tuesday for much of the D.C. region.
The warning came as many area transportation agencies worked to give their road crews a rest in between the storms. Some road crews worked extended hours overnight Sunday to deal with the icy highways and side streets.
“As far as crews, we will get them home to rest, assuming the forecast remains,” said Valerie Burnette Edgar of Maryland’s State Highway Administration. “Generally we keep some folks (or contractors) in [service].”
In Virginia, the crews that clear and salt the roadways work 12 hour shifts in rotation during prolonged winter storms.
“They would tell you they are not tired, but energized by the weather — many of them love this stuff,” said Joan Morris of Virginia’s Department of Transportation.
The bad weather didn’t stop President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, former president George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, from boarding Air Force One Monday at a foggy Joint Base Andrews for a flight to South Africa to attend memorial events for Nelson Mandela.
By Monday morning, several inches of snow had accumulated in the western and northern parts of the region. Closer to the District, the wintry mix that started Sunday changed from snow to freezing rain and eventually rain.
Still, dozens of school districts in the region were closed Monday, as sidewalks and parking lots remained icy Monday morning.
Montgomery, Howard and Arlington counties decided around 5 a.m. to close school for the day. Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William and Fauquier counties had announced Sunday that they would be closed. Federal government offices, D.C. schools and the D.C. government opened two hours late.
Commuters found slick roads in some areas as temperatures hovered just above freezing during the morning commute, and police and highway officials reminded drivers to slow down.
An overturned tractor-trailer full of tires caused some lanes on the outer loop of the Capital Beltway at Chain Bridge Road near Tysons Corner to temporarily close early Monday. Just after 8 a.m., authorities said the Beltway’s southbound lanes had reopened.
On Metro, rail lines were operating with no delays and Metrobus routes also were running as planned Monday morning. There were some delays on VRE lines coming from Fredericksburg because of downed trees.
In some neighborhoods, trees weighted down by ice fell onto power lines and onto streets. Power companies reported outages because of the storm. The number of outages spiked throughout the morning as crews worked to repair lines. Roughly 101,000 customers throughout the region were without power.
As of 11:15 a.m., about 12,000 customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were in the dark. About 85,900 customers in Northern Virginia and about 3,200 in the District were without power, according to utility companies.
Delays were building at major airports, including Chicago, New York, Charlotte and Atlanta on Monday morning. At airports in the Washington area, snow removal teams worked through the night to treat and clear runways.
FlightAware reported that as of 9 a.m. Monday, 40 flights originating at Reagan National Airport were canceled, as were 54 flights bound for that airport. There also were 26 flights from Dulles International Airport that were canceled, and 39 flights headed to Dulles were nixed. Dozens of flights to or from Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport also were delayed.
Inbound flights to National were being held at their point of origin until 10 a.m. Travelers were advised to check their flights before heading to the airports.
Mark Berman contributed to this report.