A snowman on the Mall with the Capitol as a backdrop. (Kevin Ambrose)

“D.C. really is a ski town,” exclaimed a woman cross-country skiing near the Washington Monument on Sunday morning. She laughed at her comment as she glided away toward the Capitol. About 10 inches of snow blanketed the Washington area Sunday, providing excellent cross-country skiing and sledding conditions in the city.

Judging by other scenes Sunday, Washington is also a snowman town. Dozens of snowmen appeared on the Mall, particularly plentiful and clustered near the Capitol. The snow was rather powdery, so many of the snowmen were small, but a few achieved good size.

I made the trip to Washington on Sunday morning to photograph the year’s first snowstorm, and I walked my usual loop, from the Tidal Basin to the Capitol, photographing various scenes along the way. The Mall was bustling with activity, with lots of people sledding, building snowmen, playing football and running — and I even saw a few people biking. It was a fun snow day for many.

There was a challenge on the Mall for many, however, and it wasn’t from the cold weather or poor road conditions. The public restrooms on the Mall were closed because of the government shutdown. Ouch! I saw a few concerned looks from individuals who encountered the locked doors. Thank goodness for the portable toilets near the Capitol.

Regarding the weather during my photo trip, heavy snow showers alternated with lulls in the precipitation, and for about 10 minutes, very small sleet pellets stung my face. But for the most part, the storm produced a beautiful, long-duration snow for Washington.

And this will be a snowstorm that many of us remember well. Double-digit snowfalls don’t happen often in Washington.


Cross-country skiing near the Reflecting Pool. (Kevin Ambrose)

Runners on the Tidal Basin trail Sunday afternoon. (Kevin Ambrose)

The Korean War Veterans Memorial is blanketed in snow Sunday. (Kevin Ambrose)

The World War II Memorial is covered with snow. (Kevin Ambrose)

Sledding on Capitol Hill. (Kevin Ambrose)

A well-dressed snowman on the Mall. (Kevin Ambrose)

The Jefferson Memorial framed by snow-covered cherry tree branches. (Kevin Ambrose)

Snow falls at the Lincoln Memorial. (Kevin Ambrose)

Making a snow angel on the Mall. (Kevin Ambrose)

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. (Kevin Ambrose)

Heavy snow falls on the Mall. (Kevin Ambrose)

Cross-country skiing near the Washington Monument. (Kevin Ambrose)

A mini snowman appears at the World War II Memorial. (Kevin Ambrose)

Snow-covered steps at the Lincoln Memorial. (Kevin Ambrose)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial with snow. (Kevin Ambrose)

A game of football in the snow on the Mall. (Kevin Ambrose)

A view of the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument on Sunday, photographed from the Lincoln Memorial. (Kevin Ambrose)

The Korean War Veterans Memorial in snow. (Kevin Ambrose)

A small snowman smiles for a photograph. (Kevin Ambrose)

Sledding on Capitol Hill. (Kevin Ambrose)

The author poses with a snowman on the Mall. (Kevin Ambrose)