Winter Storm Hits D.C. Area and Causes Widespread Power Outages
More than half a million customers were without electricity on Monday, and federal government offices in the Washington, D.C., area were closed because of the storm.,
More than half a million customers were without electricity on Monday, and federal government offices in the Washington, D.C., area were closed because of the storm.
Federal government offices and schools in the Washington, D.C., area were closed on Monday as the region received its first significant snowfall of the season, part of a winter storm that left more than half a million customers without power as it moved up the East Coast.
“A major winter storm is underway,” the National Weather Service said on Monday morning, while warning, “Snow-covered and slippery roads along with heavy snowfall and low visibility will make travel dangerous.”
As of Monday morning, more than 375,000 customers in Virginia were without electricity, with an additional 160,000 outages in North Carolina and nearly 80,000 in Georgia, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States.
Hundreds of flights from Washington-area airports were canceled or delayed as of Monday morning, according to FlightAware, which tracks the status of flights.
At a news conference on Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington said, “I can’t emphasize enough right now that you should stay home.” A snow emergency was in effect for the city until 7 p.m. Monday.
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland mobilized state resources, and Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey declared a state of emergency for five counties, warning residents to stay off the roads. In Delaware, state government offices were closed.
A winter storm warning was in effect early Monday for portions of Tennessee and North Carolina, along with a large swath of Virginia up through Washington and parts of Maryland and New Jersey, the Weather Service said. Up to eight inches of snow was expected through Monday evening with localized amounts of up to a foot.
Roads in the region became treacherous. The Virginia State Police said on Monday that its officers had responded to more than 400 reports of crashes and assisted more than 100 stranded vehicles before noon. Some drivers had minor injuries, but no deaths were reported, the authorities said.
“The cars are going too fast for conditions, and they’re sliding off the roads, into ditches, into the cement walls, into one another,” said Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police. Rain on Sunday prevented crews from properly salting the roads, she said, making highways more dangerous during the snow on Monday.
The heaviest snow, at two inches per hour, was expected to occur right after the transition from rain, meteorologists said, adding that the phenomenon called thundersnow — when thunder and lighting occur during a snowstorm — was likely. The refreezing of melted snow in the evening and overnight hours could lead to additional travel concerns.
In Washington, where a winter storm warning was in effect until late Monday afternoon, the weather system was forecast to produce up to eight inches of snow, according to the Weather Service, which warned motorists to plan for slippery road conditions in the morning. “If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency,” meteorologists said. Ms. Bowser said on Monday that residents should stay off the “very slick and hard to pass” roads.
Parts of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey could see up to a foot of snow on Monday, with wind gusts as high as 40 miles per hour. The tail end of the storm was expected to dump about six inches of snow across portions of Tennessee and just a few inches across parts of Georgia before moving north.
In response to the weather, schools across the Washington region canceled classes on Monday, as did several in the Richmond, Va., area. In New Jersey, some systems announced closures while others said they would operate with delayed openings.