School, work and travel can wait as snow blankets the U.S. capital

WASHINGTON – A winter storm blew heavy snowfall across the nation’s capital on Monday, shutting down government offices and schools and grounding the president’s helicopter as 15 to 28 inches of snow encircled the area around Washington.

National Weather Service snow watchers reported accumulations of 11.5 inches (29.2 centimeters) in the suburb of Capitol Heights, Md., And 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) in Rose Hill, Va. , by the time the storm ended Monday afternoon. At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) of snow was reported. Further south, in Chancellorsville, Va., 12.1 inches (30.7 centimeters) have been reported.

“It was mild and misty yesterday, then 6 inches of snow this morning, not even 12 hours later. It’s not something I’ve seen before, “said Shawn Devroude, 52, a federal employee who braved blizzard-like conditions in the nation’s capital to play with his 9-year-old border collie, MoJo, at the Naval Memorial.

Heavy snowfall, coupled with closures caused by increasing coronavirus cases, has forced much of Washington to close. Four of the Smithsonian museums had already closed in late December due to a COVID-19 outbreak, and the National Zoo announced Monday it would close for the day due to snow.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a snow-related emergency and advised residents to stay home.

“Stay off the road and allow our teams to work,” she said.

President Joe Biden has made a slow return to Washington after spending about a week in Delaware. Snow brought Biden’s helicopter to a standstill, so he drove to the White House from Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland, a slow pace that lasted nearly an hour. The White House press briefing has been canceled, although Biden’s other public events are still ongoing.

More than half of flights were delayed or canceled Monday at Washington’s three major airports, according to FlightAware.com’s misery map. A quarter of flights at New York’s three major airports were also delayed or canceled. In New Jersey, snow blanketed the southern half of the state, dumping about a foot (0.3 meters) near the resort town of Atlantic City.

Andrea Klein, 23, a graduate student at Georgetown University, greeted the snow after spending the past two weeks in quarantine when one of her roommates tested positive for COVID-19.

“Things have gotten a little stressful in the world lately, so taking a walk in the snow with friends is a welcome back to normal,” she said as she strolled through the National Mall to take photos .

Many COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites have been closed in DC, Virginia and Maryland due to weather conditions. Several school districts in the area have also said they will be closed, delayed or have virtual learning on Monday.

Karla Rivas, originally from Miami but now living in Baltimore, experienced her very first winter storm.

“I love it,” she said. “I feel like it’s great to have the seasons.

Other parts of the country also had a snowy start to the year.

Western Washington state and Oregon experienced a mixture of rain and snow as heavy snowfall, wind gusts, snowdrifts and accidents blocked mountain passes and some freeways.

Even Florida woke up to a blanket of snow, with temperatures plunging in parts of the Panhandle after typical beach weather on Sunday.

A 7-year-old girl died Monday morning when a tree fell on a cabin in eastern Tennessee, near the Smoky Mountains, Blount County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Marian O’Briant said. She said many trees and power lines fell across Blount County after heavy and wet snow fell overnight. No one else was injured. Authorities did not disclose additional information.

A 55-year-old Delaware man died after his car rolled off the road and hit a tree Monday morning as freezing rain fell in the area, state police said. Cpl. Heather Pepper said investigators had not determined whether the weather was a factor in the crash.

Up to six inches of snow accumulated in northern Alabama, where authorities reported several roads were blocked due to ice spots and wreckage.

With teenage temperatures forecast for the night, Virginia State Police have warned that any snow that has melted during the day is expected to freeze, causing icy and dangerous road conditions. Some school districts in Virginia said schools would be closed again on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, the Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed that both directions of I-95 are closed between Ruther Glen, Virginia, in Caroline County and Exit 152 in Dumfries, Prince William County. A crash involving six semi-trailers around noon Monday resulted in the shutdown, leaving drivers stranded for hours. No injuries were reported.

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Associated Press contributors include Julio Cortez in Baltimore; Colleen Long in Washington; Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware; Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Jeff Martin in Atlanta; Julie Walker in New York; and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama.