A FRONT END loader clears snow at the US Capitol after a major winter storm swept over Washington, tying the fourth-largest snowfall in the city’s history..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Paralysis is a familiar sensation in the nation’s capital, but never has it felt quite so acute as it did this weekend, when the city’s residents remained indoors through 32 hours of constant snowfall.
More than 60 centimeters fell in the immediate metro area, with some parts of the city experiencing snowfall of nearly a meter.
The storm ranks among the city’s heaviest, and is already drawing comparisons from meteorologists to a 1922 blizzard– the worst on record, which dumped more than 71 cm.
Twitter kept the community together throughout the storm, dubbed “Jonas,” “David Snowie,” “Snowzilla” and simply “Blizzard 2016” by different local papers.
Blizzard conditions, measured by wind speed and visibility, marked only a brief three hours of the storm’s long life.
Before and after the winds died, Washingtonians largely honored the requests of local officials to stay inside and off the roads – avoiding accidents and allowing the city’s plows to ready the streets for a week of stressful commuting.
Both DC airports remained closed as of Sunday night, as did its metro rail, hoping to reopen some time on Monday.
Gripped with cabin fever, some chose to brace Mother Nature and venture out into the city’s wilderness, where streets were slick with ice and sidewalks were impassable, with the historic marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial forming ideal slopes for sleds. Dogs in desperate need of walks, and even the nation’s beloved panda, Tian Tian, put on shows for local news media and Facebook trolls with their snow play.
Washington is not known for its handling of storms. Just two days before the blizzard arrived, 2.5 cm. – a dusting – brought the city’s highways to a standstill. But the city had an unusually long time to prepare for this storm, as international forecasting models were in consistent agreement over three days before it arrived.
That was a benefit not awarded to New York. After being lulled into a false sense of security by predictions of less than 25 cm., parts of the city were surprised to find themselves buried under over 77 cm. of snow by Sunday morning.