WASHINGTON — A winter storm marched into the mid-Atlantic region Wednesday, dumping nearly two feet of snow in places and knocking out power to about 250,000 homes and businesses. It largely spared the nation’s capital, which was expecting worse and had all but shut down.
Officials in Washington did not want a repeat of 2011, when a rush-hour snowstorm stranded commuters for hours, so they told people to stay off the roads and gave workers the day off. Dubbed the “snowquester,” the storm closed government offices, just as the automatic budget cuts were expected to do.
The storm pummeled the nation’s midsection on Tuesday, killing at least four people in weather-related traffic accidents. It was forecast to head to the northeast on Thursday, bringing strong winds, more snow, and coastal flooding to New England.
In Washington, where as much as 10 inches had been forecast, the storm did little but drop harmless snowflakes that rapidly melted.
“They just say that it might snow and the whole city shuts down,” said Sheri Sable, who was out walking her two dogs in light rain and marveled at how even the dog park she frequents failed to open at 7 a.m.
There were bigger problems elsewhere in the region.
Lashing winds blew off part of the roof of a Stone Harbor, N.J., condominium complex and Ocean City officials advised residents to move their cars to higher ground in preparation of possible flooding. Maryland’s Bay Bridge, which connects Maryland’s Eastern shore with the Baltimore-Washington region, closed in both directions because of wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour.
A tractor-trailer overturned on the bridge and leaned against the guardrail. Kelly Kiley, an interior designer, was driving on the span soon after the accident.
“The travel on the bridge was extremely scary,” Kiley said. “The crosswinds were terrible. Some of the taller box trucks were swaying.”