The Washington, D.C., region wobbled to its feet Thursday as mass transit and commerce lurched slowly back to life after back-to-back record-breaking blizzards, and officials pleaded for patience from frustrated prisoners of some unplowed residential streets.
WASHINGTON — The Washington, D.C., region wobbled to its feet Thursday as mass transit and commerce lurched slowly back to life after back-to-back record-breaking blizzards, and officials pleaded for patience from frustrated prisoners of some unplowed residential streets.
Although many roads remained treacherous, snowplows and rising temperatures made pavement visible on major arteries for the first time in days. Some bus service resumed. Planes began flying out of the area’s three airports, and Amtrak said service would be “close to normal” Friday.
The federal government said it would reopen Friday with a two-hour delay for its several hundred thousand workers.
Metro restored some aboveground service Thursday and said only nine stations would be closed when trains start up at 5 a.m. Friday.
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Most schools and local governments will remain closed Friday. But Thursday, the sun shone and melting snow dripped onto sidewalks sprinkled with salt. Alexandria, Va., authorities warned of falling icicles.
The wet snow caused more roof collapses, but no injuries were reported.
Forecasters predicted a chance for more snow Monday, albeit less of it.
Around Frederick, Md., police spent Thursday trying to reach motorists who had been stranded since Wednesday night after skidding into snowbanks. At the height of the storm, 39 cars were stuck and seven remained there as of 5 p.m. Thursday.
In many neighborhoods, a sense of purpose prevailed as residents ventured outside to shovel out their buried cars and resume a semblance of normal life. Post offices were open and mail was delivered on passable streets, supermarkets started to replenish shelves and some stores reopened for business.
“On the first day, it was fun to drink and play board games with friends,” said Tiffany Williams, a social worker, as she did some office work on her laptop at an Adams Morgan coffeehouse. “But after that, you really want to get back to your life.”
Yet there were signs of ill humor bred by the two storms, which set seasonal snowfall records throughout the region, with 55.9 inches at Reagan National Airport, 72.8 inches at Dulles International Airport and 79.9 inches at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.
Susan Hubbard, spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County, Md., Department of Public Works and Transportation, said residents in the Camp Springs area threatened three plow drivers. They told drivers they would “throw them out of their trucks and beat them up” if their streets weren’t plowed, she said.
“It’s ridiculous,” Hubbard said. “Men and women are working as hard as they possibly can.”
Clearing roads of snow wasn’t the only problem facing the region’s officials: There was the logistical problem of where to dump mountains of snow.
“There is so much snow that there is nowhere to push it,” said Esther Bowring, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County government in Maryland, which is hauling snow to parks.
“This is no longer just a plow operation. There is too much snow accumulation on some streets for the plows to adequately move the snow,” said Gabe Klein, Washington’s transportation director. “The snow has to be physically removed and hauled away.”
Baltimore dumped snow in parking lots at Pimlico Race Course and sent to Ohio for a snow-melting machine. Maryland environmental officials have given permission for “relatively clean snow” to be deposited in large tidal-water bodies, such as Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. At Reagan National Airport, snow was being hauled to an economy parking lot.
In Virginia, trucks were hauling it to a construction site near the Wilson Bridge where melting runoff can be monitored, said Jeff Caldwell of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
In Virginia, workers discovered that some streets are too narrow for big plows but that smaller plows aren’t powerful enough to handle 3 feet of piled-up snow.
“We’re having to use front-end loaders on those streets,” said Jennifer McCord of the Virginia Department of Transportation “That makes a significant difference because we have fewer of those and they’re slower.”
Material from the Los Angeles Times is included in this report.