WASHINGTON – A blizzard battered the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday, with emergency crews struggling to keep pace with the heavy, wet snow that has piled up on roadways, toppled trees and left thousands without electricity.
Officials urged people to huddle at home and out of the way of emergency crews. Forecasters said the storm could be the biggest for the nation’s capital in modern history.
A record 2 1/2 feet or more was predicted for Washington. As of early Saturday, 10 inches of snow was reported at the White House, while parts of Maryland and West Virginia were buried under more than 20 inches. Forecasters expected snowfall rates to increase, up to 2 inches per hour through Saturday morning.
Blizzard warnings were issued for the District of Columbia, Baltimore, parts of New Jersey and Delaware, and some areas west of the Chesapeake Bay.
“Things are fairly manageable, but trees are starting to come down,” said D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer, whose agency responded to some of the falling trees. No injuries were reported.
Airlines canceled flights, churches called off weekend services and people wondered if they would be stuck at home for several days in a region ill-equipped to deal with so much snow.
“D.C. traditionally panics when it comes to snow. This time, it may be more justifiable than most times,” said Becky Shipp, who was power-walking in Arlington, Va., Friday. “I am trying to get a walk in before I am stuck with just the exercise machine in my condo.”
The region’s second snowstorm in less than two months brought heavy, wet snow and strong winds that forecasters warned could gust near 60 mph in some areas along the coast.