D.C. Digs Out From Record-Breaking Blizzard

Records set throughout area

The record-breaking blizzard is over, but its impact will be felt for days -- and maybe even weeks.

Strong wind gusts created whiteout conditions throughout the day Wednesday and then made huge snow drifts throughout the night, making any surface that was shoveled pretty much impassable. The wind created some snow drifts that reached 6 feet in height.

It may be hard to believe, but a welcome reprieve from the snow is here.  There are at least four days of quiet weather on the way, according to NBC4 meteorologist Chuck Bell. High pressure is moving into the area, and even though it will stay much colder than average, at least the sun will be shining.

Expect some wind-whipped sunshine this afternoon with plenty of blowing and drifting snow. Winds will be from the northwest at 20 mph to 30 mph, keeping wind chills in the upper teens.

The next chance for more accumulating snow is Monday, according to NBC4 meteorologist Tom Kierein.  He said that early indications are that the snow will only be in light amounts.  However, it is still early and that could change in the coming days.

The good news about the continued cold is that we won't have a rapid melting of the snow and ice.  If we did, we could have massive flooding.

The best advice for digging yourself out of the snow is to take it easy, Bell said. The incredible snow depth and weight will quickly lead to over-exertion if you are not careful. Break your shoveling job down into sections and keep an eye out for your neighbors who may need some extra help. Eventually, this too shall pass.

When will D.C. streets be plowed?  Mayor Adrian Fenty said snow crews are working as hard as they can.

"Our standard is for the bigger streets, which you have to do a lot of to get to the smaller streets, to try to get it down to about 36 hours," Fenty said.

"A lot of the residential streets have already been hit," Fenty said. "We're going to go for the 48-hour to 60-hour standard for them to punch through that snow, because people have to get back to work and they have big weekends coming up."

The District set a winter record for total snowfall on Wednesday. By 2 p.m., D.C. had broken the 1898-1899 seasonal record of 54.4 inches. That means D.C. has gotten more than a foot more snow than the more snow-familiar city of Denver has had this year (41.4 inches).

The historical angle to this winter season is hard to miss. Seasonal snowfall records have fallen at every "official" location, Bell said. Here are the details:

At Reagan National,  there was10.8 inches with this last storm, making it 55.9 inches for the winter and breaking the old record. At Dulles, 11.5 inches with this last storm and 75 inches for the winter, breaking the old record of 61.9" from 1996. And in Baltimore, 19.5 inches with this last storm and 79.9 inches for the winter, breaking the old record of 62.5 inches from 1996.

Kierein said major storms like the ones we've had this winter occur in the D.C. area about once every 10 years.  But this storm was our third in about six weeks.

Stay with NBC4 and NBCWashington.com for updates.

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