A churning late-winter storm delivered a varied mix of snow, rain and wind to the D.C. region Wednesday, making driving treacherous and leaving thousands of homes without power.
Though the storm has moved through the region, conditions remain potentially dangerous with strong wind gusts and temperatures dropping overnight.
Fallen trees have been reported in the area, and the Bay Bridge was closed from about 2:30 p.m. to about 6 p.m. because of high winds. A man clearing damaged trees from his property in Midland, Va., died after one of the trees struck him in the head, acccording to the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office.
In addition to sustained winds from the north of 15-25 mph, gusts of 45-50 mph are possible Wednesday night, prompting a wind advisory in parts of the area until 11 p.m. That could lead to more fallen trees and tree limbs, causing scattered power outages, though Storm Team 4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer does not expect outages to be widespread.
A winter storm warning for the I-95 corridor and areas to the west was canceled Wednesday afternoon.
How much snow you got depended on where you live. Culpeper saw 10 inches, Massanutten got 17 inches and down near Massanutten 20 inches fell. Fairfax got 6 inches and Manassas 5. Oxon Hill, Md., got 2 inches.
In D.C., only two-tenths of an inch of snow accumulated downtown, while northwest Washington got 2-3 inches. But at Ronald Reagan National Airport, despite 15 hours of snowfall, only a tenth of an inch of accumulation was recorded.
The eastern shore was largely drenched with rain.
The accumulation would have been a lot more if ground temperatures hadn't remained warm from the unseasonably spring-like temperatures on Tuesday.
Even so, the storm turned roads slushy and slippery, making the evening commute potentially hazardous, authorities said. Metrorail ran on regular weekday service, while some bus lines were canceled or rerouted. Virginia's commuter rail system, the VRE, shut down for the day.
Hundreds of local flights were canceled. Reagan National reported 626 scratches, Dulles 527 and BWI 186, according to the website FlightAware. Flights that had not been canceled were reportedly on time. No delays were being reported by 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency to help mobilize resources for the storm. Up to 130,000 customers were without power in the commonwealth in the early afternoon, though that had dropped to fewer than 80,000 by 10:30 p.m.
The federal government closed D.C. offices Wednesday. Most local schools called off classes. D.C. Public Schools announced Wednesday afternoon schools will be open Thursday, but some school systems that had more snow will be closed again.
"Thus far, the [District] streets are really passable, although we're urging everybody to please stay off the streets," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray told News4 at 11 a.m. "That's why we closed the schools, why we closed the government, to keep people from having to travel."
Gray said he was concerned about freezing on the roads once temperatures drop.
By the afternoon, many homeowners had loads of wet, heavy snow to shovel. They should be careful and take frequent breaks, said StormTeam 4 Meteorologist Tom Kierein.
This snowstorm should be the biggest in the region in two years. Before it hit, only an inch and a half total has been measured at Reagan National Airport this winter.
The region's last major snowstorm, in January 2011, knocked out power for tens of thousands of people and contributed to six deaths.
Powerful March storms aren't unheard of, thanks to the clash of cold and warm air we get around this time of year. The region experienced blizzards during mid-March in both 1962 and 1993.
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