WASHINGTON - A winter storm marched into the mid-Atlantic region Wednesday, dumping nearly 2 feet of snow in some places and knocking out power to 250,000 homes and businesses. It largely spared the nation's capital, which was expecting much worse and had all but shut down.
Officials in Washington didn't want a repeat of 2011, when a snowstorm stranded commuters for hours, so they told people to stay off the roads and gave workers the day off. The storm, dubbed the "snowquester," closed government offices just as the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester were expected to do.
The storm pummeled the nation's midsection on Tuesday, killing at least four people in traffic accidents. It was forecast to head to the Northeast today, bringing strong winds, more snow and the possibility of 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 amid warmer-than-expected temperatures. Federal offices in the region will be open today.
"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, though.
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 the state's Eastern shore with the Baltimore-Washington region, closed in both directions because of wind gusts of up to 60 mph.
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."
The bridge reopened Wednesday evening.
In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency, and about 50 National Guard soldiers were sent out to help clear roads.
Up to 20 inches of snow piled up in central and western parts of the state. More than 200,000 people in Virginia alone were without power, and another 40,000 in New Jersey were in the dark. Hundreds of wrecks were reported around the region.
On StarNet: View the five-day forecast for Tucson and Southern Arizona at azstarnet.com/app/weather