WASHINGTON – The beginning of a storm that forecasters said could be the biggest for the city in modern history.By midnight more than 8 inches had already fallen in some D.C. areas and 10 inches in Pittsburgh. Big amounts of snow were expected throughout the region. Prediction for Washington is 2 1/2 feet or more. Many accidents and deaths caused by the storm, authorities claimed.
The National Weather Service said region’s second snowstorm in less than two months could be “extremely dangerous. The heavy, wet snow and strong winds threatened to clog roads and paralyze the region’s transportation and retail.
Airlines canceled flights, schools closed and the federal government sent workers home, where they could be stuck for several days in a region ill-equipped to deal with so much snow. Some area hospitals asked people with four-wheel-drive vehicles to volunteer to pick up doctors and nurses to take them to work.
Several thousand people in West Virginia and Pennsylvania had lost electricity and more outages were expected. A hospital fire in D.C. sent about three dozen patients scurrying from their rooms to safety in a basement. The blaze started when a snow plow truck caught fire near the building, but no injuries were reported.
Before the heavy snow started falling, shoppers jammed aisles and emptied stores of milk, bread and shovels.However, many shoppers found they were too late.
For the Super Bowl fans, heavy snow fell might start in Miami. Most direct flights were on time, but travelers passing through Philadelphia and Washington had to make other arrangements.
The storm comes less than two months after a Dec. 19 storm dumped more than 16 inches of snow on Washington. Snowfalls of this magnitude — let alone two in one season — are rare in the area. According to the National Weather Service, Washington has gotten more than a foot of snow only 13 times since 1870.
The heaviest on record was 28 inches in January 1922. The biggest snowfall for the Washington-Baltimore area is believed to have occurred in 1772, before official records were kept, when as much as 3 feet fell in the Washington-Baltimore area, an epic event George Washington and Thomas Jefferson mentioned in their diaries.