Washington to lift snow emergency as it digs out from blizzard

Image: Workers use heavy machinery to remove snow from a parking area at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington, D.C., will end its snow emergency on Wednesday, Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a sign that the U.S. capital is returning to normal after a deadly weekend blizzard on the U.S. East Coast.

The federal government remained closed on Tuesday and Congress put most activity on hold as the Washington region continued digging out from the snowstorm, which killed at least 35 people in 10 states and the U.S. capital.

A small army of workers and equipment were making progress in clearing streets after the storm brought more than 20 inches (50 cm) to the city. Washington’s snow emergency would end at 6:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Bowser said.

“We have a lot of snow. We’re getting to every part of the city that needs attention as soon as possible,” she said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The snow emergency allowed the ticketing and towing of vehicles parked on major streets and a surcharge for taxi fares.

District of Columbia city government and some local governments in the Washington-Baltimore region reopened on Tuesday. Washington joined Baltimore, Philadelphia and suburban districts in keeping public schools closed after the area was slammed by more than 2 feet (60 cm) of snow.

Temperatures forecast to reach about 45 Fahrenheit (7 Celsius) were expected to help Washington’s cleanup.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been idled or working from home since offices closed at noon on Friday ahead of the storm.

Devon Brewster, 27, a restaurant server, said the federal government could have opened even though the cleanup was continuing.

“It’s government. They get plenty of days off a year. Good for them,” he said.

Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, said the Washington area’s $500 billion economy would see slight impact from the storm. Local governments already had budgeted for bad weather and two days of lost work out of a year is negligible, he said.

Washington’s Metro subway system, the second-busiest in the United States, was shut down Saturday and Sunday but was running with slower service on almost all lines Tuesday. Buses were on a reduced schedule.

Maryland’s commuter rail line resumed limited service but Virginia’s remained shut down.
The Federal Aviation Administration said airlines were returning to regular schedules. About 700 U.S. flights were canceled on Tuesday with the worst-hit airports Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles, according to, an air travel website.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Additional reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Bill Trott)

Copyright 2015 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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