The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 3, 2014

Winter’s last gasp? Another storm hits much of U.S.

WASHINGTON — Winter kept its icy hold on much of the country Monday, with snow falling and temperatures starting to plummet from the Mid-Atlantic states up to the East Coast.

Snow began covering a thin layer of ice in the nation’s capital early Monday, driven by a blustery wind that stung faces of those who ventured outside. Officials warned people to stay off treacherous, icy roads – a refrain that has become familiar to residents in the Midwest, East and even Deep South this year.

The latest frigid blow of the harsh winter threatened as much as 10 inches of snow by the end of the day in Washington, Baltimore and elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region. Up to 6 inches of snow was predicted to the north in Philadelphia, where a light dusting fell early in the day, while nearly a foot of snow was expected in parts of New Jersey.

Schools were canceled, bus service was halted in places and federal government workers in the D.C. area were told to stay home Monday.

“We’re tired of it. We’re sick of it,” said Martin Peace, a web developer from the Washington suburb of Arlington, Va.

He and his wife were walking on the National Mall with their young daughter Sunday before the frigid weather blew in. Both bemoaned the number of snowy days this year.

“It’s been hard with a baby being stuck in the house,” said Nicole Peace, who works in human resources. “We don’t really get the day off, but then we have to work from home with the baby, which is hard.”

The forecasts were enough to shut much of Washington down. The federal government closed its Washington-area offices Monday, with non-emergency personnel are granted excused absences for the day.

School systems in Baltimore, Washington and many suburban areas were closed, as were all Smithsonian museums except for the National Air and Space Museum. However, the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to be open and had arguments scheduled for Monday.

The wintry precipitation moved across much of the nation Sunday, bringing a mix of freezing rain and heavy snow to central and eastern states. Authorities warned of possible power outages and flight disruptions from weather that could affect millions.

Nearly 3,000 flights in the United States were canceled early Monday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com. The bulk of the problems were at airports in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. There are more than 30,000 flights in the United States on a typical day.

In central Kentucky on Monday morning, vehicles moved slowly and quietly on roads that were mostly snow covered and slushy despite plows going through. The lines separating lanes were mostly invisible under the snow and ice, and at least a few cars had slid off the roadways.

In Ohio, crews in Cincinnati treated roads as a mix of freezing rain and snow fell late Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Patty Lee was among those braved treacherous conditions, driving some 20 miles from Cincinnati to suburban Blue Ash for a job interview. She joked that her first job test was making it through the icy parking lot without falling down.

“The roads are deteriorating pretty quickly,” she said after returning to Cincinnati.

A suspension bridge over the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Kentucky was closed Sunday because of ice covering its hard-to-treat metal grid deck.

Freezing rain and sleet moved across Kentucky, making road travel treacherous Sunday. Officials warned residents to avoid unnecessary travel. Parts of the state could receive up to 8 inches of sleet and snow through Monday. Churches throughout the state canceled services.

Parts of West Virginia could also get up to a foot of snow. That sent residents on a hunt for food, water and supplies.

Linda McGilton of Charleston said she tries to be prepared but she also was not concerned.

“I don’t try to panic. It doesn’t do any good,” McGilton of Charleston said as she unloaded a grocery cart outside the Kroger store.

Richmond, Va., was expected to get as many as 7 inches of snow Monday. Katilynn Allan, 22, bemoaned the city’s unpredictable weather but said she was not too worried about driving if she had to make the short commute to her job as a financial planner.

“It’s not too bad,” said Allan. “You just have to take it slow when there is ice on the road.

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