As what weather watchers have termed a “major blizzard” slowly crawls up the eastern seaboard of the US, Clarke County and Northern Virginia were spared from a major snowfall but strong winds and frigid temperatures have left county residents shivering in the storm’s wake.
The Washington DC metro area, which had braced for a predicted six to twelve inches of snow, largely dodged the storm. Although up to a foot of snow has been reported in areas of the Eastern Shore, the National Weather service scaled back snow total predictions throughout the day yesterday. Ronald Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport remained open with normal service throughout the storm.
While Clarke County received about an inch of snow throughout yesterday afternoon and into the evening, the real weather story is the strong winds and windchilll readings in the low single digits Monday morning.
At 8:00 a.m. EST the temperature near Mount Weather, Virginia in eastern Clarke County was 17 degrees, however, winds were howling at a steady 20 miles per hour gusting to 30 miles per hour. The strong winds combined with cold temperatures are generating windchill values of near zero.
Blizzard warnings, a meteorological term for the combination of significant snowfalls accompanied by sustained winds of 35 miles an hour, were in effect from the Carolinas to New England for most of yesterday and conitue today north of the storm front. North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey declared states of emergency, and New York, Philadelphia and Boston declared snow emergencies. Officials up and down the eastern seaboard urged residents to stay off the roads.
Air travel was virtually impossible yesterday as thousands of travelers were stranded while trying to return home after the winter holiday. More than 2,000 flights were canceled by major airlines with a reported 1,444 flights cancelled at Kennedy International and La GuardiaAirports in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. Spillover cancellations caused hundreds of other flights from Denver, Chicago and Atlanta to cancel as well as flights originating from overseas airports.
Kennedy and Newark International remained closed on Monday morning but were scheduled to reopen in the afternoon, according the Federal Aviation Administration. La Guardia, which operated a few flights on Sunday, was expected to reopen at 8 a.m.
In Philadelphia, where more than a foot of snow fell, the National Football League decided to postpone the Eagles-Vikings game from Sunday night to Tuesday night. NFL officials said the last time heavy snow had caused cancellation of a an outdoor game was in 1932. And the cancelled game? The league championship between the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans was moved indoors.
Clarke County residents will see little in the way of relief from the strong winds and cold temperatures today. The National Weather Service predicts that today’s high temperature will only reach 28 degrees with a northwest wind between 26 and 31 mph, with gusts as high as 48 mph. Temperatures tonight are predicted to fall to around 20 degrees. Blustery northwest winds between 20 and 25 mph will continue into the evening with gusts as high as 46 mph.