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Posted at 9:15 PM ET, 01/26/2011

Scenes from a long, snowy commute

By Washington Post reporters


On the George Washington Parkway. On 16th Street NW. Massachusetts Avenue, too.

Buses, cars, people -- just stuck as snow, sleet and ice covered roadways and knocked down trees throughout the region, turning the evening commute into an endless crawl.

At the intersection of Connecticut and Albemarle streets in Van Ness, buses and cars were tangled going in every direction, making the area virtually impassable for hours, according to reporter Tim Craig.

One bus blocked three lanes of Connecticut for more than two hours. Two Metro bus drivers called it the worst travel conditions they had seen in the city during their combined 23 years of experience behind the wheel.

"This is just bad," said one of the drivers, a seven year veteran who declined to give his name because he said he was not authorized to speak to reporters. He was trying to push a car stuck in front of his bus.

"Last year was bad, but they stopped us just in time," he added.


About 6:15 pm, Steve Roberts, 42, began to merge his Dodge Ram pickup onto the George Washington Parkway on his way from the Pentagon to his home in Sterling, reporter Josh White tells us.

Roberts, stuck in his car just south of Rosslyn, had two columns of cars ahead of him for as far as the eye could see. At 8:30 p.m., he was just four cars away from entering the main roadway, largely where he had been for two hours.

"I hear there's an accident up by the Parkway and 495, and that's blocking everything up," said Roberts, who is in the military. "I've got a long way before I get home."

Roberts filled up on fuel Wednesday morning expecting to have weather-related traffic on the drive home. He didn't expect to have hours to listen to the radio or to chat with other bored, stranded motorists.

"It is what it is," Roberts said.

Though a frozen parking lot, the parkway was eerily quiet and peaceful as heavy snow fell, illuminated only by headlights. Some people shut off their cars, some ventured a few feet from their cars to stretch their legs, but most were glued to cell phones, talking or texting.

As for Roberts, he finally merged his car into traffic about 8:50 p.m.


Some folks didn't have to worry about commuting. They stuck themselves in area restaurants and bars.

Edward Coleman, 52, was flew into town from Boston for a medical billing seminar. He and several colleagues decided to walk through the bitter wind blowing off the Potomac River to dine at the McLoone's Pier House at National Harbor, Keith Alexander reports.

"This little bit of snow isn't a reason not to get out of the house and have a good drink," Coleman said while eating crabcakes and drinking a Corona.

A majority of the 20 or so restaurants at National Harbor appeared to have a steady crowd of diners.

Miami-based convention planner Elizabeth Duffy, 46, flew into Washington Tuesday to meet with clients, but her meetings had been canceled due to the weather. A frustrated Duffy was at the bar at McCormick & Schmicks drinking her second apple martini of the night.

"I had three clients already cancel meetings for tomorrow. Three," she quipped. "I'm from Florida, if I can deal with this why can't they?"

By Washington Post reporters  | January 26, 2011; 9:15 PM ET
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People like Elizabeth Duffy are part of the reason that people die in storms like this.

Stay off the roads so that plows, emergency and power crews can get through. Unless someone's life hangs on the fate of your meeting get over yourself and stay home.

Posted by: snowvert | January 27, 2011 7:58 AM | Report abuse

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