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Posted at 6:34 PM ET, 02/ 7/2010

Moderate snow storm likely to bring 5 inches Tuesday night; virtually all public schools closed Monday

By Christopher Dean Hopkins

Midnight:The big picture

The federal government and all Washington area school systems will be closed today as the weekend snowstorm continues to wreak havoc -- and another, smaller storm heads our way.

Most local governments, colleges and universities also will be shuttered Monday, along with the Smithsonian Institution museums and the zoo. And transportation will be crippled, with Metro providing only underground rail service and sharply curtailed bus service.

Thousands of people remain without power in Montgomery County. In Montgomery and Prince George's counties, about a dozen people were overcome by apparent carbon monoxide fumes after electricity went out and gasoline powered generators were used indoors.

ROUNDUP:

EMERGENCY NUMBERS
Power Companies:
BGE: 1-877-778-2222
Pepco: Outages, 1-877-737-2662; Downed lines, 202-872-3432
Dominion 1-888-667-3000
Allegheny Power 1-800-255-3443

Downed limbs and trees:
District: 311
Montgomery: 240-777-6000
Prince George's: 301-499-8600.
Fairfax: 703-383-8368

QUICK LINKS:
What's open; Monday school closures
Latest Weather Gang forecasts, maps, radar; Travel and transit conditions;
Twitter: @Postmetro; #Snowpocalypse
Post photos; Your photos.

12:30 a.m.: Oh, to be home again

The 10:27 Amtrak out of Newark airport on Sunday night had its share of Washingtonians who couldn’t fly home – so they settled on flying to Newark first.

“It’s been trains, planes and automobiles,” said Laura Cantral, sitting next to a window and catching up on email using a laptop and an air-card.

She was due into Union station at 1:25 a.m. From there, only six blocks to her home in Capitol Hill, which she was prepared to walk.

Cantral, 47, a senior mediator at Meridian Institute, awoke Sunday morning in Orange County, Calif., where she had been on business. She drove a rental car an hour to the airport, boarding a United Airlines flight to Chicago for an alleged connection to Reagan National. No good.

She got herself on a flight to Newark, knowing she was traveling well ahead of her checked-on suitcase. “Presumably it will show up at National at some point,” she said.

Two rows ahead of her in the train, reading Jane Austin’s “Emma,” sat Jenna Lowenstein, 22, returning from four days at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force meeting in Dallas. She had booked an American Airlines flight from Dallas to National for Sunday. No good for her, either.

But Lowenstein turned the whole mess into her advantage, getting American to fly her to Newark, where her parents picked her up in time to take her back home to watch the Super Bowl and spend time with them before hustling her back to the train station. “I lucked out,” she said.

Down in the Club Car, sipping a Heineken, was Murray Pinczuk, a freelance television cameraman who was traveling home from covering the Tea Party convention for NHK, known in English as the Japan Broadcasting Corp. He was supposed to have flown from Nashville to BWI. His big worry upon arrival at Union Station in Washington: How to get his camera and other equipment to an office at 21st and M Street NW.

-- Dan Morse

11:30 p.m.: 5 hospitalized in apparent carbon monoxide poisoning

Six people who appeared to be victims of carbon monoxide poisoning were found Sunday night at a house in the Oxon Hill section of Prince George’s County in what official accounts indicated was at least the third monoxide poisoning incident in the Metropolitan area since the snowstorm began.

The five were found about 8 p.m. at a house in the 7900 block of Hart Road, according to a spokesman for the county fire and emergency medical services department.

Five of the six, two of them teenagers and three of them under 14 years old, were taken to hospitals. They appeared to be in good condition but might require special treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning, said fire spokeseman Mark Brady.

Brady said a gasoline generator had apparently been operating in the house. Such a generator was also used in a house in the Landover area where six people were found Saturday with symptoms of monoxide poisoning, Brady said. In both cases, he said, the homes had lost electricity because of fallen power lines.

Eight people in a Montgomery County home also showed monoxide poisoning symptoms Sunday after a charcoal grill was apparently used indoors, officials said.

-- Martin Weil and Matt Zapotosky

9:06 p.m.: UPDATE -- Sunday evening closings roundup

D.C. Public Schools offiicals have changed their minds. They announced Sunday night that schools in the city will be closed Monday. Earlier, D.C. schools were set to open two hours late.

Almost all school districts in the area have announced that they will be closed Monday, with Montgomery, Fauquier and Loudoun county schools also projecting closures for Tuesday. Which, by the way, is when the next snowstorm is expected to hit.

All of which could add up to additional days tacked on at the end of the school year for many districts.

8:52 p.m.: Metro running on underground sections only on Monday

Metro rail service will again be limited on Monday to underground sections of the system because of the storm and its effects, the transit agency said late Sunday. Rail service will begin at 7 a.m.

Fewer than t wo dozen bus lines will operate, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., and will begin operation on snow emergency routes, the transit agency said.

MetroAccess service will be suspended for the entire day.

Metro said it will operate limited service Monday on these routes in the District of Columbia: the U8 line (Minn. Ave – Capitol Heights), the 64 line (Georgia Ave-Petworth– Fort Totten), the 50 line (14th and Colorado Ave) the 70 line (Silver Spring – Archives), the S4 line (Silver Spring – Federal Triangle) the 30 line (Friendship Heights – Potomac Ave) and the A line (Southern Ave to Anacostia).

In Northern Virginia, service will be provided on the 16 line (Pentagon – Baileys Crossroads) the 1C line (Dunn Loring), 2C line (Dunn Loring), 17 line (Braddock Road) and the 28 line (Alexandria – Tysons Corner).

Routes operating in Maryland will be the Z2 and Z8 line (Silver Spring), the Q line (Silver Spring-Shady Grove), the Y line (Silver Spring –Norbeck Road), the F1 and F2 line (Takoma – Cheverly), the J2 line (Bethesda – Silver Spring), the J7/J9 line (Bethesda – Lake Forest Mall), and the P12 line (Eastover – Addison Road).

-- Martin Weil

8:04 p.m.: Two men found dead in car

Two men were found dead in a car Sunday in the Prince George’s County town of Bladensburg, and authorities said they may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The men, both in their 20s, were found about 8:40 a.m. in the 4200 block of 58th Avenue.

There were no obvious signs of trauma, the Bladensburg police said. Based on initial findings, they said, the two may have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of sitting in a closed vehicle without ventilation.

It was not clear from the police statement whether the car’s engine was running when the men were found.

Bladensburg police said names were being withheld until positive identification could be made and relatives notified.

The police issued a reminder to vehicle occupants to clear snow or other debris from the exhaust pipes, and to leave a window slightly open to prevent possible accumulation of carbon monoxide while the engine is running.

Autopsies are to be conducted on the to men to make a conclusive determination of the cause of death. Prince George’s county police homicide detectives are to participate in the investigation as a matter of routine, Bladensburg police said.

-- Martin Weil


7:04 p.m.: Two mass-transit announcements

MARC trains will operate an "S" schedule on the Penn Line only on Monday. No service on the Camden or Brunswick lines. A decision about service for Tuesday will be made Monday afternoon.

In the District, city's department of transportation announced that the DC Circulator bus will operate on all routes on Monday, and all rides will be free. Normal hours of operation will be in effect, with service beginning at 6 a.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the routes.

6:34 p.m.: Capital Weather Gang: Moderate snowstorm set for next week

Third verse, same as the first, according the The Post's Capital Weather Gang blog: A Tuesday night storm is likely to bring another five inches of snow to the area, and there's a one-in-four chance it'll add eight inches to what's already on the ground (high temperatures aren't expected to get much past freezing before then).

Precipitation, primarily snow as it looks now but maybe mixed with sleet at the start, is on track to arrive Tuesday afternoon or evening. Snow, or briefly a snow/sleet mix, may be on the light side at first before probably becoming moderate to heavy overnight into Wednesday.

At least 4 inches is looking like a decent bet, with 8 inches or more a possibility. Here's our accumulation probabilities, which are likely to change as the storm gets closer:

15%: Less than 2" 25%: 2-5" 35%: 5-8" 25%: 8"+

If predictions hold, it will push Washington to its snowiest winter since Reagan National Airport became the weather station of record for the city.

See the full forecast.

5:10 p.m.: Feds get a snow day and government stays shuttered Monday

Cross-posted from the Federal Eye blog

The federal government will be closed on Monday in the Washington area, according to the Office of Personnel Management, as the region continues to plow out of an historic snowstorm.

OPM Director John Berry decides when to close federal offices in the Washington area. He convened a conference call with local and state government and transportation officials Sunday afternoon during which they determined a Monday morning commute would be too unsafe, officials said.

Despite Monday's operating status, emergency personnel must still report as necessary.

Closing the federal government for one day costs taxpayers roughly $100 million in lost productivity, a price tag Berry said weighs heavily on his final decisions.

Berry mandated unscheduled leave last Wednesday and Friday due to the snow. Monday's closure is the first closure of the calendar year and the second of the Obama administration. -- Ed O'Keefe

5:02 p.m.: Scenes from the Snowmageddon Cyclo-Cross Tour de WPAM

Even in the best of weather, local cyclo-cross racers -- who take road bikes with knobby wheels through all manner of punishing terrain -- are not known for being cutthroat competitors. But by the third stage of an informal day-long race through Woodley Park and Adams Morgan, participants were happy just to complete the course.

Beginning at 15th and W streets NW, the ten remaining riders -- out of the roughly 20 who had started that morning -- sprinted across a street covered in slush and ice. Within seconds, co-organizer Justin Resnick, 27, wiped out.

"Hohh! That was a good one!" said Resnick, a buyer for a bike shop, brushing the snow from his orange-beard and neon green and yellow socks.

Then it was a steep climb up a side street into Malcolm X Park, before a vertiginous final lap down the park's narrow steps, transformed by the snow into inclines that seemed more suited to sledding.

Resnick's girlfriend Carey Nadeau waited at the bottom, a pile of snowballs at the ready.
"Come on! Get on your bike!" she said, pelting a rider who was carrying his bike down the final stretch.

Usually cyclo-cross fans alternate between jeering, cheering and handing out mugs of beer to passing riders, explained Nadeau, 23, a researcher for a think tank. As the lone spectator. she felt a responsibility to heckle every single rider.

"Come on Res! Put your foot in!" she yelled, pummeling Resnick as he careened down and skidded into a snowbank.

"Love you too!" he said, laughing.

Then the lone woman in the race, Kate Schrock, 27, cruised past, perfectly in control.
"You got it, girl!" Nadeau exclaimed admiringly. "You don't get snowballs!" -- N.C. Aizenman

4:52 p.m.: How to keep healthy through big storms

Cross-posted from The Checkup

Like everyone else in the D.C. area, Pam Peeke is focused on riding out Snowmageddon. Speaking to me by cell phone from her frigid, power-lacking home in Bethesda, Peeke, a health and fitness expert, author of Fit to Live and host of Discovery health TV's series Could You Survive?, was headed out to a hotel, but before she went she shared some tips for staying safe and healthy in these cold, snowy conditions.

  • In the house: Bundle up, wear layer upon layer, and don't forget gloves and extra socks. Do not set up an outdoor grill inside; area hospitals are already treating people for carbon monoxide poisoning, which can quickly become deadly. If you're using a fireplace, make sure the flue is fully open and the screen fully closed -- and make sure someone is tending the fire at all times. Ditto for candles; if you're using them for light or to warm your hands, be sure to keep an eye on them always.
  • If you need to get out: Unless you are quite physically fit, leave the shoveling to others. Keep an eye out for young, healthy people who might be willing to shovel your driveway and sidewalk. Even if you are fit, don't take the snow lightly. Try to wait until the sun is out and high in the sky so it's a bit warmer when you work. Bend from the knees, not your back, to prevent back injury, and be sure not to overload your shovel; take it slow and easy. Avoid getting wet, especially if you don't have a way to heat up when you get back indoors. Being damp increases your odds of dangerous hypothermia.
  • Watch your step: If all you have are what Peeke calls "silly boots" -- those that lack adequate tread and aren't waterproof -- stay inside. To avoid slipping, make yourself walk very slowly, and whenever possible step on snow, not shiny patches of ice. Most of all, don't fool yourself: this snow is serious business, Peeke says, and "some people are fooled into thinking they can do things they can't." This isn't the time to embark on a long walk for the sake of exercise, she says.
  • Mind your heart: The cold causes blood vessels and bronchial tubes to constrict, placing extra stress on your heart, making you more vulnerable to angina (chest pain caused by the coronary arteries' inability to deliver appropriate oxygen to your muscles -- including your heart muscle). Worse yet: Myocardial infarction may occur if the heart is damaged and unable to pump at full volume. The severe pain and shortness of breath you'll experience signal an emergency. It's simply not worth taking a risk, Peeke says, and until tertiary roads are cleared, ambulances and other emergency vehicles might have trouble getting to you.

As for all that food languishing in your fridge and freezer, it needn't go to waste. "Stick stuff in giant garbage bags and stick it in the snow," she suggests. The temperature's low enough to keep frozen food frozen. "Don't leave it in the fridge to rot!"

Do you have any snow-safety tips to share with fellow readers? Please post them in the Comments section. And please be careful out there (and in there, too)! -- Jennifer Larue Huget

4:14 p.m.: For one neighborhood, clearing street is exercise in community-building

The outages in the Brookdale neighborhood of Chevy Chase (MD) are capricious -- Harrison Street has power, and so does a portion of intersecting Andover Road. But starting five houses down Andover to the east and continuing to intersecting Cortland Road, lights -- and more importantly, heaters -- are off.

Residents believe a fallen branch might be in contact with a power line, causing the horseshoe-shaped outage -- Andover Road to the South, Cortland and Dalton roads to the east and Westport Road to the north. That’s the theory, but of course, they were waiting for Pepco crews to confirm it and restore power. Their electricity went out about noon Saturday. Twenty-four hours later, it was still out.

hernandezj.jpgJose Hernandez, who lives at the corner of Cortland and Andover, had to go to work Friday evening, so he used his gas-powered snow blower to clear a route from his house at Andover and Cortland, up about 75 yards of Cortland to Western Avenue, which was plowed Saturday as an emergency route through the neighborhood.

Most side streets were left untouched on Saturday, so Hernandez, who works at a nursing home in Rockville, got out his blower again, this time to do as much of Andover Road as he could. He worked until he ran out of gas, clearing about a quarter of the street.

Neighbors were appreciative, bringing him money for gasoline and expressing their thanks.

“He’s the man. He’s pretty much the star of the show,” said Martin Wiegand, who was working on Andover after he and his wife, Nancy, had finished off their driveway.

On Sunday, the Andover neighbors decided to take over where an exhausted Hernandez left off. Most of them were out, shovels in hand, to plow out the street themselves. The rumor was plows would be through Monday afternoon or evening -- but for many of them, a day out shoveling in the sun with neighbors, accomplishing something, beat sitting in a cold, powerless house.

-- Gene Fynes

3:53 p.m.: Delivery of Sunday Washington Post ongoing

A quick note for Post subscribers: Our carriers are continuing to deliver newspapers throughout the day as side roads are cleared. Sunday newspapers that are unable to be delivered today will be delivered on Monday or Tuesday. If you have any questions, please e-mail homedelivery@washpost.com. We appreciate your patience.

3:38 p.m.: City brings homeless in out of the snow -- whether they want it or not

On Sunday, city homeless shelters were crowded, but not over capacity, District government officials said. City workers rounded up homeless men and women with a squad of vans before the storm, and anyone who refused to go indoors in spite of hypothermia warnings got a visit from a police officer and a mental health worker, said Cornell Chappelle, deputy director of the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, which manages the city's homeless outreach.

As of Sunday, only one person who refused to go indoors was coerced into a mental health crisis hospital where they could be held for 72 hours for an emergency evaluation. -- Darryl Fears

3:31 p.m.: Second family hospitalized after generator pushes carbon monoxide levels to five times healthy limit

A family of six was hospitalized Saturday morning after its members were overcome with carbon monoxide inside their Landover Hills home, authorities said.

A teenager in the home in 4100 block of 70th Avenue called 911 at about 7:45 p.m. Saturday to report that several of her family members had fainted. The dispatcher advised her to get everyone out of the house, authorities said.

When firefighters arrived, two of the six members of the family were unconscious, and others reported having fainted -- a classic sign that they had been overcome by dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department. Firefighters discovered the family had been using a gas generator inside their home, which had lost power because of the snow storm. Gas generators produce a large amount of carbon monoxide in a very short period of time and should not be used inside of any structure, fire officials said. In this case, firefighters detected reading of 200 parts per million inside the home; anything over 35-40 ppm is considered unhealthy, fire officials said.

All six family members, including a young child, were hospitalized and given special treatment for the carbon monoxide, Brady said. They are expected to fully recover, he said.

The incident is at least the second of the snow storm involving carbon monoxide. Eight people in a Montgomery County home were hospitalized Sunday after they inhaled carbon monoxide generated from a charcoal grill inside their home.

From the Prince George's County Fire Department:

CO Poisoning Prevention Tips

  • Install at least one battery-powered CO alarm on each level of your home and near sleeping areas, and make sure it is more than 5 feet from fuel-burning appliances to prevent false alarms.
  • Ensure that fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and working according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Inspect these appliances for adequate ventilation.
  • Do not burn charcoal inside your house, even in the fireplace.
  • Do not use gasoline powered generators inside of your house.
  • Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting.
  • Do not block or seal shut exhaust flues or ducts for appliances, such as water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers.

If It Happens to You

  • Never ignore your CO alarm if it sounds.
  • Operate test/reset button.
  • Determine if anyone in the household is experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning such as a headache, nausea, drowsiness or confusion. Call 911.
  • Open doors and windows, or exit your home. Leave the CO alarm where it is.
  • If you have an alarm with digital display, emergency responders can determine the highest level of CO present and decide how to treat victims.
  • Do not return to your home until the emergency personnel have arrived, the home is aired out and your CO alarm returns to normal operation.

-- Matt Zapatosky

3:19 p.m.: Church tries out tele-preaching

On a Sunday when most houses of worship remained closed, the Rev. E. Gail Anderson Holness, pastor of the Christ Our Redeemer AME, is thanking God following a very nontraditional service that was a success because of the Internet and the telephone.

Holness, President of the Council of Churches for Greater Washington, ordered a teleconference number long before the storm hit and then sent out an e-mail and posted the information on Facebook.

"We had a global service," said Holness, who was stunned when people dialed in from cities across the U.S. and from several other countries. "At one time we had more than 100 people on the line."

The Rev .Thomas Cardwell, Associate Minister at the Ark of Safety Christian Center, in Forestville was one of the people who dialed in.

"We prayed, sang and some people said they were going to mail in an offering," Cardwell said.

Holness, who normally has about 50 people at her Northwest Washington church on Sunday, preached from the gospel of Luke in a sermon titled "Get Off the shore. Launch out into the deep."

"Jesus told the disciples to change their way of fishing if they wanted to catch something and if the church is going to survive and reach people we have to be willing to change the way we do things," she said. -- Hamil R. Harris

3:06 p.m.: Power outage roundup: Nearly 100,000 still in the dark

More than 21,000 Dominion customers are without power in Northern Virginia, and authorities are advising residents to call the company’s hotline (1-888-667-3000) to see when the lights will come back on.

As of Monday morning, every Dominion customer should have an accurate expected restoration time on that hotline, said Le-Ha Anderson, a company spokeswoman. She said crews were still assessing when all customers’ power would be restored.

More than 193,000 Dominion customers lost power at one time or another because of this weekend’s storm, Anderson said. She said the fact that the number of outages was approaching 20,000 by Sunday afternoon showed the “great progress” crews have made.

That’s not to say there are not challenges left. In some cases, Anderson said, crews are having to walk on foot for a mile or more because they cannot get their vehicles to the areas where repairs need to be made.

“The challenge that we’re facing is we have 18 to 32 inches of snow on the ground,” she said.

Just after 2 p.m., Baltimore Gas and Electric was down to 13,694 customers without power, and a company spokeswoman said the “vast majority” of those should be restored by Monday night.

Linda Foy, a BGE spokeswoman, said only isolated outages will remain Tuesday morning from the winter storm that, at some time or another, cut power to about 95,000 customers. The snow, she said, has made repair efforts extremely difficult. At times, when the equipment needing to be repaired is on a side street or in an alley, workers have had to park their vehicles blocks away and walk to the spot carrying heavy equipment, she said.

“It’s been a very, very labor-intensive project,” Foy said.

Foy said officials are concerned that customers might damage their meters as they dig out. She said BGE is advising customers to keep their meters free of snow and ice, so as not to further complicate repair efforts.

Pepco crews are still struggling to restore customers power; in some cases, they’re having to restore the same places twice because of ongoing outages, said Andre Francis, a company spokeswoman.

At the worst of it, 105,000 Pepco customers were without power Saturday, Francis said. As of about 1:20 p.m., about 64,000 customers were without power, but that understates the repair efforts. Pepco crews restored 190,000 outages, if you count those houses they had to restore multiple times, Francis said.

Montgomery County bore the brunt of the outages, and Francis said crews were “still having some issues getting to those areas where we need to restore power.” He said Pepco officials were working with county officials to clear the roadways that need to be cleared in order to restore power. They also had enlisted the help of crews from Progress Energy in North Carolina and Delmarva Power in Delaware, he said.

Without their help, we wouldn’t be able to restore as many as we have so far,” Francis said. “The roads are treacherous and safety is one of our number one values so we won’t send our crews into an area where we know there are unsafe conditions.”

Francis said he could not provide any expected times of restoration because crews were still assessing the damage from the storm. He said this storm was particularly acute because its snow was wet and heavy, easily breaking branches and toppling trees into power lines. -- Matt Zapatosky

2:15 p.m.: Some make do in cold, powerless homes

In Bethesda's Woodhaven neighborhood, where residents are in Day 2 of no power, no heat, no phones and no Internet, the Judson family is among many trying to figure out how to cope.

Rob Judson said there had been some side benefits to the chilly evening they spent Saturday in the cold. Sons Ben and Zach read by flashlight after putting on several layers of clothes and getting into their beds; mom Karen and dad Rob were able to finally get caught up on their part of Zach's upcoming Torah portion for his bar mitzvah, which is still several weeks away.

"Finally, we could get something done. There were no distractions," Rob said.

All of the food from their refrigerator was packaged up by Karen in plastic bags and put out in a snow bank. And Sunday nightt, they plan to get to a friend's house a few miles away where there is power.

"We are going to watch the Super Bowl, and I couldn't care less about the Super Bowl," Rob said. But at least there will be plenty of warn food, and a warn house to allow the Judsons to defrost before they go back to their frigid house.

A neighbor who works for Pepco told them that power likely would not be restored until Sunday night at the earliest, meaning Monday could be Day 3 of Artic conditions in Woodhaven and other neighborhoods near Walt Whitman High School. And driving is very hazardous -- most streets, including Bradley Boulevard, a main thoroughfare, have yet to be plowed.

Across the District line in the Old Farm neighborhood in Rockville, resident Janice Schneider also stuck it out.

The heat and power had been off for most of a day, then flicked back on Saturday night, only to go out again Sunday morning. (She had called PEPCO four times.)

But by the time Schneider and her family had figured out how to get through the outage. They cooked an Indian curry on their gas stove. Lit candles when it got dark. Burned firewood to heat the family room. Played Scrabble. Even made s'mores.

"We were prepared," she said. "All the major food groups. Chocolate. Marshallow. Graham crackers."

She grew up in northern New Jersey, a place with what seemed like more snow storms. "Its no big deal," Schneider said. "There's enough food, enough warmth."

The Woodley Park area of Rock Creek Park saw adjustment and improvisation of a different sort.

Some of the sledders there used the usual plastic tobagans and inflatable inner tubes, but most coasting down the hills turned to more creative options: trash bags, a suitcase, an old-fashioned wooden model that's been in the family for four decades, a flattened cardboard box with a pie tin ducktaped to the edge to serve as the headrest.

Francesca Di Silvio, a 28-year-old, tried a baking tray from her kitchen. "When I was in college at Georgetown we used to use cafeteria trays so that was my inspiration," she said.

But first prize clearly goes to Vanessa Benoit, 35, who bought a child-sized aero-bed for her 5-year-old son Pablo because stores had already run out of traditional sleds.

"It's the best," she said. "The kids can ride it 4 or even 5 at a time. It's like a magnet. Every time we go down more adults and children jump on. It's a great way to meet people."

-- N.C. Aizenman, Miranda Spivak and Donna St. George

2 p.m.: Trudging through snow even harder for some

wheelchair2.JPG

The sludgy berm of snow was only a half foot high, but for Larry Stroman it was impassable. His motorized wheelchair made it from his apartment building on Florida Avenue NW to the Giant on 9th Street -- where he realized his food stamp card was expired -- but it got stuck at 11th and U streets on the way home. Plows had piled snow up onto the curb, creating a daunting obstacle for anyone with a disability.

Every couple minutes, people on their way to brunch would stop to give Stroman a push. They'd struggle against the snow, apologize and move on. Help eventually arrived in a white minivan.

wheelchair1.JPGNortheast resident and barber Brian Pearis was driving around, looking for people to convey, hoping to make a couple bucks while work was closed. He and pedestrians Leonard Bell, Corey Cochran and Martha Nelson pushed Stroman as far as possible, lifted him over the snow and into the minivan, and wedged the heavy wheelchair in the trunk. Pearis and Stroman set out for Florida Avenue at 4 miles per hour.

"I'm sorry I don't have money," said Stroman, 58, a former automotive technician consigned to the wheelchair by six strokes. His face was hidden behind sunglasses, a prickly black-and-white beard and a camouflage hoodie.

"Don't worry about that," said Pearis, 47, a tall man in a Wizards cap, gray sweatsuit and black vest. "Just want to see you home."

On the slow, four-block ride, the men discovered they were both ex-military -- Stroman served in Vietnam with the Army, Pearis was in the reserves for eight years. At Stroman's building, Pearis unloaded his wheelchair and eased Stroman into it.

"All right, soldier," said Pearis, saluting him.

"Appreciate it," said Stroman, backing into his building, minus the food he had planned to get. He recently enrolled in Medicaid after his previous insurer folded, he said, but hadn't yet been assigned a home health aide. He planned to use his cell phone to get food. Whom would he call?

"I don't know," he said. -- Dan Zak

1:51 p.m.: Two big Snowmageddon transportation numbers

500,000: The tons of snow the Virginia Department of Transportation says it has removed from the commonwealth's roads.

0: The number of flights into or out of Reagan National Airport today.

12:51 p.m.: Another tool in region's snow-removal kit: inmates

Think you just spotted some D.C. Department of Corrections inmates shoveling the sidewalk outside that Metro station? Some prisoners from Alexandria clearing snow away from that fire hydrant?

Your eyes didn't deceive you. The District Department of Transportation has a memorandum of understanding with their counterparts at the Department of Corrections that allows them to tap inmates to clear snow and ice on a periodic basis. The inmates get $7.50 an hour, and DDOT picks up the tab of the guards assigned to watch them, according to that memorandum.

Alexandria has a similar program. Right now, a crew of 11 inmates is out clearing snow, said Tony Castrilli, a city spokesman. "They would normally be picking up trash or cleaning up rec centers," he said. "Just another way to help clear the streets for this historic snowstorm."

Castrilli said the inmates have to meet specific criteria to be eligible for the work program; they cannot be violent felons, he said. -- Matt Zapatosky

12:32 p.m.: Power outages force residents from homes

In the Old Farm neighborhood off Montrose Road in North Bethesda, many families took refuge from the storm and stayed in the nearby Marriott North Bethesda across from the White Flint Metro station.

The 450-room hotel was sold out by Saturday for the weekend. A Marriott reservation agent said she had no rooms left for several hotels in Maryland and the closest one was 14 miles away, in Tysons Corner.

Jackie Zelenko and her husband Brian and teenage daughter Jennie stayed put through the storm. Their house, like much of the neighborhood, lost power for about 20 hours; it finally came back at 10 p.m. Saturday. Many residents had just finished putting food they had stored outside back in their refrigerators when everything went dark again at about 11 a.m.

This time, Zelenko said she was finding a warmer place.

"I'm done being a pioneer and we're going to my sister-in-law's and husband's and my adorable nieces," she said. She and her husband were working out the logistics. Their street, Sulky Lane, is a winding, uphill cul-de-sac that often is among the last to be cleared.

"It would be a shock if we saw a plow," she said. -- Lena H. Sun

12:23 p.m.: Montgomery County Schools closed until Wednesday

Montgomery County Public Schools have announced that all schools will be closed on Monday and Tuesday and that all school and community activities have been canceled for those days. Administrative offices also will be closed on Monday.

Also closed Monday in Maryland: Howard County public schools. In Virginia: Fairfax County Public Schools, Alexandria City Public Schools, Arlington County Public Schools, Stafford County Public Schools. Loudoun County Public Schools will be closed both Monday and Tuesday.

Keep up-to-date on what's open today, or with what schools will be closed tomorrow.

12:15 p.m.: Fixes and a free replacement for snow-interrupted satellite TV

Cross-posted from Rob Pegoraro's Faster Forward blog.

Satellite TV reception can suffer from what's known as "rain fade" and "snow fade" -- when precipitation in the air degrades the signal. But many satellite subscribers have suffered a different sort of snow fade during this weekend's epic blizzard: snow piling up right on the dish. Which can be a big problem with the Super Bowl kicking off in about six hours -- one friend already has canceled his game-watching party because of this, although the unplowed streets around his Herndon residence also factored into that call.

If your dish is close enough, try using a long pole, stick or broom to brush the snow off the dish and the "LNB" antenna mounted in front of it. If that's not possible, some viewers have reported that throwing enough snowballs at the dish and LNB can shake the snow loose. Or you could try to go out on the roof and take care of things firsthand ... but, please, be careful up there. Very careful.

Another option, if you have a digital TV or converter box and an antenna, is to watch the game off the air for free. CBS affiliate WUSA will be broadcasting the game, and it recently increased the power of its transmission. If you can't get your satellite reception in gear -- or if your cable's gone out -- try tuning into channel 9.1 or having your tuner rescan the airwaves to pick up that channel. You'll need a VHF antenna, such as one with adjustable rabbit ears, to pick up this signal; an indoor antenna can work in many spots within a few miles of WUSA's transmitter in Tenleytown, while farther out you may need an attic or rooftop antenna.

Got other tips for working around snow-driven TV and telecom issues? Share them in the comments...

11:28 a.m. -- Washington's Winter X Games

Towering snow drifts? Deadly ice patches? "Perfect!" say local aficionados of cyclo-cross--who race on roadbikes outfitted with knobby tires.

An informal heat expected to attract dozens and possibly a few hundred is being organized starting at noon at Exercise Park in Rock Creek Park near the Calvert Street entrance in Woodley Park.

Popularized in Europe just after World War I when streets were pocked with bomb craters and strewn with rubble, the sport makes a virtue of challenging road conditions.

"So this is going to be great riding!" exulted Kevin Dillard, 43, a courier who lives in Washington, and one of a clutch of enthusiasts who had gathered to chat and sip coffee on a street corner in Adams Morgan by late morning.

Cyclo-cross is also as much about comradery as competition. "It's traditional to have waffles and Belgian beer afterward," said Sol Schott, 42, a pastry chef from Arlington. "And then of course there's the music -- lots of music."

Still, in Winter races tend to attract more hardcore traditional bike racers looking to stay in shape. Schott was looking forward to taking them on today. "This kind of weather is the great equalizer," he said laughing.

"You can be an incredibly fit athlete and still get beat by some guy who smokes a couple packs a day."

Also:: Anyone who wishes they'd made one of the many large, organized snowball fights yesterday still have a chance today with a fight that starts at noon on the Ellipse in front of the White House. More information here. Heard of any other fun snow-themed activities going on today? Let us know!

Finally, another gold medal event from Saturday: the Mt. Pleasant luge:

11:08 a.m. -- Snow hobbles firefighting efforts

In a scene that seems to be repeating itself across the D.C. region, firefighters in Fairfax County were hobbled Saturday night in their efforts to douse a blaze in Great Falls by a 1,500-foot driveway covered in nearly 30 inches of snow, authorities said.

Even in trying to get to the driveway in the 11200 block of West Montpelier Road around 8 p.m., some emergency vehicles got stuck, said Dan Schmidt, a Fairfax County Fire Department spokesman. And when firefighters finally arrived, they had to walk up the driveway to make sure no one was trapped inside the house, he said. Thankfully, the two occupants of the house had escaped, he said.

Firefighters eventually plowed a path up to the two-story home and doused the blaze, but the property is considered a total loss, Schmidt said.

“When you’re pushing 30 inches of snow, that’s just incredible,” Schmidt said. “Nothing can get back there.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Schmidt said. He said the Red Cross was assisting a man and a woman who lived in the home.

Fire officials across the region are asking residents to plow their driveways and the areas around fire hydrants to facilitate rescue efforts. -- Matt Zapatosky

10:57 a.m. -- D.C. Council member closes offices for Monday, urges city to do same; storm affects trash, recycling pickup

Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) said he will close his office Monday to give his employees time to dig out of their homes and called on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to do the same for the entire government.

In a news release Sunday, Brown said the city has been overwhelmed by the snowfall.
Fenty, applauded for leading his administration through an effective snow removal during the last storm, has not announced the plan for government offices yet. But his administration, including D.C. Public Schools, has become known for remaining open while other jurisdictions shut down their governments and schools.

"I have received updates from all over the city of residents that have just begun to dig themselves out from the Blizzard of 2010," Brown said in a statement. "I have also received reports that most of the city's sidewalks are impassable, forcing many residents to venture out on foot to walk in the streets."

In other city services news, the Department of Public Works will only collect trash in the front of homes and businesses, and recycling collection will be suspended the rest of the week. The bulk collection scheduled for Monday also has been canceled.

Residents are asked to place garbage in dark plastic bags and to put them out as close to the time of collection as possible. DPW recommends placing bleach in the trash to repel rodents.

-- Nikita Stewart

10:37 a.m. -- Eight hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning

Eight people, including four children, were hospitalized Sunday morning after they sustained carbon monoxide poisoning from a charcoal grill that was lit inside their home, authorities said.

Firefighters were dispatched to the 13600 block of Cedar Creek Lane in the Silver Spring-Burtonsville area just before 9:30 a.m. for the report of several sick adults and children and an infant who was unconscious, said Capt. Oscar Garcia, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. Medics and others arrived to find eight people—four adults and four children — outside of the home exhibiting clear signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, he said. They were all transported to nearby hospitals with non-life threatening injuries; the infant apparently had regained consciousness when firefighters arrived, Garcia said.

Garcia said he is not sure why the people were using a charcoal grill inside the home, but it can be surmised that it was used as a heating tool in the midst of the historic snowstorm that has left tens of thousands without power. Authorities advise against using charcoal grills or kerosene or propane heaters in non-ventilated spaces, he said, because they generate significant amounts of deadly, odorless gas.

“They need to be well ventilated,” he said. “You’re going to have some heat, but at the same time, you’re going to have carbon monoxide buildup.”

Learn more about sources of carbon monoxide, symptoms of poisoning and how to prevent it.

10:20 a.m. -- Prince George's executive candidate starts effort dig out seniors

In the wake of the monumental snow storm, Prince George's County Executive candidate Rushern L. Baker III (D) has begun organizing volunteers to "help dig out senior citizens and others with medical limitations" by shoveling snow, the Baker campaign said in a statement.

On Friday, County Executive Jack B. Johnson declared a state of emergency, and several agencies have been tapped to help battle the blizzard. In a statement Saturday, county officials said "nearly 30 inches or more of snow has fallen in locations throughout the county."

"State and county government resources are stretched to the limit but the county's supply of good will and good neighbors never runs short," Baker said in a statement. "Everyone's chipping in. The Prince George's County Firefighters and EMS Union has also offered to help and the campaign is currently mobilizing citizens. We are just tapping into the spirit of communities; neighbors helping each other out."

The campaign is sending an e-mail and text blast to more than 7,000 county residents and organizations looking for volunteers to form "big dig teams," Baker's statement said. Baker is asking volunteers to contact the campaign at bigdig@rushernbaker.com, or at 301-637-3381.

The campaign expects the first teams to "fan out" across Prince George's Monday afternoon.

The union that represents county fire and ems workers endorsed Baker in January. -- Jonathan Mummolo

10:16 a.m. -- Snow routes in the city

A couple of notes from the snowbound streets of Washington.

stuckplow.jpgThe District Department of Transportation has sent out a reminder on Twitter that emergency snow routes remain in effect, so residents need to keep their cars off of them. See a list of affected roads (pdf file).

Meanwhile, The Post's Vanessa Williams reports that, away from the city's snow routes, things can get dicey for the most rugged of vehicles. Around 11 p.m. last night. On the 1300 block of Rittenhouse Street NW, a one-way residential street, a dumptruck-style snow plow got stuck. Eleven hours later, it's still there.

UPDATE, 5:23 p.m.: 18 hours later, the snowbound plow (at right in photo) finally was freed by a tow truck.

9:59 a.m. -- Roof collapses on store in Prince George's

A roof has collapsed at a store in a Prince George's County strip mall, authorities said.

The incident occurred just before 9:45 a.m. in the 7900 block of Penn Randall Place in Upper Marlboro, authorities said. No one was inside the building, and no one was hurt.

This historic snowstorm has been causing roof collapses and other damage throughout the region. A snow-laden roof on a hangar for private jets at Dulles International Airport collapsed on four planes housed inside about 8 a.m. Saturday, but the five people in the building escaped without injury, airport officials said. The roof of the Prince William Ice Center in Woodbridge also collapsed, but no injuries were reported.

Two church facilities were also damaged in snow-related incidents. A tree fell on the roof of Joshua's Temple First Born Church on Sheriff Road in Northeast Washington, D.C. fire officials said. (The parishioners will hold services outside the church at 1 p.m. today -- keep an eye on washingtonpost.com for coverage.) The roof and walls gave way, leaving only the vestibule and steeple. In Southern Maryland, the roof on St. John's School in Hollywood caved in, destroying more than half a dozen classrooms, said a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington.

A Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman said he was looking into the most recent incident at the strip mall to provide more details. They will be posted as they become available.

9:11 a.m. -- Why stay home? Virginia State Police provide data

No surprise here: it's been a mess for those getting in their cars and trying to brave the roadways during Snowmageddon.

According to statistics just released by the Virginia State Police, troopers responded to 4,373 calls for service statewide from midnight Friday through 6 a.m. Sunday. Those calls included 1,713 traffic crashes and 1,699 disabled vehicles. The state police's Fairfax Division alone responded to 681 calls for service, including 435 disabled vehicles and 121 traffic crashes.

Only one crash related to the weather has been fatal, and that occurred early Friday morning on I-81 in Wythe County. State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said a father and his adult son were killed. -- Matt Zapatosky

7:20 a.m. -- More than 100,000 without power

Power companies have worked through the night have continue to restore electricity to homes. Still, more than 100,000 remain without power--about half the number who were without electricity during the height of the storm.

On the transportation front, road remain slick and authorities are urging customers to stay off the road. Metro will run underground service only. Metrobus and MetroAccess are not scheduled to operate. Dulles is opening for limited flights on Sunday. Call ahead. Amtrak, in a repeat of Saturday, has cut much of its service along the eastern seaboard.

Suburban bus service will not operate on Sunday. Here is the breakdown, which reflects no change from Saturday:

Fairfax Connector bus service will not operate Sunday. No word yet on Monday service

Montgomery County Ride On bus service will not operate Sunday. No word yet on Monday service.

Alexandria's DASH bus service will not operate Sunday. Officials expect to make a decision after 7 p.m. Sunday about Monday service.

12:30 a.m. -- UPDATE
Authorities across the region reported no major incidents, but persistent difficulties with frequent issues arising from weather mayhem: slick ramps around major highways and bridges, a few zany souls trying to pass treacherous roadways and residents complaining about massive power outages.

Plow trucks finally were able to begin work on clearing some neighborhoods, but officials cautioned that drivers and pedestrians should remain off the roads throughout the early hours of Sunday.

Utility companies and some rescue personnel found the neighborhood streets difficult to enter, which hampered efforts to restore power to hundreds of thousands without electricity. However, companies reported significant improvement in outage numbers from earlier Saturday.

Pepco reduced its number of outages to under 80,000, though large swaths of Montgomery County remained in the dark, with more than 70,000 outages reported. Prince George's had more than 7,000 without power about midnight, while the District had 2,000.

Dominion power reported more than 42,000 without service, with high numbers of outages in the Alexandria and Arlington areas. BGE reported about 18,000 customers without service, more than 6,000 in Anne Arundel County.

Want to know what Post readers are doing to stave off cabin fever? Check out The Washington Post's Metro fan page on Facebook to see. And while you're at it, become a fan and tell us what you're doing to keep busy.

12:25 a.m. -- Roads still treacherous VDOT officials still report severe conditions on many main arteries such as ramps to I-395 and I-66, plus Route 1, Route 7 and the Dulles Toll Road and others. In Fairfax County, many side roads remained closed due to downed trees or power lines in areas such as Springfield and Ashburn.
In Maryland, state crews seemed to have a handle on major thoroughfares, but state police reported slick conditions on off-ramps and overpasses.

See Saturday's Snowmageddon news feed.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | February 7, 2010; 6:34 PM ET
Categories:  Weather  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Cleanup to take days; Sunday Metro service limited
Next: Shelters and warming centers

Comments

Was this an adult who put a charcoal grill inside the house?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | February 7, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

So when will the WaPo put up a PDF of Sunday's paper for all the subscribers who haven't received the paper? Some Gannett papers have done so.

Should subscribers assume their subscriptions will be automatically extended to cover the non-delivery?

Posted by: AStMarysConstituient | February 7, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

MoCo actually did something smart by deciding now to close schools for two days. Parents can plan better now.

Hey, my cable is working, and I'm open to letting anybody whose sat dish is out come to my house to watch THE GAME. Bring wings and wine, and I'll charge a very reasonable admission fee. :)

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 7, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

On a more serious note, can you imagine what the roads are going to like tomorrow, with frozen slush, mounds of snow blocking intersections, cars sliding all over the place, and pedestrians walking on the street because the sidewalks aren't cleared? I hope that OMB takes that into account.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 7, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I think you meant OPM, not OMB.

I hope my own bosses take this into account. Our policy is that so long as the office is "officially open" we either have to work from home or use leave time. But my question is, will the office be "officially open" if NO ONE can get there? That's a very real possibility given that its located on a secondary VDOT road, which may not get plowed even once before tomorrow.

Posted by: thetan | February 7, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

For those trying to get over the air TV and don't have a set of rabbit ears or other antenna try this. Take a coax cable at least 6ft long (needs to be long enough to reach the tv from where you hang the other end). Cut off one end at the connector and strip 18" of the cable down to the center copper wire (i.e. take off the outer jacket, metal sleeve and the foam). Put a small loop in the end and use the loop to hang the cable from the wall. Connect the other end (with the remaining coax connector) to your TV or converter box.

Posted by: mstjohns | February 7, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

to thetan: You're right, I meant OPM.

I am set up to telecommute via remote access, which mirrors my office PC, but to do so, even on a day when there's unscheduled leave, I have to e-mail my supervisor to request permission for that specific day. I have to list what I'm planning to work on via telecommuting. If and when he approves it, I have to forward the e-mail to my office's Administrative Officer. Then, the next day, I have to send another e-mail, listing what I actually did do, and explaining why I didn't do everything I said I was going to do, if that's the case. It's pretty ridiculous, if you ask me. Although trying to drive to work would be even more ridiculous (and dangerous).

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 7, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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