Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Washington Couldn't Handle a Sprinkle of Snow. Now It Could Get Pounded by 50 Cm

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Washington Couldn't Handle a Sprinkle of Snow. Now It Could Get Pounded by 50 Cm

Article excerpt

Winter weakling D.C. prepares for pounding


WASHNGTON, - America's capital just got knocked out by the meteorological equivalent of a 98-pound weakling.

Now it's about to go toe-to-toe with a hulking heavyweight of a snowstorm.

Bracing for a historic pounding, winter-wary Washington, D.C., has already declared a homeland-security event. Shelves are being emptied at chaotic grocery stores. Schools and offices are shutting pre-emptively, even though the storm probably won't hit before Friday afternoon.

Mayor Muriel Bowser warned citizens to prepare for knee-deep snow -- a potential 50-centimetre clobbering just a day after the quasi-southern city was paralyzed by snowfall that measured a twentieth of that.

A Washington Post reporter described a five hour, 30-minute commute home on Wednesday. Even President Barack Obama's motorcade got stuck in traffic -- with its passengers witnessing several accidents.

The mayor accepted blame for the problems, saying she didn't sufficiently deploy the city's 14 new snow dump-trucks, new Ford 550s and 39,000 tonnes of road salt to deal with the two-centimetre sprinkling.

"We are very sorry for the inadequate response," she told a news conference Thursday, which was originally scheduled to share news about the impending storm but became a mea culpa for the previous day's dusting.

"We should have been out earlier, with more resources. ... For that, we are very sorry."

The city usually gets a couple of snowstorms a year -- that is when the flakes doesn't instantly melt upon contact with the ground.

Yet its perennial struggles with winter have perplexed new arrivals for years.

That includes the first family. In his first week as president, Barack Obama expressed amazement at how quickly his daughters' new school declared a snow day. In this town, they don't just shut schools and offices when it snows. They shut them down when it might snow.

"When it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things," Obama said in 2009. …

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