Tuesday, January 18

Skiing in the streets, snowball battles: a snowstorm sweeps through Washington (video)

After a holiday season marked by particularly mild temperatures, a snowstorm swept through Washington and its region on Monday, shutting down federal services and schools, stopping buses, and accentuating air traffic disruptions.

Dome of the snow-covered Capitol, White House under a white blanket of snowflakes, skiing in the streets: about twenty centimeters of snow fell on the American capital. By 8:30 p.m. (2:30 a.m. HB), at least 3,173 domestic or international flights to or from the United States had been canceled, after 2,650 flights canceled on Sunday and 2,570 flights canceled on Saturday, according to the Flightaware website. Around 6,800 flights were also delayed during the day.

Air traffic paralyzed

The snowstorm accentuated the chaos that had already reigned in air traffic in the United States for weeks because of the outbreak of contaminations due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Earlier Monday, President Joe Biden himself had to weather the storm when he returned to the capital after a few days of vacation in Delaware (east).

His Air Force One plane was stuck on the tarmac for thirty minutes while the staff could clear the snow on the runway, then the presidential convoy was slowed down considerably on its way to the White House.

Households without electricity

“Be prepared for snowy and slippery roads, making traffic difficult”, had warned the meteorological services in a bulletin, mentioning strong winds accompanied by heavy snowfall. At least 340,000 homes were without power in Virginia and 67,000 in neighboring Maryland as of Monday evening, trees falling on high-voltage lines under the weight of snow.

The government announced Monday morning the shutdown of federal services in the city of Washington, resulting in the cancellation of the daily White House press conference, while the only vote of the day scheduled in the Senate was canceled and postponed until Tuesday. .

Faced with the elements, the city has also ordered the stop of bus traffic, as well as the closure of Covid-19 screening centers and the suspension of the distribution of rapid tests. Many schools were also closed Monday across the Washington, Maryland and Virginia area. “If it is not absolutely necessary that you go out, stay at home and do not take the road”, had enjoined the mayor of Washington Muriel Bowser, when many vehicles were found stuck on the roads because of the snow.

At the end of the afternoon, thanks to a ray of sunshine, many Americans had gathered on the National Mall, the great green belt in the center of the capital, for a huge snowball fight.


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