Remembering Washington snowstorms

Getting around on the Washington Mall during a blizzard in 2003.
Getting around on the Washington Mall during a blizzard in 2003. (Photos by Doug Thompson)
Only foot traffic on a normally busy street in Washington, DC.
Only sparse foot traffic on a normally busy street.

It’s always interesting — and often funny  — to consider how Floyd Countians cope with snowstorms compared to the absolute panic that usually seizes Washington, DC, whenever a single flake of snow falls on the National Capital Region.

We saw a lot of snow — small, medium, large and extra large — during our 23 years living in the Washington region.  It often took only an inch or so on the ground that cause a mass of accidents, traffic tie-ups and more in the seat of America’s national government.

Heavy snows and blizzards, of course, seized the city and stopped life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in Washington.  It often took days and longer to recover.  Airports closed.  People stayed home.  Very little vehicular traffic on the streets. Even the subways stopped running.

In some storms, even walking was difficult.
In some storms, even walking was difficult.

I was in Albuquerque in 1984 when a heavy snow storm shut down traffic and Amy was planning to join me but an Air Florida plane iced up on takeoff and struck the 14th Street Bridge leading into Washington.  She stayed home, I finished up my assignment in the Land of Enchantment and came back to the madness.

I was in Manila, Philippines, when a blizzard shut down Washington and the news and photos occupied all of the front page of the Manila Bulletin newspaper.  Amy said I had better stay over there until things got back to normal.  As it happened on my flight home, I connected to a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Washington and got as far as Denver before airports in the nation’s Capital shut down.  I spent three days in Colorado waiting for Dulles Airport to reopen.

I reported on the last blizzard in Washington in 2003, a year before we packed up and moved to Floyd.  The city was at a standstill.  My favorite photo of that period was an enterprising man who pulled out his cross country ski equipment to traverse the city.  I caught the photo above when he traveled along the National Mall in front of the Capitol.

Some cynics, myself included, said America worked best when snow storms shut down the government.

It probably did.

What? The Metro is closed?
What? The Metro is closed?
A Washington resident tries to cope.
A Washington resident tries to cope.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.