D.C. Braces for Blizzard

Architect of the Capitol crews clear snow from the East Plaza of the Capitol at sunrise on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Architect of the Capitol crews clear snow from the East Plaza of the Capitol at sunrise on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted January 21, 2016 at 3:58pm

Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a snow emergency effective Friday morning, as the region prepares for a blizzard that could dump up to 2 feet of snow in the District over the weekend.  

Heavy snow is forecast to start Friday afternoon and last through Saturday evening with wind gusts at up to 50 mph that could lead to whiteout conditions, the National Weather Service said.  

The weather service issued a blizzard warning for the District and Baltimore from 3 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Sunday. The storm is expected to dump snow further up the East Coast into Sunday.  

Forecasters said while Washington is expected to get 24 inches of snow, western suburbs could get up to 30 inches.  

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Bowser’s declaration allows city employees to work beyond normal hours during the emergency and orders residents to move their cars from snow emergency routes by Thursday night or face towing or fines.  

For those who stay in the District, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., reminded families Thursday that Capitol Hill is open for sledding  thanks to a budget agreement reached last month that lifted a ban on sled-toting revelers on Capitol grounds.  

“Congress got out of the way, allowing our kids to freely enjoy what promises to be one of the best snowfalls in years,” Norton said in a statement.  

A decades-old prohibition on the fun came to light last year, when Capitol Police began enforcing the ban after looking the other way for years due to what one Roll Call tipster said was pressure from a top member of Congress.  

This year, Capitol Police are telling the public their sleds are welcome on the Hill — so long as weather conditions are not deemed unsafe. Police said in a statement if conditions are deemed unsafe, officers “will limit the amount of sledding in the best interest of the public.”  

Washington’s Metro announced it was limiting train and bus service Friday and suspending all service Saturday and Sunday.  

Train service will be suspended 11 p.m. Friday and bus service will stop at 5 p.m. Rail service is expected to resume Jan. 25 at 5 a.m.  

MetroAccess service for customers with disabilities will be suspended Friday at 6 p.m. with outbound trips suspended at 1 p.m. to avoid people becoming stranded.  

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Amtrak announced it would operate on a modified schedule for trains that run from Virginia to Boston. It also cancelled and modified train service on several routes originating from New York.  

Some airlines offered customers the opportunity to change previously scheduled reservations, penalty-free, to at a later date.  

American Airlines authorized one such ticket swap for passengers booked to fly Thursday through Sunday out of transportation hubs — including Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport — along the East Coast.  The waiver is good for trips conducted by Jan. 27.  

Votes in the House have been postponed from Jan. 25 to Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m.  

Follow our running list of closures and cancellations here:  

D.C. Public Schools will be closed Friday with athletic activities closed through Saturday. Administrative offices will close at noon.  

A Department of Transportation 50th anniversary celebration and panel Friday, where Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was expected to speak, has been postponed due to inclement weather.  

Snow won’t stop the 43rd annual March for Life Rally, which will begin at noon Friday near the Washington Monument.  

Warren Rojas contributed to this story.
Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter