FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Love is blooming in the snow as Mid-Atlantic residents dig out from the winter’s biggest storm in time for Valentine’s Day.
The nor’easter that buried Maryland, Delaware and northern Virginia in up to 19 inches of snow was linked to at least four deaths. After a second, smaller wave of snowfall overnight, transportation officials around the region are warning people Friday to watch out for ice and some flooding. Officials said they were monitoring forecasts for another storm Friday night into Saturday.
Maryland State Highway Administration crews continued to clear snow from primary and secondary roads around the state Friday morning and treated packed down snow on stretches of Interstate 70 and U.S. Route 29. Icy conditions closed a southbound section of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway for a time early Friday.
The federal government and District of Columbia government planned to open two hours late. Delaware was set to open state offices in New Castle County two hours late and in Maryland a liberal leave policy was in effect for state workers.
Most schools announced they would be closed for a second day Friday, and some local government offices, including those in hard-hit Frederick and Baltimore counties in Maryland, were allowing liberal leave for non-emergency workers.
A truck driver in Ashburn, Va., died Thursday while working to clear snowy roads. State police say he had pulled off the road and was standing behind his vehicle when he was hit by another dump truck.
Howard County, Md., fire officials said two men died after suffering medical emergencies while shoveling snow, and a third died when he collapsed outside. Autopsies will determine if any of the deaths were due directly to the weather.
But as the region’s airports, roads and businesses reopened amid forecasts for a sunny Friday, there was relief that the storm was less punishing than predicted.
Power outages spiked to nearly 20,000 in Maryland during the second wave of snowfall late Thursday night, but were down to about 2,000 by Friday morning. More than 150,000 outages were reported during last week’s ice storm.
The ice storm forced cancellation of nearly 70 percent of one night’s reservations at the chic Volt restaurant in downtown Frederick, Md., said T.J. Whitman, the restaurant’s wine director. In contrast, Volt lost just a quarter of its Thursday reservations to the snow and saw no significant drop in Valentine’s Day reservations, he said.
“I think we’ve lost all of, like, eight total guests” for Valentine’s Day, he said. “That’s just normal stuff. I don’t lose sleep over that.”
At Falls Church Florist in Virginia, owner Mike Flood had drivers making residential deliveries Thursday despite the snow, scrambling to fill orders ahead of Valentine’s Day. He said he expected to lose money but hoped for clear roads by Friday.
“We just pray. We pray all day,” he said.
Washington resident Rob Wolcott had marriage on his mind Thursday as he and his wife tried to get to St. Kitts for a friend’s Saturday wedding. Their scheduled morning flight out of Reagan National Airport was canceled.
Wolcott said the bride and groom were stressed about the delay because Wolcott was to play a special role in the nuptials.
“They will still get married whether or not I am the one to do the actual officiating,” he said.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)