US Congress remains closed after blizzard

  • 25/01/2016
People sled and play in the snow on the hill below the US Capitol in Washington (Reuters)
People sled and play in the snow on the hill below the US Capitol in Washington (Reuters)

The blizzard that blanketed Washington DC over the weekend put the Congress and some local services on ice for the time being, reinforcing the US capital’s reputation for being easily snowed under.

While New York and Philadelphia were getting back to business, Washington DC was not ready after a historic storm dumped more than 51cm of snow on the city and nearly 1 metre in surrounding areas.

Federal offices in the Washington DC area will be closed on Monday (local time), the US Office of Personnel Management announced late on Sunday afternoon.

The House of Representatives cancelled its votes for the rest of the week, while the Senate delayed its first vote of the week to Wednesday evening from Tuesday.

Schools in the District of Columbia and some suburbs will be closed on Monday.

Both major airports in the DC metropolitan area, Reagan National and Washington Dulles International, were completely closed on Sunday with all flights cancelled.

Baltimore-Washington International Airport planned to re-open on Sunday but warned on Twitter that flights would be "very limited" and "airlines will be slow to get back on track".

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates local subways and buses, said it will resume limited service on Monday. It was shut down over the weekend.

Even the slightest dusting of snow can throw the area into turmoil, which occurred on Wednesday night when just an inch of the white stuff iced over inadequately treated roads and caused hours of traffic chaos.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, who issued a public apology for those commuting headaches, held numerous press conferences during the weekend blizzard, which locals dubbed "Snowzilla".

Offices of the state of Maryland, whose capital Annapolis is 80km east of Washington DC, will be closed on Monday, as will Virginia state offices.

District of Columbia government offices also will be closed.

Washington has not seen this big a snowstorm in decades and locals took full advantage to enjoy the wintry landscape.

With a ban on sledding on Capitol Hill recently lifted by congress, the slopes outside the Capitol building were bustling.

But skiers and snowboarders were shooed away from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for their own safety and out of concerns their playfulness was disrespectful.

AAP