Washington frolics in 'snowmageddon'

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The Independent US

Residents of Washington DC began the heavy task yesterday of digging out from one of the biggest snowstorms on record. Transport networks were paralysed but the capital was left with a fairyland cladding of snow, triggering a monster snowball fight on Dupont Circle, just blocks from the White House.

President Barack Obama who, as a recent resident of Chicago, has been teasing Washingtonians for their propensity to panic when a few flakes fall, took the emergency in his stride, ditching his armoured Cadillac in favour of a four-wheel drive to make it as far as the Capital Hilton hotel on Saturday. He began his remarks with a reference to "snowmaggedon", to general laughter.

Probably he wasn't aware of the slither and slide performed by a vehicle in his motorcade as it emerged from the White House grounds. A van reserved for the media collided with another vehicle. None of the reporters had boarded, however, and no one was hurt.

The fun and games at Dupont Circle came about after a call to arms on Facebook. Aside from one another, the hundred-odd frolickers took most pleasure in targeting passing police cruisers and gas-guzzling SUV cars (not the President's).

Elsewhere in the region, misery mixed with the magic of the snowfall. All major airports were closed and most train links were cut. Two deaths were reported and states of emergency were declared in several states.

By the time it was over, roughly 20 inches had blanketed Washington, while Baltimore saw a record 30 inches and Philadelphia was digging out of almost 27 inches. Roughly 400,000 homes were without power as night fell on Saturday. Further north in New York, however, nary a flake fell.

The forecasters had another word for the white mess: snowpocalypse. And the forecast calls for another major blast of weather on Wednesday this week. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, host to the Winter Olympics, which open this Friday, recent balmy weather has led to an early eruption of cherry blossoms.

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