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After the storms, Washington area confronts a new snow problem

In the wake of “Snowmageddon,” the blizzard that paralyzed the mid-Atlantic region, officials Thursday turned to the mammoth task of digging out, challenged by the logistical problem of where to dump mountains of snow.

“There is so much snow that there is nowhere to push it,” said Esther Bowring, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County government in Maryland, which is hauling snow to parks.

Although airports reopened Thursday, the federal government remained shut for a fourth straight day, and many schools are closed. Emergency workers, including National Guard troops in Humvees, rescued stranded motorists.

Officials pleaded with the public for patience on road clearance and cautioned that it could be a couple of weeks before life returned to normal. Forecasters predicted a chance of more snow on Monday, albeit lighter amounts.

“This is no longer just a plow operation. There is too much snow accumulation on some streets for the plows to adequately move the snow,” said Gabe Klein, Washington’s transportation chief.

Baltimore has dumped snow in parking lots at Pimlico Race Course and sent for a snow-melting machine from Ohio. Maryland environmental officials have given permission for “relatively clean snow” to be deposited in large tidal water bodies, such as Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. At Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., outside Washington, snow is being hauled to an economy parking lot.

Elsewhere in Virginia, trucks are hauling it to a construction site near the Wilson Bridge, where melting runoff can be monitored, said Virginia transportation official Jeff Caldwell.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley cautioned motorists to get used to driving conditions more commonly found in Minnesota.

“Citizens need to appreciate the magnitude of this storm and how challenging it will be to remove this much snow,” O’Malley said.

This week’s blizzard brought snowfall at Reagan National Airport to 55.9 inches for the season, the most in the area since record-keeping began in 1884, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record was set in the winter of 1898-99.

Baltimore- Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has recorded 79.9 inches of snow this season, breaking a record set in 1995-96.

richard.simon

@latimes.com


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