Another blast of arctic air follows snow in US
WASHINGTON (AP) — The seemingly endless winter dumped a half a foot snow on the ground in parts of the U.S. South, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and many areas Tuesday morning saw something even more unusual in March: a blast of arctic air that sent temperatures plummeting.
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport broke a 141-year-old record low temperature, reaching 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 Celsius). The National Weather Service said the low reached early Tuesday broke a 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 Celsius) record set on the day in 1873. It was also a record low for the month of March. Dulles International Airport — also outside Washington — tied a 1993 record for the month at -1 degree.
Both airports broke record lows two days in a row.
Schools and government offices along the East Coast were closed Tuesday or delayed opening. Virginia State Police said slickened roads were factors in three traffic deaths. And authorities in Maryland’s Prince George’s County said a 60-year-old woman died after shoveling snow there.
Blame it on a return of the “polar vortex.”
“That is the buzzword this winter, the polar vortex. That cold air just kind of migrates around the poles and the extreme northern latitudes all the time,” said Jim Lee, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia. “The jet stream enables that colder air to move down the East Coast.”
Monday’s snowstorm followed a pattern that’s become routine. Schools and government offices were closed. Federal workers stayed home — the fourth weather-related shutdown this season. Young adults gathered on the sloppy, slushy National Mall for a semi-organized, afternoon snowball fight.
Tourists, who flock to the nation’s capital 365 days a year, were seeking out whatever activities they could find.
The National Air and Space Museum was the only Smithsonian institution open, and it drew a crowd.
The storm had a major effect further south. Governors declared states of emergency in Virginia and Tennessee, where there were hundreds of traffic accidents and tens of thousands of power outages. Nearly 3,000 flights were canceled Monday.
Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia, contributed to this report.
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