Nightly News   |  February 06, 2010

Snow brings D.C. to its knees

The storm jokingly dubbed “Snowmageddon” by the president paralyzed the nation’s capital, snarling travel, knocking out power and keeping mailmen from their rounds. NBC’s Mike Viqueira reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> six days away. tonight our big story is snow. here, where they could use it, there is not enough, while along the u.s. mid- atlantic coast there is too much of it after a ferocious paralyzing blizzard. some 30 million people from ohio eastward were in the path of this storm. tonight many of them are buried in snow. baltimore, more than 26 inches tonight. the second biggest snowstorm ever for that city. pittsburgh, just over 21 inches. and in washington , d.c. 24 inches, close to a record. washington is where we begin our coverage tonight with nbc's mike viqueira at the white house in a virtual whiteout. mike?

>> reporter: lester , good evening. in the last few minutes it has stopped snowing here at the white house in downtown washington . finally. but after 30 hours of at times very heavy snow it was a storm that has left a city crippled in its wake. usually, the gridlock is political. but today snow is paralyzing the city. the snowfall measuring two feet downtown, much deeper beyond the monuments. no flights in or out of all three major airports. passenger train service suspended. no city buses to ride and metro trains stayed underground. roads were near impassable as officials urged drivers to stay home and make way for plows and emergency vehicles .

>> pregnant people needing to go to the hospital, getting a little antsy. they feel they can't go by themselves so, they call 911 for the ambulance.

>> reporter: even the mailman couldn't make his appointed rounds. deliveries called off. dubbed the snow-pocalypse as the storm approached, the biggest punch came over night when the snow fell at three inches an hour, a pace that continued all day.

>> today it was all about safety.

>> reporter: the wet, heavy snow piled up on trees, snapping limbs and bringing down power lines . leaving 200,000 customers without electricity at midday. at dulles airport an airplane hangar partially collapsed. and in the city a 100-year-old neighborhood church was demolished by the weight of the snow. at the white house the president kept a date for a speech at a nearby hotel. and the chicago native acknowledged the weather.

>> snow-mageddon here in d.c. i noticed somebody had "californians for obama." and i was thinking, you guys are not used to this.

>> reporter: his motorcade halting when a branch suddenly fell on an suv filled with photographers. the president had already safely passed by. the storm threatens to be the biggest ever in d.c. history, eclipsing the 28 inches that fell in 1922 during the historic knickerbocker storm , when the roof of a theater collapsed, killing 98 people.

>> 24 inches here in connecticut.

>> reporter: this is the second major storm of the season here. and some are making the best of it, using facebook to meet up at dupont circle for a snowball showdown. others wonder what's coming next.

>> unfortunately, there's another storm coming our way for late tuesday and wednesday. and we don't want to hear about that.

>> reporter: and lester , this city will wake up tomorrow and start to dig out. the mayor here, mayor fenty, says he promises everything will be back to business as usual on monday. but many people are skeptical. lester ?

>> mike viqueira, thanks. with some remarkable pictures from washington . you