Nightly News   |  February 13, 2010

Snow gridlock tests capital’s patience

Things are still far from back-to-normal in Washington, D.C., as the city struggles to clear the snow from congested streets. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> for hawaii. and we learned today the cold, snowy weather we've seen in the american south lately may, in fact, be connected with the relatively warm weather we're experiencing here in vancouver. our friends at the weather channel tell us both are a result of the weather panel known as el nino which is also being blamed for the paralyzing series of blizzards that hit the mid-atlantic region this past week. and as nbc's tom costello reports, things are still far from back to normal in the nation's capital.

>> we've heard it described as the rush hour from hell, and now doing the sequel, the rush hour back again.

>> reporter: take a look at what 20 to 40 inches of snow can do to a city equipped for a seasonal average of just 15.

>> it's terrible! i'm ready to get to where i want to be.

>> reporter: washington, and the surrounding suburbs, have been going nowhere fast. since two back-to-back blizzards left the city struggling to dig out. on friday, as federal employees returned to work after four snow days , mountains of snow reduced multilane roads down to single lanes. throw in a subway derailment and cowboys of snow plows and commute times easily tripled.

>> the worst commute in the area probably since 9/11 when the pentagon was struck.

>> reporter: even today on a saturday traffic cameras showed more gridlock. a week since the first storm hit, some neighborhoods are still impassable. and tempers are boiling.

>> i could just kick our mayor's butt.

>> the mayor is the guy in charge and he needs to do it.

>> reporter: the mayor, struggling with low approval ratings, has heard the message.

>> trash and snow. if they don't pick up the trash, you are going to be come barded with calls. and the same is true about snow.

>> reporter: political analysts stu rothenberg .

>> a bad storm can be a defining moment for a political figure. and a defining moment in a very, very negative way.

>> reporter: new york mayor john lindsay nearly lost his job after a blizzard in 1969 . chicago mayor michael balandic and denver mayor bill mcnichols were voted out. the good news for the mayor? monday is a holiday. another chance to try to clear some snow. and all of the snow has actually led to a drop in crime. tom costello, nbc news, washington.

>>> when we come back from