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Storm blasts Midwest and heads east

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 10:15 am

HAGERSTOWN, Md. – After pummeling the nation’s midsection with heavy snow, a late-winter storm made its way today to the nation’s capital, where residents braced for the possibility of power outages.

As the storm closed in, the federal government said its offices in the Washington, D.C., area would be closed today. Many major school systems around Washington and Baltimore announced pre-emptive closures as well.

By early today, wet snow was falling in the Washington area. It was accumulating on the grass in some areas, but not on the streets as temperatures hovered above freezing. The worst of the storm was expected to arrive by midday.

The storm brought around 10 inches of snow to weather-hardened Chicago by late Tuesday, when snow was also starting to come down in parts of Virginia. Schools were closed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, and more than 1,100 flights were canceled at Chicago’s two major airports, prompting delays and closures at others.

Washington’s mayor is urging people to stay off the roads as snow from the winter storm moves through the region.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said this morning in an interview on The Weather Channel that the “most important thing for us is to keep people off the street” so that emergency operations personnel can do their jobs.

Gray says city schools and the government are closed and the city’s emergency operations center is up and running.

The mayor said more than 450 pieces of snow equipment have already been deployed.

Forecasters are warning of high winds with gusts of up to 40 mph across Georgia, part of the storm system that damaged several homes northwest of Atlanta and brought snow and ice to parts of the north Georgia mountains.

High winds damaged several homes near the Calhoun Premium Outlets along Interstate 75 in Gordon County around 4 p.m. Tuesday, Gordon County Chief Deputy Sheriff Robert Paris said.

About 10 homes appeared to be damaged, including one that housed an in-home day care, Gordon County Emergency Management Agency Director Richard Cooper told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. No injuries were reported.

Nearly 112,000 customers are without power and schools are closed in parts of Virginia. The University of Virginia and public school systems in the affected areas canceled classes today. Local government offices in Culpeper, Waynesboro and several other localities also are closed.

A winter storm warning remains in effect for these areas. The National Weather Service says parts of northern and western Virginia could see more than a foot of snow.

The Maryland State Highway Administration says it has 2,000 crews patrolling and treating state roads with salt.

The agency says it expects the snow to intensify during the day, adding to accumulations that were measured this morning. There was about 7 inches of snow in Keysers Ridge in the western Maryland mountains and 2 to 3 inches in central Maryland.