WASHINGTON — Cross-country skiers lapped the Reflecting Pool along the National Mall. Hundreds crowded Dupont Circle for a snowball fight organized with the help of the Internet.
The famous Constitution and Independence avenues were desolate and a couple of skiers used steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a slope.
The scenes were not what people are used to in the nation's capital, which took on a surreal, almost magical feel as it was buried under nearly 2 feet of snow.
"Snowmageddon," President Barack Obama called it. Even the president's motorcade — which featured SUVs instead of limousines — fell victim to one of the worst blizzards to ever hit Washington. A tree limb snapped and crashed onto a motorcade vehicle carrying press.
From Pennsylvania to New Jersey, south to the Virginia, the region was under at least 2 feet of snow. Parts of northern Maryland had 3 feet.
National monuments seemed even more stately and serene.
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, soldiers' names were buried 16 rows deep and snow had settled randomly into letters so they stood out against the black background. The big attraction at the Lincoln Memorial was not the nation's 16th president but a snowman, its eyes copper pennies with Lincoln's likeness.
Obama, a snow veteran from his days in Chicago, spoke at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting (see story, page 15A) and thanked those for being "willing to brave a blizzard. Snowmageddon here in D.C."
The snow fell too quickly for crews to keep up, and officials begged residents to stay home. The hope was everyone could return to work Monday.
The snow led to thousands of wrecks. Trees toppled and about a half-million people were left in the dark and cold. Still, only two people had died — a father-and-son team who were killed trying to help someone stuck on a highway in Virginia.
According to the National Weather Service, Washington has gotten more than a foot of snow only 13 times since 1870.