Gridlock snarled roads and highways in the metro Washington, D.C. area on Wednesday night and Thursday morning after a light snow that caught officials in the capital region off guard.
Stories of people being stuck for four or five hours on trips that would normally take 15 minutes were commonplace Thursday, despite only an inch of snow.
Even President Obama was not immune; his motorcade slipped and skidded on slick roads in the Maryland suburbs on Wednesday as he was on the way back to the White House from Joint Base Andrews after a trip to Detroit.
Lawmakers expressed concern about the lack of preparation for the small snowstorm, which has been dubbed a “clipper.”
The East Coast is hunkering down for a large storm that is predicted to drop about two feet of snow on the mid-Atlantic over the weekend.
Ben CardinBen CardinLawmakers talk climate for Earth Day, Science March Live coverage: March for Science rally is underway Dems outraged over Spicer's Holocaust remarks MORE (@SenatorCardin) January 21, 2016
Politicians who are from areas in the Midwest, where snow is more common, thumbed their noses at the response to the light dusting in Washington on Wednesday.
I'm safe and sound in snowy Michigan. We handle our snow a little better around here. https://t.co/jXkqSAiIqZ— Justin AmashJustin AmashGreens take climate fight to GOP town halls US pressure on Saudis can help promote peace in Yemen Who will replace Chaffetz on Oversight? MORE (@justinamash) January 21, 2016
Local officials blamed the terrible traffic on the light storm’s timing.
Snow began accumulating in early evening, just as people were traveling home.
Roads quickly became icy, slowing traffic, and officials were not quick to send ice crews to the highways.
“Due to icy road conditions, residents are asked to avoid travel this evening to allow crews to continue to the roads,” Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said in a statement as traffic was snarling across the capital region.
“Residents and business owners are also asked to clear their sidewalks tonight as the snow moves out of the area,” she continued. “Crews will work throughout the night ahead of the morning commute. If you must travel this evening, please use extreme caution as temperatures and precipitation will create hazardous conditions.”
Many people abandoned their cars on the roads as they struggled to get home. Others found themselves the victims of fender-benders.
Meteorologists blamed the metro D.C. area's unpreparedness for the light snow on the attention that is being given to the bigger storm forecasted for the weekend.
“We feel really bad for all of you who were stuck for hours. There were problems in how this event was communicated and the response,” the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog tweeted.
We feel really bad for all of you who were stuck for hours. There were problems in how this event was communicated and the response. (2/2)— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) January 21, 2016