Flight delays persist day after Mid-Atlantic snow

Associated Press Updated: February 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm • Published: February 14, 2014 0

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Flight delays made Valentine's Day bitter for some Mid-Atlantic travelers Friday after a record-breaking snowstorm that shut down the federal government and damaged a landmark Ocean City fishing pier rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy.

Some air travelers were told they might not get home until Sunday. The storm's lingering effects also included scaled-back Presidents Day activities at Mount Vernon and delayed deliveries of Girl Scout cookies.

Washington and Baltimore airports reported flight delays, even with all runways open after Thursday's massive cancellations. At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport at 1:30 p.m., more than 40 percent of outgoing flights on the departures monitor were delayed or canceled; so were nearly four-fifths of arriving flights.

The terminal was busy but not mobbed as weary passengers killed time at restaurants and scrambled to adjust their weekend plans.

Tim McKelvey, a water-treatment plant worker from Lenoir City, Tenn., said he and co-worker Don Simpson had been trying since Wednesday to get home from a Washington conference.

"Our wives are going to kill us," McKelvey said. He said he had planned a special Valentine's Day for his spouse, including dinner and chocolate-covered strawberries.

"My brother better be picking them up because I won't be there in time," he said.

Docia Casillas of Tucson, Ariz., called the situation "very frustrating" as she tried to get home from Washington Dulles International Airport in time for her Valentine's Day treat: a George Lopez concert on Saturday.

"I tried to get out on Wednesday. They had nothing. So, it's just been a very hectic time," she said.

The storm brought Dulles its ninth biggest one-day snowfall on record, the National Weather Service said: 11.7 inches. That surpassed the 3 inches the airport got on the same date in 1992, meteorologist Heather Sheffield said.

She said the storm dropped a total of 13.3 inches of snow at Dulles from Wednesday through Thursday.

Trained spotters reported unofficial but credible storm totals of 2 feet or more in north-central Maryland, including a 26-inch reading near the Baltimore County community of Glyndon, the weather service said.

In Ocean City, the storm damaged a 489-foot fishing pier rebuilt last year after Hurricane Sandy destroyed it in 2012. Some of the pier's supportive pilings were destroyed by the cold and stormy weather, city spokeswoman Jessica Waters said in an emailed response to questions from The Associated Press.

"The damage is not as extensive as it was a little over a year ago," she wrote. She said the lease holder has already begun the process of repairing the closed structure.

The heavy snowfall forced Mount Vernon to scale back its weekend celebration of George Washington's birthday. Dance demonstrations and a culinary competition featuring hoecakes — a cornmeal-based pancake — were canceled because the outdoor venue is covered with snow, spokeswoman Melissa Wood said.

"We thought people aren't going to want to watch people cook while they're standing in 10 inches of snow," Wood said.

She said free attendance on Presidents Day often brings more than 10,000 people to the estate. Fewer are expected this year, partly because some area schools are holding classes Monday to make up for excess snow days, Wood said.

The Girl Scouts said the storm will delay for up to a week the delivery of 577,000 boxes of cookies in the Washington area. The postponements include 135,000 boxes that were scheduled to be delivered to scouts at RFK Stadium on Friday.

The Maryland State Highway Administration said all interstate highways were clear and crews were cleaning up secondary roads ahead of another storm forecast for early Saturday. That storm was expected to bring up to 2 inches of snow to Washington and Baltimore, and up to 4 inches to northern and western Maryland.

The federal government and District of Columbia government opened late Friday. Delaware also opened some state offices late, and in Maryland a liberal leave policy was in effect for state workers. Most schools were closed for a second day.

Friday's sunny weather gave restaurants the weather break they needed to honor Valentine's Day reservations. In Frederick, Md., the chic Volt restaurant saw no appreciable drop in Valentine's Day bookings, said T.J. Whitman, the restaurant's wine director.

"I think we've lost all of, like, eight total guests," he said Thursday night. "That's just normal stuff. I don't lose sleep over that."

___

Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington; Ben Nuckols and Brett Zongker in Washington; Matthew Barakat in McLean, Va.; and Alex Sanz in Sterling, Va., contributed to this report.

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