United States: snowstorm paralyzes the capital


While the US economy is experiencing some disruption related to the Omicron variant, the country’s capital was stranded in snow on Monday.

After a holiday season marked by particularly mild temperatures, a snowstorm swept across Washington and its region on Monday. The bad weather caused the closure of federal services and schools, and accentuated the disruption of air traffic.

At least 18cm of snow has fallen in the U.S. capital and could reach as much as 25cm, weather services have warned, placing the city and neighboring state of Virginia on a winter storm alert until 10 p.m. PT. French).

The White House in the snow on January 3, 2022 in Washington DC
The White House in the snow on January 3, 2022 in Washington DC © ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

« Be prepared for snowy and slippery roads, making it difficult to travel, » they added in a bulletin.

The winter storm sweeping much of the US east coast, with high winds accompanied by heavy snowfall, could cause potential « snow storms » and « floods », said the meteorological services of the country. At least 440,000 homes were without power in Virginia and 76,000 in neighboring Maryland, with trees falling on power lines under the weight of snow.

Covid-19 screening on hiatus

The government announced Monday morning the shutdown of federal services in the city of Washington, resulting in the cancellation of the daily White House press conference, while the only vote of the day scheduled in the Senate was canceled and postponed until Tuesday. . Faced with the elements, the city has also ordered the stop of bus traffic, as well as the closure of Covid-19 screening centers and the suspension of the distribution of rapid tests.

Many schools were also closed Monday across the Washington, Maryland and Virginia area. « If it is not absolutely necessary that you go out, stay at home and do not take the road, » urged the mayor of Washington, Muriel Bowser, during a press conference, as many vehicles are. got stuck on the roads because of the snow.

The American National Cathedral in the snow in Washington DC on January 3, 2022
The American National Cathedral under the snow in Washington DC on January 3, 2022 © Daniel SLIM / AFP

Joe Biden retarded

President Joe Biden himself had to face the storm when he returned to the capital after a few days of vacation in Delaware (east). His Air Force One plane was stuck on the tarmac for thirty minutes while the staff could clear the snow on the runway, then the presidential convoy was slowed down considerably on its way to the White House.

The snowstorm also accentuated the chaos that had already reigned in air traffic in the United States for weeks because of the outbreak of contaminations due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Ronald-Reagan National Airport, Washington-Dulles Airport and Baltimore Airport had many flight cancellations, according to the Flightaware website.

By 7 p.m. Monday, at least 2,700 domestic or international flights to or from the United States had been canceled, after 2,650 flights canceled on Sunday and 2,570 flights canceled on Saturday, according to the same source. That’s more than half of the nearly 4,300 canceled flights globally at the same time. The winter storm is added to the very contagious Omicron variant which prevents many pilots or members of the staff, on the air or on the ground, sick or in case of contact, from coming to work.

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