The Washington area survived Wednesday's much-hyped snowstorm -- which earned schoolchildren and federal employees alike a day off -- largely unscathed.
The National Weather Service confirmed that the underwhelming storm had pretty much fizzled out by Wednesday afternoon. By that point, D.C. residents had already shrugged off the wintry mix of rain and snow that melted upon hitting the ground around the city. There wasn't even enough snow for a planned snowball fight at Dupont Circle.
Meteorologists had predicted that cold air blowing into the Washington area would keep temperatures below freezing, meaning more snow and less rain. That didn't happen to the extent that experts anticipated, meaning temperatures were able to reach the high 30s Wednesday afternoon.
Even as experts downgraded the storm, heavy winds raged and a tractor-trailer crashed on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, leading Maryland officials to close traffic in both directions at about 2:30 p.m.
By early afternoon, an estimated 400,000 people in Virginia were without power, and Virginia state troopers had responded to more than 550 traffic crashes. But even in Virginia, where accumulations of a foot of snow were common, the storm's worst moments were expected to be over before evening.
In D.C. and the Maryland suburbs, Pepco reported fewer than 100 customers remained without power as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday was a good day to find a seat on Metro trains. The transit agency reported 65,000 riders by 10 a.m., 75 percent fewer than the previous Wednesday morning. By midday, Metrobuses were back on normal routes.
More than 1,100 flights in and out of Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport were canceled, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware.com.
In Washington's Union Station, Roma and Perry Carpenter were trying to get home after their Amtrak train to Cincinnati had been canceled.
"We have cows at home that we have to pay someone to take care of, and he's getting married on Saturday," Roma Carpenter said. "So we've got to get home."
Without other transportation options, the Carpenters were expecting a two-day stay in a D.C. hotel before they could take another train to Cincinnati on Friday.
"We still don't have many answers yet, but [it] looks like hotels are getting slim to none right now," she said. "It hasn't been the best experience."