Sunday, February 7, 2010

Washington DC, the world's newest ski resort

WASHINGTON: Best known for its hot, sticky summers, Washington DC was on Saturday transformed into a winter wonderland, with dozens strapping on
skis to navigate snow-clogged streets.

In the city of power suits and stilettos, the newest fashion items were snow shoes and thermal coats as residents battled a record-breaking blizzard which in less than 24 hours dumped some 20 inches of snow on some parts.

A German woman was out for a walk in her snowshoes. "I was being paranoid staying at home," she said, casually sipping coffee. She was in full ski gear - red ski jacket, black ski pants and a purple bobble hat. "It's like being in the Alps," said the woman, a former ski instructor from Gottingen in Germany. She works for the IMF and asked not to be named.

"I have Alpine skis but the city is too flat. Yesterday I wanted to buy some cross-country skis but there were none left in the shops, just like all the shovels had sold out," she said.

Just behind her jogged up Alix Lawe, who works with the US Air Force and was out for her daily run. "It's so fun. I'm from Florida, I've never seen so much snow," she said gleefully.

With the city's famous tree-lined streets and monuments blanketed in snow, artists and photographers were out in force to capture a historic moment.

Joseph Bratcher from Indiana was photographing the trees that buckled under the weight of a thick layer of white. "It's more snow than has ever fallen in DC since I moved here, six years ago," he said, snapping a tree which had toppled over in St Thomas Circle.

Visitor Ed Zuckermar came prepared when he flew into the capital from Washington state for a conference. "I knew it was going to snow," he said, catching his breath after sliding his way in cross-country-skis along one of the roads. "I just hope it doesn't melt too soon."

Weather forecasters see little chance of that, as they warned that while the monster storm would finally blow itself out later Saturday after more than 24 hours, temperatures would remain cold. Some people chose to ignore official advice to stay home and stay off the roads, and ran swiftly into trouble on the slippery streets.

Even the White House could not escape the fury of the blizzard, with men armed with shovels instead of sniper rifles throwing off snow from the roof. The roads leading to nation's presidential seat though were being kept meticulously clear.

And with many Washingtonians determined to make the best of the snow, the hip Dupont Circle area was the place to visit, with a massive snowball fight planned for the afternoon.

CBS news had set up its cameras slap bang in the middle of what is normally one of the most clogged traffic roundabouts in the city to capture the action

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