Possibly historic snowstorm bearing down on nation's capital

Snow plows remove snow from a road in Fairfax, Va. Forecasters anticipate between 22" and 30" in this storm.
Snow plows remove snow from a road in Fairfax, Va. Forecasters anticipate between 22" and 30" in this storm. Luis M. Alvarez / AP

Well supplied with salsas, tortilla chips, fresh bagels and toilet paper, Washingtonians settle down to cope with another massive winter storm. NOAA anticipates 20 to 30 inches of snow in the Washington area over the next 24 hours.

The Washington Metro system has warned that the subway will close its above-ground stations if the snow reaches 8 inches. Many hardware stores sold out of snow shovels. There was tension at the local supermarkets over parking places.

On Capitol Hill, the only event was a 10 a.m. press conference by House freshmen members to announce plans for a floor vote next week on stripping health insurers of their antitrust exemption. Otherwise, the lights were dimmed and the corridors empty.

The Capitol Visitor Center was open around noon for a handful of tourists but it was expected to be closed tomorrow.

Liquor stores were seeing good business. One woman joked that she was "closed tomorrow" with the storm. Parents raced around to get their children.

Gas stations started to run dry by noon. In Germantown, Md., one gas station had hand-printed signs taped over each of eight pumping stations indicating regular and premium grades were sold out, leaving diesel fuel and the ultra grade available. At another gas mart off the main road, several pumps were marked simply "out of service."

Blizzard warnings are posted from New Jersey to Virginia. Strong winds anticipated by the National Weather Service could lead to beach erosion on the Chesapeake Bay.

Other East Coast cities experienced sleet and ice.

Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte area is now under flood warning

Heavy rain associated with a powerful winter storm system is sending creeks and streams out of their banks Friday afternoon across the Charlotte metro region.

(Kevin G. Hall, David Lightman of the Washington Bureau, Amy Fickling of McClatchy/Tribune contributed to this article)