Updated: Jan. 8, 2014 11:12 a.m.
Original: Jan. 7, 2014 5:52 a.m.
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The brutal polar air that has made the Washington region shiver over the past few days is on its way out, but sub-freezing temperatures remain.
A “polar vortex” that swept most of the country brought record-breaking freezing temperatures and blustery winds Tuesday that triggered the coldest temperatures the nation’s capital has seen in two decades.
The cold temperatures caused frozen pipes to burst at George Washington University Hospital and Reagan National Airport, and water mains to break around the region Tuesday. A senior living home in Rockville was evacuated due to flooding caused by a burst pipe.
Public schools in Fairfax County opened two hours late Wednesday due to the cold, and two schools in the region are dismissing students early Wednesday due to building issues caused by the cold.
Jones Lane Elementary School in Gaithersburg closed at 11 a.m. Wednesday due to power loss in the building, and Carroll Manor Elementary School in Buckeystown is closing at 11:45 a.m. due to loss of water in the building.
Thomas Elementary School in the District is closed Wednesday due to an issue with the building’s heating system. Wheaton High School and Thomas Edison High School in Montgomery County also are closed due to a water main break in the area.
Wednesday’s high temperature is expected to reach 30 degrees before temperatures get over the freezing mark on Thursday.
The National Weather Service reported new record lows set at both Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport at 3 degrees and Dulles International at 1 degree early Tuesday. The lows broke previous records for the day set at 8 degrees at both airports in 1988.
The extreme cold and strong winds caused some troubles for travel in the region Tuesday, as tangled overhead wires delayed light rail service in Baltimore and a cracked rail caused some delays on Metro’s red line in Washington.
HOV lanes along Interstate 95 in northern Virginia opened an hour late after some gate motors froze, prompting technicians to remove arms to make way for commuters, state transportation officials said.
Motorists were having trouble with their own vehicles too. AAA Mid-Atlantic reports an unprecedented number of service calls since Friday’s storm, including more than 1,000 in one hour on Monday.
Lynn Palmer of Alexandria wore layers with a sweater, coat, double socks and a scarf as she commuted by bus and train to a Washington nonprofit, but said she still faced extreme cold while waiting for a bus and could barely walk.
“I’ve lived in Alexandria my entire life, and this is the coldest I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “I am not a cold weather person. I prefer 100 degrees.”
Some communities have expanded their homeless shelter services during the brief cold snap.
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