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U.S. Federal Government Closed Wednesday for Snow Storm

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03/06/2013 | 02:28pm CEST
   By Sarah Portlock 

WASHINGTON--The U.S. capital hunkered-down for a one-day snowstorm Wednesday.

The federal government closed operations in the Washington region and airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights in anticipation. Many government hearings and meetings were canceled or postponed ahead of the overnight government closure announcement, although the Commerce Department and Federal Reserve both planned to release scheduled economic data on factory orders and regional economic conditions.

The National Weather Service expects six to 10 inches of snow in the region and higher amounts west of Interstate 95, with temperatures hovering in the mid-30s. The agency issued a winter storm warning that is in effect through early Thursday morning and said rain may mix with the snow throughout the day. The storm is forecast to taper off by Wednesday night.

The storm hit the Midwest earlier this week, starting Sunday in Montana and spreading across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois on its way to Washington.

Washington, D.C., will send out about 230 snow plows Tuesday night to help clear the roads, the city government said Tuesday.

Utility companies in the region said they were preparing for the storm, which could contain heavy, wet snow that contributes to power outages from tree and power line damage. Potomac Electric Power Co., known as Pepco, said it has overhead line contractors and tree crews working to clear the electric lines.

The city's Metrorail usually operates at close to a normal schedule when there is less than six inches of snow, but there may be delays as crews work to clear the above-ground tracks, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The system may be busier than usual if commuters who typically drive are opting to take public transportation instead.

Some government plans were altered ahead of the government closure. The Securities and Exchange Commission moved an open meeting to Thursday from Wednesday, while the House transportation and infrastructure committee postponed a roundtable on ports, jobs and economic development indefinitely.

Write to Sarah Portlock at sarah.portlock@dowjones.com

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