Winter storm shutters government Thursday

A winter storm barreling toward Washington has prompted the government to shutter agencies and offices Thursday, giving thousands of federal workers their second snow day of 2014.

With as many as 8 inches of precipitation expected to pile up by morning, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued guidance on its website late Wednesday night instructing all non-emergency workers to stay home.

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Certain employees, however, are required to telework and emergency employees are expected to report to work unless otherwise directed by their agencies, according to the OPM. 

With the storm’s approach, several congressional committees postponed hearings and other business early Wednesday afternoon and many workers were instructed to take their work home with them.

Steady snow began falling Wednesday evening and was expected to continue through the night. Additional snow is expected Thursday afternoon, with accumulation expected to be greatest in Maryland and Virginia.

Area schools were also closed, and scores of flights were grounded due to the storm.

The decision to close the government came hours earlier than during the previous closure in late January, when OPM officials made the decision following a 3 a.m. call.

Thursday will mark the 11th day that the federal apparatus has been shuttered for weather during the Obama administration, according to OPM. That includes the “snowpocalypse,” which buried Washington beneath a food of snow for a solid week in 2010.

In the decade preceding 2008, there were only seven closure days, according to the agency’s figures, which do not include shutdowns related to congressional budget fights or national days of mourning following the deaths of former Presidents Ford and Reagan.