We lost power at 7:02 Wednesday night. School was canceled Thursday for the second day, so daughter at home again. We woke up to a snowy lane in Clarke County, pristine and unplowed.

I drove into D.C. through various sections of Virginia and Maryland, where slippery curves sometimes hid cars in snowbanks.

I figure I'm in a strong position to grade the regional response to the "thundersnow" that dumped nearly a foot of wet, white stuff on the region Wednesday. Snow fell so fast and furious that I would scrape a shovel up my walk, turn around and see a carpet of snow where I had just seen bare pavement.

So how would I grade the various governments? I am starting at dawn Thursday, rather than rush hour Wednesday, which might have run smoothly if every vehicle had four-wheel drive, and every driver knew how to handle snow. No government is capable of handling that rate of snow in the midst of rush hour.

The District gets an A-.

This is no longer Marion Barry's snow removal operation, where he looked at the heavens, prayed for sun and left his constituents to navigate snowy streets for days or weeks. By 7 a.m. Thursday, every major thoroughfare -- from Connecticut Avenue in Northwest, to 16th Street down the center spine, to Minnesota and Pennsylvania Avenues across the Anacostia River -- was clear of snow.

Plows got to many side streets, as well.

What's changed from the days when broken trucks stayed in garages while the snow fell and cars crashed? Ten years of planning and Bill Howland, who runs the public works department. Howland worked in Fairfax government for years before wending his way through the D.C. bureaucracy, starting in 2001. He's been DPW boss since 2004, under Tony Williams, then Adrian Fenty - and now Vince Gray, who was wise enough to keep him.

The District has refined its snow removal operation over the past 10 years. The latest addition was a fleet of 70 smaller dump trucks that D.C. prepositions in residential neighborhoods. The District didn't get an A+ because it failed to clear cars that had parked on snow emergency routes.

Virginia's suburbs get a B+. Route 7 was clear to the west but got progressively worse through Loudoun County. The Dulles Toll Road was treacherous. Side streets were often slushy, though Virginia has started putting plows in neighborhoods, following D.C.'s lead.

Maryland scores a solid C. At noon Thursday, River Road and other major routes looked like scenes in "Mad Max": Abandoned cars were stuck in snowbanks, side streets were not plowed, plows had not touched too many neighborhoods.

Failing grades go to many drivers, who didn't obey snow driving basics: remove ALL the snow from your car, so it doesn't blow into traffic; starting in snow is easy, but make sure you can stop; and if you leave your car in the road, it's your responsibility to retrieve it.

Every car should have all-wheel drive.

Then we would be more prepared for the next snowmageddon.

Harry Jaffe's column appears on Tuesday and Friday. He can be contacted at hjaffe@washingtonexaminer.com.