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Weather and Other Advisories

Main roads remain clear, but the snow is falling more heavily in many areas than it was during your morning commute. If you made it to work just fine, don't get over confident about the afternoon trip. Be particularly careful on bridges and overpasses. Camera views show them starting to turn white with snow in some areas.

Metro
The trains are slow this morning, because two seasons have come together: We've got snow and leaves falling on the tracks. If your trip involves above ground stations, build in extra time. The train speeds have been cut to 30 mph from the normal operating speed of 55 mph. Bus service will vary with your route. You may very well be waiting longer than usual, and your bus may detour around slippery or blocked roadways. Don't count on the "Next Bus" system of real-time schedule information, even if you're seeing signs for it at the bus stops. Metro has suspended "Next Bus" until the technology is more reliable.

Traffic Information
WTOP radio, with traffic reports every 10 minutes, is a great source for updates, but can't address everyone's concerns in this big region. These are some of the online resources I use.
-- washingtonpost.com's traffic page combines incident reports and camera views from trafficland.com.
-- www.traffic.com provides a good overview of conditions in the Washington and Baltimore areas through text, video and graphics.
-- The Maryland Department of Transportation collects emergency travel information on this page.
-- This link takes you to a page with the District's snow plan information.
-- The Virginia Department of Transportation offers this Travel Center, with information about road conditions.

Your Advice
Knowing that the blog readership constitutes an army of researchers for travelers, I'm asking you to share your experiences today and also your general advice for getting around in these conditions.

Purple Line Meeting
The next open house on the proposed transitway across Montgomery and Prince George's counties is scheduled for 5 to 8:30 tonight at College Park City Hall, 4500 Knox Road.

Thursday Game at FedEx Field
Metro just announced that the rail system will stay open until 1 a.m. on Friday morning to accommodate the crowds at Thursday night's Redskins game in Landover. But remember that parking at Metro stations is not free on the week night.

Tree Lighting Ceremony
The annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday on the Ellipse. The travel and parking restrictions on the streets and avenues around the White House and Ellipse will significantly increase downtown traffic congestion during the afternoon and evening.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 5, 2007; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Weather  
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Comments

"Knowing that the blog readership constitutes an army of researchers for travelers, I'm asking you to share your experiences today and also your general advice for getting around in these conditions."

I say to everyone, TURN ON YOUR %&*$ HEADLIGHTS WHEN IT'S SNOWING! (Or raining.) It's the law for a good reason--the headlights are intended as much to help OTHER drivers see YOU as they are to help YOU see other drivers. I realize that nowadays it's becoming an ever-more popular fad in the DC area to drive with your headlights off at night, or with just your parking lights on, but it's an asinine fad.

The other thing I always think of when it's snowy is that people need to remember that there is a fine balance between slowing down appropriately for conditions and slowing down too much to the point where you lose needed momentum. If you have to go up a slippery hill, it can be a bad idea to be going too slowly.

Posted by: Rich | December 5, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, there's wet stuff falling and it's below 32 degrees. Let's travel at normal speeds! No wonder this morning was so miserable. People don't think when the snow starts around here, and apparently they don't own scrapers. It's not ok to just let the snow fly off your car as you drive. Take 5 minutes, warm up the car, turn the defrosters on, and clear off your car people.

Posted by: Chris | December 5, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why the sand trucks didn't get ahead of the weather. At 11:00 last night, the weather reports changed and said the snow would be starting at 6 AM rather than 9 AM. Even if none of the powers that be heard the revision, sand trucks don't get filled in 30 minutes. They should have had them prepared and in place during rush hour, since the original prediction was for the weather to start at the end of rush hour. At least that way they could have helped out, rather than being stuck in traffic along with everyone else.

Even then, there didn't seem to be any reason to the plan. I listened to traffic for almost four hours this morning (getting ready and three hour drive from College Park to McLean). For three and a half of those hours, Lisa Baden at WTOP was asking where the sand trucks were for the American Legion bridge. It's a major commuter road, it's elevated, and it's a bridge. That should have been one of the first places the trucks headed!

As bone-headed as some of the drivers were today (YOU NEED EXTRA STOPPING SPACE IN WEATHER LIKE THIS!) I think the real idiots were the people in charge of the road crews. I shudder to think of the ride home, and only hope some friends can meet for dinner so we can spend our evening time more productively.

Posted by: College Park Gal | December 5, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

hey SUV and Van Drivers: Clean. Off. Your. Roofs. You don't need a scraper, a broom will work. The person behind you will thank you when the big icy pile of snow flies off your roof @65+ MPH.

Oh yeah, this is DC, people don't give a %^$^%#$ about the people behind them.

Posted by: MinFairfax | December 5, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"Clean. Off. Your. Roofs."

This thing works great and won't scratch your paint:

http://snobrumusa.com/

I found one locally some years back, although I don't recall where I got it.

Posted by: Rich | December 5, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind, in the snow, seeing a big SUV fly by me and then spin out on the side of the road with nobody else around it. Unfortunately, the driver will blame everyone and anyone for his/her lack of skills in driving in weather like this.

Slow down but be smart about it. To the lady on Gallows Road today that would wait until there was a good 15-car space between her and the next car before she decided to accelerate, you need to put the phone down and pay attention.

Drive with the flow of traffic, don't try to slow it down. A car going 30 when everyone else is going 35 can cause a lot of problems behind that car when those cars going 35 try to pass the car going 30. I'm talking about on I-66, this is a common happening. Pay attention to what's in front of you and stop allowing people to cut in front of you. If a person passes you on the right, you're going too slow, move to the right.

I've driven in Upstate New York where a foot of snow falls overnight and not only are the roads clear, but people know how to drive when the snow is falling. And this excuse of it happens more up there is just what I said, an excuse. Using common sense (which seems to no longer exist) will get you where you need to go.

Personally, I don't want to see anyone get hurt, but if they slide off the road and get inconvenienced because they need to call a tow-truck or have their car taken in for service, then I cheer a little. Stupid drivers should have an example made of them.

Sorry for the rant, but a normally 30 minute ride to work took 2 hours and 15 minutes today which means I stay 2 hours and 15 minutes later at work.
It's snowing, slow down. Slow rhymes with snow, easy to remember. But slow doesn't mean give up.

Posted by: Jarrod | December 5, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what would happen if it really snowed?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 5, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

This morning was the worst commute I've experienced in all my time in the DC area. I missed the 9/11 traffic nightmare as I was on travel but today was ridiculous. 2h35m versus the usual 40-50 minutes. I got desparate and travelled side roads in Fairfax county. That was a major mistake. They were unbelievably treacherous and witnessed numerous cars spin out in front of me, narrowly avoiding a big truck that spun into a guardrail and avoiding by 1 millimeter the guardrail on the other side of the street in front of slow oncoming traffic. I should have stayed in today. On a scale of one to ten, today was an eleven on the epically bad traffic scale.

Posted by: NAM | December 5, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

my commute was quicker than usual. From Petworth to Georgetown in 12 minutes. Normally 20.

Posted by: chuck | December 5, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I had to work up in Germantown today. I smartly chose to avoid my normal route (Rock Creek Parkway, I-66, GW Parkway, Beltway, 270), and took Connecticut to the Beltway to 270. Not a hint of any trouble in the District...even the bridge over Klingle Valley was ice free. Then I cross the line into Maryland and it is noticibly slicker. First sign of real trouble was the loop onto the Beltway where I almost spun out on top of that bridge. Definitely caught me off guard. Traffic was crawling, but all headed for the American Legion Bridge. 270 started out a bit congested because everyone was merging out of the HOV lane where it divides from the regular lanes and goes over a long bridge. Then I counted no fewer than 5 wrecks between there and Germantown. I started second guessing if it was a good idea to keep going, but I quickly realized that even if I wanted to get back home, I couldn't! Because southbound 270 was packed solid the entire way from the Beltway (actually, from Tysons) all the way to Germantown! Supposidly the ride from Frederick to Tysons was 3+ hours! The line to get onto 270 from Germantown was backed up onto local roads for 2+ miles! It was unreal. Luckily my drive was only 1:10 as opposed to 0:45 on a good day.

The return trip was better. Much better. I drove to Shady Grove, parked in the garage (so my car wont ice over again), and took the Metro home. Outbound Connecticut was jammed through Woodley Park/Cleveland Park till 8:30 though...looked like just very heavy volume.

I think Maryland SHA and VDOT need to come up with an alternate plan for dealing with storms. I don't see why they can't pre-treat roads. They do it up in New York and New England. They even treat roads with brine solution in North Carolina! Supposidly the brine contains finer salt so that when the water evaporates, the salt stays behind and is already there before snow starts falling. Interestingly enough though, most of the problems seemed to be in VA and MD. For once, DC does a better job at something than the suburbs. A rare event indeed :)

Posted by: Woodley Park | December 5, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I would never cite North Carolina as a good example of snow removal. I lived in Durham during the "Blizzard of 1996" when I was attending law school. The local media reported that the city's LONE SNOWPLOW had broken down and that the streets therefore would not be cleared. Every time people in the DC area complain about snow removal I think of that day. ONE SNOWPLOW for an area that's probably about the size of Arlington County.

Only time I've ever attended a Duke basketball game where Cameron Indoor Stadium was two-thirds empty, but then, I was able to walk to the game.

Posted by: Rich | December 6, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

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