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Snow Preparations Underway

There is an upside: The timing of this snow and ice storm will allow many commuters to see what they're in for before leaving home and make decisions accordingly. Current forecasts show the wintery mix arriving in time for the morning rush, when some people can still decide to take transit or telecommute.

But drivers should beware that this storm likely will fit our recent pattern, with conditions varying from snow to ice to nothing and back again over a single commute. Don't be lulled if you start out in snow today. You'll probably come back in ice. (Worry about warming the windshield. During the Feb. 12 ice storm, many drivers found that the first pass of the wipers rendered the road ahead invisible. And take a scraper today.)

Our Traffic Page has a map indicating accidents and delays, as well as camera views. We also have the forecast page and the Capital Weather Gang blog to keep you updated. (They've got some fun stuff on there, but when bad weather hits, you'll also find the basic information you need, plus some real specific reports from across the region.)

Metrorail plans to operate on a normal schedule. (But check the updater at the top of Metro's home page.) The transit authority says the de-icing trains will be ready and the heater tape in place to keep ice and snow off the third rail. Still, it's best to build in extra time for the transit trip today, at least so you can walk carefully across those platform tiles.

Metrobus and the MetroAccess service for disabled people could be a different story. Their drivers will have to adjust to the conditions confronting any other vehicle operator. Neither service has announced any schedule changes, but MetroAccess passengers can call 301-562-5360 for an update on the status of their rides.

After thousands of drivers got stuck last week in the frozen Mixing Bowl at Springfield, the Virginia Department of Transportation has announced these plans: By midnight, in advance of the predicted arrival of the storm, all of the ramps and bridges at the vital interchange will have been treated with liquid magnesium chloride and salt.

Fifteen salt trucks and four tankers are now dedicated to the interchange area for all storms, VDOT said, and this plan will be the standard from now on.

Across its Northern Virginia territory, VDOT says, it has readied 1152 salt trucks to treat roads in Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun. The schedule called for their crews to be activated at 7 p.m. Thursday.

In any congested area, watch for pedestrians whose movements you won't be able to anticipate because they can't either. They may slip, or just stop walking, when they encounter ice.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 21, 2008; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  Weather  
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