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Tuesday Commute Looks Nasty

The Capital Weather Gang is warning us to expect snow, sleet and rain -- in about that order -- starting tomorrow morning and continuing into Wednesday.

That sounds especially bad for drivers during the morning and evening commutes, since the forecast involves early morning snow and a possible switch to sleet in time for the afternoon trip home.

In a Commuter page feature, we reviewed how the District, Maryland and Virginia prepare for storms.

They have good plans, but Mother Nature doesn't always follow them.

Mobilization for even an ordinary storm can cost a jurisdiction hundreds of thousands of dollars. As forecasting techniques and snow-battling methods have improved, transportation departments have tried to fine-tune their responses.

As in the current forecast, however, Washington often gets several storms at once, with snow here, ice there and rain over yonder.

On Feb. 12, 2008, the Virginia Department of Transportation thought it had us covered, based on the forecast. Homeward bound commuters found out otherwise when they entered the Springfield interchange and stopped on the icy bridges and overpasses. In response to the storm over the storm, VDOT developed a more aggressive early-response plan for this season.

The first light snow of last season, on Dec. 5, 2007, halted many Marylanders during their morning commute. Highway crews were organizing for a storm that would have been lighter and later. Instead, they got stuck in a rush-hour snowfall, along with everyone else.

Here's some advice from the Maryland State Highway Administration on what you can do for yourself during winter weather.

* If you do not need to drive while is it snowing, don't.
* Never pass a snow plow. If driving behind a snow plow or salt truck, provide plenty of space (at least 7-8 car lengths) behind the truck.
* Remember - bridges, ramps and overpasses freeze first. Use caution when driving across them.
* Four-wheel drive vehicles are just as vulnerable to slipping on ice as regular two-wheel drive vehicles.
* Pack a winter driving survival kit, including a shovel, blanket, water, jumper cables, flares, snacks and a flash light.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 26, 2009; 11:42 AM ET
Categories:  Weather  
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I hope, if it really does snow tomorrow, that everyone driving PLEASE exercises caution and not panic. Washingtonians are famous for acting as if the road turns into a mire when it either snow or rains. *sighs*

then again, in some areas, it does exactly that. O_o

Posted by: cbmuzik | January 26, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Those are good tips.

I remember growing up in small town Kansas(before cell phones) a friend said he never drove anywhere unless he had enough supplies to walk 5 miles. (Outerwear, water, food, etc.)

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | January 26, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

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