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District crews prepare for first snow of the season

The Capital Weather Gang warns our first snow of the season may arrive Saturday. Check out Dr. Gridlock's recent feature on what local jurisdictions are prepared to do when snow starts to fly.

In the District, "The city is ready and on alert for the season's first threat of bad weather," Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said in a statement.

According to a press release from the District Department of Transportation, the deployment for this weekend's storm includes 107 heavy trucks, 82 light trucks and activation of the city's salt domes. The District has five salt domes stocked with 40,000 tons of salt.

"Curent forecasts indicate minor snow and ice in the District, but temperatures are expected to go below freezing on Saturday night," said DDOT Director Gabe Klein. "We will treat the roadways, as necessary, throughout the storm."

Department of Public Works Director William O. Howland Jr. said the agency will suspend leaf collection on Saturday so that crews can prepare for the expected snowfall. DDOT mounts plows and salt spreaders on leaf collection trucks when snow is expected, officials said.

Here are some helpful tips on finding out the latest on conditions and driving in the snow, no matter where you live in the region.

In Maryland you can check conditions by visiting and clicking on the CHART information center, which offers snow emergency information, traffic camera views, weather updates, maps showing average travel speeds on highways and road-closing reports. There's also a Winter Storm Hotline at 800-327-3125.

In the District of Columbia, call the Mayor's Citywide Call Center at 311 to find out whether vehicles need to be removed from Snow Emergency Routes. (To find a towed vehicle, call 202-727-5000.) Go to the District Department of Transportation's Web site,, and click on "Snow Plan" to get the latest on weather and road conditions. An online application,, allows residents to track the snowplows.

In Virginia, the 511 traveler-information service gives drivers the most up-to-date data available about weather, construction or accidents that might affect travel. Updates can be received by calling 511 from any landline or wireless phone in Virginia or by going online to to view traffic cameras, the road condition map and the road condition table-report.

Tips for winter travel
Don't crowd the plow. Snow plow operators may need to stop or move quickly to avoid a stranded vehicle. Plows moving in high winds can create a snow cloud, severely limiting visibility, and the operator may not be able to see you due to blind spots.

Before driving. Get the snow or ice off the vehicle, including the roof. Check your battery, wiper blades, tires, tire jack, antifreeze and lights. Keep the gas tank at least half-full.

Carry an emergency kit that includes a small shovel; a bag of rock salt, sand or cat litter; a scraper and brush; a flashlight with extra batteries; jumper cables; blankets; and a first-aid kit.

When driving. Don't use cruise control, allow extra room for stopping distance, turn your lights on, know the condition of your brakes and be aware that road conditions can change quickly. Stick with the main roads as long as you can rather than detouring onto secondary routes, which won't get as much attention from plows and emergency vehicles.

In Metro. While waiting on outdoor Metrorail platforms, remember this is our first winter in which the trains are required to pull to the front of the platform, exposing more of the train -- and more of you -- to the elements. Platform paving tiles can be slippery.

Travel safely!

By Michael Bolden  |  December 4, 2009; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Weather  
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Next: Regional airports ready for possible Saturday snow


Dr. Gridlock, you forgot to remind everyone to keep a safe distance behind snow plows/salt trucks. Salt being thrown by those trucks can damage vehicle finish and windshields.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | December 5, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

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