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Hazardous road conditions widespread; snow emergencies and blizzard warnings in effect

Update (2:50 p.m.): As the mid-storm winds whipped up with greater ferocity, the Maryland State Highway Administration said its plows were struggling to keep up with wind-driven snow drifts.

"If folks don't have to go out, please don't so that we can do our job," said spokesman Charlie Gischlar. "The snow is falling at such an incredible rate.By the time we clear a route and reload the truck with salt the route needs to be done all over again."

Gischlar said ramps had become particularly hazardous.

Update (12;30 p.m.): With wind gusts in the area reported in excess of 40 mph, officials encourage residents to stay home.

"We're recommending that people stay off the roads and enjoy the time at home, but if you have to go out stay behind a snow plow because the road ahead of them hasn't been treated," said Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Update (9:45 a.m.): Here's a look at Montgomery County's snow emergency plans.

Arlington County is reporting that there is an eight-inch water main break at Wilson Boulevard and North 10th Street. There are no service reductions reported, officials said. Motorists should avoid the area.

Update (9:40 a.m.): State highway officials have told The Post's Carol Morello that motorists are sliding all over the place. Carol says the word she keeps hearing from everyone is that conditions are "treacherous." We've put together a map that shows some of the problem areas.

Update (9:25 a.m.): The blizzard warning that applied to areas east of I-95 has been expanded to include Montgomery County, until 6 p.m. With the high winds that are expected, it will make driving even more hazadous. Emergency officials are saying don't go out into this storm.

Update (8:40 a.m.): Arlington County just sent out an alert reminding everyone that major roads are the priority for plowing. Keep in mind that the worse is not over. A lot more snow is expected in Washington today.

According to forecasts, we can expect to see accumulations similar to what some communities in southwest Virginia have received, or more. The National Weather Service said Charlottesville received 16 inches, and the Virginia Department of Transportation reported that portions of Interstate 81 are closed. Police have had to rescue some stranded motorists, VDOT said.

Update (7:55 a.m.): The latest accident and hazardous driving locations from around the area:

  • I-95 northbound at U.S. 1; accident

  • U.S. 50 at the Bay Bridge; hazardous driving conditions

  • I-495 inner loop at Rockville Pike: disabled vehicles

  • I-95 northbound at Route 123: center lane closed

  • I-95 westbound before Georgia: accident

  • I-95 southbound at Central Avenue: jackknifed tractor trailer

  • I-66 eastbound at I-495: accident

  • I-495 northbound at I-95 (Springfield): accident

  • New York Avenue eastbound at Bladensburg: accident

  • I-495 inner loop north of the American Legion Bridge; accident

Update (6:20 a.m.): The center lane of I-95 northbound at Route 123 is reportedly closed. On the Capital Beltway, the right two lanes of the inner loop at Rockville Pike are reportedly closed because of several broken down cars. There is an accident on the right shoulder of I-495 westbound before Georgia Avenue

Update (5:45 a.m.): The Virginia Department of Transportation wants motorists to stay off the roads. VDOT reports that motorists have been stranded on highways in some areas to the west.

Update (5:30 a.m.):Lots of snow outside Get There central this morning, It's light fluffy stuff that's blowing around, but it's at least a few inches. There area few folks driving around, including taxis, but several of the surrounding streets are covered in snow: parts of M Street, 16th, L Street, Rhode Island Avenue.

Accidents continue to mount. The latest: I-495 southbound before Route 123; I-66 eastbound before I-495 (traffic is advised to stay to the right); I-270 southbound after Shady Grove Road; I-95 southbound at Central Avenue (reportedly a jackknifed tractor-trailer); U.S. 50 at the Bay Bridge (eastbound lanes are covered in snow and the windy conditions make driving difficult); and there's another report of a problem at I-95 northbound at St. Barnabas Road, where a tractor-trailer is reportedly having difficulty negotiating the hill).

Update (4:50 a.m.): Snow continues to fall around the region causing icy and slick conditionss. Accidents have intensified. According to the state of Maryland's traffic incident system, the outer loop of the Beltway between Saint Barnabas Road and Road 5 was essentially closed for a time. According to Trafficland, multiple tractor-trailers were stuck causing the problem. The trucks have been removed but delays may persist.

Numerous cars are also reported to be stuck on the I-95 northbound ramp to Route 5, but the ramp is passable if you're careful.

There also appear to be problems on the inner loop at Central Avenue caused by an accident.

Update (12:30 a.m.): We're about to take a break for a few hours at Get There headquarters. Conditions at this hour appear hazardous throughout the area, with snow accumulations beginning to build on even some of the major roads, such as I-270, where an accident was recently reported on the southbound lanes at Route 121. Trafficland is also reporting a jacknifed tractor-trailer on I-495 northbound at the exit for the I-270 Spur. Traffic cameras show snowy roads throughout the region.

There is a blizzard warning now in effect for areas east of Interstate 95 in Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Calvert counties from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday.

Please avoid traveling in these conditions.

Stay warm and stay safe.

Update (11:45 p.m.): Proof that it's getting a bit scary out there: A Montgomery County salt truck overturned at New Hampshire Avenue and Brighton Dam Road just before 11 a.m. Emergency officials said the scene was cleared about 11:30.

Update (11:35 p.m.): Additional accidents are still showing up, including two on I-66 eastbound before U.S. 29 and I-66 westbound at Glebe Road. Traffic cameras show that traffic is slow on I-66 in both directions.

Update (10:45 p.m.): Reports of accidents are slowly starting to build as the snow continues. The Washington Post's traffic page is showing accident's on the Dulles Toll Road westbound between Trap and Hunter Mill roads; Route 110 northbound at the Arlington Memorial Bridge; I-495 southbound at the Springfield interchange; and I-495 southbound before Branch Avenue.

If you don't have to head out, it might be time to make the hot chocolate and pick up your favorite newspaper (or peruse its Web site) as the storm rolls in.

If you're trying to check the Web sites for the local airports, they appear to be experiencing heavy volume and may be difficult to load. You can also check the Web site for your airline. Delta, for example, is reporting on its Web site that "winter weather travel waivers have been issued' for the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic.
Updates from Southwest Airlines, are available on this page. Southwest says it has canceled most of its flights from BWI until 2 p.m. Saturday. Most Southwest flights at Dulles have been cancelled until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Update (10:30 p.m.): The snow is falling steadily here on 15th Street NW. Cars parked alongside the road are covered, although the roads are just wet. In other areas of the region, it's a different story. Traffic cameras reveal a variety of conditions, where snow is sticking on grassy areas and some roads. You can check out traffic cameras on The Washington Post's traffic page.

Metro is not reporting any delays at this time.

Original post: The snow started shortly before 9 p.m. here at Get There headquarters in Northwest Washington. So far, it doesn't seem to have deterred Washingtonians who are still out and about with their Friday night plans.

If you have news you would like to share with us, send us an e-mail.

If you have snow photos, you would like to share with us, you can submit them here.

Stay warm, stay safe, and stay tuned to Get There and The Washington Post for the latest on the storm.

By Michael Bolden  |  December 18, 2009; 9:09 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Airports , Weather , highways  
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Next: Runways closed at Reagan National, BWI



Your AM's and PM's are really messed up, since it's just midnight now...

Posted by: scottr2 | December 19, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Had to walk/jog about 3 out of the five miles home in springfield due to two trucks that were stuck trying to go up icy hills. Exciting winter already! keep up the good work. James T.

Posted by: jtt3e | December 19, 2009 2:08 AM | Report abuse

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