What you should know about traveling in the snow
Update (7:30 a.m.): If you're out with your camera this weekend and want to share fabulous photos of the snow, you can send them to us here.
Update (7:05 a.m.): The Capital Weather Gang says we've been upgraded from a winter storm watch to a winter storm warning. That's in effect from midnight tonight to 6 a.m. Sunday. Make your preparations throughout the day. Here's a map showing potential accumulations.
You may have already started thinking about what you need to do to prepare around the house. Snow shovel at the ready? Check. Supplies of hot chocolate in the cupboard? Check. Dug the kids' sled out of the basement for some weekend fun? Check.
But don't forget that there are things you can do to prepare if you need to drive in the white stuff, or even if you plan on taking public transportation. We're not recommending that you do either. In fact, it may be best to lay low, especially if we get major accumulations with temperatures in the 20s.
Dr. Gridlock has a prescription for being prepared. Take large doses of it:
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. It's the main roads that will get the most 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. Also, anticipate delays and detours, especially if you're taking the bus. Remember Metro clears the areas around rail station entrances but not around bus stops.
For more on what local jurisdictions do to prepare for snow, check out this feature by Dr. Gridlock.
Stay safe out there, and check Get There for the latest on navigating Washington's roads and rails.
December 18, 2009; 6:03 AM ET
Categories: Advisories , Safety , Weather | Tags: metro, winter weather
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