Despite early-morning lull, up to 12'' of snow expected
The storm that brought about 2.5 inches of new snow to the District by late Tuesday appeared to subside for a time early Wednesday morning, but forecasts continued to call for as much as a foot of snow, along with fierce winds by late in the day.
Metro said it would open at 5 a.m. today, but after a foray into above ground service on Tuesday, officials decided to confine service once again to below-ground portions of the system. No bus service will be provided, Metro said.
Once again the federal government said its offices would be closed Wednesday; D.C. government offices will also be closed, along with area school systems.
Electricity had been restored to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, but as of early Wednesday, 2,900 customers in Montgomery County, about 1 percent of the total number served, were still without power.
Downed limbs and trees:
Prince George's: 301-499-8600.
- Updated school closing information
- One injured in roof collapse in Prince George’s County
- Red Cross seeks donors
- The Postal Service will deliver
- Montgomery: plows are on their way
- A shortened school year in Virginia?
- Blue Line train evacuated
- District to reinstate snow emergency
Metro to operate underground only
Metro says it will limit service to underground stations starting at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Amtrak is canceling and limiting service Wednesday because of downed trees and power lines on some tracks, Get There reports.
There will be no MTA Commuter bus service on Wednesday. MTA plans to make a decision about Thursday service Wednesday afternoon.
And Montgomery County's Ride On bus service will stop at 10 p.m. Tuesday and will not operate Wednesday.
10:55 p.m.: D.C. government to be closed Wednesday
The D.C. government will be closed Wednesday, authorities said.
Only essential and emergency personnel are to report for work, Mafara Hobson, a spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, said late Tuesday.
The federal government had already announced that it would close Wednesday.
-- Martin Weil
As snowfall began to accumulate in Prince George's County, a roof collapsed
Wednesday Tuesday night on three stores in a small strip mall in the Largo area, fire department officials said.
No injuries were reported in the 7:45 p.m. incident in the unit block of Kettering Drive. No employees were inside the pizza restaurant, insurance office and daycare center that were damaged, said Mark Brady, a fire department spokesman.
Workers at a dry-cleaning shop next door called authorities to report flooding and firefighters discovered the roof collapse and damage to the sprinkler system.
-- Clarence Williams
8:11 p.m. Metro pulls buses off area roads
Metro officials began pulling buses off area roadways at about 8 p.m. Tuesday. Bus operators were instructed to finish their bus routes and return to bus garages. Bus service is expected to remain suspended through Wednesday due to hazardous road conditions.
8:05 p.m. Roof damage closes Manassas City school
Officials have closed Mayfield Intermediate School in Manassas indefinitely after the roof showed signs of possible collapse, city officials said Tuesday.
Manassas City Public Schools officials said the excessive snow has caused sections of the roof to be compromised. Though it has not collapsed, Manassas engineers have determined the building cannot be occupied until the structural trusses are replaced -- something that will likely take several weeks, school officials said.
Manassas Superintendent Gail Pope said there is no estimate yet of the cost of the damage and school officials are still discussing where to house the roughly 1,000 fifth- and sixth-grade students who attend Mayfield. Once a plan is in place, Pope said the school system will hold a town hall meeting to get feedback from parents.
Manassas City plans to have all its schools closed through Friday because of the snowstorm. Officials say all other Manassas schools have been inspected and are safe.
For more information visit www.manassas.k12.va.us or the local Comcast Cable channel 18.
7:31 p.m. Arlington opens emergency shelter
Arlington County has opened an emergency shelter at Washington Lee High School, 1301 N. Stafford Street. Residents are asked to enter the building through door #1. And officials say there is parking and the shelter is in walking distance of the Ballston Metro. No pets, with the exception of service animals, are allowed.
7:07 p.m. VRE will not operate Wednesday
VRE will not operate Wednesday because of the approaching snow storm.
7:07 p.m. Circulator to stop service at 8:30 p.m.
Circulator service will stop at 8:30 p.m. Service on Wednesday will likely start late or be suspended depending on conditions, according to the District Department of Transportation.
7:00 p.m. Federal government closes for third straight day
Federal Eye is reporting that the federal government Wednesday will be closed, the third straight day. It will be the longest run of snow days for the region's federal workers since 1996.
6:35 p.m. Underground service only is likely on Wednesday
Metrorail service says they expect to be limited to underground stations only on Wednesday and there will be no Metrobus or MetroAccess service due to the approaching snow storm.
The Metrorail system will open on Wednesday at 5 a.m. and staff will monitor conditions throughout the day. Metro said it will continue efforts to clear the above-ground tracks in an attempt to resume above-ground rail service on Thursday.
6:13 p.m. Openings, closings and other snow news
Montgomery County will continue to allow free parking through Thursday in county-operated parking garages and lots in Wheaton, SIlver Spring, Bethesda and Montgomery Hills. Residents are encouraged to park in the lots rather than the street to make it easier for the plows.
St. Mary's County government has announced that it will be closed Wednesday because of the snow storm moving through the region. There will be no Meals on Wheels delivery.
District schools will be closed but administrative offices are scheduled to open on time. Employees should check their email and the web site for updated information.
Alexandria health department clinics will be closed on Wednesday.
And the Stafford County government says its Emergency Operations Center will be fully staffed and open through Tuesday night to monitor the snow storm.
5:13 p.m. Help a firefighter -- adopt a hydrant
Firefighters in the city of Fairfax need help. Not often does so much snow pile up that hydrants disappear beneath it. But then this isn't a typical winter week.
"The large amount of snow accumulation, combined with the effects of plowing roads and parking lots has left many local fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow," the department said in a news release asking residents to lend a hand.
4:53 p.m. Snow begins falling, schools begin closing
The District has become the latest school system to announce it will close on Wednesday. Here's a quick roundup:
D.C., Fairfax, Prince George's, Prince William, Arlington, Calvert, St. Mary's and Charles county school systems will close on Wednesday.
Alexandria schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Montgomery, Loudoun, Anne Arundel, Manassas City and Howard County schools will be closed the remainder of the week.
4:09 p.m. HOV lanes in effect
Joan Morris at the Virginia Department of Transportation says HOV lanes are in effect and were not lifted during the blizzard and aftermath. She says VDOT only lifts restrictions if it becomes absolutely necessary and have no plans to at this point.
3:26 p.m. All Metrorail stations are open
Get There is reporting that all Metrorail stations are open this afternoon. Service resumed about 2:30 p.m. on the Blue Line between Franconia-Springfield and Largo Town Center.
Metrorail trains on the Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow and Green lines are operating every 20 minutes, and all 86 Metrorail stations are open.
Metro officials are watching the weather and may decide to reduce Metrobus or Metrorail service later this evening as more snow and below-freezing temperatures are expected.
2:51 p.m. School closings for the week
Prince George's and Frederick County to the list of school systems closing this week. Prince William, Prince George's, Arlington and Charles schools will be closed Wednesday. Alexandria closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Latest school news: Montgomery, Loudoun, Anne Arundel and Howard school systems have announced that they will be closed through the remainder of the week. Schools in Fairfax and Charles counties will be closed Wednesday.
2:51 p.m. Snoverkill is hitting critical mass
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2:51 p.m. Beware the dangers of shoveling
The Prince George's County Health Department reminds residents that shoveling could actually mean risking your life.
"Prince George's County Health Department wants residents to be aware that strenuous task such as shoveling snow coupled with extreme weather conditions increases your risk of heart attacks," the release stated.
2:31 p.m. Snowblower Guy, where are you?
Story Lab is looking for The Snowblower Guy. Every suburban neighborhood has one, the guy who, instead of a shovel, bought a fancy snowblower. Some might have snickered at the wisdom of purchase in a town that only gets a few snows a year, some may even have grumbled at the noise the thing made in past years. But this week, the Snowblower Guy is the hero of the block, able to clean driveways in minutes--and, as a result, showered with cookies and six-packs. Are you a Snowblower Guy or do you know one? Email staff writer Annie Gowen at email@example.com
2:31 p.m. Web site crushed by large traffic
Federal Eye reports that the Office of Personnel Management Web site was redirected Monday to a site with larger servers to cope with a crush of traffic from curious Web surfers eager to learn about the government's operating status.
OPM.gov had more than 6.1 million total page views on Monday between 3:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra. That's way up from the approximately 151,000 total page views on a normal day, he said in an e-mail.
2:19 p.m. O'Malley urges patience; Assembly gets back to work
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is asking residents for patience as the state prepares for the possibility of another 10 to 20 inches of snow. O'Malley asked residents to tamp down their anger with local officials over roads that have not been adequately plowed. "There is no city or county government that is geared up to move all of this snow" as quickly as people would like, he said.
Meanwhile, Maryland State Police and transportation officials are warning residents that road snow closures could come more quickly than they did over the weekend. Officials said too many jack-knifed tractor trailers and disabled vehicles hampered efforts to plow.
That may mean the Maryland General Assembly will need to hurry with its business. Leaders tried to get some work done Tuesday after canceling the session for the first time in seven years on Monday. Forty-four of the 47 Senate members made it to Tuesday morning's floor session and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said there was no reason not to proceed with regularly scheduled floor sessions this week.
1:49 p.m. House will be closed this week
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has shuttered the chamber for the remainder of this week because of the next snow storm headed to the Washington region, the 44 blog reports.
With next week's planned recess, the House will not return to session until the week of Feb. 22.
1:30 p.m. -- Mayor Fenty defends snow efforts
DC Mayor Adrian Fenty delivered meals to several senior citizens in the Kenilworth section of Northeast Washington where he also heard some angry complaints that streets weren't plowed until he arrived.
"We are working as hard as we can," the mayor said during a press conference that followed his visit. "We have crews who have been out since 8 a.m. Friday and I don't know how these crews can work any harder. They are working on little sleep. This is more snow than Washington, D.C. has ever seen, but they are not making any excuses."
-- Hamil R. Harris
Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Howard county officials have closed school for the remainder of this week.
Fairfax County Public Schools and Charles County Public Schools, will be closed Wednesday.
In Manassas, where classes have been canceled through Wednesday, officials have closed Mayfield Intermediate School because of weakness in the roof of one of the school buildings. Officials are trying to determine where students will attend classes once schools reopen.
Also, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has announced it will close today at 3 p.m. and will be closed Wednesday.
UPDATE on roof collapse in Prince George's County
A pitched roof collapsed on a 100-foot-long garage in Upper Marlboro Tuesday, injuring the 68-year-old man who was trying to sweep snow off it and damaging race cars, furniture and other materials inside, according to fire officials and the resident.
Barbara Underwood, 45, who lives in the home at 11012 Croom Road, said at about noon Tuesday, the roof and walls on her family’s 20-foot-high garage were “leveled” by a mountain of snow. The sudden implosion was not without warning, she said: one of the family’s hired helpers, who also lives at the property, had heard the garage’s trusses cracking, and he was trying to clear snow off the roof when it crashed in.
“I was hysterical,” Underwood said. “You see it sitting there and then it’s gone. It’s just kind of a mind blower.”
The helper, 68-year-old George Bowley, had been raking snow off the roof from a ladder outside, Underwood said, and he was thrown away from the garage when it collapsed. He was alert and conscious afterward but was taken to the hospital, Underwood said. She said she was unsure of his condition.
"He was coherent and conscious, but he could have been in shock,” she said.
The garage was sided and made of cinder block, and it sat on the family's 30-acre Upper Marlboro property, Underwood said. It stored, among other things, race cars, tractors and furniture. She said all of it was damaged and only some corners of the structure remain intact.
-- Matt Zapotosky
1 p.m. -- A roof collapsed just before noon Tuesday, and Prince George's County firefighters were working to remove one person apparently trapped in the rubble, authorities said.
The incident occurred about 11:45 a.m. at 11012 Croom Road. Witnesses reported that people were on the flat roof of the building trying to clear snow when the roof collapsed.
More details to follow ...
-- Matt Zapotosky
Many blood donor sites had to be closed over the weekend, so officials were unable to do their normal collections. Platelets last just 5 days on the shelf, officials said, so its possible the supply could be depleted by the middle of this week.
All eligible platelet donor are asked to call 1-800-272-2123 to schedule an appointment. Donors who are type A or AB are needed for this procedure.
Blood donations in general are needed, especially from type O and B donors. O negative is considered the universal donor because it can be transfused to virtually any patient. Type B blood is a less common type that is frequently as risk for shortages. Whole blood donors are asked to call 1-800-GIVE LIFE or 1-800-448-3543 to make an appointment.
As a special token, all donors will receive a special snow donor thank you -- a $5 gourmet coffee gift card will be mailed to all participants after their visit.
Individuals 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), who weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors younger than 19 also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Officials asks that donors bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of ID.
12:25 p.m. Will the federal government open Wednesday?
Will the federal government make it a threefer and cancel work on Wednesday?
Officials at the Office of Personnel Management stress that no decision has been made about Wednesday’s operating status. Federal workers should anticipate a decision around the same time it was announced on Monday night, OPM Director John Berry said in an e-mail.
12:00 Frederick apologizes for not picking up trash
The city of Frederick sent out a release on Tuesday apologizing to residents, saying that sanitation workers were unable to pick up trash from 30 streets in the city.
City sanitation vehicles were not able to pass through the areas. With the second snow storm approaching, residents are asking to hold their trash until further notice.
11:47 a.m The mailman cometh
The U.S. Postal Service plans to deliver the mail across the Washington region on Tuesday, despite the snowbanks, slushy roads and a perilous forecast, Ed O'Keefe tells us over at Federal Eye.
Mail carriers should be able to complete their routes before Tuesday's snowstorm begins, said spokeswoman Deborah Yackley.
11:47 a.m. New snow shelters opening in Montgomery
Montgomery County officials are continuing to operate an emergency shelter at Richard Montgomery High School, 250 Richard Montgomery Drive. Officials will open two new shelters Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Silver Spring at the Coffield Community Center, 2450 Lyttonsville Road and at Seneca Valley High School, 19401 Crystal Rock Drive, Germantown.
Two other shelters -- the Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center, 1000 Forest Glen Road, Silver Spring and the Longwood Recreation Center, 19300 Georgia Ave., Brookeville -- have been closed.
11:22 a.m. Officials say plows coming to MoCo streets by noon
Montgomery County officials say snow plows are scheduled to reach all neighborhood streets by noon Tuesday. They are urging residents to avoid calling the highway services telephone number. A record number of callers have overwhelmed the phone line. And not just in Montgomery. Residents around the region have been complaining.
They are also asking people to stay home if possible; driving conditions in the county are still hazardous, officials said.
11:00 a.m. Shorter school year because of the snow?
RICHMOND -- With the fourth major snowstorm on its way this winter, lawmakers representing two of Virginia's biggest school districts are responding to "snowoverkill" by considering measures to shorten the current school year. Otherwise, owing to the number of snow days already logged, students and teachers might still be in school around the Fourth of July.
Dels. Scott A. Surovell (D-Mount Vernon) said he and Del. Robert Tata (R-Virginia Beach) are looking at what would have to be done legislatively.
Surovell said Tata, who is the chairman of the House Education committee and an appropriations subcommittee, also met with the governor to discuss the issue Tuesday morning.
"We could slip something into the budget," Surovell said. "I got a request from my local school board member saying we should look into it. It's a problem all around the state. It's not just a Northern Virginia thing."
The Standards of Quality mandates that students must receive 180 days of instruction.
10:27 a.m. Roof problems continue
The St. Mary’s County Patuxent Building, which houses the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, has been evacuated as a precautionary measure because of possible weather related structural problems.
Sheriff’s office command staff, duty officer and station clerks have been relocated to the emergency operations center in the public safety building in Leonardtown.
All other Sheriff’s operations have been relocated to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office District IV (George Washington Carver Center) in Lexington Park.
This follows the early Monday morning collapse of a roof at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station 10, Bailey's Crossroads.
All 18 firefighters in the station were able to get out without injury. A fire engine, ladder truck, three EMS units, and a utility truck were all damaged. And several personally-owned vehicles parked next to the station were totaled.
9:48 a.m. Blue Line train evacuated
Morning commuters had to be evacuated from a Blue Line train after it apparently got entangled in a loose cable as it approached the Smithsonian Metrorail station about 8:30 Tuesday, causing a small fire. Early reports said it was an Orange Line train having problems.
A cable likely became wrapped around a portion of the first rail car of the train, which was heading toward Franconia-Springfield. The fire was extinguished and the customers were transferred to an Orange Line train to return to L'Enfant Plaza, according to a statement from Metro.
Reporter Michelle Boorstein reports that a crowded Orange Line train that was heading westbound has been stopped for at least 30 minutes in a tunnel between L’Enfant Plaza and Smithsonian. Passengers panicked when they smelled smoke and began rushing from one car into the next.
Metro hasn’t told passengers what’s going on, but there is reportedly an electrical problem at the Smithsonian station.
We'll provide more details as soon as they become available..
9:11 a.m. District to reinstate snow emergency at 4 p.m.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has announced that he will reinstate the snow emergency for the District at 4 p.m. to clear major roadways in anticipation of Tuesday's storm, the D.C. Wire is reporting.
Fenty (D) had lifted the snow emergency Monday, but he said Tuesday that emergency routes will once again need to be cleared by rush hour. Vehicles parked on those routes will be towed.
Metrorail is providing nearly full service Tuesday, Dr. Gridlock reports over at the Get There blog. But the system may close early depending on how cold it becomes and how deep the new snow gets.
In addition, the Prince George's County Council and Planning Board have canceled Tuesday night's hearing to discuss the county water resources plan.
7:40 a.m. Monday snow roundup Good morning. Guess Mr. Groundhog wasn't kidding about that whole six more weeks of winter? It's Tuesday and yes, another storm is on the way. The Capital Weather Gang says this one will likely start Tuesday afternoon and is expected to drop six to 16 inches of snow on the D.C. region. It's going to be a one-two punch: heavy snowfall between 8 p.m. and midnight, but the worst of the storm is expected to hit mid-morning on Wednesday. There is good news though -- after this we're expected to have a seven- to 10-day break from any new snow.
Transit rundown: Metro is offering full service on all but the Blue Line, where snow drifts have forced the closure of some stations. WMATA will run six to eight-car trains, but they will travel more slowly than normal, which means longer waits (about 30 minutes) between trains. Limited MetroBus service will be available. Dr. Gridlock has the full rundown here. Also note that Metro officials are encouraging folks to use station elevators, rather than escalators, which are much more slippery thanks to the snowy weather. Note, Washington-area airports are open -- at least for now.
A quick rundown on closings: the federal government is closed, most schools and local universities have also shut down. Many local governments are open - with liberal leave for employees. Here's a list of area closings you can check if you have to venture out. This just in: there will be trash collection for Montgomery County residents who are on Monday, Tuesday routes today but recycling and yard trimming collection has been suspended for the rest of the week.
Some safety tips: Folks who are waiting for their power to be restored, might want to keep these things in mind to prevent trouble after the lights go back on. (Fox 5) Also, some information for those who live or work in buildings with flat roofs, keep this in mind. Local fire departments are discouraging people from climbing on top of their roofs to clear the snow and instead recommend you hire a contractor to clear your roof.
Cabin fever cures: Post columnist Petula Dvorak offers some thoughts for parents who are trying to entertain their children while maintaining their sanity. And to stave off any "Shining"-like feelings, the folks at Book World offer these suggestions. Not big on reading? Then there are always crosswords and Sudoku.
Thanks for reading. Check back with us for more updates and for the latest news about today's storm. Also remember, you can follow us via Twitter @postmetro
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