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Posted at 7:32 PM ET, 01/17/2011

Snow, sleet, ice heading our way

By Henri Cauvin

With freezing rain expected overnight, transportation officials were anticipating a messy commute Tuesday morning around Washington. School closings and delays were already underway, with Prince William public schools cancelling Tuesday classes and Alexandria public schools announcing a two-hour delay.
In the District, 200 trucks were deployed Monday evening to pre-treat bridges, ramps and elevated roadways, according to Linda Grant, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works.
In Maryland, crews from the State Highway Adminstration spent Monday treating roads in anticipation of the icy weather and were expected to be back at it overnight as the freezing rain began to fall, an agency spokesman, Bob Rager, said.
“We’re expecting mostly an ice event so we’re preparing for this as a more of salting event than a plowing event,” Rager said.
Late Monday night, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for several counties north of the District, including Montgomery, Frederick and Howard. The warning, which means significant levels of snow, sleet or ice are expected, is to remain in effect until noon on Tuesday.
A less serious winter weather advisory was to remain in effect for much of the rest of the Washington area until 9 a.m. The advisory covers Anne Arundel, Charles and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; Arlington, Culpeper Fairfax, Fauquier, Prince William counties and the city of Alexandria in Virginia; and the District.
Officials in those jurisdictions were mobilizing last night to try to ensure as smooth a commute as possible.
Rager said drivers should assume that there will be still be icy patches on roads even after the ice turns to rain. “ Just because the pavement looks wet doesn’t mean it’s not icy,” he said.
Jason Samenow of the Post’s Capital Weather Gang said that for people living west of I-95 the freezing rain is unlikely to taper off before mid-morning and that that could complicate travel.
“I think it’s going to be pretty messing in the morning,” Samenow said.

By Henri Cauvin  | January 17, 2011; 7:32 PM ET
 
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