Metro to expand rail service
Metro announced that it will open rail service at 5 a.m. Friday with nine stations closed, as workers continue to clear drifts of up to six feet of snow from the tracks.
Rail service will remain open until midnight instead of 3 am and will include all Green Line stations and limited service on the Red, Orange, Blue and Yellow Lines.
For more information, see Get There.
Update, 12:02 a.m.:
Another long, hard night for Frederick County rescue workers. After tracking down dozens of vehicles stranded in white-out conditions over the previous 24 hours, at least 10 more vehicles were reported stranded on Thursday night. By 11 p.m., emergency workers had dug out seven cars and sent them on their way. One family was brought to a nearby firehouse until the roads cleared up. Two other vehicles, including a utility truck, were in the process of being freed.
Update, 10:35 p.m.:
As of 10 p.m., Frederick County authorities said they still hadn't reached the last car they'd been searching for, but they believed it was empty. By that time, however, they had six new jobs to do: They had received reports of an additional half-dozen vehicles stranded Thursday night near Mount St. Mary's College in the northern part of the county. Officials believe those cars were occupied.
Update, 7:45 p.m.:
By 7:40 p.m., Battalion Chief Michael Dmuchowski of Frederick County Fire and Rescue said rescuers had made their way to six more cars -- all of which were empty. They were closing on the seventh and final vehicle on their to-search list.
But after a sunny afternoon, conditions were deteriorating, causing new more motorists to drive into snow banks and call for help.
"There are others that keep popping up, because some of the roads are getting slick, and snow is drifting again," he said.
Update, 6:15 p.m.: Rescuers were still trying to reach about seven vehicles scattered around Frederick County to make sure there were no people inside, The Post's Dan Morse reports from Frederick.
The cars, most on back roads in remote areas, may have simply been abandoned, said Battalion Chief Michael Dmuchowski, a spokesman for Frederick County Fire and Rescue.
Starting Wednesday morning, when the blizzard was beginning to kick in, hundreds of motorists in Frederick called authorities for assistance, according to the state police. It became difficult for police to track their safety, because many of the motorists got unstuck, were rescued by other drivers, nearby farmers or even men on snowmobiles. In many cases, troopers were able to verify their safety by reaching them on their cell phones.
By Thursday morning, authorities were still checking reports of 39 vehicles that were stuck. By 5 p.m., that was reduced to about seven.
Police are uncertain how many people actually stayed in their cars overnight.
A state police spokesman said Thursday afternoon that “ultimately the number of occupied vehicles still on the scene turned out to be fewer than number originally thought to be there.”
About six people, seated among three or four cars, chose to ride the storm out rather than be picked up by rescue workers and leave their vehicles behind, said Lt. Michael J. Brady, commander of the state police barracks in Frederick. The motorists had gas in their tanks, and were able to periodically start their cars to stay warm, Brady said.
“They absolutely wanted to stay in their vehicle,” said Brady.
Those with kids weren’t given a choice. “If you had a young child, you were getting in” a rescue or police vehicle, Brady said.
Earlier, Morse reported that as of 3:45 p.m. Thursday, rescue workers were still trying to make their way to at least seven vehicles. They were unsure if motorists still were inside the cars or had made their way to safety, according to a fire and rescue spokesman.
"We're still waiting for some heavy vehicles to get to the areas," Battalion Chief Michael Dmuchowski of Frederick County Fire and Rescue said.
State troopers who have been helping motorists since Tuesday morning -- often by staying in contact with them on their cell phones when they were in their cars or had made their way to safety -- said they weren't aware of any motorists still trapped in their cars as of 3 p.m.
Heavy snow and blowing drifts dropped visibility to less than 10 feet in some parts of the county, said Lt. Michael J. Brady, commander of the state police barracks in Frederick. "Yesterday was the worst weather related event I have ever seen," said Brady, a 20-year veteran.
No serious injuries were reported from the stuck motorists.
Three particularly hard hit areas were: Route 340, extending west from the city of Frederick to Route 17; a section of Route 15 near Pennsylvania, between Thurmont and Emmitsburg; and a section of Route 85 near the Montgomery County border.
Original Post: Rescue teams are trying to reach at least 20 stranded motorists in Frederick, including children, who have been in disabled vehicles since Wednesday. State and local officials say there are 39 disabled vehicles holding at least 20 people, hemmed in by snowdrifts and unplowed roads throughout Frederick County. The vehicles are at scattered sites from just north of Montgomery County to the farthest northern points of Frederick County.
Emergency rescue teams have been in cellphone contact with vehicle occupants who called for help. The occupants have said they are fine so far and are waiting to be pulled from snowbanks and off the sides of roadways, said Tom Owens, director of Fire and Rescue Services for Frederick County. National Guard troops and a Maryland State Police helicopter are aiding local crews in the searches, Owens said.
The vehicles are at scattered locations, including isolated rural roads, which complicates the search, Owens said. In some instances, crews are having to walk more than a quarter of a mile through 3-foot drifts to reach cars, Owens said.
State and local snowplows and heavy equipment were pulled off roads near Frederick during part of Wednesday when whiteout conditions hit. Interstate 70 westbound at Frederick was closed until Thursday morning and portions of other major roads and many ramps remain impassable, state and local authorities said.
Contact us as email@example.com if you have additional information about the incident.
--Mary Pat Flaherty
- Volume of snow is hampering D.C. cleanup
- Snow is causing porches to collapse
- Limited MetroBus service is running
- Open for business, but where are the customers?
- Snow is tough on Metro's bottom line
- Bethesda neighborhood has no power -- again
- Reagan National reopens
- FedEx is back on the road
- Postal service is trying to deliver
- Progress in Prince George's County
- Now it's time to start digging
- Emergency contacts
6:00 p.m. -- MoCo plows encounter suppport, barbs
Keith Compton, Montgomery County’s chief of highway services, said more than 1,000 plows – three times what they’d have in a normal storm -- continue pushing as fast as possible to clear neighborhood roads, though he had no estimate for when the task would be complete. “We’ve got our heads down and are working hard,” Compton said. There have been no threats, as reported in Prince George’s, though his workers have faced the occasional rude comment from frustrated residents.
"They’ve been hit with 40-some inches of snow over the past week. They’re just taking their frustration out a little bit,” Compton said. “They drive by, and in a sarcastic way say, ‘Nice plow job,’ meaning, ‘Lousy plow job.’” Compton said crews are trying to make quick first passes through all the neighborhoods, which is a more equitable approach than trying to scrape all the way down to pavement right away in selected areas. “We want to get though every neighborhood one time as quickly as possible,” Compton said. “In the spirit of reaching everyone ASAP, we don’t waste a lot of time window dressing the first time we go through.” But grumpy barbs are by far the exception, he said.
“Some of the neighborhoods we pull through, we’re greeted with a very polite round of applause,” he said. “We get more appreciation...and offers of hot chocolate and cookies than we do anything else.”
-- Michael Laris
5:50 p.m. -- D.C. seeks to finish plowing before Saturday
The District government deployed about 100 new pieces of equipment Thursday on loan from contractors to help with the task of clearing residential streets. "Give us a couple days" said Karyn LeBlanc, a spokeswoman for D.C.'s Department of Transportation. "It's slow going because we've had to haul the snow away as well as plow." LeBlanc said the department was aiming to have all residential roads cleared before Saturday.
"We're pushing hard to beat that," she said. In a press conference late Thursday, Mayor Adrian Fenty said his goal is "to get as many people to work as possible" on Friday. But he acknowledged the challenge of clearing all residential roads in time for the morning commute: "Getting to 100 percent is going to be very difficult."
-- Ann Marimow
There are less than 4,000 homes without power, but restoring them will be slow going because each repair only brings a few homes back online. As of about 5 p.m., Pepco had 606 customers in Prince George's without power, 684 customers in Montgomery without power and 1,298 in the District without power. Dominion had 221 customers in Northern Virginia without power, and BGE had 1,136 without power in the areas it serves across Maryland.
Robert Dobkin, a Pepco spokesman, said winds on Thursday had caused some new outages, but on the whole, crews had reduced the number from Wednesday. He said these last repairs are the most tedious. Crews are still battling poor road conditions (Pepco has even contracted with plow companies itself, Dobkin said) and each repair only brings a few homes back online because all the major outages have been fixed. All outages are expected to be restored by 6 p.m. Friday, he said. "You restore the smallest last," Dobkin said. "It's slow going with these small individual outages."
-- Matt Zapotosky
5:10 p.m. -- Gutter destruction
On a street in Bethesda, what happens when ice build-up in gutters is too much to bear:
-- Photos by Ron Charles
4:40 p.m.: Free coffee for plowers
In Prince George’s County, some plow drivers were threatened by short-tempered residents weary of snow, but in other parts of the D.C. area, one chain of local restaurants stepped forward with free coffee. The Silver Diner chain was giving free cups to plow drivers and others who have been working overtime to make roads passable. Omar Martinez, operating partner of the Silver Diner on Rockville Pike, said they had given away more than 70 cups of coffee Thursday morning to workers eager for a shot of caffeine. Workers who have time to eat get 25 percent off their bill through Friday, he said. “At 7:30 this morning it was like central command for snow plow drivers here,’’ Martinez said. “This has been a great opportunity for us to show our support for all these workers.’’
4:33 p.m. Metro opens some above ground service
Red line train service is operating between Medical Center and Glenmont, according to an alert from the transit agency.
4:07 p.m. Metro hopes to expand rail service Thursday
Metro may resume service at some above-ground rail stations Thursday, Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.
"With any luck today we may be able to open some above-ground stations," phasing in service as tracks are cleared, she said. Final word on rail service for Friday’s commute will not likely come until early Friday morning, she said.
Metrorail cars, more than 500 of which were stored in tunnels, during Wednesday's storm, are "ready to go," Farbstein said. "That is the good news."
The question is how long it will take to clear snow and ice from segments of track as well as from switches critical to allowing trains to maneuver. Major problems remain between Twinbrook and Shady Grove on the Red Line, she said, and in some rail yards.
"We still have several rail yards that are under a significant amount of snow," including Shady Grove and West Falls Church, Farbstein said.
-- Ann Scott Tyson
4:10 p.m. Cursed Bethesda block powerless again
Residents of a segment of Beech Tree Road in Bethesda, a few blocks from Burning Tree Elementary School, are still without power, after having lost power again this morning. It's not clear when it will be back on.
Jonathan Merrill, out shoveling his drive, said he thought the neighborhood, which already had been out of power from Saturday to Tuesday, this time had dodged the problem.
"I was holding my breath Wednesday that we had made it through," he said. But this morning, neighbors heard a big pop, said James Monaghan, who lives a few doors down from Merrill.
And guess what? The lights went out. The heat went off. Again.
A few on the street have generators, which were humming Thursday afternoon. And for a while, the sun was shining. And, the plows had come by, so at least residents could come and go.
Monaghan, who has lived on the block for 30 years, said he thought he and his wife would head out for dinner and a movie and hope for the best.
But he wasn't optimistic. Word on the street: Power won't be back on until Friday afternoon.
"We are just one unlucky street," said Julie Garcia. But she said she wasn't complaining. Her house was warming up with help from a generator, and she and her kids were heading off to go sledding.
Miranda S. Spivack
3:00 p.m. Snow plow drivers accosted by frustrated residents
Snow plow drivers in Prince George's county drivers were working to plow some roads when officials say they were accosted by several residents, the Maryland politics blog reports. Susan Hubbard, spokeswoman for the county's Department of Public Works and Transportation, said a group of residents told the workers that if their streets didn't get plowed they were going to "throw them out of their trucks and beat them up." The incident happened in the southern part of the county, outside the Beltway, but Hubbard declined to name a specific neighborhood.
2:44 p.m. Volume of snow in District hampering cleanup
The sheer volume of the snow that has accumulated in the District since last Friday has added a challenge to clearing the streets, city officials said Thursday.
“This is no longer just a plow operation,” said Gabe Klein, director of the District Department of Transportation. “There is too much snow accumulation on some streets for the plows to adequately move the snow, the snow has to be physically removed and hauled away. This will add some time to our cleanup efforts but we have crews working around-the-clock to minimize how long and to assist us in being as efficient as possible.”
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said the back-to-back storms delivered nearly 30 inches of snow in the city.
"Crews have been working non-stop since nearly a week ago and will continue to do so as we are dedicated to clearing city roadways and neighborhood streets,” Fenty said.
In addition to 250 to 270 pieces of equipment for plowing and treating roadways, the city has deployed specialized equipment such as backhoes, frontloaders, dump trucks, and dumpsters.
"Two day ago we sent significant resources east of the river to a neighborhood called Benning Ridge whose streets are particularly hilly and plows couldn't get up them," said John Lisle, DDOT spokesman. "We sent a front-end loader to deal with it."
Lisle reacted to an email sent to The Washington Post by a man who said he lived in Columbia Heights. The man wrote that he'd heard from "a very good friend works for the DDOT as an emergency coordinator" that the mayor had ordered plows "to plow only in the Wards of 2, 3, and 4," the city's more affluent neighborhoods.
"That is incredibly untrue," Lisle said. "There are streets throughout the city that still need attention. I just got an e-mail from someone in Georgetown who hasn't been plowed.
"Our snow removal plan doesn't have a big doughnut hole in it that's the area we don't plow. It has nothing to do with where you live. ... We attack every neighborhood at the same time. There's no conspiracy here."
For storms of 18 inches or more the District's goal is to clear major corridors and roadways within 36 hours and to reach residential streets within 60 hours.
“DPW is working citywide plowing, salting and hauling snow. We also are emptying downtown street litter cans,” said Department of Public Works Director William O. Howland, Jr. “We will announce our trash collection plan for Friday and next week later today."
Downed limbs and trees:
Prince George's: 301-499-8600.
2:03 p.m. -- Open, open, open
The signs in the shop windows in the Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan neighborhoods have a recurring theme: "Open;" "OPEN;" "Yes! We're Open;" "It will be a cold day on the equator, when inclement weather shuts our doors." But their ability to bring in customers varies widely. Coffee shops, restaurants, wine shops, gyms and book stores in this pedestrian friendly area have been bustling. Nail salons, furniture stores, dry cleaners ... not so much
Ben Hur, 43, manager of a dry cleaner near 18th and S streets NW, has driven all the way from his home in Ellicott City, Md., nearly every day since the snow began falling.
"But yesterday I had maybe $30 of business and today it's still kind of slow," said Hur, standing next to a poster that hopefully announced "We clean Uggs." By contrast, Kramer Books, on Connecticut Ave., has been busier than usual. Employee Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, 36, said it made sense given how many people are off from work.
"They're just sick of being cooped up. They're looking for something to do," he said. "A bookstore is perfect for that."
-- N.C. Aizenman
1:51 p.m. Improvements in Prince George's
Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson said a number of hurdles facing the snow removal effort in the county are being cleared and that with the sun shining -- and no additional snowfall erasing the progress of the plows--his beleaguered staff is making headway. -- N.C. Aizenman
"We are in much better shape now," Johnson said. "The sun is really helping us today."
Johnson said the county nearly ran out of salt Wednesday, even with efforts to ration it, because a contractor that supplies Prince George's out of Baltimore did not make its deliveries. He also said much of the county's snow removal equipment was in need of repair.
But shipments of salt -- the county ordered 11,000 tons -- and equipment from as far away as Maine are now coming in, and he said Thursday all primary and secondary roads should be passable by no later than midnight.
But residents should not expect to see bare pavement any time soon, he said.
"People were looking for what we call 'pavement'" Johnson said. "That's not going to happen. We're just going to come through and plow low enough so the citizens can get out of the neighborhood. After that, we'll come back. ...That's going to take a long time. ... No later than midnight tonight we’ll be in the neighborhoods in full force. ...We’re asking people to still be patient and give us a couple days."
Johnson said the county has not seen any serious injuries or deaths related to the storms in the past week.
-- Jonathan Mummolo
1:44 p.m. Metro starts running some bus routes
Metro announced that improving road conditions have allowed resumption of
service on 47 bus routes around the region. Metro runs more than 300 routes on a normal schedule. Check out Get There for the full list.
1:36 p.m. Fed Ex delivers, but it may take a while
Larry Forson inched along Kenmore Street in North Arlington at about noon on Thursday, cautiously navigating his Federal Express Home Delivery van along the two tire tracks other cars had cut through the deep snow drifts. The van's tires spun briefly, Forson found the address he was looking for, and he stopped, blocking the road. He hopped out into the snow, a hesitant smile on his face and a package in his hand.
For Forson, who has delivered for Federal Express for the past nine years, Thursday was one of his toughest days on the job. His large white van had gotten stuck three times already, and it seemed that with every new unplowed block, there were more opportunities to become trapped.
"It's the worst, ever," Forson said, the smile dropping from his face. "The absolute worst."
In the span of an hour on a normal day, Forson would make anywhere from 20 to 30 deliveries. On Thursday, he had made just two in an hour.
Forson was slowed not just by the snow but the hazards that come with it. Roads in some Arlington neighborhoods were navigable by just one car at a time, meaning several games of "chicken" mid-block, with one having to back out and let the other through. Taking any corner was a risk, as snow had piled in intersections. People were using the cleared tire tracks to walk their dogs or make a run to the local grocery store. And with the sun appearing Thursday morning, local residents were out in the streets trying to clear their buried cars out.
-- Josh White
On Wednesday, Metro recorded only about 36,000 passenger trips -- breaking the previous record low rail ridership of 56,000 trips on Dec. 25, 2006, according to a Metro statement. That figure also contrasts with the more than 670,000 trips taken on Feb. 3, the agency said.
The drop in rail and bus revenue as well as increased costs for snow and ice removal and other storm-related expenses add to budgetary pressures for the transit agency. Metro recently decided to raise fares by 10 cents across the board as part of an effort to close a $40 million budget gap for the remainder of this fiscal year. Officials have estimated the agency faces a budget shortfall of about $190 million for next fiscal year.
-- Ann Scott Tyson
12:46 p.m. Trash collector back on job
At first glance, it looked like the man was scavaging through someone's trash on 18th Street and Riggs Road NW. Inside the gate to the private home, he was reaching into the two trash cans and tossing the bags to the sidewalk. But Heath Wilkins, a trash collector with Bowie's Trash, was just trying to do his job.
"You can see by the backup of people's trash they need to get it picked up," he said, but no one was putting the trash out on the sidewalks, primarily because of the two feet of snow covering them. "They need to cut a path so they can bring their cans out."
Capitol Hill North Neighborhood Association recommended homeowners put their trash in dark bags so the trash collectors can see it against the snow. Either way, Wilkins said they would be out there slogging through the snow, picking up the trash.
12:44 p.m. Working in vogue in Adams Morgan
Their employers may have succumbed to the snow but the legions of young workaholics who populate the District's Adams Morgan neighborhood are undeterred. All along 18th street, coffee shops are crammed with patrons typing intently on their laptops in focused silence.
Things have gotten so intense that the management at Tryst has turned off the free wireless Internet and turned up the chill music.
"We're hoping that rather than treating this as a workplace and staying all day, people can just relax, have a chat then head out so more people can come in from the cold to get coffee," said waitress Kimberly Gilbert, 33.
The tactic wasn't working.
"I'm actually getting even more work done than normal because I can't procrastinate by getting on Facebook!" said a smiling Tiffany Williams, 27, a social worker who works for a think-tank. Like many there she had come to escape cabin fever and the challenges of working from home.
"All my housemates are off so it's really distracting," said Williams who had tucked her red hair in a jaunty black beret and was typing on a Macbook decorated with stickers calling for worker's rights.
Technically Williams is off too of course. "But you have to keep up no matter what," she said. "Besides, I love my job. ... On the first day it was fun to drink and play board games with friends. But after that you really want to get back to your life."
12:39 p.m. No power in Bethesda neighborhood -- again
Bethesda residents near Burning Tree Elementary School on Beech Tree Road are reporting that they - once again - have lost power. The neighborhood was hard hit over the weekend, with some residents without power from Saturday morning through Tuesday.
For Julie Garcia and family, it's deja vu all over again. Cold at their Bethesda house and getting colder. Garcia and her neighbors lost power again Thursday morning, after a brief reprieve Tuesday and Wednesday from a four-day outage that had lasted from Saturday to Tuesday. Garcia said in an email that the outage appears to be at least along her street a few blocks from the elementary school.
"Many are at the end of their rope as you might imagine," she said in an email. She and her children and some of the neighborhood kids were going to head out for lunch to see if they could find a warm place. "I can't face another set of dirty dishes to hand wash," she wrote in the email.
Over the weekend, Garcia's family was able to make use of a small generator, but were particularly worried about a family member with what she described as a "life threatening medical condition." Not only was her household without full power, it also was suffering from unplowed streets that made it difficult for the ill family member to reach needed medical treatment.
At least today, the family has a bit more mobility as many nearby streets are being plowed.
--Miranda S. Spivack
12:15 p.m. Eleven boats damaged by collapsed canopies
The Harbor Unit of D.C. Police found that 11 boats at the Potomac Yacht Club were damaged after the roof canopies that covered them collapsed; two of the vessels sunk.
Acting Lieutenant Nicholas Breul said a call came in about 10 a.m. about damaged boats at the Yacht Club. There were no injuries. Owners of the boats are being notified of the damage.
It appears that the weight of the snow and the freezing temperatures may have caused the damage.
Officer Sean Hearns, Metropolitan Police Department
-- Theola Labbe-DeBose
11:20 a.m. Reagan National reopens for flights
Get There is reporting that the airfield at Reagan National reopened for flights Thursday about 11 a.m. Dulles has also reopened.
9:36 a.m. Prince George's County government closed
The Prince George's County government will be closed for the second straight day Thursday, with the exception of "essential public safety employees," officials said in a statement. "The main reason is to ensure public safety," said county spokesman John Erzen in an email. "This encourages everyone to stay off the roads one more day to allow the plows to do what they need to in order to make roads as passable as possible."
9:07 a.m. I-70 near Frederick reopens
Westbound I-70 near Frederick has re-opened as state and local officials continue to clear a knot of about eight jackknifed tractor-trailer rigs and 30 stranded passenger vehicles that had been caught Wednesday in snowdrifts up to 8-feet high, said Charlie Gischler, spokesman for the State Highway Administration.
Portions of other roads in the area remain closed but "things should start falling into place rapidly now," said Gischler.
--Mary Pat Flaherty
8:15 a.m. Post office to attempt deliveries
The U.S. Postal Service will attempt full deliveries and retail operations today, a spokeswoman said. The mail was not delivered across the region on Wednesday, the second mail stoppage in less than a week.
But attorneys Liz Nadeau, 50, and Marc Rifkind, 46, were at peace with the weather. Their Prius was well shoveled out and they were cleaning off the windshields.
"We're in a fortunate situation in that we have a 17-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl and there's two of us so it hasn't been a big deal," Nadeau said. "We have four shovelers so it's pretty easy."
And the blizzard? "It's been fun," said Rifkind. "Slows you down. You enjoy life."
They walked to a restuarant in Friendship Heights for dinner Wednesday night.
"We're just doing our life," Nadeau said. "It's not a problem."
--Michael E. Ruane
7:01 a.m. Dulles reopens at 6 a.m., but uncertainty at Reagan National
Washington Dulles International Airport reopened at 6 a.m. Thursday for flight operations, an airports authority spokeswoman said. Reagan National Airport remained closed, but could open later in the day. Both those airports, along with Baltimore Washington International Airport, are advising travelers to check with their airlines before leaving home to catch their flights.
Pepco: Outages, 877-737-2662; Downed lines, 202-872-3432
Allegheny Power 800-255-3443
Downed limbs and trees:
Prince George's: 301-499-8600.
Washington Post Editors
| February 12, 2010; 12:02 AM ET
Categories: Weather | Tags: D.C. snowstorm, D.C. storm, Washington snow, Washington storm, blizzard of 2010, snow, snowstorm, snowverkill
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