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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 01/23/2012

Was OPM delay for freezing drizzle the right call? Vote, and voice your opinion

Only in the past hour or so have many federal workers settled into their offices this morning after the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) decision made around 7 p.m. yesterday evening to open under an 11 a.m. delayed arrival today.

CWG’s chief meteorologist Jason Samenow prefaced the news as a bit of a “shocker” when he called to let me know last evening (he had just arrived in New Orleans for this week’s American Meteorological Society meeting - the SuperBowl of weather conferences - and I was on duty for updating the CWG blog). I agreed with Jason’s characterization and wrote the following as an update to our forecast last evening:

Bit of a shocker from the Office of Personnel Management - OPM has already announced that D.C. area federal agencies will open tomorrow under an 11 a.m. delayed arrival.

Both of us were kind of surprised that OPM made a decision to delay that early in the game, with no snow or ice storm in the forecast, but rather freezing drizzle.

Was the OPM delay the right call or wrong call? Keep reading for more commentary and your chance to vote...

That’s not to say freezing drizzle shouldn’t be taken seriously - enough of it can turn streets and sidewalks into a very dangerous skating rink. But almost by definition a night-before forecast of freezing drizzle is no slam dunk for widespread icy roads the next morning.

As it turns out, despite the freezing drizzle/mist/fog last night into this morning, it’s unclear whether there was any significant icing on area roads this morning. Though surely some sidewalks, cars and elevated surfaces were glazed over. And there’s always a better-safe-than-sorry argument to be made with decisions like these.

In addition, Federal Eye notes that today’s delayed start to the federal workday “is the first since OPM revised its inclement-weather policy last fall. Changes were made after a chaotic evening commute last January, when thousands of drivers were trapped in gridlock for as long as 12 hours.” But Commutageddon, as it will forever be remembered, was the result of a relatively well-forecast burst of intense snow, quite a different situation than this morning’s predicted weather.

So enough about our take. Tell us what you think. Disregarding the timing of the decision, was the OPM delay ultimately the right call or the wrong call? Vote in the poll below. Also, if you made it outside earlier this morning, what kind of road and sidewalk conditions did you encounter? Please let us know with a comment below.

By  |  11:45 AM ET, 01/23/2012

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