Driving conditions change rapidly


The Beltway’s inner loop was wet in some lanes, slushy in others, snowy at merges. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

Report from the road: As the snow and wind picked up, and the temperature dropped early Tuesday afternoon, road conditions changed quickly. They varied from block to block in neighborhoods and from lane to lane on the Capital Beltway.

Traffic was light, but there still were plenty of people about. My worst moments came on turns along neighborhood streets, on a few hills. I had to use extra caution turning and braking to avoid skids. Plenty of plow trucks are about, but they are salting and sanding. They won’t drop their blades till the snow reaches about 2 inches.

Meanwhile, some streets have bare pavement and are merely wet. But drivers may turn from a street like that onto one that is pure white.

Beltway lanes may be watery, or slushy or snowy, depending on the traffic volume. But with the wind and temperature changes, these conditions can change quickly, and seemingly without logic. Visibility is another variable, with the snow rate becoming more or less intense from one moment to the next.

See the latest on the snow storm from the Capital Weather Gang.

Follow The Post’s news updates on the storm.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.

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Mark Berman · January 21, 2014

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