Mid-Atlantic Snowstorm: Live updates

March 6, 2013

The Washington region braced for heavy snowfall on Wednesday, but accumulation hasn’t been significant inside the Beltway. The “Snowquester” was expected to drop several inches of snow inside the Beltway, according to the Capital Weather Gang, but the heaviest accumulation has occurred far from D.C. Stay with us for the latest updates.

Live Grid: See social photos, tweets and outages near you

Snowquester or ‘No’quester? Storm hits northern, western suburbs; little accumulation closer to D.C.

Snowquester: Wrapping up the live blog

With Snowquester fizzling out across much of the region, we are wrapping up our live coverage for the day. Winter weather warnings have been lifted and many people got far less white stuff than predicted.

If you were cooped up inside the house all day and want to get out, Going Out Guide has a handy primer for what’s open, what’s closed and what specials are available because of the snowstorm.

If you can’t get enough coverage, check out Capital Weather Gang and Dr. Gridlock for the latest on the weather and the roads throughout the evening.

Updated: Virginia State Police respond to hundreds of crashes

There were more than 550 crashes on Virginia roads and nearly 390 disabled vehicles between midnight and 2 p.m., according to the Virginia State Police. Troopers fielded nearly 2,100 calls for service across the state in that period.

None of the crashes resulted in a fatality.

In Northern Virginia, there were 28 crashes, 67 disabled vehicles and 268 calls for service, the state police said. Officials said the hardest-hit areas have been the Richmond Metro area and Augusta County.

For context: Between 12:01 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 26, a weekday winter storm, the state police responded to 686 crashes and received more than 1,900 calls for service.

— Justin Jouvenal

Bay Bridge closed due to high winds

Maryland transportation officials said the Bay Bridge is closed in  both directions because of sustained high winds and an accident involving an overturned tractor-trailer. Just before 3 p.m., officials said they could not say when the bridge would reopen.

The accident with the tractor-trailer happened on the westbound side of the bridge about 2 p.m., according to Cheryl Sparks, a spokeswoman with the Maryland Transit Administration. She said the tractor-trailer was not hanging over the side, as some had reported on social media outlets. The tractor-trailer is “not on the main span” of the bridge but near the end of the westbound side, Sparks said.

The eastbound side of the bridge is closed due to high winds. The bridge is shut down when there are sustained winds of over 55 mph, according to Maryland transportation officials.

She said it was unclear when the bridge would reopen in either direction, noting that emergency personnel were working to clear the tractor-trailer off the span.

“It all depends on the wind speeds and until we can clear the incident,” she said.

— Dana Hedgpeth

Alexandria cancels evening activities

Officials in Alexandria announced that all Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities recreation facilities will close at 6 p.m. today, but are expected to operate on their regular schedules Thursday.

As a result, all evening recreation classes, activities and programs scheduled for Wednesday have been canceled. This link offers updated cancellation and rescheduling information.

For additional information on RPCA programs and activities, call 703-746-4343 or click on this link.

Additional updates are available here.

— Patricia Sullivan

Snowquester: How forecasters got it wrong

At midafternoon Tuesday, Chris Strong, meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Sterling, Va., said the storm’s forecast had been predictably tricky.

“It’s always been (that) the rain-snow line was going to be right around the D.C. and Baltimore metro area. And those on the rain side were going to be left lacking snowfall and those on the other side were going to get quite a few inches.”

“The problem comes when (Tuesday) you know the line is going to be somewhere in that area, and then trying to assign who’s going to get what.”

“If you place that wrong by 20 or 30 miles,” he said, then the forecast seems off. “These rain-snow line storms (are) one of the trickiest things to do here in the I-95 corridor. It almost makes you miss the big blizzards of 2009, 2010, when you know everybody’s going to get snow. It’s just a matter of how much.”

The rain-snow line is determined by temperature — but not just on the ground. “It’s the temperature through about 2.000 or 3,000 feet, where it’s 32, 33, 31 up through the lowest part of the atmosphere. And that makes all the difference.”

Strong said temperatures will be heading down as evening comes. The wind should switch around to come out of the north, and the storm should slowly makes its way to the northeast. (Latest forecast from The Capital Weather Gang).

“So the rain-snow line will be edging to the east in the latter part of the storm, so we’ll have to watch out for that,” he said.

— Michael Ruane

County call centers resume normal hours

Update, 5:20 p.m.

Prince George’s County officials announced they will shut down County Click 311 service at 7 p.m. tonight. Earlier today the county announced plans to extend operating hours for the service until midnight, but a drop in call volume prompted them to close earlier.

Earlier post:

Maryland officials are extending or closing down services depending on how much of an impact Wednesday’s storm has had on their communities.

In Prince George’s, officials said they are extending the hours for their  CountyClick 311 service until midnight Wednesday for non-emergency snow-related issues and questions. Normal hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The 911 system should be used for emergencies only, officials said in a statement.

CountyClick 311 will be able to accept snow-removal requests and provide updates on where trucks have been deployed. However, the service cannot provide an estimated time of arrival for the plows on specific streets. Residents can also report utility outages, downed trees, downed power lines and other incidents that interfere with traffic through the 311 system.

Service requests can also be submitted online.

Montgomery County officials announced their 311 call center would close Wednesday at 7 p.m. and reopen Thursday at 6 a.m.

Meanwhile, officials in the city of Frederick announced that the snow emergency would be lifted at 4 p.m. However, residents will be able to park in city parking decks for free until 7 a.m. Thursday. After that,  regular parking rate will apply.

Conditions may worsen in parts of Va.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said conditions were likely to worsen in Virginia over the next 12 hours as the next bands of heavy, wet and intensified winds were expected to move across the commonwealth on Wednesday.

McDonnell declared a state of emergency for Virginia shortly before noon, and he reported that areas of northern and western Virginia have already received more than a foot of snow.

“It’s been quite an interesting storm so far,” McDonnell said. “This storm is not over. There’s been a lull in certain areas, but that’s the nature of these kinds of storms. Stay off the roads. Stay inside. Enjoy the day off. Spend time with your friends and take care of your neighbors.”

McDonnell said that while the storm has affected only about a fourth of the commonwealth that swath includes a significant part of the population, where more than a third of Virginians live. He estimated that 196,000 customers — or about 400,000 people — were without power early Wednesday afternoon, and that power companies in the state were bracing for “significant additional power outages.”

He urged residents to pace themselves while clearing heavy, wet snow from driveways and sidewalks.

“If this is your first workout in a year … do it slowly or hire someone else,” McDonnell said.

— Errin Haines

Beltway trip highlights micro-climates

“Snowquester” left some areas covered in snow while others were left with only wet sidewalks. The handful of commuters who made it into downtown D.C. remarked that it was odd to see snow in one spot but nary a flake just a few miles down the road. Micro-climates can be tricky — not just for forecasters but for drivers as well.

With that in mind, The Post’s Dr. Gridlock took a spin around the Beltway this morning (a 64-mile loop) and offers these insights into the different conditions he encountered as he navigated through different spots along his route. Read more about his impressions.

‘Snowquester’ underperforms, but isn’t done yet

The Capital Weather Gang (CWG) has posted its latest look at how Snowquester (or perhaps ‘No’quester if you live in the District) will play out through the evening.

Sure, the storm has underperformed predictions in the urban center of the region, but Snowquester may still have a few punches left.

Looking ahead, there are signs that snow is trying to make a comeback as colder air wraps into the storm. Occasionally moderate to heavy bands should impact the region into the early-to-mid evening, but when precipitation intensity is lighter, more of a mix is favored inside the Beltway and east.

That will likely translate to a total of 1-4 inches of snow in the immediate area. CWG says the storm is on track to meet the lower forecast totals in areas west, southwest and northwest of the Beltway.

Heavy snowfall in Fairfax County

Virginia’s largest jurisdiction, Fairfax County, is seeing heavy snowfall right now in some areas, particularly to the west, and rain in others.

“We’re such a large county that we’re seeing a pretty big range in conditions,” county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald said about 1 p.m. The biggest fallout so far continues to be scattered power outages and downed trees and wires.

Fitzgerald estimated that at the County Government Center near the city of Fairfax, at least four inches of snow has fallen.

“The snow has slowed down a little bit,” said David McKernan, coordinator of Emergency Management for the county. “It’s pretty much a routine day.”

He said the impact of Snowquester has been muted. There have been few accidents or  power outages, and no major damage caused by the wet, heavy snow.

About 1:10 p.m., only about 49 customers were without power in the county.

The county’s advice to residents: Don’t drive if you don’t have to. Check on neighbors, especially the elderly. Shovel around fire hydrants to keep them clear of snow if you can. Only call 911 for emergencies.

— Corinne Reilly and Justin Jouvenal

Dupont Circle Snow Ball Fight in jeopardy

That Dupont Circle snowball fight may not happen after all — the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association said in an update posted to its Facebook page that the event is rescheduled for 8 p.m because of a lack of snow accumulation. It was previously scheduled for 4 p.m. The update reads:

DC is obviously once again in the dreaded snow hole, but there’s a chance of some accumulation as the Snowquester is on its way out this evening. So we’re switching the time to 8pm, and if the final wave doesn’t pan out by around 6, we’re calling it a day! Thanks for keeping the faith!

On Twitter, would-be participants are already lamenting the chance that the snowball fight may be canceled.

 

 

On Capital Weather Gang, The Post’s Jason Samenow writes that the Snowquester has under delivered so far, but warns “there are signs that snow is trying to make a comeback as colder air wraps into the storm.”

So maybe there’s hope yet.

How to protect your pets in bad weather

Okay, so the snowstorm didn’t really materialize inside the Beltway. We know. (It materialized outside the Beltway, so if you are reading this from, say, Front Royal or part of Loudoun County, you might think the snowstorm was a very sizable deal.)

But if you have pets, it’s good to know how to prepare for snowstorms, other bad weather or any other emergency. Maggie Fazeli Fard has assembled a helpful guide to protecting your pets in cold weather or during a disaster.

Snowstorm falls short, but it’s not done

The Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow writes that the snowstorm “underperformed” in the D.C. area and to the east, but he warns that the storm isn’t over yet.

While the forecast of between five and 10 inches in the D.C. area didn’t pan out, Samenow says “there are signs that snow is trying to make a comeback as colder air wraps into the storm.”

This means there should be some moderate to heavy bands hitting the region in the early-to-mid evening window, according to Samenow.

I-66 West lanes reopened after crash

A tractor trailer jackknifed on westbound I-66 in Fauquier County at around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, blocking all westbound lanes, according to the Virginia State Police. The westbound stretch of I-66 had fully reopened as of 12:15 p.m. There were no injuries as a result of the crash.

Why is it so hard to predict snowfall?

The lackluster snowfall inside the Beltway seems to have turned the “snowquester” into more of a “no”quester. But this begs the question: Why is it so hard to accurately predict snowfall?

Joel Achenbach explored this in a story today:

Snow exposes failure. If the weatherperson botches a rainfall prediction, no one notices, because it’s hard for an ordinary person to judge rainfall totals, and the storm sewers gobble up the excess. But someone can detect a bad snow forecast — too much snow, or too little — just by looking out the window.

Read Joel’s story for more on all of the variables involved, including temperature, temperature structure and geography.

Updated: State of emergency declared in Virginia

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said conditions were likely to worsen in Virginia over the next 12 hours, as the next bands of heavy, wet and intensified winds were expected to move across the commonwealth on Wednesday.

McDonnell declared a state of emergency for Virginia shortly before noon, and he reported that areas of northern and western Virginia have already received more than a foot of snow.


“It’s been quite an interesting storm so far,” McDonnell said. “This storm is not over. There’s been a lull in certain areas, but that’s the nature of these kinds of storms. Stay off the roads. Stay inside. Enjoy the day off. Spend time with your friends and take care of your neighbors.”


McDonnell pointed out that the storm has affected only about a fourth of the commonwealth, but a significant part of the population, where more than a third of Virginians live. He estimated that 196,000 customers — or about 400,000 people — were without power early Wednesday afternoon, and that power companies in the state were bracing for “significant additional power outages.”


Officials urged citizens to stay off the roads and to be careful around downed power lines. They also urged residents to pace themselves while clearing heavy, wet snow from driveways and sidewalks.


“If this is your first workout in a year … do it slowly or hire someone else,” McDonnell said.

 

— Errin Haines

 

‘No’quester near D.C., snowquester elsewhere

Feeling like this storm is more “No”quester than Snowquester? That depends where you are. The Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow and Dan Stillman write: “This is definitely a western Virginia snowstorm. A Twitter follower reports 23 inches at Massanutten mountain near Harrisonburg. Ski weekend ahead?”

For more, head to the Capital Weather Gang.

Loudoun snow totals between two and 11 inches

Loudoun officials reported a wide range of snowfall measurements from points across the county. Snowfall amounts of up to 10 to 11 inches were reported in western parts of Loudoun, while eastern communities were seeing only about two to four inches or even less Wednesday morning, officials said.

— Caitlin Gibson

Metro ridership down 75 percent

By mid-morning, Metro reported ridership on Wednesday’s morning commute was 65,000 trips as of 10 a.m. compared to 268,000 last Wednesday — about 25 percent of a normal weekday, on average.

In 2012, Metro said it had roughly 436,000 weekday passenger trips on bus and an estimated 729,000 weekday passenger trips on rail.

About 40 percent of Metro’s ridership is comprised of federal workers, so with the closing of the government, trains and bus routes were less crowded.

— Dana Hedgpeth

For more, head to Dr. Gridlock.

Prince William County roads ‘messy but passable’

Some power lines in Prince William County have come down across roads and there have been several instances of snowplows displacing manhole covers, said Pat Collins, manager of the county’s emergency operations center.

“The roads are messy but passable,” Collins said in an e-mail. “It is actually pretty quiet. I think most people are staying home and not travelling.”

— Jeremy Borden

Virginia State Police respond to hundreds of crashes

There were nearly 370 crashes on Virginia roads and more than 230 disabled vehicles between midnight and 10 a.m., according to the Virginia State Police (VSP). Troopers fielded nearly 1,350 calls for service across the state in that period.

None of the crashes resulted in a fatality.

In Northern Virginia, there were 13 crashes, 52 disabled vehicles and 192 calls for service, the VSP said. Officials said the hardest hit areas of the state have been the Richmond Metro area and Augusta County.

For context: Between 12:01 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 26, a weekday winter storm, the state police responded to 686 crashes and received more than 1,900 calls for service.

— Justin Jouvenal

Prince George’s officials still on alert

In Prince George’s County, officials extended the hours of their non-emergency, 311 call center until midnight Wednesday — though they acknowledged the move was mostly precautionary.

As of about 11 a.m., county officials said they knew of no power outages, and the roads were still mostly just wet. “They are predicted to get a little slushy after 2 [p.m.],” said Rhonda Jackson, a spokesman for the county’s Office of Emergency Management. “It’s just still rain, but the temperatures are about 34 degrees.”

Jackson said officials had heard weather reports that conditions might worsen, so until then, they would not declare the storm a bust in Prince George’s. “We’ve got a couple more hours, at least,” Jackson said.

— Matt Zapotosky

Gray: D.C. crews remain prepared

Mayor Vincent Gray said Wednesday morning that city crews remain prepared for 8 to 10 inches of snowfall, even though little accumulation was apparent as he spoke shortly after 10 a.m. at a city yard near Fort Totten.

“The best thing that people in the city can do is stay off the streets,” Gray said, adding that would “make it more difficult for us to move rapidly with the cleanup operation.”

The city had 458 pieces of equipment on the streets Wednesday, Gray said, including 45 new trucks rolled out last fall. While warning residents to stay off streets, Gray said he had no immediate plans to declare a snow emergency, which would restrict parking in arterial streets.

“We’ll make more decisions as we need to as the day unfolds,” he said.

— Mike DeBonis

Few problems in Fairfax

Fairfax County’s emergency management coordinator said the area’s most populous county has been spared the worst of the storm so far, but said conditions have begun to deteriorate in the last hour as snowfall has increased. “It’s pretty slow,” said David McKernan, the coordinator. “That’s good.”

The county has experienced “on and off” power outages of 500 to 1,000 meters, but the vast majority of residents have not lost power.

McKernan said major thoroughfares such as West Ox Road and Lee Highway are now covered with snow in spots, but the number of accidents has not been higher than a normal day so far.

A VDOT plow had a fender bender with a car around 9:30 a.m. and a tractor trailer slid off a ramp on I-95 in Lorton around 5 a.m., but neither incident resulted in injuries. There have not been any reports of downed trees, fallen power lines or collapsed roofs from the heavy, wet snow, McKernan said.

— Justin Jouvenal

 

Pepco braces for worst, but almost no outages

Pepco’s first Incident team conference calls Wednesday revealed a utility braced for the worst, and not seeing it.

With less snow than planners had expected in the early hours and almost no outages reported in the system, Vice President for Operations George Nelson hand his fingers crossed.

“Zero, zero, zero,” he said, looking at the outage monitor on his smartphone, shaking his head. “Still sitting at goose eggs. This is actually better than a normal morning.”

By 8:30 a.m., with a light, dry snow falling outside the conference room windows, Pepco planners were waiting for conditions to catch up with their preparations.

Their planning for this storm began Friday. They had been expecting a Level Two event, meaning outages between of 50,000 and 100,000 households. (Briefly Tuesday, they upgraded to Level Three, 50,000 to 100,000 outages, but reduced it again by morning).

“Right now, this [is] Level One, normal,” said Nelson, as team leaders from around Pepco reported all-ready but all quiet throughout the service area.

Managers, trying to shed the utility’s longstanding reputation for unreliability, view this threat as moderate, but important. This is the first snowstorm they have faced since January 2011, when thousands of rush hour commuters were stranded and more than 221,000 Pepco customers lost power.

“We didn’t handle that one very well,” said Bacon. “There is a heightened sense of awareness about how the company is going to respond this time.”

By 9:18, there were two outages in the Pepco network, but that was “probably squirrels,” Nelson said.

— Steve Hendrix

Power outages remain minor near D.C.

See: Power outages in the region

At about 10 a.m., power outages remained minor near the District but were building in areas of western Virginia.

Dominion Power was showing about 68,524 customers out of power in its Shenandoah Valley/Western Piedmont region, which includes Culpeper, Orange and Charlottesville.

In Northern Virginia–including Loudoun and Fauquier to the west and Fredericksburg to the south-Dominion reported about 12,543 customers without power. In both regions, the numbers were increases over an hour earlier.

Also to the west in West Virginia, Potomac Edison showed about 2,900 customers in Berkeley, a slight drop within the past hour, and about 1,700 in Greenbrier, holding steady.

Closer in to D.C., Pepco and BGE reported scattered minimal outages. Pepco maps showed outages affecting total of eight customers sprinkled mainly in the Petworth area in the District, near Kenwood in Montgomery County and a third spot near Temple Hills in Prince George’s County, BGE showed total outages of about 210 customers, a small uptick, with the largest grouping of about 114 in the Ashburton neighborhood in Baltimore City.

— Mary Pat Flaherty

Snow accumulation won’t top five inches downtown

The snow is “not sticking in the city, and piling up in the suburbs, especially west of town,” said Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang. “That’s been the pattern.”

In terms of real accumulation, you’d have to go outside the Beltway, he said.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to five inches downtown,” he said. “Maybe a few sloppy inches, the way it looks right now…The really heavy snow bands need to be sustained for long periods of time for the snow to stick when it’s above freezing.”

Samenow said he isn’t seeing evidence the situation will “change dramatically.” Higher accumulations may still happen out towards Leesburg and Warrenton, he said.

So far, snow accumulation has reached 10 inches in Front Royal, 15 inches in Waynesboro and six inches in Culpepper.

“We just need the temperatures to be a couple degrees colder, and we’d have a totally different situation,” Samenow said.

— Michael Ruane

Limited MARC service, no VRE trains

In case you missed the news earlier this morning, here’s the latest on MARC and VRE service:

— VRE service is canceled for Wednesday

— MARC’s Brunswick Line won’t operate on Wednesday. (Metro will honor MARC tickets.) The Camden and Penn lines are operating on “S” schedules. The Camden Line was doing this earlier today; the Penn Line began running the “S” schedule at 9 a.m.

For more transportation news, visit the Dr. Gridlock blog.

Thousands without power in Virginia

SEE: Power outages in the region

Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Daisy Pridgen reports 7,000 customers without power in Warrenton and 1,300 in Leesburg.

NOVEC spokeswoman Priscilla Knight reports 1,409 customers without power, most of them in Prince William County. Most of the outages have been caused by trees falling on lines.

“We’re sure we can handle this,” Knight said.

— Mari-Jane Williams

Metro still running normal train service

Metro said it had extra personnel on hand to help clear walkways, platforms and parking garages and lots.

On Metro’s rail lines, trains ran as normal both above and below ground in the morning rush. But they were not as crowded because the federal government and many area offices were closed. Dan Stessel, a Metro spokesman said Wednesday morning that ridership was “anemic” compared to the typical weekday traffic of roughly 800,000 ridership trips a day.

If conditions get worse throughout the day, Metro said it would consider reducing or possibly suspending bus service.

— Dana Hedgpeth

For more transportation news, visit the Dr. Gridlock blog.

As expected, Metrobus ridership down

Metrobus ridership today is much lower than on a typical weekday, as expected with all the closures, Metro officials said.

A few dozen Metrobus lines have had a slight reduction in trips and some detours are in place due to road conditions.

“There are dozens of bus supervisors out driving along the routes looking for potential trouble spots,” Metro Spokesman Philip Stewart said.

— Luz Lazo

For more transportation news, visit the Dr. Gridlock blog.

Air travel unimpeded so far

At area airports, early morning travelers were able to get out even as the snow intensified. But afternoon travelers may not be so lucky — an airport spokeswoman said that airlines were cancelling many afternoon flights.

“Airlines are just being cautious,” said airport spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs. “They don’t want to bring planes into an area where they might not be able to get out.”

She said terminals at both airports were relatively quiet.

At Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, snow crews were on high alert and had been since late Tuesday night. But so far ,despite predictions of snow, only rain was falling.

Airport spokesman Jonathan Dean there had been some flight cancellations, but some travelers were still able to leave town.

According to the Web site FlightAware.com, 326 depatures out of Reagan National, 279 out of Washington Dulles and 93 out of BWI had been cancelled. Nationwide, there more than 1,900 flights had been cancelled.

— Lori Aratani

 

Will we reach projected snow totals?

While we are seeing some real snow, the Capital Weather Gang says “it’s time to assess whether we’ll reach accumulations” that were forecast.

The CWG’s own forecast called for five to 10 inches in D.C. and the eastern suburbs and between seven and 14 inches in the northern and western suburbs. But after the less-than-heavy snowfall so far, are we still going to hit those numbers?

“This storm will have several heavy spurts through afternoon and possibly into evening, mingled with with some lulls as well, so there’s still a chance we get into the forecast ranges even after the slow start,” write Dan Stillman and Jason Samenow.

 

Power outages in D.C. area

See: Power outages in the region

Shortly after 9 a.m., outages maps for regional electric companies were mirroring the path of the snowstorm coming in from the west, with outages small but building in territories adjacent to the Washington area.

Dominion Power was showing about 66,000 customers out in its Shenandoah Valley/Western Piedmont region, which includes Culpeper, Orange and Charlottesville. In Northern Virginia–including Loudoun and Fauquier to the west and Fredericksburg to the south–Dominion reported about 9,300 customers without power. Also to the west in West Virginia, Potomac Edison showed about 3.000 customers out in Berkeley and about 1,700 in Greenbrier.

Closer in to D.C., Pepco and BGE reported scattered minimal outages. Pepco maps showed outages affecting fewer than five customers at an area near Brightwood and another near RFK Stadium in the District, along with a third spot near Temple Hills in Prince George’s County, BGE showed total outages of fewer than 60 customers spread among neighborhoods near Severn, Catonsville and Franklinville.

— Mary Pat Flaherty 

Md. Senate convenes as scheduled

In Annapolis, where there was only cold rain, the Maryland Senate convened roughly as scheduled at 9:15 a.m. with 46 of 47 members present.

Several of the more prominent issues in the 90-day session were on the agenda, including bills sponsored by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to repeal the state’s death penalty and to provide incentives for an off-shore wind farm.

The House of Delegates is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m., and legislative staff announced hearings in the afternoon would proceed as planned. The legislature’s Web site offered a cautionary note, however: “Because weather conditions vary around the state, members of the public should prioritize safety when determining whether to attend scheduled hearings or meetings.”

— John Wagner

Calm conditions in Prince George’s County

In Prince George’s County, police, fire and emergency management officials say the weather has not caused any significant problems — or any problems at all, really.

Rhonda Jackson, a spokesman for the Prince George’s Office of Emergency Management, said officials have activated only a “partial” emergency operations center — meaning, for now, only emergency management and power company officials are stationed together monitoring the weather and roads around the clock.

If conditions worsen, other agencies will join them, Jackson said. “Things are not that bad — yet,” Jackson said.

Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, said he has been monitoring the department’s radio traffic since 5 a.m. The call volume is “well below what a normal day would bring us,”he said.

“There’s been a couple times I’ve had to check to make sure it’s still on,” Brady said.

— Matt Zapotosky

‘A walk in the park’

“I’m originally from Ohio, so this is sort of a walk in the park,” Kial Smith, a 24-year-old IT consultant, said as he got off an Orange Line train in Vienna. He’d left home in Columbia Heights less than an hour earlier. “It was definitely a faster trip today. The train was pretty empty.”

Smith had the choice to work from home, but he chose to go in to the office. “But if it really starts to accumulate soon, I’m calling it a day,” he said.

— Corinne Reilly

Videos of the #snowquester

As the snow begins to fall with greater intensity, some Washington Post staffers have used Twitter’s Vine service to shoot short videos of the impact around the region. Submit your vines on twitter with the hashtag #snowquester and we may tag them to appear on our multimedia Grid here.

In Frederick, MD:

DC:

 

Virginia:

Icy slush building on Beltway in Md.

After a quiet and “underwhelming” morning, it looks like conditions are worsening around the D.C. region. The Post’s Bill Turque reports from near the Old Georgetown Road exit on the Capital Beltway, saying that there are big stretches of icy slush beginning to accumulate.

Dupont Circle Snowball Fight planned for 4 p.m.

The Washington DC Snowball Association (we did not make that up) has announced plans to host a snowball fight in Dupont Circle at 4 p.m.

“After a two-year hibernation, ODCSF is BACK!,” reads a post on the group’s Facebook event page. “Snowquester 2013 looks set to be our last chance for significant snow for this winter and we want to make the most of it.”

The snowball fight is a bit of a storied tradition in the D.C. area — The Post’s Alexandra Garcia was there in 2010 — during what we now know as Snowmageddon — and captured some of the fun in the video below.

The Facebook post also suggests that would-be participants bring their “craziest costumes,” and maybe a video camera to capture a possible Harlem Shake routine.

The group warns that if the snow is too “slushy,” the event could be called off. On Twitter, the hash tag #ODCSF is being used to spread word.

Latest forecast: Snow hitting its stride

Dan Stillman has the latest snow forecast posted over at Capital Weather Gang. Here’s what he says:

Moderate to heavy snow has engulfed the D.C. area, a touch later than some might have expected, but mostly on track with forecasts. Expect periods of moderate to heavy snow through afternoon.

For more, head to Capital Weather Gang.

Before the snow, the snow plows

Waiting for serious snowfall in your neighborhood? Check out this story by Robert Samuels about the snow plows deployed even when there is no snow.

Snowfall intensifying in D.C. area

After a quiet morning that one area resident called “underwhelming,” snowfall has picked up across the Washington region. Heavy flakes were falling in Silver Spring, downtown Washington and on the National Mall. Here are some images (and for more, make sure to visit the Grid):


#dcwx, #snowquester, #snow (From Districtopia via Instagram)

Smithsonian museums remain open

Looking for something to do on this snow day? The Smithsonian Institution reports that even though the National Zoo is closed, all its museums will be open as usual on Wednesday.

Here are a few options with more information on visiting:

— Maggie Fazeli Fard

Light ridership on early Metrobus routes

Metro suspended numerous bus routes over the course of the morning. Riders who did board buses early in the day encountered lighter ridership than they would usually see.

“There’s usually a lot more people on the bus at this time,” said Reina Diaz, a Columbia Heights resident riding a Metrobus to her cleaning job in the Cathedral Heights area.

Metro says service could be reduced as the day continues and conditions worsen on the region’s roads. For more, read Luz Lazo’s report on Dr. Gridlock.

The Weather Wall in action

The Capital Weather Gang’s Weather Wall is the ultimate overview of conditions in the Washington region. If you’re looking to see exactly where we stand, check out the radar, temperatures and satellite view here.


D.C. reminds homeowners of shoveling law

The storm has yet to make a strong impact in the immediate D.C. area, but city officials are urging residents to plan ahead for clean-up.

Commercial and residential property owners are required to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice within 24 hours after the storm ends. Officials are also asking home and business owners to clear curbs and bus shelters adjacent to their properties, and to help elderly or disabled neighbors.

Snow is forecast to be heavy before tapering off this evening, meaning that many residents will wake up to a morning of shoveling on Thursday.

— Maggie Fazeli Fard

Metro reports normal service so far

Metro trains were running as normal Wednesday morning and the agency said it had no reports of cracked rails or other problems. On Tuesday night, Metro canceled its door to door service for disabled riders.

Some Metrobus routes have been changed to different roads or have reduced service because of road conditions. If conditions get worse, Metro said all bus service will be reduced or possibly suspended. For a complete list of bus route changes go to www.wmata.com.

— Dana Hedgpeth

 

Heavier snow heading our way

The Capital Weather Gang reports that the snowstorm “is just about to get very, very interesting.” Dan Stillman says that heavier snow is moving in and temperatures are going to drop. Check out the Capital Weather Gang for an updated post by 9 a.m.

Stop Everything: Panda sleeping on snow

The National Zoo announced that it is closed, but more importantly, the zoo included this photo in its tweet about the closure:

‘Nothing’s sticking’

At 7:21 Wednesday morning, William White, 47, sat in the driver’s seat of his rumbling sand truck, closed his eyes and rested his head against the window. He’d been on duty since 11 p.m. Tuesday and had already dumped two loads of sand along Route One from Alexandria to Georgetown.

He and the drivers of two other massive sand trucks idled, waiting for the rain to turn to snow. White, who has driven sand trucks in storms for 14 years and once pulled 24 straight hours of sanding during the Snowmageddon storm, looked skeptical.

“Nothing’s sticking,” he said, pulling his blue hoodie closer to keep his head warm. “But we’ll stay until they tell us it’s time to go home.”

— Brigid Schulte

 

Downed trees, power lines in Fairfax

In Fairfax County, officials already have responded to a handful of reports of downed trees and power lines, county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald said.

The weight of the snow that’s fallen so far is likely to blame, Fitzgerald said. “With heavy snow, this is something we tend to see,” she said. “We’re telling people to be prepared for power outages.”

Fitzgerald said the incidents that have been reported so far already have been cleared. County officials began monitoring the storm from an emergency operations center last night. They’re posting information for residents here.

— Corinne Reilly

Heavier snow hitting western, northern areas

The “Snowquester” hasn’t made much of an impact in the immediate D.C. area thus far. The Capital Weather Gang assures us that heavier precipitation is coming, but for now, there’s little in the way of weather to report around the Beltway.

It’s a very different story in regions farther west and north of D.C. Spots like Haymarket and Winchester are seeing significant snowfall:

 

 

National Gallery of Art closed

The National Gallery of Art announced Wednesday that it is closed due to expected snow.

— Katherine Boyle

‘Underwhelming’ snow so far

How would you rate the snowstorm so far? “Underwhelming,” according to a woman in Bethesda. Snow is piling up far to the north and west of D.C., but downtown and inside the Beltway, it just looks like a regular rainy day. Here’s the latest story from Debbi Wilgoren and Ashley Halsey III.

 

Conditions on area roads will worsen

It looks calm throughout the D.C. area, and all we have to show for the “Snowquester” hype is some light early morning snow and slick roads. But that doesn’t mean people should expect their normal commutes, warns Robert Thomson (a.k.a. Dr. Gridlock). That’s because the conditions travelers encounter in the morning won’t match the conditions they find when they head home, he says. For more, read this post.

Heavier precipitation is still ahead

Dan Stillman of the Capital Weather Gang notes that only light precipitation appears across the Beltway area right now. Why is this? Well, Stillman says the storm’s low pressure over the Midwest is phasing out and a stronger one over North Carolina is just getting started. The precipitation should pick up over the coming hours, according to Stillman.

Updates from Capital Weather Watchers

Here’s another good resource for snow updates: The Capital Weather Watchers, a network of trusted weather spotters throughout the D.C. area. Follow this Twitter list for the latest from them.

See tweets, photos from around the area

Curious to see how things look around the region? Check out the Grid, the Post’s live rundown of tweets, photos and information.

D.C. Circulator operating normally

The D.C. Circulator is operating a normal schedule on Wednesday.

Latest updates from around the region

The first wave of a heavy storm began dropping large flakes in Northwest Washington and coating streets in upper Montgomery County and western Northern Virginia. For more, check out the latest story from Debbi Wilgoren and Ashley Halsey III.

Reports of heavy snow in Charlottesville

Inside the Beltway, the snowstorm hasn’t produced much more than a gentle coating and a little rain so far this morning. But other areas are reporting heavier snowfall.

In Charlottesville, numerous reports and pictures on Twitter showed roads and sidewalks covered in snow. NBC29 in Charlottesville, is off the air due to a power outage, according to the station’s site.

 

Latest from the Capital Weather Gang

Dan Stillman of the Capital Weather Gang reports that not much snow is sticking to roads thus far because the “snow has been relatively light” and temperatures remain in the mid-30s. For more, check out the CWG liveblog.

County government closings

Here’s a look at some county government closings:

Arlington County: County government offices and courts are closed.

Calvert County: County government offices will open on time with liberal leave for employees.

Fairfax County: County government offices will open on time. Employees are granted unscheduled leave.

City of Falls Church: City government offices will open on time. Courts will be closed.

Fauquier County: County government offices and courts are closed.

Loudoun County: County government offices and courts are closed.

Montgomery County: County government offices are closed.

Prince George’s County: County government offices will open on time with liberal leave for employees.

For more closings and for information on how to list your closings, head here.

— Maggie Fazeli Fard

University and college closings

D.C. region colleges closed on Wednesday include: American University, Gallaudet University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, George Washington University, University of the District of Columbia, and the University of Maryland (College Park and University College campuses).

See more closings here, where you can also find out how to list your closings.

Two crashes reported in Fairfax

Fairfax County police are reporting few problems this morning, though two accidents are causing some delays. At 5:30 a.m., Lorton Road at Sanger Street, just west of I-95, was shut down as crews clear a crash. Police were not immediately able to say if there were any injuries, but they said slippery road conditions contributed to the accident.

Also, Fairfax County police said another, less severe, accident occurred on westbound Route 50 in Arlington at Fairview Park Drive. There are no road closures associated with this accident, also due to slippery conditions.
— Peter Hermann

Leesburg declares snow emergency

Leesburg officials declared a snow emergency at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, and announced that salting and plowing operations were underway on all roads maintained by the town.

All parked vehicles on downtown streets — including Market, King and Loudoun Streets — must be removed to allow for the plows. Any vehicles parked along snow emergency routes will be towed as necessary, officials cautioned.

— Caitlin Gibson

 

Metro suspends several bus lines

Metro has announced that it is suspending the following bus routes due to the storm:

  • J1
  • W13
  • W14
  • W19
  • 11Y

UPDATE: Metro has also suspended the Z11, Z13, Z29, Y5 and Y7 lines. Head here for the latest alerts.

University of Maryland closed

The University of Maryland is closed due to the snowstorm, school president Wallace D. Loh tweeted earlier this morning.

Wind warnings in effect at Bay Bridge

Wind warnings are now in effect on the Bay Bridge, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. Use additional caution when using the bridge.

Some MARC service suspended, limited

The Maryland Transit Administration announced that all MARC Brunswick Line service is suspended for Wednesday. Metro will accept MARC tickets.

Camden Line service is operating on a limited “S” schedule, which means only trains with an “S” below their numbers on the schedule will operate.

There has been no announcement of any change to Penn Line service, but be ready for potential delays stemming from snowfall and wind.

D.C. government closed on Wednesday

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray tweeted just after 5 a.m. that the D.C. government would be closed on Wednesday:

At dawn, snowfall covers Middleburg pastures

In the predawn darkness, pastures across the village of Middleburg are layered with about three inches of wet snow. The Capital Weather Gang has just posted a new forecast; see what else is in store for Virginia.

— T. Rees Shapiro

Latest forecast: Heavy snow, gusting winds

The Capital Weather Gang’s latest forecast is available now. Here’s what they are projecting for today:

Snow is heavy at times through afternoon, occasionally mixing with rain or sleet from D.C./I-95 to the east, and may even be accompanied by isolated thunder. Temperatures are steady in the low-to-mid 30s and feel mighty chilly with 20-25 mph winds from the north, gusting near 35 mph. Road conditions and visibilities deteriorate everywhere early this morning, with the worst likely west of D.C./I-95 where snow is heavier and temperatures are colder. The heavy, wet snow could be enough to cause some power outages, especially heading west into the higher accumulations.

The snow is expected to taper off this evening. For the complete forecast, head to the Capital Weather Gang.

Metro’s status as of 4:50 a.m.

Metro plans to start operating regular weekday rail service as service begins on Wednesday morning. The rail system warns that riders may encounter minor delays as crews work to clear snow and ice, so be prepared for that. Metrorail service could be hindered as the day continues and conditions worsen, so stick with this liveblog for the latest.

Some Metrobus routes will be canceled today, beginning with the 11Y route from Fort Washington. A complete list of canceled routes will be posted on www.wmata.com shortly, and we will link to it when it is available. Other routes will begin the day with service approaching normal levels, but Metro warns that service can be reduced or possibly suspended depending on conditions. The agency hopes to give riders two hours notice before suspending bus service; again, stay with this liveblog for the latest.

MetroAccess service is canceled for Wednesday.

VRE service canceled

The Virginia Railway Express has canceled service for today. The agency plans to run full service on Thursday, March 7, but a decision will be made by 4 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Major school systems closing

In the waning hours of Tuesday and the early hours of Wednesday, the federal government, schools and other agencies began announcing closures.

Here are some of the closures:

  • D.C. Public Schools are closed
  • Montgomery County Public Schools are closed
  • Fairfax County Public Schools are closed
  • Alexandria City Public Schools are closed
  • Prince George’s County Public Schools are closed
  • Prince William County Public Schools are closed
  • Fauquier County Public Schools are closed

No word yet from Arlington County or Frederick County. (UPDATE: They’re both closed.)

For more school and government closings and delays, head here.

Federal government closed

Federal offices in the D.C. area are closed today, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

 

Snowstorm resources and guidance

The snowstorm could drop between three and eight inches of snow inside the Beltway, with areas to the west and north of D.C. potentially seeing double-digit snowfall. Here are some resources as you prepare for the “Snowquester.”

— The Capital Weather Gang, your resource for the latest weather news

How could the storm affect the D.C. area’s roads? It’s been a few years since the region saw as much snow as this storm could bring, so Robert Thomson (a.k.a Dr. Gridlock) gives travelers a rundown of what to expect.

— A winter storm warning was issued for the District and locations to the west and north.

Hundreds of flights are canceled as snowstorm approached.

Why could this storm feature intense snowfall and thundersnow?

— An interesting snow-related Joel Achenbach story: Why is snowfall so hard to predict?

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Elizabeth Chang · March 1, 2013