At Dominion Virginia Power, executives said they had activated a new system that makes it easier for customers to report and check the status of power outages by computer or cellphone.
Much like a hurricane, the storm was too big to sneak up on anybody. It left a notable calling card through the Midwest early Tuesday as it headed toward the Atlantic, but it was just more winter for the middle part of the country.
Before the storm, it appeared that the region had escaped the winter’s worst, but many still pined for more warmth.
As birds chirped in nearby trees in downtown Washington, Rhona Alexander, 58, of Springfield said she was ready for spring.
“I am tired of the cold weather,” she said, stuffing her hands in the pockets of her black winter parka. “I want to get rid of coats and bring out the spring dresses.”
Some folks were not so convinced that the big snow would happen. So they said let’s not get too excited.
“Washingtonians need to not overreact,” said Jennifer Babson, a South Florida resident who grew up in the District and is visiting friends and relatives this week. “You can’t always trust the weather report. It is a lot of hype.”
She and a friend, Bill Fletcher of Adams Morgan, bought bird feed Tuesday at Logan Hardware, where workers warned that the shovels, sleds and snow wipers were going quickly.
Babson and Fletcher said they didn’t need any of that.
“We are not worried. It is going to be 50 degrees on Saturday!” Fletcher said.
In Virginia, the storm was expected to provide the first real test of snow removal from the 495 Express Lanes. VDOT now has specialized trucks that spray anti-icing treatment between the white bollards on the right side of the express lanes. Also, the plowing style is a bit different: The plow trains on the regular lanes push the snow to the right, where the shoulder is. The plow trains on the express lanes will push the snow to the left, onto the express lanes’ shoulder.
VDOT clears 17,679 lane miles in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties. It has a snow-removal program for high-volume roads including Interstates 66, 95, 395 and 495; Routes 1, 7, 15, 28 and 50; the Fairfax County Parkway; the Prince William Parkway; and another snow-removal program for main thoroughfares in neighborhoods, residential streets and cul-de-sacs.
VDOT said crews work on high-volume roads and in subdivisions concurrently. Roads with the highest traffic volumes in each category are cleared first.
The Maryland Transit Administration warned travelers that ice or downed trees could create delays on rail lines. The agency could limit some or all of its bus, rail and light-rail service if snow and icing become too severe.
In Maryland, crews had pretreated major roads and arteries with salt brine. The state has 330,000 tons of salt ready and waiting.
The Maryland State Highway Administration said six heavy-duty tow trucks were deployed to be ready to move disabled tractor-trailers from interstates. Drivers were warned to watch for dark traffic signals and to treat intersections without power as four-way stops.
Prince George’s County sent out 240 vehicles and 300 employees who would work 12-hour shifts until the more than 1,900 miles of county-maintained roads are clear, county officials said Tuesday.
The storm was expected to be the first test for the District’s $4.5 million worth of new snow-removal equipment, including plows equipped with GPS tracking.
Metro said it had 600 pieces of snow equipment ready for cleaning walkways, platforms, parking lots and garages. Metro trains can operate aboveground in snow conditions if accumulation is less than eight inches. If it’s more than that, Metro officials said, the transit agency has to consider whether to suspend aboveground service.
In snow conditions, buses take alternative routes if there are hills, curves or narrow streets along the normal routes.
Marshall Keys, 56, a musician who lives in Northwest Washington, left Logan Hardware on Tuesday with a pair of gloves, a snow wiper, pet-friendly salt and a sled.
With a case of wine and food at home, Keys was set for what he said could be two fun snow days and some sliding at Fort Reno Park in Upper Northwest.
“This one is big enough for both of our behinds,” said Keys, holding his new circular, orange sled. Last time it snowed, he and his wife had not been prepared, so they used a serving tray as a sled. “I am way past this,” he added, “but if it snows, I am going to be ready.”
Mark Berman, Mike DeBonis, Dana Hedgpeth, Joe Stephens, Miranda S. Spivack and Martin Weil contributed to this report.