Wintry mix prompts Monday morning delays
By Debbi Wilgoren,
Washington got a late start to the work week Monday as a bout of icy precipitation in the early morning prompted school, office and other closings and delays.
The weather-related cancellations are the latest disruptions in a recent stretch of extreme cold and snowy conditions. Road conditions appeared manageable, with little traffic and no major incidents reported — perhaps in part because many people were delaying the start of their commutes.
A light mix of snow and ice began falling in the region about 4 a.m., with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang said the wintry mix was caused by a rainstorm that encountered a pocket of lingering cold air.
A warm front is expected to lift temperatures starting later Monday, helping the region emerge from an extended cold spell into a period of unseasonable mild weather.
With newscasts Sunday night and early Monday warning of icy roads and telling drivers to use extreme caution, the federal government said its offices would open at noon, as did the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo.
But while untreated sidewalks and some secondary roads were slick, most street surfaces seemed easy to navigate.
“Just rode in on streets through Montgomery County, D.C., Arlington. Conditions seem fine,” tweeted Chris Eatough, who manages BikeArlington for Capital Bikeshare. “Slightly damp but no slippery spots. I guess seven [layers] of salt did the trick.”
Conditions were nothing like they were in 2007, when a larger-than-expected storm dumped a layer of snow and ice onto untreated roads just as the evening rush was starting, trapping thousands of commuters on gridlocked streets for hours. A vehicle slammed into two Virginia state troopers’ cars as they stood at the scene of a previous accident, temporarily closing part of the inner loop of the Capital Beltway. And the iced-over Roosevelt Bridge between the District and Arlington was closed for about three hours.
The debacle may have contributed to the current era of super-early storm warnings and extensive, better-safe-than-sorry precautionary measures.
The start of the school Monday was delayed by two hours in the District and Alexandria and in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Prince William, Howard, Spotsylvania, Frederick and Charles counties. Arlington and Loudoun counties canceled classes for the day.
In Fairfax, where schools were scheduled to be closed for a teacher workday, employees were told that they could take unscheduled leave until 10 a.m. Child-care programs that the school system offers on scheduled days off were delayed until 10 a.m.
D.C. and Prince George’s government offices are operating on a two-hour delay, officials said. The Prince George’s County Council postponed the start of its scheduled session from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The school closures and delays made a weekend that began early for many youngsters because of predictions of snow Friday last just a little while longer.
Many systems dismissed early Friday because of a widely predicted storm that resulted in very little accumulation but nevertheless led to an early afternoon exodus of office workers on heavily treated roads. On Thursday, most of the region delayed the opening of schools for two hours because of snow overnight. In that case, too, total accumulation was less than two inches in most areas.
Ashley Halsey III contributed to this report.