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Heavy Snow Warning Issued for D.C. Area

By Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 27, 2005; 6:00 PM

A heavy snow warning is up for the Washington area with the National Weather Service forecasting the possibility of six to ten inches of snow between tonight and Monday night. In response, local authorities have started preparations for a major accumulation.

A little bit of snow could fall tonight and a whole lot of snow between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday. Gusty conditions could produce drifting and low visibility, the weather service said.

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The weather service noted, however, that "there is still some uncertainty as to the exact track of the storm."

It said that a small shift in the movement of a low pressure system moving up the East Coast could "yield large difference in snowfall accumulations," meaning that some areas could get more rain than snow or a mix of the two.

The warning comes just as moderate temperatures were melting down the snowfall that caused widespread school closings and delays late last week.

The District of Columbia will declare a snow emergency starting at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. All cars must be removed from streets designated with red and white Snow Emergency Route signs. Illegally parked vehicles are subject to a 250-dollar fine and may be towed to a nearby street.

Metrorail spokeswoman Taryn McNeil told the Associated Press that crews will report to work one hour early, and a dozen trains with deicing equipment will be on the rails after midnight.

Back in December, Metro announced a new plan for dealing with snow. More trains have had their undercarriages treated to better protect against snow. Heater tape has been placed on electrified rails.

But Metro also warned that snow of eight-inches or more will continue to be a problem. If that happens, Metro plans to run only underground rail service at 30 minute intervals.

The District of Columbia Department of Transportation planned to begin full-scale mobilization at 1 a.m. Monday.

"We'll be out there salting, trying to get a layer of salt ready for the snow, and then we'll be plowing as it accumulates," DC Transportation Department spokesman Bill Rice told wire services The city will have 150 pieces of equipment and about 250 people working in 12-hour shifts.

Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Joan Morris told the A.P. that road crews will report to work at 8 p.m. and there will be at least 800 trucks on northern Virginia's main roads and highways by 2 a.m. Morris says as many as 12-hundred trucks will be available if needed.

They'll treat the main roads with salt before the snow starts falling, then start plowing once two inches are on the ground.

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