Snowstorm Leaves Patchy Ice on Area Roads

By Lori Aratani, Daniel De Vise and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, January 22, 2007; 6:34 AM

Most area school systems delayed their opening by two hours or closed altogether after the first winter storm of the season left patches of ice and treacherous side roads throughout the region.

Key commuter routes remained clear, and both Metro and area airports said they were operating on time. The federal government was operating under a liberal leave policy, which means that employees who cannot get to work can take unscheduled leave for the day. Emergency employees are expected to report to work on time.

Area police and state highway officials reported only minor accidents Sunday and overnight.

The storm, which spread from one to three inches of snow across the region, tapered off overnight, leaving cars and sidewalks encased in ice. Forecasters said temperatures are expected to rise today into the 40s.

District public schools were to open on time. But suburban systems and many area private schools gave parents and bus drivers extra time to navigate the roads, or deferred to the weather altogether and declared a snow day.

Fairfax County, Alexandria and Falls Church schools delayed opening for two hours. Prince William, Loudoun and Arlington County schools were closed, as were Fauquier County and Manassas City schools.

In Maryland, Montgomery County schools already were closed for a teacher professional day, but those activities, as well as transportation to private special education schools, were pushed back two hours. Howard, Charles and St. Mary's County schools also had scheduled days off.

Prince George's, Calvert and Anne Arundel counties delayed opening for two hours.

The first storm of the year was the latest-arriving in more than a decade, delighting fans of winter but causing havoc on the highways and threatening to make this morning's commute an ordeal of slipping and sliding.

By late evening, most of the snow had pushed eastward out of the heart of the area, but it was replaced by a cold drizzle that quickly froze on many roads.

"It's pretty much ice out there," a staff member at Arlington County's police and fire communications center said.

"It's definitely slippery," said a Maryland State Police sergeant in Prince George's County. He said most of the traffic mishaps were occurring around bridges and ramps, which usually are the first to freeze and last to melt.

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