Freezing rain, slush prompt school closings, government delays

Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 18, 2011; 8:54 AM

Freezing rain and 30-degree temperatures overnight left many of the region's smaller roads and sidewalks encased in ice Tuesday morning, prompting multiple school closures and a two-hour delay for federal government workers.

In the District, 200 trucks had pretreated bridges, ramps and elevated roads for much of Monday evening, leaving major thoroughfares such as Connecticut Avenue NW wet but easily passable. Highways and busy roads in Maryland and Virginia were also pretreated and clear.

But in residential neighborhoods, walkways, sidewalks, cars and secondary roads were covered in a thick mixture of frozen slush and freezing rain. Commuters found themselves slipping and sliding both on foot and in their cars, and it took 20 minutes or more to melt or chip the glaze of ice off vehicles.

The federal government announced just before 5 a.m. that it would open two hours late. Schools in Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard, Charles, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Stafford and Spotsylvania are closed for the day; District schools and Arlington County schools will open two hours late.

Scattered traffic accidents and delays were reported.

Late Monday night, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for several counties north of the District, including Montgomery, Frederick and Howard. The warning, which means significant levels of snow, sleet or ice are expected, is to remain in effect until noon.

A less serious winter weather advisory was to remain in effect for much of the rest of the Washington area until 9 a.m. The advisory covers Anne Arundel, Charles and Prince George's counties in Maryland; Arlington, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier and Prince William counties and Alexandria in Virginia; and the District.

Meteorologists said the freezing rain and temperatures would move northeast out of the region over the course the day, with more precipitation likely, but above-freezing temperatures expected by midday.

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