The plows, the salt, the cautions, the school officials worried about sending their buses out on icy roads — you’ve heard it all before.
After a brief tease of spring Saturday, the weather turned sour Sunday. The winter that seems nearly endless threatened a return with a mix of slop and several inches of snow in some parts of the Washington region.
“I’d say it’s hard to believe yet another winter storm is on the way after [Saturday’s] taste of spring,” Brian Jackson of the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang said. “But really, it seems just about right the way this winter has gone. A few inches are possible by Monday morning, most likely complicating the commute, giving some kids reason to cheer and some adults reason to curse!”
Jackson added that another storm could hit the area Tuesday, but it might bypass Washington and head out to sea.
Some school systems, including those in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince Williams counties, along with Manassas City and Manassas Park schools, started the week with canceled classes. Some systems across the region are already at their limit of snow days.
MetroAccess, the transit agency’s service for people with disabilities, announced Sunday afternoon that Monday service would be suspended because of the predicted weather and road conditions. And Metrobus service was expected to begin Monday on a “moderate” snow service plan, meaning that many routes would be operating on planned snow detours to keep buses off problem areas.
Meanwhile, residents expressed frustration with the winter that has long overstayed its welcome.
“We’re used to ups and downs,” said David Rosenblatt, who has lived in the District for 22 years. “It’s just that the extremes have been a lot stronger this year, and there are a lot more of the downs. We’re used to those bursts of spring in December or January. Now, it’s bursts of Canada.”
The Capital Weather Gang said Sunday night that it expected two to four inches of snow across much of the region, with up to six inches in some western suburbs. The worst of it would probably end by dawn Monday, the site said.
Snowplows and salt trucks have been called out more than 30 times this winter season — almost certainly breaking a record, if such records were kept. As school administrators pondered whether to close for yet another day, they also worried that the need to extend the school year deep into summer to make up for snow closures might set a record for the number of family vacations ruined.
“Here we go again, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day,” said William O. Howland Jr., director of the District’s Department of Public Works. “We encourage everyone to be aware of road conditions and take the necessary precautions as they travel, whether on foot or by motor vehicle.”
The District’s Snow Team — a combination of Howland’s crews and people from the D.C. Department of Transportation — put 200 plows out by 8 p.m. Sunday, taking heed of forecasts that what began as rain and sleet early in the evening would turn to snow by 10 p.m.
The Virginia Department of Transportation had 2,000 trucks out on interstates, major thoroughfares and neighborhood streets in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties. VDOT asked drivers to stay off the roads as freezing rain and snow fall.
In addition to snowplows, Maryland’s State Highway Administration said it would have heavy-duty tow trucks positioned on the interstates to respond to tractor-trailer crashes.
“I don’t even know what the season is anymore,” said Robera Abtew, who works at the Madison Hotel on 15th Street in downtown D.C. He said that the last snowstorm kept him from getting to work for two days because the buses from his home in Silver Spring to downtown weren’t running and that he knows several people who have gotten sick from the rapidly changing temperatures.
But some took the weather in stride. Nur Salim of Silver Spring said, “I’ve seen worse in Canada,” where he travels to visit a friend.
“I don’t mind it,” Salim said. “I’ll probably get off of work tomorrow. I’ll play in the snow. I’m excited to have more snow here.”
Nathalie and Frederic Kovacs are visiting from France, where Nathalie said they have had “rain and rain and rain always” for the past three months, but no snow.
“In France, the weather forecasts are always wrong. So we’re hoping it’s the same in Washington,” Nathalie said.
Kristy Hull, a lifelong Washington resident, echoed the sentiment of a great many of the region’s residents.
“I’m totally sick of it,” she said. “I’m ready for winter to be over. It’s constant. It’s ridiculous. It’s cold. It’s messy. It’s slippery.”