Four to six inches of fluffy snow fell in Fairfax County…on the grass. What accumulated on the roads was probably about half of that, maybe 2-3 inches. Thirty hours later, that’s probably compacted down to an inch or so.
Hardly crippling stuff.
I don’t care if you’re driving a school bus, a smart car or limousine, driving on an inch of compacted snow is totally doable.
I’m sure County officials would say they’re erring on the side of caution. Please. It’s not particularly hard or hazardous to drive on an inch of compacted snow – in those precious few neighborhoods which crews haven’t yet reached or where patchy streaks of snow and ice remain. You drive a little slower, increase your following distance, and apply your brakes a little sooner and more gently.
In the Upper Midwest, a thin base of snow is on roads everywhere for large stretches of the winter. I realize the D.C. area is not the Upper Midwest, but let’s not discourage people from learning by doing. Again, driving in this stuff does not require great expertise, just a little bit of caution.
Maybe Fairfax County’s decision to close today was influenced by the temperatures. Yes, they were in the single digits this morning…even around zero in a few spots. So do what Montgomery, Alexandria, Arlington and other systems did: delay two hours. Temperatures will recover to the 20s this afternoon.
Closing schools for three straight days is a huge inconvenience for working families who have to take leave or spend considerable funds on child care. Shutting down on Tuesday and Wednesday was understandable. Today’s closure was simply a lame decision in my view.
I’m sure Fairfax County has its reasons for closing down today. I’d welcome any official to contact me with a defense and I’ll post it. I have a hard time believing it will be compelling…but have at it…
UPDATE, 3:35 p.m.: I’ve posted Fairfax County’s response and a wrap-up on this matter here: Counterpoint: Fairfax County’s defense for shutting down
Useful link: How Fairfax County makes inclement weather decisions