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Roads begin to clear from snow, ice; man reported dead after crash

Del Galloway shovels snow in the 900 block of F Street NW on Tuesday morning. (Paulina Firozi/The Washington Post)

Updated at 11:57 a.m.

Officials in Howard County said a man was killed in an early Tuesday morning crash on Route 97 near the Montgomery County border.

Route 97 in both directions near Jennings Chapel Road remained closed. It was not clear when the roadway would reopen.

The man was not identified, pending notification of his relatives.

Howard County police said in a Twitter message that an initial investigation suggested that the man was driving a car on the southbound side of the roadway and took a curve too fast, hitting ice or snow on the shoulder. The road was plowed.

When the vehicle reentered the road, it crossed over into traffic on the northbound side and was hit by a pickup with a snowplow in the front. The driver of the car died. It was not clear whether the driver of the pickup was injured.

As of noon, highway officials said major interstates and primary roads in Northern Virginia were clear. Crews also have made at least one pass on secondary roads and most neighborhood streets in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

The agency warned in a news release that continued low temperatures tonight and throughout the week are likely to continue to create problems of refreezing on roadways. Some crews, it said, would remain on duty Tuesday night to treat problem areas.

Updated at 10:53 a.m.

Authorities in Prince George’s County said MD 201 remains closed in both directions between the Capital Beltway and Ivy Lane. There was an earlier crash in that area. There were no details on whether anyone was injured. It was also not clear how long the road would remain closed.

In Howard County, police said they are investigating a fatal crash on Route 97 near the Montgomery County border. Route 97 is closed in both directions. The cause of the incident was not known right away, and officials did not say when the road would reopen. Drivers are advised to avoid the area. The crash occurred on Route 97 near Tridelphia Lake Road.

There was also a fatal crash in Loudoun County on Monday night. It was not known whether it was related to poor road conditions. The incident occurred near Routes 15 and 50. Two Virginia state troopers were injured in weather-related incidents, officials said.

Updated at 9:22 a.m.

On Monday night, there was a report of a fatal crash in Loudoun County near Routes 15 and 50, but the cause was not clear. In addition, two Virginia state troopers were struck and injured in crashes because of poor road conditions; the locations were not immediately available.

During Tuesday morning’s normal rush hour, there was little traffic on major roadways. Police said they were were dealing with dozens of minor incidents, mainly on curves, bridges and exit ramps.

While some motorists reported a wide range of road conditions, including bare pavement on the Capital Beltway near the American Legion Bridge and snow-covered roads in neighborhoods, transportation officials warned that the bitterly cold temperatures could still leave slick spots on highways.

“We’re asking people not to go out until 10 a.m.,” Joan Morris, a spokeswoman at VDOT, said Tuesday morning. Interstates and major roads are “passable with extreme caution,” she said.

On Tuesday morning, relatively few commuters were on Metrorail. And some people started to dig out their sidewalks and driveways.

Twenty-four hours ago, Del Galloway was having drinks on a beach in Florida. On Tuesday morning, at 8 o’clock, he was outside his building shoveling snow off the sidewalk.

Galloway, 55, said the condominium’s concierges usually clear the sidewalk but they work on the government schedule and aren’t in today. He said he’s one of the board members of the Ventana condominium complex on the 900 block of F Street NW.

“I came out to get the paper and thought I might as well,” he said.

Galloway was in Florida over the weekend checking in on a home he is renovating. He said he planned to come back Sunday but couldn’t get a flight until Monday night. He said he’s originally from Florida and enjoys the snow sometimes.

This is his first time shoveling a sidewalk.

“I get a kick out of it,” he said. “But I don’t want to do it every day.”

There were also reports of several pipes breaking because of the cold weather. Montgomery County fire officials said they were on the scene of a water pipe break and flooding conditions at a row of restaurants in the 7900 block of Wisconsin Avenue.

Crews continued to work to plow and treat roads throughout the area. VDOT showed a snowplow tracker.

Original post at 5:40 a.m.

Crews throughout the region worked overnight to clear and treat roadways, but many major highways were not free of snow Tuesday morning and remained icy and dangerous, according to authorities and police.

There were no major crashes reported early Tuesday, but many minor incidents caused some lanes, bridges or exits to be closed. Temperatures remain low, leaving roads packed with ice. Few cars were reported to be out on roadways.

Roadway experts warned that drivers should stay off the roads if possible to allow crews to clear them. If drivers do have to be on the roads, they are advised to allow extra time, slow down and use caution. In a Twitter message, Charlie Gischlar — a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration — said around 5 a.m. Tuesday that “the pavement temps are low. In the single digits in some places. If it looks wet, assume it may be ice.”

On Metro, the agency shut down its bus operations early Tuesday throughout the region because of poor road conditions. Metro made the decision at 3:30 a.m. In a message, Metro said its bus service “will only be restored when it is safe to do so.” Metro’s door-to-door service for the disabled was also closed, and the agency said that “a time for service restoration is not yet known.”

On Metro’s rail lines, trains were operating on Saturday service levels, meaning trains were coming about every 12 minutes. The rail system opened at 5 a.m. and is expected to close at midnight. The agency said its decision to run on a Saturday schedule allowed “additional time between trains for snow-clearing operations.” Typically, the agency has had troubles in the cold weather with its train and rail equipment, leading to delays for riders.

At 5 a.m., Metro’s rail lines were reported to be open and running.

Commuter trains, including Virginia Railway Express (VRE), said they were also canceling service because of weather conditions. In Maryland, MARC service was also canceled on the Camden and Brunswick lines. The MARC Penn Line was running on an S schedule, but trains were running slow.

On roadways, plenty of minor crashes were reported throughout the area.

In Prince George’s County, MD 201 is closed in both directions between the Capital Beltway and Ivy Lane. It was not clear whether there were serious injuries in an earlier crash there. It was also not known when the roadway would be open.

There were also reports of earlier crashes on Interstate 66 near Lee Jackson Highway.

The federal government is closed for the day and dozens of schools throughout the area also canceled classes.

At area airports, officials said Reagan National Airport was open and crews had plowed and treated runways. In a Twitter message, Dulles International Airport officials said: “Old man winter is at it again … Snow is falling … but our operations are normal.” At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, officials warned travelers to check with their airline for flight information.

Across the country, there were more than 3,000 delays and cancellations of flights, according to FlightAware.com. At Reagan, about 130 flights were affected. At BWI, about 40 flights and at Dulles about 40 were also affected by the weather with delays or cancellations.

Follow @drgridlock on Twitter and here for more updates on travel and roads and continued coverage of the snow with the Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

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