Yes, the winter’s first cold snap has arrived, meaning water main breaks are sure to follow, Maryland’s largest water utility warned Wednesday, as Washington-area residents awoke to frost-covered lawns.

And even though 2015 ended with a record-breaking balmy December, the year still racked up 1,918 water main breaks in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, said the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC). That marked the second-highest number of breaks in five years, with 2010 holding the utility’s record at 2,125 breaks, WSSC said.

Utility officials blame most breaks on pipes’ old age — some have reached the century mark — and fluctuating temperatures, particularly cold snaps.


A broken 68-year-old water main break floods a road in Wheaton. (File photo, Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)