DC Area Slathered in Sleet, Slush After Winter Storm

WASHINGTON — The wintry weather that blew through the D.C. region dumped snow, sleet and ice over the area, closing major school systems, disrupting public transportation, knocking out power and snarling hundreds of flights at local airports.

Overall snow totals in the immediate D.C. area were relatively modest, but the mixture of snow and freezing rain made for treacherous driving conditions at times.

Late Tuesday morning, local transportation officials continued to urge caution on area roadways. Looking ahead, bitterly cold temperatures in the forecast are likely to refreeze slush and ice on sidewalks and roadways in the overnight hours.

Light and scattered snow continued to fall Tuesday morning, but no major additional accumulation was expected.

However, the winds are expected to pick up throughout the day, with temperatures becoming bitterly cold in the overnight hours and raising the risk of a hard freeze of slush on the roads and sidewalks Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Most major school systems closed their doors on Tuesday. D.C. Public Schools and Calvert County schools opened two hours late. D.C. schools said Tuesday morning that students who missed classes would be granted excused absences.

The storm disrupted public transportation in the D.C. area Tuesday, with buses in the District running on a moderate snow plan, meaning reduced levels of service on several lines.

More than 1,000 flights were canceled at the three D.C.-area airports. Airport officials said to expect a ripple effect from the cancellations to last into Wednesday.

WEATHER

The D.C. metro area remains under a Winter Weather Advisory until 2 p.m. There’s the chance of light, scattered snow showers throughout the area before the storm winds down.

Wind speeds will pick up throughout the day — gusts of 40 mph have already been recorded, and Storm Team 4 meteorologist Amelia Draper says to expect a refreeze of slush and ice Tuesday night ahead of blustery cold on Wednesday.

Overall, Northwest D.C. saw 2.7 inches of snow mixed in with sleet and freezing rain, according to preliminary snow totals measured by the National Weather Service. Reagan National Airport recorded 1.7 inches of snow.

Areas to the north and west of the immediate D.C. area saw the highest snowfall totals. In Frederick and Washington counties in Western Maryland, snow totals hit 9 and 10 inches, respectively, according to preliminary counts.

In Vienna, Virginia, about 3.5 inches of snow fell, according to the NWS. Purcellville, Virginia, in Loudoun County recorded 6.5 inches.

TRAFFIC

The storm led to state-of-emergency declarations in Maryland and Virginia, where state transportation officials were urging people to stay off the roads Tuesday as long as possible.

Despite relatively moderate snowfall amounts, the combination of snow, sleet and freezing caused dangerous road conditions in much of the region.

In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a snow emergency starting at midnight Tuesday.

Local transportation officials in D.C., Maryland and Virginia said area roads had been treated ahead of the storm, and road crews had made progress clearing roads.

At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Charlie Gischlar, with the Maryland State Highway Administration, said roads in most of the metropolitan areas had been cleared.

“We have the interstate system down to … just wet pavement at this point,” Gischlar told WTOP. But he continued to urge caution.

“We still have folks that are going out there, going way too fast for the conditions,” he said.

In Virginia, road crews worked for hours Tuesday morning to clear roads.

“We don’t want anyone to have a false expectation of what they’re going to encounter on the roads, or a false sense of security,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis. “So, we’re still keeping with our message that we want people to stay off the roads if possible. Crews are making progress, but with the amount of lane miles that we end up plowing, it is going to take us a little bit of time to get to everything.”

Drivers should still expect slushy roads and some icy conditions, Kamilakis said.

As always, the WTOP Traffic live blog has the latest on crashes and road conditions.

COMMUTING/TRAVEL ISSUES:

Metrorail: All stations are open and the system is operating on a Saturday schedule, meaning trains will run every 12 minutes. The system closes at midnight as usual.

Metrobus: As of late Tuesday morning, buses are operating on a moderate snow plan, meaning some routes are detoured. Click here for a full list of snow-related Metrobus detours.

MetroAccess: Metro’s paratransit service has been suspended all day Tuesday. Metro announced service would resume Wednesday.

ART: All STAR trips before 10 a.m. excluding dialysis are canceled. Service on ART 41, 51, 55, 77, 87, 87A and 87P (no 87X) will be provided with delays.

DASH: Operating on a 2-hour delay, with snow detour routes on multiple lines.

VRE: VRE plans to run on an “S” schedule.

Fairfax Connector: Many routes operating on a Saturday schedule. No supplemental SafeTrack express service from the Saratoga Park-and-Ride to the Pentagon.

Loudoun County Commuter Bus Service and Metro-Connect: No commuter bus services to Rosslyn, the Pentagon, Crystal City, the Navy Yard, Washington D.C. and all Metro stations.

MARC: Running on an R schedule, meaning only trains with an R under the train number will operate.

MCDOT: Ride On bus service on an “S Service Plan,” operating all its weekday routes, except Route 94, with limited service and delays.

PRTC: OmniRide commuter buses operating only to the Franconia-Springfield or Tysons Corner Metrorail stations, with delays. Metro Direct buses run on a weekday schedule with delays.

Howard County RTA: Running on a four-hour delay.

MTA: There is no commuter bus service Tuesday.

Amtrak: Amtrak operating a modified schedule. There will be limited Acela Express service between New York City and D.C. The Northeast Regional service running on a modified schedule with some trains canceled. Service between New York and Boston has been suspended due to the storm.

CLOSINGS AND DELAYS

D.C. Public Schools have canceled all afternoon after-school activities for Tuesday.

Most major public school systems, except D.C. and Calvert County, are closed Tuesday. D.C. and Calvert County are operating under a two-hour delay. St. Mary’s County schools are open without delay.

The National Zoo was also closed Tuesday due to the storm.

The federal government opened under a three-hour delay.

Get the full list of closings and delays on WTOP.com.

POWER OUTAGES

The wintry mix left thousands of utility customers without power. More than 17,000 were without electricity as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The largest outages were in Anne Arundel, where BGE reported close to 4,300 customers without power.

Pepco reported that nearly 300 customers were without power in Prince George’s County.

Dominion Virginia Power had about 2,700 customers without power in the King George area and 2,100 customers without power in Arlington County.

SMECO reported more than 7,200 customers without power in Charles County and another 1,400 in St. Mary’s County.

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The post DC area slathered in sleet, slush after winter storm appeared first on WTOP.

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