Larry Frum

Commuters to Return to Work as Blizzard Cleanup Continues

D.C.'s snow emergency will remain in effect though Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

As thousands of residential streets across the region remain impassible days after record snowfall hit, many employees will commute to work again Wednesday and D.C. students will return to school.

Federal offices will reopen Wednesday on a three-hour delay, after offices opened late Friday and were closed Monday and Tuesday.

D.C. public school students will head back to class Wednesday, but most other schools across the region will remain closed.

Metro will add additional post-blizzard service Wednesday, increasing how often Metrorail trains run -- but Silver Line service still may not return. Metro trains on every line but the Silver Line will run every 8 minutes starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday, agency spokesman Dan Stessel said in an update Tuesday afternoon.

It wasn't immediately clear if Silver Line tracks would be cleared of enough ice and snow to allow for service Wednesday, Stessel said. That decision will be made before 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Some residents have been snowbound since Friday. 

"No plow on our street in Crofton, MD," Hugh Redmond wrote on NBC Washington's Facebook page. "So as as we watched the two salt trucks pass by us a group of neighbors using 4 snow blowers accomplished what the county could not, a cleared residential street. It's not perfect, but it's a start."

"Turns out our street isn't even on the [Prince George's] county map to be plowed," Lenai Moore posted. "We are stuck."

On social media, Prince George's County shared an online snow removal request form, and Montgomery County said its crews are plowing and hauling snow "24/7, working hard to get to you as fast as they can." However, officials have asked residents to be patient.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said its goal is for all subdivisions to have at least one passable lane by 6 a.m. Wednesday.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday crews have "gotten down to asphalt on all major arteries" and are continuing to plow District neighborhoods nonstop.

"Although there are still some areas we're working really hard on, we have also started to tackle the hardest-to-reach streets," she said.

One snow-melting machine has arrived from Indiana, and officials are also expecting a second, she said.

Bowser urged residents to shovel their sidewalks if they haven't already. She also reminded business owners that they're required by law to remove snow from their sidewalks, and they are beyond the deadline to do so. She said she encountered two businesses in one block on Connecticut Avenue that still hadn't been shoveled.

"We will begin to enforce the commercial sidewalk snow-clearing provisions of the law, so you must get out and remove snow from your sidewalks immediately," she told business owners.

While the District continues to plow neighborhoods, it does not remove snow from alleys, so Bowser encouraged residents to remove snow from their alleys themselves or to wait for it to melt. 

D.C.'s snow emergency will remain in effect though Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Vehicles parked or abandoned on any snow emergency route, or considered to be road hazards, are being towed at the owner's expense. Cars parked in a traffic lane on any road, and are deemed a hazard or a barrier to snow removal, may also be towed.

Violators face a $250 ticket, a $100 tow and a $25-per-day fee until they pick up their vehicles. 

"Don't park your car illegally, and that includes parking it kind of in the middle of the street next to the snow bank," Bowser said Tuesday. Cars should be parked no more than 12 inches from a curb, not a snow bank, or drivers risk a ticket.

Garbage pickup in D.C. is suspended through Wednesday, Bowser said. 

"We hope to resume regular trash pickup on Thursday," she said. 

This storm will easily rank among the region's five worst, and the cleanup will likely to take days, Storm Team4 said. Temperatures across the area plummeted overnight, creating icy conditions on many of the region's roads Monday.

Updates on Travel by Train, Bus and Taxi

MARC trains will run Wednesday on a limited schedule, officials said Tuesday evening. The Penn Line that runs between D.C. and Baltimore will operate on an "S" weekday schedule. See the Maryland Transit Administration's website.

VRE plans to operated normal service Wednesday, officials said Tuesday evening. See VRE's website.

Amtrak will restore regular service Wednesday between D.C. and New York, officials announced Tuesday afternoon. Click here for the latest Amtrak information.

D.C. taxicabs will charge the usual fare starting Wednesday evening. The $15 snow emergency surcharge will expire Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., officials said.

County bus services also remain hobbled. Arlington County's ART bus service resumed service on just three routes Monday for only five hours. On Tuesday, ART begin serving six routes on Sunday schedules using severe service routes; the buses will run 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In Montgomery County, the Ride On bus system reopened Tuesday with limited service only on 17 priority routes. Officials warned that the routes were subject to detours and delays based on road conditions.

In Prince George's County, TheBus service resumed limited service and told would-be riders to visit for information on their routes. 

Major Cleanup Efforts Underway
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said crews will continue to open up roadways. He said all interstates were open, and secondary streets were being hit very hard to get them open as soon as possible.

He said 13,000 pieces of equipment and 39,000 workers have been clearing roads, pushing snow away from travel lanes. However, he stressed eventually, the snow would have to be picked up and moved.

McAuliffe said the costs of cleaning up the snowstorm would run $2 million to $3 million per hour, easily making it the most expensive snow event in the state's history.

"Please stay of the roads," he said. "Give us the time to do what we need to do."

He said there were more than 1,200 vehicle accidents and five fatalities attributed to the storm.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also ordered all state government offices closed Monday, but emergency and essential personnel should report as scheduled. 

Maryland is seeking funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), officials announced Monday evening.

"Our administration is committed to accelerating the recovery process in every way possible following this historic snowstorm," Hogan said in a statement.

Governments are doing what they can to help. Hogan closed interstates 270 and 70 on Saturday so that plows could clear the roads. They reopened shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday, but officials urged drivers to stay off the roads, if possible.

Hogan said at a news conference late Sunday morning that even though the storm had passed and the sun is shining, roads remained "extremely treacherous."

He said Maryland fared well so far, with no traffic fatalities in the storm and fewer than 300 customers still without electricity from a high of 10,000 during the height of the storm.

Virginia and D.C. officials also asked people not to walk in the roads so crews can more easily get the streets cleared. All areas expected major roads to be made passable Sunday, but they said work on side streets and smaller roads could take a couple of days.

Historic Amounts of Snowfall

In Frederick County, Maryland, some places saw an astonishing 38 inches of snow, the National Weather Service reported. Jones Springs, West Virginia, had 39 inches.

But places closer to the metro area saw feet of snow as well: More than 36 inches of snow fell in north Potomac, Maryland. More than 29 inches fell in Centreville, Virginia.

And more than 22 inches of snow fell at the National Zoo in Northwest D.C. 

For reference, the December 2009 and February 2010 snowstorms, popularly called "Snowpocalypse" and "Snowmageddon," clocked in at 16.4 inches and 17.8 inches, respectively.

Help for Those Needing Shelter
Be on the lookout for homeless people, who could get hypothermia during this cold spell. If you see someone in the D.C. area who needs shelter or warmer clothing, call the following numbers: 

  • The District: 202-399-7093 or 311 if calling within the city
  • Arlington County: 703-228-1010 (24 hours)
  • Fairfax County: 703-691-2131 (police non-emergency line)
  • Montgomery County: 311 if calling within the county
  • Prince George's County: 888-731-0999 

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