(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) The snow has stopped and the sun came out this afternoon, but the bad weather news might not be over yet with below-freezing temperatures expected tonight and tomorrow.
Arlington is continuing its efforts to clear the roads and is on Phase 3 of its snow removal process, clearing residential side streets, county staff said this afternoon.
Crews will monitor temperatures and conditions and will be “handling any re-freeze that is expected overnight and early tomorrow morning,” according to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Despite the end of the snowfall and the fallen snow beginning to melt, roads are still slick in places. According to scanner traffic, a Metrobus hit a fire hydrant near Fairlington at around 3:45 p.m.
The county pre-treated roads with brine yesterday afternoon and early this morning, but according to DES Chief Operations Engineer Dave Hundelt, via a county press release, “the pre-treatment was not enough for Tuesday’s heavier-than-
“Based on the weather forecasts, our crews anticipated a much milder snow event today,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “By the time it was clear that frigid temperatures were causing hazardous conditions, thousands of commuters and parents driving kids to school were already on the move. As our crews worked hard to treat and plow roads, we urged people to stay off the roads as much as possible.”
Baxter confirmed that some county vehicles were involved in traffic accidents today, but said DES wouldn’t have a final incident summary for several days. The Arlington County Police Department answered 203 calls during the storm, including 96 for traffic accidents and 65 for traffic complaints.
The Virginia Department of Transportation, which is responsible for maintaining Route 50, I-66, Washington Blvd and I-395, said road conditions are “improving” but asked drivers to exercise caution for the evening commute.
“Commuters should see some improvement on their trip home after a long and difficult commute this morning,” Branco Vlacich, VDOT assistant district administrator for maintenance in northern Virginia, said in a press release. “However, with these very cold temperatures, the salt and chemicals used are much less effective. We ask drivers to use extra caution tonight and tomorrow morning and allow extra time for their commute.”
High-use trails in the county were cleared of snow this morning, according to county Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen, and crews are making a second pass-through to prevent freezing.
“Our teams were scheduled to work eight-hour shifts, but we are now changing to 12-hour shifts to remove as much snow as possible before freezing temperatures occur,” Kurt Louis, Parks and Natural Resources Division Chief, said in an email.
As if the snow itself wasn’t enough for drivers to contend with, a water main broke at around 3:00 p.m. on N. Pershing Drive and N. Oakland Street, and repairs are expected to last through the evening rush hour. Cars can still get through, but motorists should avoid the area if possible.
Water from the break and any snow melting could create serious problems if the crews can’t treat the roads, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang warns. “Given the risk for refreezing, slow speeds and plenty of room is advised for the morning commute on Wednesday,” CWG wrote this afternoon.
In response to the frigid temperatures, Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter is open all day today and will be open all day tomorrow, the county says.
ART bus service has also been altered to avoid troublesome roads. From the county, here are the routes affected:
- ART Route 61 will not service 12 street and Queen and will use Arlington Boulevard/Route 50 instead.
- ART Routes 75 will not service Fredrick Street and will use Columbus instead.
- ART Routes 42, 45, and 77 will not service Courthouse Road, and will take Walter Reed instead.
The county announced today that it will start clearing 10 miles of trails at the same time as priority arterial roads. The Department of Parks and Recreation has cleared trails around the county before, but this will be the first time the highly-used trails will be plowed during and immediately after snowstorms.
The trails that will be cleared are:
- 5.2 miles of the Custis Trail, from the W&OD Trail to N. Lynn Street
- 2.25 miles of the Four Mile Run Trail from Reagan National Airport to Shirlington Road
- 1.25 miles of the Bluemont Junction Trail from Fairfax Drive in Ballston to the W&OD Trail
- and 0.4 miles of the Route 110 trail from the Iwo Jima Memorial to Arlington National Cemetery
The county does not own two of the most highly-used trails in Arlington — the W&OD Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns the W&OD and the National Park Service owns the Mount Vernon Trail. For updates during snow storms on the status of those and other trails around the county, cyclists and walkers should refer to the BikeArlington forums, the county says.
The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services is also starting a pilot program this winter to clear the county’s protected bike lanes of snow using specialized equipment. As more protected bike lanes come to the county — such lanes are in the design phase for S. Eads Street in Crystal City — DES is requesting more funding for the program for future winters.
According to WashCycle, a protected bike lane could be also coming to Wilson Blvd between Rosslyn and Courthouse. The bike advocacy blog says the cycle track is “in design and evaluation right now.”
Residents can monitor the progress of snow removal from roadways around the county by visiting Arlington’s snow and ice website, which has links to view the 83 traffic cameras around the county, and posts updates during snow removal processes.
DES received a $300,000 budget boost from the County Board this past spring, earmarked to allow trail plowing, according to the Washington Post. Cyclists represent about 1 percent of those who commute to or from work in Arlington County, survey data shows.
Arlington County has 92 drivers and 46 trucks among its snow-clearing resources. The drivers received computer-based simulator training to prepare for this winter season and potential safety hazards, the county said in a press release.
This winter, weather forecasters are predicting colder temperatures and more snow than normal.
County Relies on Tips for Snow Violations — All recent snow-removal ordinance violation notices sent out by Arlington County were sent as the result of tips from residents, not a proactive enforcement effort. [Sun Gazette]
Sewage Spill in Spout Run — Arlington residents and their pets are advised to avoid Spout Run south of Lee Highway for the next day or so due to a “minor sewage spill.” [Arlington Alert]
Yorktown Senior Is Top B-Ball Prospect — Yorktown High School senior Mikayla Venson is one of the top-ranked girls’ basketball players in Virginia. However, due to injuries she hasn’t played for the Patriots since 2011. She will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall. [Yahoo! Sports]
Historic Fraber House’s New Owners — Last year, a large oak tree fell on the Fraber House in Cherrydale, just days before the county-owned home was set to receive a local historic designation. Nonetheless, the county was able to fix up the 1913 home and sell it to a local couple. The pair, Charu and Colin McDermott, work in the building trades and are thus well-suited to help maintain the historic home. [Preservation Arlington]
Lawmakers Honor Arlington Notables – The Virginia General Assembly has passed resolutions honoring a number of notable Arlington residents and institutions. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Christaki
(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Arlington has largely wrapped up its snowplowing effort following Monday’s snowstorm.
As of last night residential roads were “essentially plowed,” with the exception of some streets that were “packed down ice after the cold temperatures,” according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.
“Driving conditions are stable, and residents should drive with care,” Mincher said. “Several snowplows are out working this morning on reported requests or any issues with schools. Plows have ceased active street-to-street plowing, and we are applying salt or sand in areas with significant need such as hills.”
County crews — more than 40 trucks — were in “full snow mode,” plowing and treating Arlington’s nearly 1,000 lane miles of roadway, from midnight Sunday to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night, according to Mincher.
A high temperature in the mid-40s and plenty of sunshine today is expected to continue to melt the snow, slush and ice that remains on local streets.
About 4-6 inches of snow fell in Arlington, barely meeting the low end of the National Weather Service’s forecast. But the snowfall still managed to cause plenty of problems around town.
The local Virginia State Police barracks reported a total of 111 crashes, 84 disabled vehicles and 372 calls for service as of 3:00 p.m. That’s on top of numerous accidents reported on local Arlington County streets.
ART and Metro bus service has been suspended for the day, but is expected to resume tomorrow. Trash collection service was also canceled in Arlington today. Flights resumed at Reagan National Airport around 3:00 p.m., after arrivals and departures had been suspended for most of the day due to snow-covered runways. Some 360 flights were canceled at the airport today.
Snow removal crews in Arlington are currently in a “Phase 2 Alert” — clearing only primary and arterial roads. Contract snow crews are expected to start using dump trucks to clear snow from Arlington’s Metro corridors starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight. Arlington Parks and Recreation crews, meanwhile, are clearing the sidewalks in front of county facilities.
Arlington’s emergency winter homeless shelter in Courthouse is open all day today due to the snow.
The snow has claimed at least one major event casualty. The Clarendon Alliance has postponed its annual Mardi Gras parade, which was scheduled for Tuesday evening.
“The Clarendon Alliance is announcing that the 2014 Mardi Gras Parade is being postponed, due to snow and ice along the parade route,” Clarendon Alliance executive director Matt Hussman said in an email. “We intend to reschedule the parade as soon as possible — possibly around St. Patrick’s Day… but we need to consult with County officials before we can announce the new date.”
(Updated at 7:50 p.m.) The effects of last week’s winter storm were felt by one group of commuters for days following the last snowflake.
The inconvenience of traveling in the cold and sometimes icy conditions proved not only difficult for those traveling by car, but also for local cyclists. At Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting, resident Gillian Burgess expressed her concerns about clearing bike trails after snow storms occur in the area.
“We only have one car, and we have lots of bikes,” Burgess said. “Unfortunately, it’s not safe to take most of these bikes onto the trails in the state that they’re in. So I leave the car with my kids because I want them to be the safest, and instead I’m left with the choice of biking on very busy streets that are not safe.”
“My husband and I first moved to Arlington years ago because we wanted to live the car-light lifestyle,” she continued. “Now we have two kids and one car, and we love it. And most of the time we love mostly biking and walking around Arlington. Unfortunately after it snows we don’t have that luxury. We have found that both after the storm in December and currently, trails do not get cleared.”
According to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel, the county does not have dedicated resources for clearing ice and snow from its shared-use trails.
“Staff have been collaborating this past year to find a viable solution to clear these trails,” McDaniel said in an email. “The Department of Parks and Recreation has made an effort to handle snow clearing on trails after addressing other priorities such as snow clearing for several County buildings, routes to schools and Metro rail stations, as well as assisting in the clearing of streets and walkways at other locations.”
Board Chairman Jay Fisette agreed that the county has encouraged walking and biking to get around — the “car-free diet” — and he said Burgess’ concerns were understandable.
“We have heard over time, increasingly the question about bike trails – and it’s a natural one because we’re promoting walking and cycling,” he said. “It makes complete sense that we [are getting] more questions from those who have drunk the Kool-Aid and participate in that culture and maybe even got rid of that car so that they can bike and walk and use transit more frequently.”
Tim Kelley, the marketing manager for Bike Arlington, wrote in Bike Arlington’s forums that the county’s 25 bike counters on its shared-use trails register “a big dip in usage during and in the days following a big snow storm.”
Fisette, who mentioned he is a cyclist himself, remains “unresolved” on the issue.
“I have probably the full range of questions about this as anyone would, you know, about resources, about prioritization, about effectiveness and the environmental impact,” Fisette said. “So I would just say that from my perspective, to have some sort of coherent input from [County Manager Barbara Donnellan] thinking about… what the options are for Board consideration might make sense.”
Ethan Rothstein contributed to this report. Photo (top) via Bike Arlington.
It’s a source of frustration for many residents, who have emailed and tweeted ARLnow.com about slippery back roads. It’s also a stark contrast for those who have lived in northern cities with more practiced snow-removal operations.
Why is Arlington, arguably the wealthiest county in America and a self-styled paragon of good government, seemingly overwhelmed by a few inches of snow when small workaday suburbs to the north can clear all of their streets with ease?
Is it lack of practice? Lack of resources? To try to figure that out, we took a look at another Arlington, an Arlington that doesn’t flinch when 4 inches of snow falls — Arlington, Massachusetts.
Arlington County has a population of 212,900 as of Jan. 1, 2013, and an area of about 26 square miles. Its total budget for FY 2014 is about $1.4 billion.
The town of Arlington, Mass., has one-fifth of the population of Arlington, Va., and one-fifth of the area. Its population is 42,844, according to the 2010 census, and it spans about 5.5 square miles. Its annual operating budget is about $132 million. It has 250 lane miles of roads compared to just under 1,000 for Arlington County.
The county, with an average snowfall just over 15 inches a year, allocates $1.1 million per year for snow preparation and removal, according to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman. It usually spends all $1.1 million, even the past two years when there was little accumulation at all.
According to Arlington, Mass., Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, the town, which has averaged more than 58 inches of snow per season the past three years, allocates $724,000 per year for snow removal, with a $500,000 reserve in case more is needed, but the amount spent fluctuates depending on how snowy it is. According to the town’s visual budget tool, it spent $2 million on snow removal in 2011, $550,000 in 2012 and about $1 million in 2013.
By way of comparison, the town spends about 1 percent of its budget on snow removal to clear 4 times as much snow as Arlington County, which spends less than 0.1 percent of its budget on snow removal.
Reagan National Airport recorded 3.8 inches of snow in total for the storm, according to Capital Weather Gang, which stopped before midnight Tuesday. Heilman said about 50 trucks were on the road — 40-45 county trucks and eight contractors — in three-and-a-half 12-hour shifts starting at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday until midnight on Wednesday. Hooking up plows to trucks started at 10:00 a.m. on Monday and road treatment began that afternoon.
“Not all side streets will be plowed to bare pavement,” Heilman wrote in an email, “however we believe all have been plowed and treated to some extent. Sun and warmer temperatures are needed now to help get down to more bare pavement over the coming days. We will continue to respond to calls and online notifications of areas that can use more treatment or plowing as needed, but we have ceased full operations.”
The town has a full-time fleet of 12 large trucks called “snow fighters,” Chapdelaine said, and it has pickup trucks and other vehicles to which plows are attached. After more than 2 inches of snow accumulates, the town brings in outside contractors.
Chapdelaine outlined the town’s snow removal strategy, beginning with sanding and salting the roads before a drop of snow falls, sending out watch teams to assess snowfall and accumulation, and strategically placing the bigger trucks on the hilliest streets that are most difficult to navigate in the snow.
Chapdelaine says the town has seven different “operational levels” for snow, which allows it to clear large amounts of precipitation in a matter of hours, not days. Each operational level signifies different personnel and equipment, intended to efficiently scale the town’s response to each winter storm. In towns like Arlington, Mass., that includes clearing the back roads of snow before they are allowed to turn into ice and slush.
“All-in-all they do a pretty good job,” said Spencer Buell, a reporter for the Arlington Advocate, the town’s local newspaper of record. “We have a multiple-step plan, the idea being we can dispatch with the snow fairly quickly. It’s a topic of conversation every year… [250 lane miles] to clear and they can usually do it in about a day. The issue is where to put all the snow sometimes.”
Update at 4:00 p.m. — The Department of Environmental Services says all of its trucks are back out this afternoon to spread salt and make sure snow and ice are melting on residential streets. A small team will remain on standby overnight to address any possible areas that may re-freeze.
Earlier — All of the weather advisories for Arlington County have been cancelled and the snow has stopped falling, but the storm’s effects still linger around the county.
VDOT reports having more than 1,900 trucks clearing state roads throughout Northern Virginia. Arlington County sent out crews on its streets beginning at 4:00 a.m. to treat primary and secondary roads. Traffic cameras show most major roads are clear and traffic is largely moving smoothly throughout the county as of 2:00 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution through tomorrow because temperatures will drop and slush on the roads could freeze.
The Arlington County government remained open but the following services have been affected:
- Trash/Recycling/Brush collection crews are performing collection services. If they are unable to get to certain streets because of the street conditions, they will go back and complete collection tomorrow.
- Vacuum leaf collection has been canceled for today. Collection will resume in zone three tomorrow.
- Bag leaf collection crews are out collecting leaves today. If crews are unable to get to certain streets because of the conditions, they will also go back and complete the collections tomorrow.
- Mulch deliveries for today have been rescheduled for tomorrow. Customers have been notified.
ART buses had been operating on a limited schedule earlier today and they returned to normal by late morning.
According to the Arlington County Police Department, Public Service Aides still will enforce parking regulations. Parking enforcement is in place every day the county government is open for business. However, Public Service Aides only will be used for parking enforcement duties today when they are not busy assisting police with necessary functions related to winter weather.
Although officers and emergency responders are out in full force to assist with emergencies, residents are asked to remain off the roads for safety reasons.
“Residents are encouraged to stay off the roads today and minimize their traveling if possible,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If they need to go out then they are encouraged to use public transportation in an attempt to minimize accidents, road congestion and so that county staff and road crews can perform their jobs as safely as possible.”
Arlington Public Schools closed today and so far no decision has been made about Wednesday. From APS:
“APS will continue to monitor the road conditions in collaboration with Arlington County and our regional partners throughout the remainder of the day, tonight and early tomorrow morning. If APS opens on time on Wed, Dec. 11, we will go forward with the previously-announced school calendar, including the scheduled countywide elementary early release. If schools have a two-hour delayed opening tomorrow, the elementary early release will be cancelled and school will end at the normal dismissal time, in accordance with our normal procedures.”
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Forecasters tweaked their predictions overnight for what intensity of storm they expect to hit the D.C. region today. While there’s still some uncertainty, it appears the impact will be less than originally anticipated.
The latest forecast from the Capital Weather Gang suggests the area could experience drizzle in the morning, changing to light snow in the afternoon, but with little accumulation. It’s expected that areas south of Arlington will get the heaviest snow, but that could change if the storm suddenly surges north.
According to Arlington County Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel, crews began equipping vehicles with snow removal equipment yesterday. The preparations will continue today, and a crew will be on hand for snow removal this evening if necessary. Should conditions worsen later tonight, another crew will come in and work overnight into Friday morning.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory this morning for much of the region, including Arlington. It runs today from 2:00-11:00 p.m. The Winter Storm Watch issued by the NWS yesterday has been canceled.
……WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM THIS AFTERNOON
TO 11 PM EST THIS EVENING…
* PRECIPITATION TYPE…SNOW.
* ACCUMULATIONS…1 TO 3 INCHES. THE HIGHEST AMOUNTS WILL BE SOUTH
OF WASHINGTON DC.
* TIMING…RAIN THIS MORNING WILL MIX WITH AND THEN CHANGE TO SNOW
DURING THE MID AFTERNOON. SNOW MAY BE LOCALLY HEAVY AT TIMES…
ESPECIALLY SOUTH OF WASHINGTON DC. SNOW WILL COME TO AN END
LATE THIS EVENING.
* TEMPERATURES…FALLING TO THE MID 30S LATE THIS AFTERNOON.
* WINDS…NORTHWEST 5 TO 10 MPH.
* IMPACTS…ROADS MAY BECOME SNOW COVERED DURING THE EVENING RUSH
HOUR…ESPECIALLY SOUTH OF WASHINGTON DC.
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW
WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW
COVERED ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES…AND USE CAUTION WHILE
Crews are out today pre-treating roads with a brine solution. They’re focusing on primary (red) and secondary (blue) routes, which can be seen on the county’s online 2012-2013 snow map. Workers will deploy from 4:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. tomorrow to treat and plow roads as necessary during the storm.
Although areas north and west of D.C. may get around 4 inches of snow, significant accumulation isn’t expected in Arlington. The Capital Weather Gang’s forecast currently calls for a warm up on Saturday afternoon that should change the snow to rain or a wintry mix. However, a snow crew will remain on call through Sunday morning to treat icy roads in case a re-freeze occurs.
The Department of Environmental Services encourages residents to stay informed and to be prepared with extra food and water in case the storm worsens. Residents are also asked to avoid parking on the street, if possible, or to coordinate with neighbors to only park on one side of the street. Snow removal vehicles need a width of at least 15 feet to pass down a street.
The National Weather Service issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for the D.C. area, noting that it’s still unclear exactly where the worst of the storm will hit. An excerpt from the advisory follows:
.THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR THE MARYLAND PORTION OF THE
CHESAPEAKE BAY…TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER…AND ADJACENT COUNTIES IN
CENTRAL MARYLAND AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA AS WELL AS THE DISTRICT OF
DAY ONE…TODAY AND TONIGHT
A STORM SYSTEM WILL BRING WINTRY PRECIPITATION TO THE AREA LATE
TONIGHT. THE HIGHEST CONFIDENCE OF ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL RESIDES
ACROSS PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MARYLAND WHERE A WINTER WEATHER
ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT BEGINNING LATE TONIGHT. PLEASE REFER TO
WBCWSWLWX FOR FURTHER DETAILS.
.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY
THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MARYLAND
CONTINUES ON SATURDAY. FURTHER SOUTH INCLUDING THE GREATER
WASHINGTON METRO AREA…THERE REMAINS SOME UNCERTAINTY REGARDING
WHERE THE RAIN/SNOW LINE WILL SET UP AND EXACTLY HOW MUCH SNOW
WILL FALL. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MAY
NEED TO BE EXPANDED FURTHER SOUTH…SO PLEASE MONITOR THE LATEST
A SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY MAY BE NEEDED FOR PORTIONS OF THE WATERS
LATE SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY.
Tomorrow (Dec. 21) is the first day of winter, and Arlington County says it’s prepared to deal with wintry weather when it finally arrives in the area.
Although nothing more than a few possible snowflakes is in the forecast at this time, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services says it will have its 46 snow plows and 92 drivers ready when the white stuff does begin to accumulate. And the county website has some new features to keep residents abreast of road conditions and snow plow progress.
From a county press release:
Arlington County is gearing up for winter weather by refining and reintroducing a number of tools to keep residents informed when winter weather strikes, including more traffic cameras, the Snow Removal Phase System, and the Snow and Ice Central web page .
Once the forecast calls for winter weather — snow, ice or freezing rain — Arlington preps its plows and salt trucks and the snow team is ready to go. During a storm, Arlington’s snow crews focus on keeping main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation (red primary routes). The team includes 92 drivers and 46 trucks equipped with salt spreaders and plows. Four of the trucks also are equipped with salt brine sprayers.
This year Arlington will be using a more environmentally-friendly salt brine solution to pre-treat our roadways. The less corrosive liquid magnesium chloride and salt mixture is used in lower temperatures when it is most effective. And when we do need to use salt or sand, crews adjust equipment to ensure only the proper amount is dispensed.
Snow Phases Provide County Removal Status
For a second season, Arlington will implement a phase system in order to share information about snow operations and removal. With the system, residents can check a storm’s progress, track the County’s efforts to clear streets, and determine how to best prepare for the winter weather. The current phase will be posted on the County web site and social media channels. For snow removal updates, follow the Department of Environmental Services on Facebook or Twitter.
More Traffic Cameras to Monitor Road Conditions
This year, the County has nearly doubled the number of traffic cameras monitoring road conditions. Introduced in 2011, the traffic camera web page offers real-time views, major intersections and other key locations. With access to real-time road conditions, drivers are able to make informed decisions about traveling during and after a winter weather storm. The Snow and Ice Central page features 40 more cameras this year, for a total of 83 traffic cameras.
Snow Removal Ordinance
The County’s Snow Removal Ordinance requires all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within a designated time period. To learn more about the ordinance, read the FAQs.
ACFD Food Drive Ends Friday — The Arlington County Fire Department’s food drive, which began on December 1, will end this Friday, December 21. So far, ACFD has collected more than 1,200 pounds of food for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Non-perishable food can be donated at all Arlington and Falls Church fire departments, and at the county government building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
County Hopes Residents Remove Snow to Avoid Fines — Arlington officials are reminding residents that it could be another year that snow piles up and needs to be removed from sidewalks. The county hopes residents follow the snow removal ordinance that was put in place in 2010. Failure to remove snow is a civil infraction that holds fines of $50-100, and moving snow from private property into public areas (like streets) is a Class 4 misdemeanor. So far, no tickets have been issued under the ordinance. [Sun Gazette]
Sandy Hook School Fundraiser — Whitlow’s (2854 Wilson Blvd) is hosting a fundraiser tonight (December 19) to raise money for families affected by Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The effort was spearheaded by alumni from Virginia Tech who were students during that school’s deadly shooting in 2007. All proceeds from the event will go to the Sandy Hook School Support fund. There will also be a table set up for patrons to make cards to be sent to the community in Connecticut. [Hokies for Sandy Hook]
Forecasters have been predicting some sort of precipitation on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether it will be mainly snow or rain. As is often the case in our area, weather models are changing by the hour. Don’t get your hopes up for a repeat of the Presidents Day Blizzard of 2003 — but do plan on the chance of the season’s most significant snowfall.
In advance of the possible storm, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services has issued a Phase 1 Alert, meaning crews will pre-treat roads with salt or brine as necessary. They’re also preparing snow removal equipment and personnel for the weekend.
Dominion Virginia Power also reports making preparations. Trucks are being stocked and fueled, and crews are ready to respond to outages. Customers can call 1-866-DOM-HELP to report outages and downed lines.
Coincidentally, Arlington County started its annual snow training this week. Workers have been hooking up trucks, doing some trial runs and making sure all equipment is ready for the season.
Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau Chief Operating Engineer Dave Hundelt said, “Conveniently we get a random forecast for flurries or light rain/snow and overnight temps right near freezing for this weekend.”
Hundelt says Arlington doesn’t plan on mobilizing its plow or salting teams this weekend because the pavement temperatures will remain well above freezing. That prevents any precipitation from sticking to the ground or causing major driving issues. However, if the forecast changes and conditions worsen, crews could be expected to mobilize.
Currently, Arlington is not included in the winter storm watches or warnings issued by the National Weather Service for many surrounding counties. Although that could change, right now there is only a chance for a light snow shower or a rain/snow mix around here. Due to the uncertainty of the storm, most weather experts are putting the chances of snow on Saturday around 50-50.
Fall snowstorms are worrisome because trees haven’t yet shed all their leaves, making the branches heavy and susceptible to snapping off as a result of accumulation. This traditionally makes autumn snow more dangerous than winter storms.
The last time the metro area experienced a significant snowstorm in October was back on October 10, 1979.
Update at 12:05 p.m. — The county has informed us that the previous numbers we were given were wrong. The article now reflects the updated numbers.
Last week’s snow and ice storm has resulted in a total of 679 complaints to Arlington County through its new Report a Snow Issue form, according to the county’s Department of Environmental Services.
As of last night, here’s the breakdown of what citizens are reporting:
- 406 — This street has never been plowed or needs additional plowing
- 189 — Sidewalk concern
- 52 — Other
- 32 — This street is icy
By comparison, TBD reported that 30 complaints were submitted after 2-3 inches of snow fell on Dec. 16.
The county’s new snow removal ordinance says that snow and ice must be removed from public sidewalks 24 hours after precipitation stops falling. So far, however, no fines have been issued as a result of the ordinance.
“Our collective focus this year has been on education and compliance,” said Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. “To date, there have not been any civil infractions issued according to Code Enforcement.”