A local theater group is starting to refer to their February production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical classic “Oklahoma” as “Snowklahoma” after yesterday’s major snowstorm made rehearsing treacherous.
The Chalice Theatre is rehearsing in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, at the corner of S. George Mason Drive and Arlington Blvd. Show director Cynthia Young compared the cast and crew of the show to the pioneers the play is based on.
“Pioneers coped with ever-present danger — prairie fires, wild animals, drought, tornadoes, and even murderous criminals — and they survived by cultivating community,” Young said in a press release. “We try to have the same courageous attitude as the characters in the show. Whatever Snowklahoma brings, we’re going to pull together. So come on down, Polar Vortex, we’re not ‘a-feered’ of you!”
The set designers use school facilities to work, so the closed schools and the holidays have thrown a wrench into their building plans. That, coupled with the hazardous conditions, reminded Young why many community theater seasons begin in April.
“It’s definitely risky to mount a large-scale musical in the winter,” Young said. “The threat of a winter storm blowing in and making a shambles of our tightly constructed schedule is a huge worry. But as Aunt Eller says, ‘You gotta be hearty.’”
The show is scheduled to run Feb. 28 to March 16 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $20, and $15 for seniors and students. Interested theater-goers can call 703-892-0202 to reserve a ticket.
Photo courtesy Chalice Theatre
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Some crafty Arlingtonians spent part of yesterday’s snow day creating sculptures from the especially wet and moldable snow.
Among the creations spotted around town:
- A large polar bear in Quincy Park, holding a bottle of Coca-Cola.
- Two 7-8 foot tall snow creatures across from the Crystal City Marriott. The creatures looked like “a snow wizard and his oversized cat,” we’re told.
- A shapely figure outside of Bailey’s Pub in Ballston.
- A boxy, bike-riding snowman, location unknown.
- A “cute candy-faced Floridian snow-woman in Ballston”
- An Easter Island head in front of Swanson Middle School in Westover
Did you spot any other snow sculptures in Arlington? Upload the photo to the comments or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Va. Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional — A federal judge has overturned Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, in what the New York Times describes as “the strongest legal reversal yet of restrictive marriage amendments that exist throughout the South.” The judge stayed the ruling, pending an appeal, meaning that gay couples will still not be able to get married in Virginia for the time being. [New York Times, Blue Virginia]
Blue Goose Redevelopment a Year or More Away — A groundbreaking on the redevelopment of Marymount’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is not likely to take place until next winter at the earliest. [Sun Gazette]
Behind Arlington’s Snow Decisions — There’s a reason why Arlington County typically makes a decision on whether to open, open on a delay or close for the day at 5:00 a.m., well after some other jurisdictions. Arlington and Alexandria both usually wait until after a 3:00 a.m. Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments conference call, in which various governments and agencies discuss street conditions and their go or no-go decisions. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Arlington Public Schools are closed. All preschool programs, Enjoy Arlington classes and sports leagues are canceled. Synthetic fields are closed.
Garbage collection will take place, and those whose garbage day is Thursday are also asked to put their carts out for collection.
An overnight refreeze may result in slippery conditions on the roads and sidewalks this morning. Pedestrians and drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution.
Arlington Transit has modified its morning service schedule in light of the slick streets. From an ART alert email:
- ART will operate at Severe Service Levels on the 41 & 51 and also the 42, 45, 77, & 87.
- ART 41 & ART 45 will not serve Columbia Heights West. Buses will run only to/from Columbia Pike & Dinwiddie.
- ART 42, 45 & 77 will not serve S. Courthouse Road
- ART 77 will not serve Walter Reed between Arlington Mill & S. Glebe (the hill)
- ART 87 buses will run AM Peak, but expect delays. ART 87A and 87X will not be served
- As the ice melts mid-day, more service will be provided. We will post more alerts.
The second act of today’s snowstorm has arrived, with a couple more inches of snow expected to accumulate.
The snow returned just as Arlington road crews were starting to tackle still snow-covered neighborhood streets. It could force the snow plows to continue focusing on primary and secondary arteries while the residential roads remain barely, if at all passable.
“Crews have moved into residential streets with a focus on school related routes,” Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tweeted late this afternoon (Thursday). “Additional snow late could affect progress on residential/neighborhood streets.”
From DES, later: ”Big, heavy snow flakes falling again. Although many main roads are clear, please don’t drive so plows can continue to do job.”
DES said that it could take up to 36-48 hours to clear roads after a 10-inch snowfall, which Arlington is on the verge of reaching, depending where in the county you were measuring.
The snow caused other, unexpected problems on the roads in some parts of Arlington.
On Lee Highway, near Rosslyn, a nearly half-mile-long portion of the fence that runs along I-66 collapsed onto one of the still snow-covered travel lanes, according to police radio traffic.
In Courthouse, a gigantic mound of plowed snow was piled up in the median, blocking a crosswalk adjacent to the Metro station. That is creating a hazard for pedestrians and drivers alike.
VDOT said tonight, before the snow started falling again, that it was making progress clearing roads in Northern Virginia.
“Interstates are mostly clear and wet,” VDOT said. “Primary roads are partially clear with some lanes open and many secondary roads remain snow-covered.”
VDOT warned that a refreeze may make driving even more treacherous overnight.
“Roads that appear to be bare pavement may become slick from sleet and refreeze,” the agency warned.
Other transportation options were slowly returning Thursday night.
Reagan National Airport’s main runway was back open as of 5:05 p.m., allowing some flights in and out. Still, many flights were canceled as a result of the 7 inches of wet snow that fell, making it difficult for crew to clear runways and taxiways.
“There have been significant flight cancellations throughout the day,” the airport authority said on its website. “Check with your airline for flight information and do not drive to the airport before confirming the status of your flight.”
Metrorail continued to operate on a near-normal schedule. Metrobuses are now running on major arteries again.
ART bus service, however, is still suspended. Arlington Transit said it will wait until 10:00 tonight to post an update on planned ART and STAR service tomorrow.
The National Weather Service, meanwhile, says that the D.C. area could receive another 2-4 inches of snow tonight before the winter storm system finally moves out.
… HEAVY SNOW TO IMPACT AREAS EAST OF BLUE RIDGE INCLUDING THE GREATER METROPOLITAN AREAS OF WASHINGTON AND BALTIMORE THROUGH MIDNIGHT…
AREAS OF MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW WILL IMPACT THE REGION THROUGH MIDNIGHT… WHERE 2 TO 4 INCHES OF NEW SNOWFALL ACCUMULATION CAN BE EXPECTED AS AN UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCE MOVES THROUGH THE AREA. AT 600 PM… MOST LOCATIONS HAVE TRANSITIONED TO ALL SNOW AFTER THE SLEET AND RAIN FROM EARLIER IN THE AFTERNOON.
THE AREAS OF HEAVIEST SNOWFALL WILL OCCUR ALONG AND EAST OF INTERSTATE 95… AND ALSO IN HOWARD AND CARROLL COUNTIES IN MARYLAND.
THIS ADDITIONAL SNOWFALL WILL MAKE TRAVEL HAZARDOUS AS ROADS WILL ONCE AGAIN BECOME SNOW COVERED. VISIBILITIES WILL BE LOWERING TO BELOW 1/4 MILE AT TIMES… SO TRAVEL IS NOT ADVISED UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.
Arlington Public Schools will be closed Friday due to the winter weather.
APS made the announcement just after 5:00 p.m. School offices will open on a two-hour delay. From APS Director of Communications Jennifer Harris:
Essential personnel are to report to work at their scheduled time. Unscheduled leave is available for 12-month employees. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic contests, team practices, field trips, adult and community education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County programs and operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.
A walk down the streets of Ballston in the immediate aftermath of the biggest snowstorm in years reveals a consistent trend: most businesses — like banks, barbers, and many restaurants — are closed, but bars are open.
Even in Ballston Common Mall, the Starbucks was closed, although the Panera Bread and Noodles & Company were open and filled with customers during the lunch hour. One of the busiest businesses in the area was First Down Sports Bar (4213 N. Fairfax Drive), which was crowded enough that the one bartender scheduled wouldn’t suffice; owner Ramesh Chopra had to come in and help.
“We’re always open. We were open during Snowmaggedon,” he told ARLnow.com at about 1:30 this afternoon. “I expected it to be busy later, around 3:00, but people were calling us early making sure were going to be open.”
At the Front Page Arlington (4201 Wilson Blvd), owner George Marinakos decided to open, but he had to pick up one of his employees and drive them to the restaurant to work. Other employees at his and other businesses walked to work or took the Metro.
“Everybody wanted us to open,” he said. “I did, employees did, customers did.”
Most offices were shut down — along with schools and county and federal government offices — but Blake Gilley and two coworkers had to come in. By noon, they had left, and an hour later they were enjoying drinks in First Down.
“Literally no one else was there,” he said of his office. “All of our other offices along the East Coast were shut down. I haven’t received an email in three hours.”
Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road were drivable, but covered in slush. The streets were far from empty, however, as most residents seemed to be enjoying their snow days. A few impromptu snowball fights even broke out.
Rock Bottom Brewery (4238 Wilson Blvd) manager Avery Minor expects that later in the day, much of the outdoor merriment will continue in bars like his.
“Bars and grocery stores are the places that have to stay open,” Minor said. ”People will always need food and drinks. What else are you gonna do?”
(In Virginia, alcohol-centric establishments — which we refer to above as bars — must serve food and are technically considered restaurants.)
All school extracurricular activities, adult education classes and Dept. of Parks and Recreation classes are canceled.
Most ART bus service in the morning has been canceled, although Arlington Transit will try to keep ART 51 service running between Ballston Metro station and Virginia Hospital Center. “ART will restore other service tomorrow as street conditions permit,” the agency said.
Metro says it will try to run trains every 6-10 minutes during the morning, as conditions allow. Metrobus service will be limited to major arteries only.
The National Weather Service has placed Arlington under a Winter Storm Warning, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has declared a state of emergency and the latest weather models from the Capital Weather Gang predicts 5-10 inches of snow for the immediate D.C. region by the end of the day Thursday, with 4-8 inches falling by 7:00 a.m.
WMATA has already announced that late-night bus service — after 1:00 a.m. — tonight has been cancelled and MetroAccess service for the disabled has been suspended tomorrow.
The county’s transit agencies, ART and STAR, will “continue to provide normal scheduled services as conditions permit.” The agencies will update their websites and send out alerts if and when service needs to be reduced or suspended.
County and state crews are already pre-treating the roads as predictions come in for not only heavy snow, but sleet and freezing rain in the morning on Thursday.
“The County’s snow crews and Office of Emergency Management are gearing up, and residents and businesses should, too,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a press release. “If you don’t have to drive during this storm, which is expected to be the most significant we’ve had this winter, please stay off the roads and let crews do their work. Check on neighbors who are housebound.”
The county is asking residents to move their cars off the street where possible, or to “coordinate with your neighbors and/or civic association to move all cars to one side of the street,” since plows need 15 feet to plow a road. If there is a power outage or trees down, the county is asking residents to use their website to report weather-related issues.
VDOT says that by midnight, more than 4,000 trucks will be stationed in Northern Virginia, ready to plow state-maintained highways and streets, like I-66, I-395 and Route 50.
No closures have been announced yet for school or the government — county and federal — but residents should continue to check throughout the night once the snow begins to fall.
Arlington is also reminding residents of the county’s 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. The ordinance also prohibits transferring or depositing snow and ice from private property onto public property. Individual homeowners who are physically incapable of complying with the Ordinance are exempt. Visit the County website for more information on the Snow Removal Ordinance. Remember to clear snow from cars and sidewalks into the adjacent yard, not the street.
Residents can use the “Report a Snow Issue” form 24 hours after snowfall has stopped to report snow removal issues or areas that need attention. County staffers monitor the requests, but are unable to respond to every message.
Update at 4:20 p.m. – Arlington County has announced all facilities and programs, including those in schools, will close tonight at 9:00 p.m. The status for school tomorrow remains undetermined.
The press release from McAuliffe’s office:
Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency today, an action that authorizes state agencies to be ready to assist local governments in responding to the major snow storm that is forecast to hit the Commonwealth starting tomorrow.
In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia.
“Now is the time for Virginia to get ready for this storm,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This state of emergency declaration will empower the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Transportation, the Virginia National Guard, and our electric and cable utilities to prepare for a storm that is predicted to create power outages and significant travel challenges across the Commonwealth over the next few days.
“Just as state government is preparing for this storm, I urge every Virginian to take proper preparations. Prepare to limit unnecessary travel during the storm, have emergency supplies on hand and be ready in the event that power in your area goes out.”
To prepare for the storm:
- The Virginia Emergency Operations Center has additional response team members to coordinate the state’s response to the storm.
- The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is coordinating conference calls between the National Weather Service, state agencies and local governments.
- The Virginia Department of Transportation is treating roads in some parts of the Commonwealth, and crews will be out in full force for snow removal as the storm arrives. Roads with the highest traffic volumes are cleared first. VDOT has adequate supplies for this storm.
- The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 300 personnel on state active duty to support emergency response operations. Virginia Guard personnel will be alerted to begin staging and expect to be in place Wednesday so they are able to rapidly respond if needed.
- The Virginia State Police will extend shifts and have additional troopers on patrol to expedite response times to traffic crashes and disabled motorists.
- Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
- A three-day supply of food includes a gallon of water per person per day and food that does not require electricity to prepare it.
- Have a battery powered and/or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
- Always run generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never use a portable generator in any enclosed or partially enclosed space.
- Only travel if absolutely necessary. Roads can become very hazardous very quickly. Always wear a seatbelt, and know road conditions before you leave. Road condition information is available 24/7 by calling 511 or going to www.511Virginia.gov
- Have emergency supplies in your vehicle. If you are stranded you will need water, food, blankets, flashlight and extra batteries at a minimum.
- Avoid overexertion while shoveling snow and cleaning up from the storm, no matter your age or physical condition. Shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
- If you need help for an elderly or disabled person during the storm, need information on warming shelters or are concerned about an unsheltered individual or family, call 211 or visit www.211virginia.org. When you call 211, a trained professional will suggest sources of help using one of the largest databases of health and human services in your community and statewide.
- Get winter weather preparedness information at www.ReadyVirginia.gov and download the new Ready Virginia app for iPhones and Android devices.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Arlington and the rest of the D.C. region.
Forecasters say more than five inches of snow and sleet are possible Wednesday night into Thursday.
… WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM WEDNESDAY EVENING THROUGH THURSDAY EVENING…
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WATCH… WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM WEDNESDAY EVENING THROUGH THURSDAY EVENING.
* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW AND SLEET
* ACCUMULATIONS… THE POTENTIAL FOR 5 OR MORE INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET.
* TIMING… SNOW IS EXPECTED TO MOVE IN FROM THE SOUTH WEDNESDAY EVENING. SNOW MAY MIX WITH SLEET AND RAIN LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY. THE SNOW COULD BE HEAVY AT TIMES WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY.
* TEMPERATURES… IN THE MID TO UPPER 20S 20S WEDNESDAY NIGHT… SLOWLY RISING INTO THE LOWER AND MIDDLE 30S THURSDAY AFTERNOON.
* WINDS… NORTH 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.
* IMPACTS… ROADS MAY BECOME SNOW AND SLEET COVERED AND SLIPPERY. TRAVEL MAY BE DANGEROUS WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY. HEAVY WET SNOW COULD LEAD TO SOME POWER OUTAGES.
A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.
Arlington Public Schools are opening on a two hour delay today.
“There will be no elementary early release and all morning field trips are canceled,” the school system said in an email. “The Extended Day program will also open two hours late. All administrative offices and the pools will open on time.”
Less than an inch of snow fell overnight, but this morning’s wind chill temperature was below zero.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the D.C. region tonight as forecasters are calling for an inch of snow with below-freezing temperatures.
The NWS expects accumulation of about an inch of snow with an 80 percent chance of precipitation, starting in the early evening but “mainly after 9:00 p.m.” Combined with a predicted low temperature around 12 degrees, the NWS predicts potentially hazardous road conditions.
…ARLINGTON/FALLS CHURCH/ALEXANDRIA-STAFFORD-SPOTSYLVANIA- KING GEORGE-
300 PM EST TUE JAN 28 2014
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 COLUMBIA.
.DAY ONE…THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT
LOW PRESSURE WILL PASS SOUTH OF THE REGION TONIGHT. A PERIOD OF ACCUMULATING SNOW IS LIKELY ACROSS MUCH OF THE OUTLOOK AREA. THE HIGHEST SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS APPEAR THAT THEY WILL BE ACROSS SOUTHERN MARYLAND INTO THE VIRGINIA PIEDMONT. A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR THE VIRGINIA PIEDMONT AND FOR OTHER LOCATIONS EAST OF INTERSTATE 95. UNCERTAINTY REMAINS HIGH REGARDING THE EXACT TRACK OF THIS STORM AND HOW FAR NORTHWEST ACCUMULATING SNOW MAY REACH. PLEASE CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS…
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.”
After a five-day weekend, Arlington public school students will be going back to class Thursday, albeit on a two hour delay.
“All Arlington Public Schools will open two hours late on Thursday,” according to Arlington Public Schools Director of Communication Jennifer Harris. “The Extended Day program will also open two hours late. All APS offices will open on time. Morning field trips will be cancelled.”
Schools were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday, on Tuesday for a teacher work day, and on Wednesday due to snow-covered streets and the frigid temperatures.