Press Club

Snow Covers Roads, Cancels Services

Update at 9:25 a.m. — One lane of the GW Parkway is now open in each direction, according to U.S. Park Police. All sites and parking areas along the parkway are closed.

Arlington residents are waking up to almost 9 inches of snow on the ground this morning.

Snow, sleet and rain are expected to continue falling before tapering off around 11:00 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. The blanket of snow that’s already on the ground is making travel hazardous and forcing local governments and transit agencies to cancel services.

The county government is closed, but even trash collection service in Arlington, a local stalwart that often operates in bad weather and on major holidays, has been canceled today due to road conditions.

All STAR, ART bus and Metrobus service is currently suspended until further notice. Metrorail service is running, but with schools out and the federal government closed, there are few riders taking advantage of it.

“[We’re] running trains every 6-10 minutes, not because there’s lots of riders, but because it’s the best way to keep snow down and bounce back after storm,” Metro said in a tweet.

Major roads in Arlington are snowy but passable; however, drivers should not expect to be able to drive on side streets. An earlier report of an abandoned vehicle in the middle of Washington Blvd at 2nd Street turned out to be a case of a motorist who had run out of gas.

The GW Parkway was closed this morning due to severe conditions. The last report was that southbound lanes are open but northbound lanes are closed. U.S. Park Police tweeted around 7:45 a.m. to say that numerous abandoned vehicles on the Parkway had been towed away.

“Tractor trailer and abandoned vehicles have been removed from GW Parkway. All vehicles relocated to USPP Substation at Turkey Run Park,” Park Police said. “Use caution traveling on Parkway… NPS maintenance working diligently to clear quickly and safely.”

Virginia State Police say their Fairfax Division, which serves Arlington and other close-in Northern Virginia suburbs, responded to 44 crashes, 64 disabled vehicles and 258 calls for service between 4:00 p.m. Wednesday and 4:00 a.m. Thursday.

“The majority of crashes investigated by state police have only involved damage to vehicles and no injuries,” according to state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. “Virginians are still advised to stay off the roads this morning and through today until conditions improve.”

Virginia Hospital Center is asking volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles to help pick up doctors and nurses. Prospective volunteers can 703-558-6868 for more information.

All runways at Reagan National Airport, meanwhile, are currently closed.

“Snow crews continue working to clear and reopen runways,” the airport said via Twitter.

“Travel conditions will become problematic as snow and ice move into the Washington Metro area, which means travelers who would have boarded planes and planes and driven distances should closely monitor the weather forecasts and formulate a backup plan,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II. “Air travelers are advised to check the status of their flight directly with their airline and make alternative bookings where appropriate.”

Townsend compared this storm, which is occurring on the eve of Valentine’s Day, to previous Valentine’s Day storms that have impacted D.C.

“Unfortunately, for star-crossed lovers, this is not the first time that a snowstorm or blizzard has thwarted the romantic Saint Valentine’s Day getaway,” said Townsend. “‘The Greatest Generation’ might still recall the Valentine’s Day Blizzard of 1940 that dropped 14 inches of snow in the Northeast and produced high winds that generated huge snowdrifts that stopped all transportation. Many Washingtonians can still recall ‘The Valentine’s Day Blizzard of 2007’ that spawned ‘the most powerful snowstorm of the season.'”

The snowstorm is expected to cause problems for one convention that was to take place in Crystal City this weekend. More than a thousand high school students were expected to arrive tomorrow for a weekend-long Midwest/Ohio/Southeast Junior State of America Congress.

The Arlington County Fire Department is asking residents to help them by keeping the area around fire hydrants clear. By local ordinance, for a snow storm of six or more inches, local residents are required to remove snow from the entire width of the sidewalk in front of their property — up to 3 feet wide — within 36 hours of the last flake falling.

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