As commuters left to wet roadways this morning, predictions about when rain would switch to snow, and how much snow would fall, shifted.
Arlington is still under a Winter Weather Advisory until 1 p.m. today but Capital Weather Gang reports that the changeover to snow may be delayed in the D.C. area, lowering snow accumulation predictions.
The National Weather Service says snow accumulations up to 1 inch would mostly be on grassy areas. Arlington Public Schools closed today, using the school system’s last traditional snow day, in response to the initial weather advisory that forecast up to 2 inches of snow following rain during the morning commute.
Arlington County Department of Environmental Services tweeted that crews would focus on preventing ice buildup.
“With expectations dwindling for any significant snow today, County crews will focus on preventing ice buildup as temperatures drop below freezing this p.m. and stay there into Sunday. Plan for a slow Friday,” DES posted.
The National Weather Service said to plan on hazardous road conditions, slow down and use caution while driving.
“When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury,” the NWS advisory reads.
Wires were also down in the Lyon Park area, closing a section of Washington Blvd. between 2nd Road N. and 4th Street N., Arlington County Police said.
6:30a update: Switch from rain to snow may be DELAYED until 8 to 10a in DC area. This could lower accumulation potential somewhat to more like a coating to 1" (rather than closer to 2"). But quick burst of snow still possible after switch.
Details: https://t.co/QzFeGlwLwV pic.twitter.com/WTeKasytP4
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) January 20, 2022
See the latest update to the advisory below.
URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Baltimore MD/Washington DC
732 AM EST Thu Jan 20 2022
District of Columbia-Southern Baltimore-Prince Georges-
Anne Arundel-Charles-Central and Southeast Montgomery-
Central and Southeast Howard-Southeast Harford-
Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park-Fairfax-
732 AM EST Thu Jan 20 2022
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM EST THIS
* WHAT…Rain briefly changing to snow by the end of the morning
commute, with snow accumulations of up to one inch mainly on
* WHERE…The Interstate 95 corridor from northeastern Maryland
through the Fredericksburg area, including the DC and Baltimore
* WHEN…Until 1 PM EST this afternoon.
* IMPACTS…Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous
conditions will impact the morning commute.
Slow down and use caution while traveling.
When venturing outside, watch your first few steps taken on
steps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery,
increasing your risk of a fall and injury.
Folks wanting a weekend trip to Virginia Beach can now catch a luxury motor coach — with leather seats and hot towels — that has regular departures from Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
Rides with the bus company, ROX, started July 1, 2020, and ended 90 days later as coronavirus cases rose in the fall. Service between Arlington and Virginia Beach started back up in July, and the company is set to bring a Charlottesville-Virginia Beach route online in September.
Today, the Virginia Beach-based company has three motor coaches that seat up to 23 passengers (a normal bus has 56 seats). Buses leave Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Each ROX bus has WiFi, individual charging outlets and chargers available on-demand. Riders can choose from a digital library of books, movies and TV shows, and are served a complimentary meal, snacks and soft drinks, with the option to buy alcohol.
“It’s better than any first class flight you’ve been on,” said ROX founder Jeff McWaters, a businessman and former Virginia state senator, who represented part of Virginia Beach.
McWaters, who founded the health insurance company Amerigroup, got the idea from his personal experience traveling for work between Virginia Beach and D.C.
If all the employees drove, “no one could work, it was dangerous, and we had issues,” he said, while flying was a hassle with frequent delays, and trains had poor WiFi and food.
With ROX, the former senator is looking to invigorate the commercial connection between the two hubs while taking advantage of a growing preference for remote work, with occasional trips to the office.
“We learned during the pandemic, you can work from home, you can work from the park, you can work with a glass of wine, but you can’t work on I-66, working on trains is spotty, and you can’t work on airplane,” he said. “You can work on the ROX.”
So far, most riders are using the bus for leisure, but McWaters predicts business travel will return.
ROX stops at Fashion Centre because it is well-connected and offers shopping and dining, he said. The mall, which offers luggage storage, alos has an Avis rental car outpost, and riders can catch the Metro or a car to get to other parts of Arlington, D.C. or the airport.
“It’s got everything,” he said.
While the bus service was shut down, the company earned income from private charters of a fourth bus. That coach features reclining seats, a kitchen, a sofa and eight televisions, including one outside for tailgating.
The bus has been to “some fun places,” and is set to embark on a 10-day hunting trip to Wyoming this fall, said Janice Tuckman, a sales representative for ROX.
“We picked up group at the The Greenbrier and drove them on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, where they visited distilleries and stayed at an Airbnb. They had a whoopin’ good time, and after four days, headed back to Greenbrier.”
The Courtyard Arlington Rosslyn hotel (1533 Clarendon Blvd) is now under new management as Sonesta Select Arlington Rosslyn.
Although management under Marriott International, Inc. ended on Jan. 31, Boston-based Sonesta International Hotels has been preparing for the transition since last year.
While other hotels shut their doors in 2020, Sonesta started opening them. In fact, Sonesta acquired the Rosslyn hotel and 97 other Marriott-branded hotels in October because the hotelier had fallen behind on payments to property owner Service Properties Trust (SVC), the trust said.
“This is a momentous time for the company, underscoring the continued growth and amplifying the long-term success of Sonesta and its branded hotels,” according to Sonesta’s website.
Last fall, after it said it attempted and failed to collect $11 million in missed payments from the hotel chain, SVC ended its 26-year relationship with Marriott. The international hotel chain lost 122 hotels, which together had only generated $2.6 million in eight months.
Sonesta, which is 34% owned by SVC, took on the management of 98 of the 122 hotels. The remaining 24 hotels were sold for more than $150 million.
“We believe that the rebranding of these hotels with Sonesta will benefit SVC as an owner of Sonesta, create greater flexibility in managing these hotels through these challenging market conditions and have a positive impact on this portfolio’s performance in the future,” said SVC President and CEO John Murray in a statement last fall.
Sonesta has experienced 350% growth in less than six months, and will soon have 300 operating properties across seven brands operating in North and South America, Egypt and St. Maarten, according to a press release.
The growth comes amid early signs of recovery in the hard-hit hotel industry. Still, travel is not projected to bounce back fully until 2024, according to some projections.
Photo courtesy Sonesta
Yesterday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Americans should avoid travelling during the holiday season, but get tested if they do travel.
“Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” said the CDC’s incident manager for the COVID-19 pandemic, as quoted by USA Today.
The federal agency has additional guidance for family holiday gatherings on its website.
Despite the CDC’s advice, many will still travel, gather and celebrate. Today we’re wondering how many Arlingtonians are planning to head out of town for Hanukkah, Christmas or the new year.
Are you planning to travel this holiday season?
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Prosecutor Files Petition Against Judges — “A northern Virginia prosecutor who says her county’s judges are infringing on her discretion to dismiss charges and enter plea bargains is asking the state Supreme Court to intervene on her behalf. Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti filed a petition Friday asking the court for a relief from a policy imposed by the county’s four Circuit Court judges.” [Associated Press]
New BBQ Pop-Up Coming to Pentagon City — “In their spare time [chefs Kevin Tien and Scott Chung] dreamed up Wild Tiger BBQ, which launches Thursday, August 20 next to Bun’d Up at Pentagon Row in Arlington. The pop-up will run Thursday through Saturday for the first few weeks.” [Washingtonian]
‘Bumper Crop of Mosquitos’ — “With the floods of summer come the pests of summer — bloodsucking mosquitoes. It takes several days to a couple of weeks for mosquitoes to hatch, molt and fly out of floodwater, but the swarms eventually arrive, in greater numbers than before the flood. After the recent flooding from thunderstorms and Tropical Storm Isaias in the Washington region, a bumper crop of mosquitoes has emerged.” [Washington Post]
Retired Colonel Helps With COVID Response — “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel David Ashley quickly found his planned spring and summer mountain climbing trips canceled. He spent about a week doing projects around his Arlington home, but after 27 years in the military, he realized he need something else, something with more purpose.” [Arlington County]
Cab Exec’s Offensive Post Makes Headlines — “An elected town council member in Strasburg, Va., who also is chairman of the 6th Congressional District’s Republican Committee admitted this week that he posted, then removed, a sexually offensive meme targeted at Sen. Kamala D. Harris… [John] Massoud, who is vice president of Arlington’s Blue Top taxi service and was an unsuccessful candidate against ex-Del. Bob Brink for a House of Delegates seat from Arlington in 1997 and 1999, moved to the Shenandoah Valley about 10 years ago.” [Washington Post]
Analysis of Rents Near Metro Stations — “The most expensive rents ($2,200 and up) are found in areas of Arlington and Washington, DC. Rent near the Ballston-MU station is in the mid-range among DC Metro stops. But while the median price increased near Court House, it decreased near Ballston-MU, according to the analysis. The median rent for a one-bedroom unit near Ballston-MU is $1,975, a 1.3 percent decrease from 2019.” [Patch]
Clement Rips Dems for Redistricting Stance — “An independent candidate for Arlington County Board has criticized the Arlington County Democratic Committee for its opposition to a nonpartisan-redistricting constitutional amendment on the state ballot in November. Audrey Clement, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey for County Board, said the Democrats’ vote seems disingenuous for a party that claims to be about good government.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Makes Top Travel Destination List — “For all the talk of a move to small, less densely populated destinations, Hotwire also ranked much bigger cities. Its ‘midsize must see’ picks were St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; Atlanta; Arlington, Virginia; Tucson, Arizona; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Miami; and Cincinnati.” [CNBC]
A three-day Fourth of July weekend is fast approaching.
This would usually be one of the busiest travel times of the year. Instead, airports have barely a quarter of the travellers as last year, and traffic maps are mostly a sea of green. The pandemic has affected nearly all aspects of normal life, including the willingness of people to leave one’s house and visit other places or people.
How has coronavirus affected the Independence Day travel plans of Arlingtonians? Let’s find out.
Travel can be a wonderful and life-changing experience. Many people in Arlington have come from elsewhere, and are interested in exploring the world and experiencing new things. An Arlington-based travel company is here to help people achieve those dreams.
Global Wanderer Travel is a full-service luxury travel company specializing in group tours to various domestic and international destinations. Each trip they offer is an opportunity for people to experience a new place and new experiences, as well as satisfy the travel bug.
The company aims to provide people (both newcomers and seasoned travelers) with a mix of fun experiences and immerse them in local culture at the same time. The company is expanding its offerings and would like to draw people’s attention and raise general awareness of the opportunities available.
Global Wanderer Travel’s goal is to provide a more meaningful travel experience. With upcoming destinations such as New York, London, and Paris on the horizon, the company offers a mix of destinations to satisfy any traveler’s desires. Each tour includes a small group size so everyone gets to know each other.
Rather than just visiting the main tourist attractions in a city, people are also given unique opportunities to immerse themselves in the local culture, whether through a food tour of local cuisine, exploration of a city’s downtown streets and neighborhoods, or history lessons from a native historian. Each traveler gets the fun and relaxation of a vacation, but ends up with a full appreciation and understanding of the destination as well.
New adventures and destinations await!
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Expect heavy traffic at the airports and on local highways as more than a million people depart the D.C. area for the Thanksgiving holiday.
According to Reagan National Airport, peak travel days include today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday), plus Saturday and Sunday for those returning from their Thanksgiving vacation.
Travelers are advised to take Metro and use terminal garages due to ongoing construction for a new 14-gate concourse at DCA, titled “Project Journey,” that has reduced lane capacity on the Arrivals roadway in front of Terminal B/C. Meanwhile, big storms affecting large portions of the country may bring flight delays and cancellations.
On the roads, AAA Mid-Atlantic is predicting a “big exodus,” with the worst traffic expected tomorrow.
“As a result, holiday travelers exiting the area and those staying put for the holiday, will encounter heavier traffic congestion, as well as travel delays that are almost three times longer than the normal delays — if there is such a thing around here — during the afternoon rush hours on any given Wednesday.”
Another traffic tracking company agrees, saying 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday should bring the worst traffic on D.C. area highways and arterials.
As Thanksgiving is one of the worst times of the year for crashes, Virginia State Police will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. — Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort — starting tomorrow and running until December 1. The program, will increase police visibility and traffic enforcement efforts throughout the five-day holiday period.
The Arlington County Police Department, meanwhile, has partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a high-visibility “Click It or Ticket” campaign, starting today and running until December 6.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority had the following tips for travelers, after the jump.
Airline catering workers at Reagan National Airport are planning to picket and stage a sit-in today to protest “poverty wages [and] expensive healthcare.”
The workers, who work for companies contracted by the airlines, are paid as little as $12.15 an hour and many don’t receive company-provided healthcare, according to labor union UNITE HERE Local 23.
Around 5:30 p.m. today, on perhaps the busiest travel day of the year, workers are planning to engage in “informational picketing,” followed by a “nonviolent civil disobedience sit-in” at DCA’s American Airlines Terminal C.
This is the latest in a series of labor actions targeting airline contractors at National Airport over the past few years — including one recent rally with Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
More from UNITE HERE:
This protest is set to be the latest in a series of demonstrations by airline catering workers at U.S. airports. Though their work is essential to airline operations, wages are as low as $12.15 an hour. Only 32% of workers at LSG Sky Chefs at DCA had company healthcare in 2018, and only 10% covered any dependents. Meanwhile, American reported a 2018 annual profit of $1.9 billion. Workers hope that by bringing their message to the many passengers travelling before Thanksgiving, they will motivate American to resolve the labor dispute.
In addition to ongoing protest activity at DCA, previous large-scale demonstrations calling attention to American Airlines have already taken place this year in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Dallas-Ft. Worth–where over 50 were arrested in a civil disobedience near American Airlines’ headquarters and largest hub airport. This past summer UNITE HERE airline catering workers at DCA voted overwhelmingly to strike when released by the National Mediation Board. Federal mediation of contract negotiations continues.
In D.C., where the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority passed a workers wage policy in 2017, the Board’s resolution stated that MWAA would review the policy no later than December 31, 2019. The last scheduled raise in the MWAA policy is for $12.75 on January 1, 2020, and then will rise with inflation. Meanwhile, the minimum wage in D.C. is already $14, rising to $15 on July 1, 2020, and then rising with inflation. Workers are pushing MWAA to raise the minimum wage for all airport workers to catch up to the rising minimum wage in D.C., and address the growing health care crisis at Reagan National and Dulles International Airports.
Amazon Offers Millions for Affordable Housing — “Amazon is offering $20 million to the Arlington County Affordable Housing Investment Fund in exchange for being allowed to build a bigger headquarters complex in the county than zoning allows… it would be the greatest single infusion of money ever into Arlington’s housing fund.” [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]
Alexandria Home Sale Prices Rise Above Arlington — “The Amazon HQ2 effect on home prices in Northern Virginia continues and, at least by one measure, the Alexandria housing market is now more expensive than Arlington County. At least it was in October, the most recent month for which data is available.” [WTOP]
Racing Presidents Offer DCA Travel Tips — The Washington Nationals racing presidents star in a new video offering holiday travel tips to those flying out of Reagan National Airport. [Twitter/@Reagan_Airport]
ACFD Responds to Prince George’s Co. Fire — “Today, @ArlingtonVaFD Truck 105 in the Crystal City area was dispatched to 3800 St. Barnabas Road in Marlow Heights for a @PGFDNews building fire. They were the 3rd due special service on the initial dispatch.” [Twitter/@STATter911]
Bankruptcy for Quarterdeck’s Sister Restaurant — “District Anchor, the bar that replaced the decades-old Dupont Circle mainstay Rumors in 2016, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization… owner Patrick Morrogh — who also owns Arlington’s Quarterdeck Restaurant, similarly known for its crabs and seafood-based menu — doesn’t intend to close the Dupont bar.” [Washington Business Journal]
Anecdotal as it may be, it seems that the Thanksgiving holiday has already started for a lot of local folks.
On the way to ARLnow’s office in Ballston during the peak of the morning rush hour, the usual backups on eastbound Wilson Blvd at N. Glebe Road were gone. So was the usual line at a certain chain coffee shop near the Ballston Metro station.
Ballston wasn’t a ghost town by any means, but there just seemed to be a modest reduction in the usual delays and hubbub. The same couldn’t necessarily be said for post-Express Lanes traffic on I-395, however.
— Hillary Howard (@hhowardWTOP) November 25, 2019
That has us wondering just how early does Thanksgiving break start for our readers — when is the first day you’re taking off for the holiday?