It’s Snowing – DC Government, Schools Opening on Time; Feds Have Option for Telework; Power Outages Reported from Dupont to Logan to U Street


As of 6:15am From AlertDC:

“The District of Columbia Government and Public Schools will be opening today January 6, 2015 on time.

The Federal Office of Personnel Management reports that federal agencies in the Washington, DC area are Open and employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework.

DHS reports the Hypothermia Alert will remain activated. National Weather Service reports the current temperature is 24 degrees. Today’s forecast: Snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible, mainly before noon. High near 34. Calm wind becoming south around 6 mph in the afternoon.

When the temperature or wind chill is 32 degrees or below, the District issues a Hypothermia Alert. Those who are homeless, and the general public, may call the Shelter Hotline: 1-800-535-7252 or the Mayor’s Call Center: 311 to get assistance.”

From @DCPoliceDept:

“Snow Advisory – Several Accidents in and around the District. Use Caution, give lots of space. Give the Plow Trucks a wide berth.”

Updated 7am – Not sure if weather related but reports of power outages in Dupont:

“@katy_bedard tweets:

“@PoPville no power in Dupont, around 17th and p. Anyone else?”

@aoconnorND tweets:

“@PoPville no power close to circle at 19th & Corcoran

Reader report power out in parts of Logan Circle too.

no power near 18th and S, either!”

no power on 13th and u either (though street lights are working)”

Update 7:20am:

@CarlynMessinger tweets us:

“@PoPville power out on U Street since about 7, Pepco says it will probably be fixed by 11 #snowpower


@ktbrry tweets us at 7:15am:

Stalled bus or something not good at 18th and Florida NW.”

Update 7:30am:

@aoconnorND tweets us:

“Fire trucks and power company out at NH and Q. Smells like burning.”


Update 7:40am:

@jburka tweets us:

“@PoPville traffic lights at S and T on 14th are out. As usual, DC drivers aren’t bothering to treat it like an all way stop.”

Update 7:50am:

@pheebs_wood tweets us:

“Accident at 18th & Florida NW. 2 other metro buses are stopped up the street. @PoPville”


“@Sara422 tweets us:

@PoPville Power out/traffic lights out at 13th and R, too. Rarely happens on this block.”

From AlertDC:

“Pepco reports a smoking manhole at 18th and New Hampshire Ave. NW. Due to the smoking manhole 6100 customers are without power. Pepco crews are on the scene working to resolve the problem at this time. No restoration time has been given. For information please contact Pepco at 1-877-737-2662″

Update 8am:

@aadragna tweets us:

“Very eerie in Dupont as lights out in all businesses. Street lights working.”


@robbie_gross tweets us:

“@PoPville H buses also stuck on both sides of Porter St east of Connecticut

LC emails us:

“Just made the trek from Columbia Heights to Logan and it looks like most of the streets are still untreated. This photo shows 14th St. at 7:45 am – where are the plow trucks?”


94 Comment

  • In Petworth 7AM – roads are very slick and dangerous; have not seen any sand trucks or plows. Be careful!

    • I saw a plow going up Rock Creek Church around 6:15 when I was on my way to the gym so they are out, just probably not as fast as everyone would like!

      Of course no one had cleared the sidewalks that early, but the snow was fresh and crunchy and not slippery at all. It was kind of pleasant actually!

  • Just got this email from AlertDC:
    Pepco reports a smoking manhole at 18th and New Hampshire Ave. NW. Due to the smoking manhole 6100 customers are without power. Pepco crews are on the scene working to resolve the problem at this time. No restoration time has been given. For information please contact Pepco at 1-877-737-2662

  • I guess Mayor Bowser and Pepco both decided to live up to their reputation for incompetence. In the two miles to work I didn’t see a single plowed or salted road.

  • Power’s even out in the office buildings south of Dupont Circle!

  • I live just below Logan Circle and have a view of the Circle–we have power, as do nearby houses & buildings. The streetlights, now going out and signals appear to be working.

    • So… no comment then? Because everything’s just normal.

      • Am I supposed to whine about something? Is that the rule? It’s really not bad. The trash trucks made their usual noisy appearence. Cars and the usual service vehicles seem to be making their way through the circle and down 13th w/o problem. A fairly usual volume of pedestrians are walking around. Sorry I don’t have some weather porn to contribute.

  • 8AM Anacostia – even the busses are fishtailing. The roads are in bad shape and still seemingly untreated.

  • I ran into work from Columbia Heights to Foggy Bottom @ 6am. 16th street buses were offloading north of Meridian Hill Park because of sliding vehicles (including a double bus that had slid sideways and was blocking southbound traffic). Total mess.

  • I went for a run this morning around 5:15 for about an hour through NW (Dupont, Adams Morgan, Logan Circle). The snow started well before I left and everything was well covered by the time I started. The roads did not appear treated at all. Throughout my run I didn’t see a single salt truck or plow on any streets, including Mass, Conn, U St, 18th, 16th, or 14th. While I had no problem navigating the sidewalks and streets on foot, I saw plenty of cars sliding on stops and starts. This was not a surprise snow storm. They have to prepare better.

    • justinbc

      Just curious what shoes you run in for snow conditions?

      • Since it was fresh snow, it was not a problem to just wear normal shoes. This is my first winter tackling outdoor only running. I have yet to try this, but when things get icy, I’ll try Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats.

      • Mug of Glop

        For an unsolicited second opinion, I always run in the snow in regular running shoes. I don’t have cleats or traction shoes and I don’t know anyone else who does. My philosophy is that when it’s too icy to run in normal shoes, probably it’s icy enough that you’re pretty likely to be hit by a sliding car, and I just stay inside.

        • justinbc

          Haha fair point. I’ll give my Mizuno’s a test run today. Don’t think I’ll be making the drive to the gym in this weather, and some snow running would be unique if nothing else.

        • Yeah, fair point about the cars. That’s why I try to run early so there is less traffic, but there are no guarantees. I’m trying to find possible solutions for my likely excuses later.

        • Yack tracks are great in the ice – but stink in wet/slushy snow. Peace Corps issued us a pair in Ukraine and I only used them running when it got really icy (-25C and colder) and they worked great.

      • +1 on normal running shoes. Running in the snow is not that hard. Your feet might just get wet and cold. As last winter kept pummeling us, I did wish I had some more serious shoes, perhaps with Gore-Tex coating and serious traction. But for the most part I was able to run some decent mileage and solid track workouts all through last winter. I’m curious as to how running in Yak Traks would go.

        • justinbc

          I’ve seen some people dip their shoes in that Neverwet coating stuff and report back with good results (for rain or snow).

          • Interesting. Maybe I’ll treat an old pair of running shoes with that. You wouldn’t want your one pair of running shoes to be waterproof/-resistant, because coatings like that make it harder for the shoes to breathe. But I always keep my last pair around for crappy conditions anyway.

          • For yet another opinion: I’ve run outdoors many winters both here and colder climates. Regular running shoes are fine for 99% of the days here.

            A few companies make snow specific shoes that are the same shoe but waterproof uppers, although those are mostly unnecessary here.

            YaxTrax are fantastic but also not needed here. They’re great for places where you get a hard snow/ice cover on the streets and sidewalks that stays around all winter under the fresh snow. Today they would be pretty uncomfortable.

      • Ha! Oh, actually, I wasn’t wondering about the type of shoes… I was wondering about running in the snow at all. Kudos to you. Though, stay inside during evening rush hour – it’s going to be cannibalistic out there – like an Andes Mountain plane crash!

    • Ditto – went for an early run and the roads were a mess. I pushed 3 cars that got stuck and didn’t see one plow or salt truck. Wisconsin was (still is) a mess and Mass was pretty bad from the Observatory north.
      It was absolutely gorgeous – can’t wait to see what the freezing temps and wind are going to do.

      • Peace Corps issued them to you?!?! I served in a similar country and we got nuttin’!! Well, except a copy of “Where there is no doctor” so at least we could spend winter evenings reading about tropical diseases.

        • Yep – I think our nurses used the medical budget very liberally to cover things like this. Cheaper to buy us these than to deal with a bunch of sprained wrists. I loved “Where there is no doctor” – an absolute great read in the dead of cold ass winter after a few drinks.

  • gotryit

    It’s not that much snow – we should be able to handle it with a little preparation. DC could have some plows out on the major streets and I think we’d be OK… but where are they? Last year they were ridiculously overzealous.

    • I think the problem is that (1) it’s more snow than expected (last night they were predicting MAYBE an inch in the city; now they’re saying 4-6 inches!), and (2) it started coming down the heaviest right at rush hour. I made it downtown without too much trouble but roads are definitely very bad, and I’m a bit surprised the federal government didn’t have a delayed opening. Even more surprised that DC schools were opening “on time”. BTW I’m originally from Buffalo and I usually just laugh at situations like this, but the truth is that the city is simply not prepared to deal with any measurable amount of snow.

      • Yeah, but we learned during Commutaggedon that snow during rush hour will lock up traffic, so get the plows out early and often. Were they baffled by the same thing happening at morning rush hour?
        Capital Weather Gang called a messy commute at least two days ago, so we knew something was coming. I’m really shocked that there were no plows or salt trucks being deployed stating at about 4 am.

      • “BTW I’m originally from Buffalo and I usually just laugh at situations like this, but the truth is that the city is simply not prepared to deal with any measurable amount of snow.”
        Exactly, this is the nuance that’s missing in the conversation about DC snow rants. Buffalo, Rochester, Chicago? They could easily handle this 6″ of snow and have the roads cleared before the morning commute. But DC is effectively part of the South. We simply don’t have the snow removing infrastructure that you find up north near the Great Lakes. It’s not worth the investment for a heavy day of snow once every few years. The last two winters have been uneventful. Furthermore, we don’t have a large crew of experienced snow removing drivers to operate even more snow plows. They actually use the snow plows once every few years. I would venture that the roads are cleared slowly here (compared to Buffalo) because they drive more slowly and cautiously due to inexperience.

        • Exactly. That’s why I didn’t make fun of my friends in Atlanta’s Carmageddon last year. You think DC’s not prepared? Try ice and snow in Atlanta.

          • I used to live in ATL, so I had no trouble making fun of it (a boosterish place like ATL that can’t deliver deserves all the ribbing it gets).

            In all seriousness–infrastructure equals having/maintaining plows that can be attached to utility trucks and having stores of sand/cinders/salt somewhere. Beyond an initial set of outlays, that’s not very expensive and it’s not that complicated. We’re barely “part of the South” and the delusion we’re in Florida or something is just ludicrous. It snows here a few times almost every year. The real problem for Atlanta is ice storms, which really are crippling, but they happen every couple years, sometimes more than once. there was some silly CNN bot who claimed they’d only had a couple in the last 10 years, but its much more common than that.

        • DC may be effectively part of the south when it comes to antiquated geographic demarcations (culturally, it’s certainly debatable), but weathewise, we’re definitely not. We reliably get a couple of snowstorms a year at the very least. Cue the disfunction like clockwork every winter. It’s not really excusable.

        • I’m late to this thread, but I do feel compelled to point out that NO ONE does a good job of dealing with ice, and that’s what usually hits places further south of DC. Ice shuts down upstate NY.

          Regardless, DC metro jurisdictions have no excuse for not having a few trucks out for some early salting on main roads before rush hour. They knew they were going to need some even if we’d only had the one inch that was forecast early on.

  • I find it weird that there wasn’t a delayed opening this morning for the feds. When I was walking around 8am into work, I saw a ton of cars sliding and all the buses seemed to be barely crawling along. Is it because it’s the first day of Congress? I feel like there were delays last year from less snow than this but perhaps I’m mistaken.

    • They canceled and delayed work last year multiple times before the precipitation even started. A few times it was less than an inch or even just ended up being RAIN.

      Yet they don’t delay when it actually snows. K.

      • Exactly. I think the two are related.

      • Emmaleigh504

        That’s exactly why I planned to go in to work today. I knew they wouldn’t close b/c of the times last year when it was NBD. Unfortunately, this time around it was much colder and the snow stuck. OPM needs me to tell them when to close and when to open, I could do a way better.

      • What they did last year seemed like an overreaction to the more tepid response of the past. This time they were being less cautious and the early weather forecast probably contributed. The other thing is that the rules have changed and people who can telework are expected to do so, so snowdays aren’t quite what they used to be.

  • Just drove from Petworth to the Navy Yard and not one street was treated. Saw three plows and none had their blades down nor were they treating the roads. To be fair to one of them, it was broken down on northbound 395 at NY Ave. How is it that DC *never* has it together for snow events? They’ve know this is coming for days…

  • I really, really hate these northern winters.

    • Obligatory THIS IS NOT A NORTHERN WINTER comment.

    • albany

      This is a southern winter.

      • Being from the South, this is most assuredly not a Southern winter. This much snow would cause grocery stores to be emptied of milk, bread, and TP, and we wouldn’t have ventured outside for several days. DC is most definitely a northern city with cold, crapulent winters. I am, however, aware that cities further north have worse winters, and I have zero interest in experiencing them.

        • Emmaleigh504

          Amen Slappy J, amen.

        • Being from the north (Buffalo), this is most assuredly not a northern winter. 4-6 inches of snow is a pretty typical snowfall anywhere in upstate NY, and it takes a lot more than that to cancel school. When I was growing up there in the 1970’s, it usually started snowing sometime in December and we often wouldn’t see the ground again until sometime in March, and we considered that normal. Winters were consistently cold and snowy. (The thing I find strangest about DC winters is that it’s a total crap shoot from year to year with regard to both snow and temperature. You never know whether you’re going to get slammed with snow, a few light snowfalls, or virtually none all winter.)

          • I’m also from upstate NY (Syracuse) but I think this counts as a northern winter. Clearly nothing like New York, but DC is more like the former than it is like the real south, where this kind of thing doesn’t reliably happen every winter. The difference between Syracuse and DC in the winter is merely one of degrees: one is atrocious, the other merely sh*tty.

      • If you think this is bad, you should see Atlanta when it gets 1 inch of snow/ice. Total pandemonium.

    • I read this and laughed as I thought back to the Blizzard of 94 when I was stuck in my house for 2 weeks because of the snow.

  • In Petworth at 730, only GA and NH AVE were sorta plowed (1 lane each). No other streets were cleared, and very few tire tracks visible).

    Between 730-9 more than an inch fell (from where I shoveled at 730). Somewhat real snow!

    • They did plow other streets earlier (as I posted above I saw plows) both in Petworth and downtown between 6 am and 6:30 am, and then later as well (around 8 in Farragut area).

  • Power loss appears random. Between 17 and 13 on U, some buildings have power, others don’t. Doesn’t appear to be by side of street or by block – just here and there, chunks with lights, chunks without. No traffic light at 15, lights fine at 13, 14, 16. This is the first time I’ve lost power here and I’ve been in this building since 08!
    FYI, If you’re looking for hot shower, power on at 16&U Vida.
    Oh, and to the woman who almost ran me over in the cross walk at 15&U, then rolled down her window to tell me not her fault – Uh, no honey. No light doesn’t = green light / right of way, and maybe when it’s snowy and the traffic light isn’t working and you haven’t had all your coffee, you could approach light with a little caution?

  • I just moved here from Boston about 6 months ago, and was in Maine before that – I don’t understand. In New England, if there’s snow in the forecast – even an inch – there are trucks out salting before the snow starts. Always. How is that so difficult?

    • #bowser’d

    • Muriel Bowser is incompetent. Period.

      • Does the dept of public works, or whoever runs the plows, sit around waiting for instructions from the mayor? Never having worked in city government, I’m not prepared to say it’s not the case. But I’d be pretty surprised if they didn’t have their own managers and protocols. I don’t understand what this has to do with Bowser (for whom I did not vote and from whom I expect nothing good).

        • It doesn’t matter. Savvy mayors realize that the way the city government deals with snow affects all citizens equally and is widely perceived as a reflection of their competence. So, they make damn sure that DPW and other agencies are super-aggressive about it and they make themselves highly visible throughout the storm to demonstrate that they are effective at governing.

          Snow removal is similar to the DMV – it’s a fairly easy thing to fix that makes your administration look competent, and it is visible to a wide cross-section of the population (not to mention, failure is highly frustrating to a wide cross-section of the population). I recall improving the DMV and the way snow is dealt with were top priorities for Anthony Williams early in his tenure, and for good reason.

    • Same here. In the years I’ve been here I’ve learned not to drive in DC in the snow because my blood pressure can’t take it. This is not to say New England is a winter wonderland and everyone drives perfectly, but I think there people have learned to live with snow related disappointment and aren’t in such a hurry that they risk their safety.
      I feel like we knew snow was coming and that it was coming during morning rush hour, but the normal hyperbolic DC snow hype was missing. I wonder why? I bet if we had had it there would have been more of a push to prepare.

    • Totally agree. It’s not like it’s a blizzard, but you have to actually deal with the roads. I didn’t see any snowplows or evidence thereof out this morning. I’m from the upper midwest and while this snowfall wouldn’t phase anyone there, there would be salt/sand trucks out before the snow and plows afterwards.

    • Blithe

      Yes, I’ve lived in New England. Where it snows a LOT every year. So municipalities are more prepared for the snow, and plan and budget accordingly, and have supplemental state resources when they’re needed.
      In DC it usually snows a few inches at a time, with weather warm enough that it usually melts within a day or so if it sticks at all. We are also a city without additional state resources. So to budget for snow removal and have a snow removal plan similar to New England or even New York City really doesn’t make much sense — although it would make life much easier on days like today. That being said, this snow and the cold temperatures were predicted. There’s no excuse for not salting the streets and not having the plows out on major streets the second that the snow started falling. . For those who have made comments about the cost of shutting down the government vs snow removal — as far as I know, the Feds don’t kick in any cash for the DC area’s snow removal costs. Perhaps they should?

    • p.s. I should add – yes, it snows more in NYC and Boston, but not a whole lot more – all are cities on the coast, and are more likely to get rain (even if it is a lot more likely to snow inland). When it snows in NYC, it usually snows here. Yet somehow New York and Boston are able to salt the roads and get plows out.

    • It’s not unusual for pre-storm teams to deploy to treat the roads here, either. Not sure why it didn’t happen this time – maybe the forecast/conditions weren’t appropriate for that. Too much snow over the roads for salting/beet juice to work to stop ice, but not enough snow to get a plow under makes for bad conditions anywhere.
      And just to throw it out there b/c people like to make the comparisons, I lived for 40 years in Vermont and Wisconsin, and the cars slip-sliding around this morning is exactly what I saw countless times in those places, too, when we got this kind of snow.
      I’m not optimistic about Bowser’s administration, either, but it seems like a conspiracy theory to blame this on her. Are the people at dDot who make these calls political appointees who just started yesterday? And how does that explain MD and VA conditions, which seem equally bad this morning?

  • Mug of Glop

    Drove all the way from Logan through downtown to the extreme southwest at about 8 am, and on the eight mile trip, not a single strip of pavement was plowed or seemed to have been salted. Nor did I see a single plow or salt truck. Good times…

  • Very disappointed with DC today. This reminds me of the early 90s when Mayor Barry was in charge. No plows on the street, but schools open? Like there is no one leading the city!?

    • Agreed. Also, my trash/recycling hasn’t been picked up at all so far this year. Should have been last Friday, to make up for the Thursday holiday. Nope. Should have been regular pickup yesterday. Nope. Doubt they will pick up trash today, especially since the streets are a disaster.

  • I drove from Hill East to Suitland at 830 this morning and was shocked at the roads…I finally saw a snow plow at 845. I know the city (and burbs) will say “we don’t plow until 2 inches accumulate”, but when we won’t reach 2 inches until the middle of rush hour, is that really the wisest decision? Maybe we just need more beet juice…

  • hispanicandproud

    Calm down DC! This isn’t the first time it’s snowed nor the last.

  • It isn’t the snow, but the lack of preparation. I drove from Park View to Alexandria and not single road was plowed except part of 395 when I got into Va. Then once I was by the Pentagon people were sliding out so bad they just came to a complete stop. (Trick is to go slow people!) Seriously one of the scariest drives on an interstate ever. I understand DC side streets not being plowed, but Georgia was a MESS!! And now that the accumulation has been upped to 4-6 inches….HOO BOY!

  • On the radio this morning, DC and VA officials said they don’t plow for two inches of snow because all it does is tear up the pavement. They also said that their trucks were stuck in the same traffic mess as everybody else this morning. What should have happened was a delayed start so that trucks could get out there once there was enough snow to plow.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I feel like this is information that OPM should know and use when deciding what to do. A 2 hour delay would have been nice, closure even better.

      • I wonder if a difficult/embarrassing to reschedule event, like the swearing in of the new congress, swayed OPM away from making the right decision today.

    • epric002

      ^ this. you’d think that this was the first DC snow event ever. so not impressed. not a good start for bowser.

  • justinbc

    I didn’t realize before this post that different parts of the country have different weather. Thanks everyone for the valuable comparisons!

  • Say what you will about Vince Gray, at least he had the snow thing covered. What a mess this morning, took me 45 to get the kiddos to school. Bowser better get her act together.

    • A major reason Vince Grey won was due to Fenty’s screw up during Snowmageddon. He learned that lesson quickly.

  • Inexusable Mayor Bowser!

  • Muriel is getting some love on Twitter today.

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