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“I will declare a snow emergency effective tomorrow morning at 9:30am”

by Prince Of Petworth January 21, 2016 at 11:06 am 84 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Rob Cannon

From Mayor Bowser:

“I will declare a snow emergency effective tomorrow morning at 9:30 am. Residents will need to move their cars from snow routes before then.”

“Due to the blizzard, @dcpublicschools will be closed tomorrow and DC government will close early.”

“If you or someone you know is homeless or needs shelter, call the shelter hotline at 1-800-535-7252 or 311. Help is available 24/7.”

Update – full press release:

“Today, due to the National Weather Service forecast of an imminent, major winter storm that is approaching the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a public emergency in the District, effective immediately. As a result, DC Public Schools will be closed on Friday, January 22 and the District Government will close at noon for non-essential and non-emergency personnel.

Additionally, the Mayor has declared a snow emergency that will be in effect beginning tomorrow, January 22, 2016, at 9:30 am. By declaring a snow emergency, the District Snow Team (Department of Public Works and Department of Transportation) will be able to clear snow emergency routes curb to curb. Drivers are advised to remove cars from snow emergency routes starting Thursday night. Otherwise, they will be towed.

For the latest information on the District’s response to the storm, residents should visit Snow.DC.Gov.

In preparation for the snow, the city’s salt domes are filled to capacity with more than 39,000 tons of salt. The Department of Public Works and the DC Department of Transportation also have a total of:

• 106 heavy plows, with an additional 37 contract plows

• 73 light plows

• 145 dump trucks

• 30 loaders and 20 bobcats

Emergency Declaration

The declaration of public emergency will stay in effect for 15 days until and unless provided for by further Mayoral Order. The declaration authorizes the City Administrator, in coordination with the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, the Director of the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and the Chief Financial Officer, to apply for financial assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, any other federal, private, or nonprofit disaster relief and recovery organizations, and any other appropriate agencies of the United States government.

The emergency declaration implements the District response plan and applies to all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the District government as necessary or appropriate. It also permits utility workers and District agencies to retain crews to complete emergency repairs and restore services beyond normal work hours. During the public emergency or 30 days after this declaration (whichever is shorter), it will be unlawful for any person to charge more than the normal average retail price for any merchandise or services sold.

Snow Emergency Declaration

The snow emergency will remain in effect until an announcement is made that it has been lifted. Motorists are asked to tune into television and radio broadcast stations or go to www.snow.dc.gov for a notice that the snow emergency has been lifted.

Vehicles ticketed for a snow emergency violation and towed by DPW will be taken to the DPW Impound Lot at 5001 Shepherd Parkway, SW 20032. The lot is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and can be reached at 202-645-5500. The lot is closed weekends, holidays and when DC government is closed. Vehicles also may be towed by private towing companies, and vehicle owners can learn where their vehicle has been towed by calling the Towed Vehicle Locator office at 202-541-6083 or go to http://dpw.dc.gov/service/locate-towed-vehicle.. To have an impounded vehicle released, these fees must be paid before the vehicle will be released:

• $250 ticket for the snow emergency violation.

• $100 tow fee.

• $20 per day storage fee.

Additional fees also may be required to be paid, e.g., fees for tickets older than 60 days that have not been entered into the adjudication system. These fees may be paid at the impound lot by bank debit card, credit card (Mastercard, Visa and Discover) or online through the Department of Motor Vehicles Website — http://dmv.dc.gov/.

This is a potentially strong and dangerous storm. We remind all of our residents, commuters, and visitors to prepare for the storm and ensure that, if possible, they stay off the roads. We also ask that you remember your neighbors throughout the storm and during clean up. Please assist elderly or disabled neighbors with clearing their sidewalks. Visit snow.dc.gov for updates before, during and after winter storms, and for tips to get your home and family prepared for inclement weather. Residents also may sign up at alertdc.dc.gov to receive emergency alerts and notifications from AlertDC.”

  • AnonV2

    …. aaaaannnnnndddddd there’s your over-reaction to bungling last night. Congrats! Some forecasts don’t have the storm starting until well into the afternoon which would be enough for a half school day (which, yes, presents it’s own problems but is better for parents who will likely have to work a half day anyway). Wait until the afternoon models come out and then make the call, or at least until you get some word from OPM. But when there is an easy political call to make we know how it’s going to go (Proactive! Forward thinking! I’m-not-completely-unqualified-for-this-job-at-all-why-do-you-ask?)

    • JohnH

      To be fair, this is supposed to be an incredibly fast moving storm that will be hard to predict an exact time. If you do an early dismissal and you have school buses out when it starts snowing, it could be horrible. Considering we’ve had such a mild winter and there’s been no closings as of late January, might as well be cautious. It makes things a lot less stressful – and quite frankly, the fewer people on the roads tomorrow will also be better to prepare for the storm, even if it hasn’t started yet.

      • domrep

        It’s a 36 hour storm. Suppose to last through 9 AM Sunday last I read.

      • lindz0722

        I believe (someone will certainly correct me if I’m wrong) that DCPS had a pre-scheduled 1/2 day for students tomorrow anyway (but a full work day for teachers). Assuming teachers don’t have to go in at all with the schools being closed, the decision will keep a lot more people off the roads.

        • jcm

          Yes, tomorrow was a half day for students and a full day for teachers.

      • Anonamom

        In the case of DC, we had an already scheduled 12:15 dismissal tomorrow, and we don’t have school buses for 95% of our students. However, as a parent who is now scrambling to make arrangements, I am glad to get this info now versus at 5:30am tomorrow morning.

        • K

          I agree. I appreciate the advanced notice. Now we can make proper arrangements and not do the crazed 6am coin flip of which parent gets to stay home or which parent has a light enough day to bring the kids with them to the office.

    • FridayGirl

      *Some* forecasts have it starting later in the afternoon. Other forecasts (accuweather, CWG, etc.) have been consistently saying it will start around noon or 1. Given last night’s rush hour situation, I don’t think this is an overreaction — considering how rarely we have snow days (2-3 a year?) it’s a hell of a lot safer to close than to risk everyone commuting at the same time when the snow hits.

      • FridayGirl

        Update: “In the D.C.-Baltimore region, snow is expected to begin between Noon and 5 p.m. Friday and continue until Sunday morning, with Saturday morning and afternoon being the height of the storm.”
        I’ve worked with people who live as far out as West Virginia and the tip of Maryland, so OPM (moreso than the DC Gov’t) has to keep those people in mind, as well.

        • Anonamom

          Noon to 5pm is a pretty big range. At any rate, I think most of us would prefer to be where we are going before the first flakes fall rather than on the road. I got home at 6:15 last night (just as the snow was starting), and less than an hour later, it took my housemate 45 minutes to go the 2 miles from work to home.

    • MtP

      Completely disagree. Some forecasts have the storm starting to hit around noon. Why risk putting more people on the roads and have a problem like last night or what we had in 2011. With the magnitude of this storm, there is no reason to take chances. This will help crews get the roads prepared so we can get back to normal ASAP.

    • Anonymous

      Mayor Bowser: All Hands on Deck (but only after something goes wrong)!

      • FridayGirl

        Thank goodness for the snow/ice last night then! Maybe we actually WILL do okay this time around!

  • domrep

    Why not close the whole thing down? If you’re closing schools, close the government and avoid people leaving all at once at 2 PM and be stuck in the same situation from 2011. On top of that, I’m sure people are putting in not to come into work tomorrow anyway.

    • FridayGirl


    • womp

      FWIW, Bowser’s early dismissal is only for DC govt. and, relatively speaking, it’s a small number compared to Feds and contractors who are still waiting for OPM to make the call (hopefully) today.

  • Guillermo Brown

    Seems like a good idea to give people a chance to get their cars out of snow routes….

  • Petworth Diva

    I think our mayor is showing a lot of leadership.

    • Joe

      Oh, cool. Who’s your mayor? Ours is Muriel Bowser.

      • Anonamom


      • wdc

        Literal LOL

      • Outback2010


      • navyard

        I just snorted out loud

        • Joe

          In all seriousness, every mayor gets skewered when it snows. They can’t win. WMATA and OPM (really the Fairfax schools, whose decision forces OPM’s hand) dominate choices about who closes when. And WMATA and NPS do most of the visible failing. The mayor just directs the road crews and police. In a blizzard, most people will be on a street that they think got ignored. And a lot of the whining does sound a bit sexist; I don’t recall quite as much hate on her mentor, Fenty, during HIS blizzard.

          But the degree to which people hate on Mayor Bowser for her snow storm leadership is really just an indication that everyone outside of CM Todd’s office and her [former] PAC think her administration has done a cruddy job getting ahead of just about everything else: creepy council PAC shenanigans, celebrating turning WMATA into a crowded & unruly school bus, and rampant scary violent inexcusable crime. People feel less safe and less optimistic. And they see her administration’s actions as often late and inconsequential.

          The storm will help her in one way, though: there might be fewer murders this weekend.

          • say

            One would hope for fewer murders. But just got a crime alert about a shooting at noon today on 500 block of Buchanan street. No one killed but the ice isn’t keeping the guns at home apparently. So many kids at home with nannies on the block too.

      • IDontGetIt


    • 20011


  • hanna

    so the DC government is closed…..including federal government? or are they separate? lol. people here at work trying to decide whether to come in tomorrow or not.

    • DC Government is DC – Federal Government are “the Feds”. Will update on that front as soon as I hear!

      • C_petworth

        As a fed i am predicting we will not know until the end of the work day today the earliest, but would not be surprised if we do not hear until 4am tomorrow.

        • FridayGirl

          I agree completely. But I do think there’s a good probability of them making the call by 10pm tonight, as has been done in the past a few times. The models/timing hasn’t changed much in the past few days, so it’s not like it’ll change overnight…

        • JohnH

          I think they will be rather cautious given the amount of hype this storm is getting + it’s late January and there hasn’t been any closings so far this winter. So, closing one day for a snow storm will not “look bad”.
          However, I was slightly surprised they didn’t do anything this morning, so who knows. Although I would say I was driving at my normal go to work time this morning and later in the morning – and there wasn’t much of a difference in roads.

          • C_petworth

            I had no trouble getting to work this morning but i had 2 co-workers that had terrible am commutes. The main roads in DC looked great but some of the side streets that were not traveled on last night look like skating rinks.

          • FridayGirl

            I was surprised about this morning, too — but I’m wondering if they figured not closing this morning would help justify a full day closure tomorrow. If that’s the case, I will not complain.

    • FridayGirl

      Oh dear… I’d be really curious to know in what office people don’t know the difference between city government and federal government.

      • Anonamom

        The same kind of people who always confuse “DC” with the “Federal Government”, which is a major pet peeve of mine and a disgrace from some who lives in or around DC.

        • MtP

          I understand this confusion throughout the rest of the country, but not for office workers in this region!

      • MtP

        I was thinking the same thing – how can this be a question for workers in this region?

        • womp

          Maybe she’s new to the region? For someone who has never lived in an area where the distinction is obvious, it can be a bit confusing. I’m usually critical of questions I feel are ignorant, but she gets a pass from me because I’ve been there.

      • navyard

        I don’t know of anyone personally, but I’ve heard there are people in this town that aren’t actually employed by or working on contract for any government agency. :)

        • Jaded

          I am not, nor have I ever, been employed by any type of government agency, whether it be DC or the Federal Government. I have also only worked for one office that followed OPM guidelines… yet I know the difference. Knowing the difference between DC Government and Federal Government seems to me to be basic knowledge, ESPECIALLY for someone who lives in DC. Do people not take Government or Civics any more to know the difference between local, state, and national government? I mean, at least in DC we only have two of the three! No pass for me. Signed, Jaded Washingtonian.

          • Caroline

            “Do people not take Government or Civics any more to know the difference between local, state, and national government?” – I’ve heard of high schools offering classes like that, but mine never did. Still, isn’t it common knowledge?

  • Anonymous

    I assume trash won’t be picked up and we’ll all be waiting another week. I totally don’t get it. This would never fly in other major metropolitan areas. You hire sub-contractors to take care of basic city services if others are diverted to other duties like plowing.

    • houseintherear

      trash was picked up as usual today (1 day late due to Monday’s holiday)

  • domrep

    What are the odds that OPM closes Monday?

    • JohnH

      Supposed to be above freezing and sunny on Sunday, but depends if we get the full 30″ or not. Upper 30s will melt snow, but not 30″. However, it will also be below freezing on Sunday night, so the melted snow will turn to ice. So I’d assume there will also be a delay, if not a full closure – if it’s a legit snow amount.

      • FridayGirl

        My office thought similarly. At least a delay on Monday, possible full closure until everyone digs out.

      • MMMkay

        Sunday is looking to be slushy and gross.

    • C_petworth

      All depends on how fast the clear the roads not only in DC but the surrounding area. Also if power is lost in major areas in side the beltway that will have an effect. Its not just a snow storm but a blizzard which means high winds. Blizzards wreck havoc by sending trees down on houses powerlines roads ect

    • Derek

      I think it’s better than 50/50 that the Fed Gov’t is closed on Monday based on the information we have now. If we actually get 2′ and it continues to snow through Sunday morning, I’d say there’s a 100% chance the Gov’t is closed on Monday. If the accumulation is less substantial than is currently being predicted, then I’d say the odds of closure on Monday go way down.

    • AnotherBdaleResident

      With the way everything is sounding, and this getting compared to the 2010 Snowmageddon, I’d bet they do Unscheduled Telework at a minimum.

    • anonymous

      Snowmaggedon was 4 days off, so I would be shocked if the feds are working Monday.

  • wdc

    What can be done to prepare for power outages? I’m concerned about heat. We have gas, but of course the blower is electric. Stove is gas… hot water bottles? Um… that’s my only idea. How else do folks keep warm during winter outages?
    We never lost power ONCE for the first 10 years we were in our house. Then last year Pepco came out and did something, (“upgraded” our street’s service) and we’ve had two outages since then.

    • FridayGirl

      My friend’s power was out for a week last winter, and all I can suggest is: blankets, gloves, hats, coats, flashlights with batteries. Maybe some of those small hand warmers that you break and they get warm? What are those called? Not sure where to find them but I know they exist…

      • FridayGirl

        And by break, I mean snap, like glowsticks.

      • Anon Spock

        Drug stores definitely have them for hands and feet.

    • C_petworth

      Keep your taps on a slight drip if you loose power to prevent pimps freezing and bursting. Frozen pipes are the worst! If your heating systems looses power but the stove still works do a lot of baking to keep the kitchen warm and take refuge in there. Where warm cloths inside( hats and gloves) and snuggle with family and pets!

      • anon

        “pimps freezing and bursting” – best typo ever

        • C_petworth


          • LittleBluePenguin

            don’t apologize, it was one of the funniest images I’ve had all day!

    • Ted

      Related: anyone know how to keep a gas boiler (radiator) working if the power goes out? There aren’t moving parts, right? Just the thermostat?

      • saf

        Circulating pump. Sorry, you need electricity.

        • Ted

          It’s just DC current, though, right? Couldn’t I just connect the cathode from a car battery to the thermostat wire? Or would that basically electrocute me and detonate the furnace?

          • Ted

            My grown-up self just decided that I don’t want this advice from strangers on a neighborhood blog comment board.

          • Emmaleigh504

            I’m glad you grown-up self spoke up. Stay safe!

          • RL

            Your grown-up self may have just posted my new favorite PoPville comment ever.

    • jcm

      Check into the Westin for $100 a night.

      • AnotherBdaleResident

        If you have pets and need to go the hotel route – Kimpton hotels are pet friendly.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Same here – never lost power for more than one full day myself. My family in upstate NY has lost power for more than a full week straight during winter storms before, and they rely on their fireplace. I don’t have one of those here, though.

    • Fireplace and lots of blankets.

  • above7-11

    OPM calling for Noon closure tomorrow.

    • HIll Easter

      I haven’t seen that, yet. I wouldn’t be surprised, but I haven’t seen anything official from OPM yet.

    • Ho Lee Kao

      Where are you seeing or hearing about this Noon closure for tomorrow? I am not seeing anything on the OPM website.

      • FridayGirl

        Here we go again… people confusing DC Government with the Federal Government…

        • Noel_petworth

          Since state of emergencies are already in place in DC and VA i will predict OPM will shut down gov for the day.

          • JohnH

            Snow emergencies typically start well before the actual “emergency” starts because they want to have the roads clear that are snow emergency roads (they will tow cars that are there still). So it really doesn’t have much to do with the government shutting down.

          • FridayGirl

            … although I saw that CWG predicted the outer suburbs begin to get hit at 10am. So that should be a consideration.

    • Philippe Lecheval

      As of right now, OPM has made no such decision. Stop spreading misinformation.

  • Kingman Park

    It’s unbelievable to me that OPM would think that work (or half day of work) is that fucking important to put millions of people on the road with an imminent blizzard.

    • AnotherBdaleResident

      OPM hasn’t made a decision on anything yet. They will probably close – or call for unscheduled telework, seeing how awful last night was. Give it a little time.

      • FridayGirl

        +1. It would just be nice if they’d close *tonight* rather than overnight. But the more OTHER places close first, the greater the chance the Feds will close tomorrow.

        • AnotherBdaleResident


  • HIll Easter

    Fed here – my bet is OPM does liberal leave/telework/early release. I think the odds of the gov actually closing are pretty slim. Telework is free, closing down is a “free” day, so it is fraught with financial criticisms.

  • RL

    “By declaring a snow emergency, the District Snow Team…will be able to clear snow emergency routes curb to curb” my ass. Five winters looking out my window at H St NW between Chinatown and 395 – a designated snow emergency route – and I can count on one finger the total number of plows I’ve seen.


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