Snow-fighting crews preparing to hit the roads

WASHINGTON — Snow-fighting crews from northern Virginia to suburban Maryland are getting ready to throw on their boots, climb into their trucks and lower their plow blades.

“We’ll have about 1,480 trucks across northern Virginia reporting overnight,” says Jennifer McCord, public affairs officer for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The current forecast calls for the heaviest snow south and southeast of the greater Washington area, 1-3 inches for most of the metro area.

“We’ve got our crews coming in by 2 or 3 in the morning. We will be out there well in advance of the storm,” says Dave Buck, media relations manager, for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Wintry weather has fouled Washington morning rush hour more than once this winter and this storm is threatening the Thursday morning commute.

“Once again we have a storm that could be hitting rush hour,” Buck says.

“Traffic is our biggest, biggest issue when it comes to snow removal,” McCord says.

Both agencies say their plows were unable to properly clear roads on Saturday because of heavy traffic.

“We just try to keep up with it as best we can while its snowing, but if it snows during rush hour, tomorrow, it’s going to be an issue unless a lot people stay off the roads,” Buck says.

While VDOT says it has pretreated roads ahead of the expected snow, Maryland SHA says it’s not pretreating its roadways.

“Salt is effective to about 20 degrees and the pavements overnight are down into the teens,” Buck says.

The expected storm track is also different from previous winter storms.

“It’s a little different than what we’re used to concentrating our crews in the Loudon area,” McCord says, “The latest forecasting that we were preparing for was looking at up to 5 inches or maybe even more south of 66 and east of 95 so we will be concentrating crews in those areas.”

Both agencies say they’re prepare to adjust their plans based on any change in the forecasts and they recommend that motorists be ready.

“I would ask folks to make sure they have a winter survival kit in their car… making sure your cell phone is charged, making sure you’ve got a couple of bottles of water and a blanket and a shovel and some kitty litter or salt for some traction,” Buck says.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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