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WASHINGTON — As D.C. prepares for this weekend’s massive snowstorm, now forecast to reach blizzard conditions, a small clipper system pushed through the region Wednesday night causing massive traffic delays and accidents, and frustrating drivers trying to get to their destinations.
As of 1:30 a.m. Thursday, several gridlock issues remained, including traffic stoppages on Interstate 495 in the area of I-270.
UPDATE – I495 Beltway blocked generally btwn Bradley Bl/I270 Spur & Colesville Rd/University Bl – icy conditions, cars unable to move
— Pete Piringer (@mcfrsPIO) January 21, 2016
“We do have crews that will be out and continuing to salt and treat slick spots again, but we recognize that the slow-moving traffic is creating a bit of a hindrance for our trucks. … Crews are continuing to be out and will be out in preparation for the morning rush,” Kelly Boulware with the Maryland State Highway Administration told WTOP, just after 1 a.m. “A little bit of sun will help, and certainly the salt overnight will help as well.”
Metrobus service was suspended overnight, and morning service could be impacted by the icy road conditions.
Due to icy road conditions, all Metrobus service has been suspended systemwide during the overnight hours. AM service may be impacted.
— Metrobus Info (@Metrobusinfo) January 21, 2016
“Exactly what part of ‘Winter Weather Advisory coming at rush hour’ did VDOT not understand? Are they surprised by the annual arrival of winter?” Jason Crawford wrote WTOP in an email.
“I didn’t see one salt truck all evening. I’m sure they will do a post-event postmortem and promise they will do better next time. Just like last time. I have informed them to expect my bill for lost productivity. Two hours to go eight miles this evening.”
Crawford’s husband had it even worse, stuck behind an accident.
“He’s been trapped at Glebe [Road] and Lee Highway for two hours and barely moved 20 feet,” Crawford said.
In other parts of the city, some abandoned their cars and decided to walk.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office released a statement on Twitter at 9:33 p.m. asking residents to stay off the roads.
“Due to icy road conditions, residents are asked to avoid travel this evening to allow crews to continue to treat the roads. Residents and business owners are also asked to clear their sidewalks tonight as the snow moves out of the area. Crews will work throughout the night ahead of the morning commute.”
John Katz told WTOP he’s been commuting from his office at 16th and L Streets NW to his home in Falls Church for 30 years, but his trip home tonight was one of the worst.
“Left the office at 7 p.m. and arrived at my home in Falls Church at 9:50 p.m. (11 miles). Saw at least 35-40 cars along the way that were either abandoned or simply stuck in place, wheels spinning in vain. In nearly three hours on the road, never saw one salt truck. One of the worst 3 commutes home I have had. Someone didn’t do their job.”
Pete Piringer with Montgomery County Fire & Rescue told WTOP the department was dealing with an influx of calls.
“It’s been extremely busy, in fact, at one period in time, we were handling about one call per minute. Typically in a 24 hour period … we would handle about 325 calls,” Piringer said.