Snow lovers may frown, but road crews rejoice as quiet DC-area winter continues

You never know what Mother Nature has in store, but so far in the D.C. area, the forecast has not included much snow.

Thursday marked one year since the nation’s capital had any measurable snowfall, according to Storm Team 4 meteorologist Amelia Draper.

“We haven’t had an inch of snow here in the area now for an entire year,” Draper said.

Meteorological winter goes from Dec. 1 to the end of February, and it looks as if this winter will be one of the top 10 warmest winters in the books.

Though a disappointment to people who love the snow, there is a bright side: Less taxpayer dollars have gone toward the deployment of snow teams, which keep the roads moving.

There have been “four minimal events” this winter, said Christopher Geldart, D.C.’s Department of Public Works director. Three involved sending out crews to prevent icy spots, and one was a dry run of the routes for plow crews.

Last winter, there were 14 deployments of road crews because of snow and ice.

A similar story is playing out in Virginia. Snow response crews were deployed six times this season, said Ellen Kamilakis with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Last year, there were a total of 15 deployments.

“We are well under the rate that we had last year, which is good news for a lot of people that, you know, want to be able to stay at home on weekends with their families instead of plowing snow. But, for us snow-lovers, it’s slightly heartbreaking,” Kamilakis said.

Another good thing about the mild weather is fewer ground freezes and thaws, which means fewer potholes that need to be patched up, Kamilakis said. In Virginia, the money saved from not having to fill up potholes can then be used elsewhere.

“Money that can go to other things within maintenance, so that would be more pothole repair; possibly more paving; any drainage issues, like if we have to do pipe replacements; potential bridge work,” Kamilakis said.

In D.C., it’s up to the mayor to decide what happens with any unspent funding from the city’s $10 million snow budget, Geldart said.

What about all the hills of salt and tanks of brine solution ready to go for this season?

Kamilakis said they order salt and make brine solution as needed, which means big amounts of the supplies won’t go to waste if there isn’t a lot of snow.

“We’re constantly replenishing as we go, to really only use the amount that we need and spend the amount that we need to spend,” Kamilakis said.

Despite the mild winter the area is having, road crews will keep the plow truck fueled up with the salt ready to go. And, don’t put away those snow shovels just yet

“As our weather pattern is starting to change in the area, what we’re actually noticing is our snowfall amounts going back to 1970 are diminishing by about an inch in the fall and winter seasons, and actually increasing by about an inch in the spring season,” Draper said.

Draper said she is not expecting a big blockbuster storm to make an appearance this season.

And, regardless of the outlook, Geldart said his department continues to be ready for whatever weather comes. “We prepare as if we’re expecting the worst weather we’ve ever had,” he said.

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