- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

The minor snowfall earlier this week was a good warm-up for emergency crews preparing for tomorrow’s storm, which is expected to drop 5 inches of snow across the region, officials said.

“The little clipper that came through on Wednesday gave us a good chance to test our equipment and work out any kinks in the plans for a more significant storm,” said Chuck Gischlar, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration. “We’re prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.”

Mr. Gischlar said the storm arriving on the weekend at least will allow crews to clear roads without the typical rush-hour traffic.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., predict snow will begin falling tomorrow morning and continue throughout the day before tapering off early Sunday morning.

The agency already has issued a winter storm watch.

Howard Silverman, an agency meteorologist, said the watch “signifies the potential for moderate to significant snowfall accumulation of five or more inches to fall across the region.”

The snow will come from a low-pressure system in the Northern Plains that will move into the Tennessee Valley, then across southern Virginia and off the Delmarva Coast.

Dan Tangherlini, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, pulled double duty yesterday, with crews working the presidential inaugural events and cleaning up from Wednesday’s snowfall.

“We know this is a two-act play,” he said. “We used [yesterday] to prepare for another dumping of snow.”

Mr. Tangherlini said about 80 percent of Wednesday’s snow had been cleared by yesterday afternoon and that crews would continue to work through last night before resting today and refreshing their equipment.

“If the storm arrives at 8 a.m., we will be ready at 6 a.m.,” he said.

Joan Morris, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said officials are closely watching the weather forecast.

“I guess nobody is sure whether we’re talking about a major storm or a few inches,” she said.

“We prepare for the worse, but we are trying to be more conservative with our $24 million budget for snow removal. Last year, we had a similar budget and actually came in under budget despite multiple storms. … For the weekend storm, we are going to be more conservative. But if we have to, we will bring in all of the equipment and all of the crews.”

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