- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 23, 2000

D.C. officials say Washington is ready for the kind of snowstorm that crippled the city of Buffalo this week.
The snow-savvy city in upstate New York was caught by surprise three days ago when it was buried in two feet of the white stuff. D.C. officials are optimistic that city snow-response teams won't be as overwhelmed by Mother Nature as were their counterparts up north.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams' newly appointed "snow czar," Peter G. LaPorte, said residents can rest assured knowing there won't be a repeat of what happened last winter.
The District was embarrassed last year when the first ice and snow paralyzed traffic on city streets. Police borrowed Humvees from the National Guard and city-owned sport utility vehicles sat unused in municipal parking lots.
"I think a lesson has been learned from the years gone by," said Mr. LaPorte, who is director of the city's emergency-management agency.
Mr. LaPorte said the extra equipment and supplies the city bought will come in handy.
The mayor has added 60 new heavy plows to its fleet of 127 and 39 new snow-ready vehicles for the light-plow residential program, which will add 31 new residential routes. The light snowplows will be used to shovel out snow from cramped side streets.
Mr. LaPorte said trucks will be salting and sanding the roads more frequently.
The city also will hire 300 contract workers to clear the streets and will call in retired drivers and use some supervisors to drive snowplows should they be needed.
Last year, trash piled up almost as quickly as the snow did because trash collectors used to handle snow-removal. This year will be different, with 60 trash collectors assigned to nothing else but garbage removal, Mr. LaPorte said.
City officials don't want to raise residents' expectations that snow crews immediately will be able to remove piles and piles of snow that may get dumped on the city, he said.
"We want to manage expectations," Mr. LaPorte said. "If [there's a huge snowfall], it will take awhile before roads are passable."
"I don't think anybody will look to take any bows till mid-April. We're going to see this thing to the end," Mr. LaPorte said.
The metropolitan Washington area should prepare for a bit more snow this year, said Parks Camp, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.
"There will probably be a little more snow. It's going to be pretty chilly," he said.
Last year, the metropolitan Washington area saw 15.4 inches of the powdery stuff, a lower amount than normal.
This year, Mr. Camp said, residents should expect up to 20 inches of snow which is the average for the area.
The Old Farmer's Almanac and Mr. Camp predict that temperatures will dip at least 4 degrees below the normal for the winter months.
The District's new-and-improved $3.2 million plan calls for more aggressive snow removal along the side streets and the main arteries of the city and should prevent a repeat of the snow-removal problems after the "Blizzard of '96." Two major storms in '96 blanketed the city with about 4 feet of snow, and it took the District a week to dig itself out. A series of problems including budget constraints, older snowplows being idled and a staffing shortage left the city in more of a bind.
"What's different with this now is bringing a coordinated effort between all the agencies," Mr. LaPorte said. "We want accountability for every route. We want to know who's supposed to be on top of that route."
On Dec. 2, Mr. LaPorte said everyone involved in this season's snow-removal plan will meet to make sure they are all on the same page.
Mr. LaPorte said he also wants businesses and residents to clean sidewalks and paths surrounding their buildings.

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