- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

The first significant snow of the season is expected in the Washington area tonight, and transportation officials in the District, Maryland and Virginia say the trucks are loaded and the drivers are ready.
The winter storm is expected to blow into the region after 6 p.m. and end midday tomorrow, dropping anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of snow across the region.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for today and tomorrow.
"This isn't the first snowfall of the season, but this is expected to be the first accumulated snow for the season," said Neal DiPasquale, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sterling.
"There's a good amount of cold air already in place. When the low-pressure system comes up from the South, it dams the cold air."
Temperatures have dropped precipitously, with highs in the 20s yesterday and lows this morning expected to be in the teens.
The District has 200 trucks at the ready and will begin loading the salt and liquid de-icer this afternoon , said Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works. She said all of the city's trucks are multipurpose vehicles capable of plowing and dumping salt and the de-icer.
"The deployment plan will be flexible until [tonight], when the snow is expected to start," she said.
State highway personnel in Maryland and Virginia also were prepared for the challenges presented by the season's first significant accumulation.
"We're in the monitoring stage," Lora Rakowski, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said yesterday.
She said the department is reading pavement temperatures and using live traffic cameras, sensors and weather towers.
"We want to reach bare pavement as soon as possible," Ms. Rakowski said. "We're trying to prevent adhesion of rain, sleet and snow to pavement."
Officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation for Northern Virginia which covers Alexandria, Falls Church, Arlington, Fairfax and Loudon counties and parts of Prince William County also will have a flexible schedule, spokesman Ryan Hall said.
"We'll review periodically checking the forecast, and if it looks imminent we will start calling our crews in," Mr. Hall said.
The department has 700 trucks ready to go and a stockpile of more than 80,000 tons of salt and sand to cover Northern Virginia's roads.
All three jurisdictions run 12-hour shifts around the clock until the streets are clear. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments will hold a conference call with the National Weather Service at 8 a.m. today. Each jurisdiction then will make a determination on when to begin its final preparations.
"We're ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us," Mr. Hall said.
The District also has 62 smaller trucks that will be used to plow the narrower neighborhood streets. The city has a goal of having every street passable within eight hours after the storm's conclusion. The storm is expected to last 18 hours.
Ms. Myers urged residents to be patient and allow crews to complete their routes before calling public works to report roads that have not been cleared.
The last big winter storm to hit the area struck Jan. 25, 2000, and left behind 9.3 inches of snow.


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