- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 16, 2003

The 3-to-6 inches of snowfall yesterday will be topped with up to 2 feet of snow today by a Presidents Day weekend storm that is expected to move out of the region by midday tomorrow, weather forecasters said.
Road crews that had worked round-the-clock to clear streets and highways yesterday were preparing for the ice, freezing rain and snow expected today, regional transportation officials said.
"The heaviest accumulation is coming through on Sunday, and we're going to keep crews on 12-hour rotating schedules throughout," said Mary Myers, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW).
"Anytime you have over 8 inches of snow, driving becomes problematic," she said. "We trust that people will use their best judgment and use other means to get around."
Kellie Boulware, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA), said "forecasters got the word out early, and crews will be out on the roads and highways at all times. There will be a continuing presence."
Local airport officials said their crews are keeping runways clear and planes de-iced, adding that the few flights that were delayed or canceled yesterday resulted from heavy snowfall in destination cities.
"Crews have been on duty since late [Friday] night, and they put down treatment on surfaces," said Tom Sullivan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
Hank Price, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the federal agency is "not seeing any major delays associated with the weather at this time."
Runways, ramps and taxiways at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport were in operation all day long yesterday, officials said.
Meanwhile, area law-enforcement agencies reported no major weather-related traffic accidents but urged motorists to use caution today or avoid driving altogether.
"If the snow piles up like they're predicting, then stay home and allow the snow plows and the salt-and-sand trucks to do their job clearing the roads," said Cpl. Rob Moroney, a Maryland State Police spokesman.
The National Weather Service estimated that as much as 6 inches of snow fell yesterday in areas around the greater Washington region and was predicting that 1 foot to 2 feet will fall and accumulate today. The region is under a winter storm warning until noon tomorrow.
In the District yesterday, 176 trucks spread a de-icing solution to prevent snow from sticking to the pavement of city streets. As of 3 a.m. today, a snow emergency is in effect, meaning that cars parked along D.C. snow emergency routes risk getting a $250 fine.
Ms. Boulware, the MSHA spokeswoman, said about 1,600 trucks were deployed to salt and plow the roads across Maryland.
The Virginia Department of Transportation also had 1,600 trucks salting and plowing highways yesterday, said VDOT spokesman Ryan Hall.
"We're lucky because it's a long weekend and federal employees are off. The traffic will probably be extremely light [today and Monday]," Mr. Hall said.
"The roads will be passable one lane in each direction and we generally will have everything cleared 24 to 48 hours after the end of the storm," Mr. Hall said.
Most school districts have canceled all extracurricular activities through Presidents Day.
The storm this weekend the biggest of three that have hit the region this season will further tax the snow-removal budgets of the local jurisdictions.
Maryland has spent $35 million for snow removal $14 million more than was budgeted to salt and plow the roads this winter. Ms. Boulware said 246,000 tons of salt had been allocated for the year, and 230,000 tons has been used.
Virginia has spent more than $50 million for snow removal. In Northern Virginia alone, $14.5 million has been spent to salt and plow roads. Mr. Hall said in its previous eight storms, Northern Virginia has used 100,000 tons of salt and has 40,000 tons on hand for this weekend's storm.
But the weather yesterday had little effect on restaurant traffic at Legal Sea Foods in Bethesda. "It's pretty steady, the same as normal," said assistant general manager Jerry Gatine.
Neither did it detract from business at America Restaurant at Union Station, where assistant general manager Ron Brown said the steady foot traffic was coming out of the Metro and Amtrak stations.
"We're getting customers. It hasn't dampered our flow for Saturday," Mr. Brown said. "It's our usual Saturday business."

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