- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2007

Forecasters are predicting snow, sleet and freezing rain today that could last through tomorrow.

The National Weather Service yesterday issued a winter storm watch, putting the region’s officials and agencies on alert.

Snow is expected to accumulate about 2 inches through this morning before the precipitation changes to freezing rain, then rain. Icy conditions are expected to be worse in the western regions of the area, including the higher elevations and the Shenandoah Valley.

Potomac Electric Power Co. spokeswoman Debbi Jarvis said crews were alerted to the risk of outages. “We’re keeping an eye on the weather. This is preventive maintenance,” she said.

Pepco officials were concerned that the forecast showed similar characteristics to a January 1999 storm, the most damaging in the company’s 102-year history.

Freezing rain and snow snapped power lines and toppled tree limbs, cutting power to 509,000 residents in the District, Northern Virginia and Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties. Schools, businesses and government offices were closed for five days, and families without power had to find accommodations at hotels or friends’ homes.

Yesterday, about 450 workers and 150 trucks in the District were prepared to begin treating roads with salt and sand at 10 p.m., starting with bridges, overpasses and main streets.

Emeka Moneme, acting director of the District Department of Transportation, encouraged motorists to check weather forecasts repeatedly.

“It is important for drivers to remember that driving on ice is significantly different than driving on snow,” he said.

The Virginia Department of Transportation began preparing crews and 650 trucks at 4 p.m., spokeswoman Joan Morris said.

In Prince George’s County, 250 employees and 130 vehicles were ready last night to begin 12-hour shifts. County officials said the priority was keeping bridges and overpasses clear.

Susan Hubbard, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Public Works, noted that crews would be prepared for both snow and ice. “The weather [forecast] keeps changing,” she said.

Montgomery County had about 200 employees and 322 pieces of equipment ready to go at midnight. An additional 120 vehicles with operators were to be added this morning, said Public Works and Transportation spokeswoman Esther Bowring.

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