- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Major area roadways were cleared in time for the Monday morning commute, but officials say a refreeze overnight could extend complications from the weekend’s record December snowfall into Tuesday and beyond.

“All we can say is you might have some refreeze because we will be getting cold, cold temperatures overnight,” said Nikole Listemaa, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Overnight temperatures were forecast in the mid-20s in the District and the upper teens to the 20s in the outlying areas.

D.C. residents on Monday saw smooth traffic on many of the city’s main streets, but they slipped and slid along side streets and in neighborhoods. The snow emergency declared over the weekend was lifted at 9:30 a.m. Conditions were slushy on some roads, while others remained covered with a thin layer of snow and ice.

Residents used shovels to dig out their cars and knock down piles of snow pushed against them by plows. Many pedestrians found themselves alternating between walking on clear sidewalks and walking in the street in spots where sidewalks were not shoveled.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said the District’s full fleet of plows and salt trucks would be out until the late evening Monday to deal with the possibility of refreezing roads.

“They’ve been plowing aggressively. The city is a completely different city than it would have been this morning, although this morning it looked pretty good,” Mr. Fenty said Monday. “We’ve done a lot of work - plowed tons and tons of snow.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation on Monday was still trying to clear Northern Virginia roads, and spokesman Jeffrey Caldwell said crews would work through the night to “get folks dug out.”

The department hoped to have everything passable by Tuesday morning, but Mr. Caldwell said that by Monday night’s commute, a lot of the area’s highways still were listed as having patches of snow and ice.

“We will try to get at least the roads passable so folks can go about their travels,” Mr. Caldwell said Monday. “Tonight’s concern is refreezing. If there is still water on the roadways when the sun comes down, it could freeze.”

Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck said the agency did very well getting the majority of interstates cleared by Sunday night, but the agency now is going to need to quickly react to icing on area roadways.

“For the next several days, there is going to be thaw during the day and potential refreeze at night that is obviously going to be more a reactive thing. Suffice it to say, expect that there is going to be patches of ice or black ice tonight and over the next couple nights. This is a lot of snow, and it is not going anywhere any time soon.”

Monday’s rush hours were lighter because of the federal government’s decision to close due to the weather. Most area school systems also were closed.

The lack of traffic on the roads gave road crews an opportunity to plow.

In Prince George’s County, authorities asked for patience as they struggled to clear secondary roads.

“This was an unusual snowstorm, and it has affected snow removal efforts throughout the region,” said Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson. He said the county is making progress toward making all roads passable, but “it could take working through mid-week to ensure that roadways are down to bare pavement.”

Metro reopened Monday morning after almost 36 hours of closures and delays. Spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said most bus routes, except for a few in the District and Virginia, were passable.

With freezing anticipated overnight, he said, “We’re just looking at it, wait-and-see in terms of how it looks. We do anticipate some freezing at platforms and station entrances.”

Snow was no longer the main issue Monday at area airports, which were crowded with travelers still stranded after a weekend of canceled flights.

“We’re experiencing some [delays] but not like we were seeing yesterday,” Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman Courtney Mickalonis said Monday. “Most flights that were scheduled for today are going today with minimal delays, not widespread delays and cancelations we were seeing yesterday. In that respect, it is improving a lot.”

Ms. Mickalonis said officials would monitor the runways for any ice throughout the night.

Amanda Sena arrived early Monday for her scheduled flight at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. To be safe, Ms. Sena said, she arrived at the airport at about10:45 a.m. Then her flight kept getting pushed back. What had been a 1:30 p.m. flight to Kansas City, Mo., still hadn’t boarded by 3:20 p.m.

“I was so grateful I was flying out today instead of earlier,” Ms. Sena said. “It’s pretty busy; there are a lot of people standing up by the gates. It isn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Apparently, yesterday was a lot worse.”

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