D.C.-area snowfall leads to crashes, closures and delays

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Naomi Jagoda

Snow covered the D.C. area Thursday morning, leading to school delays and closures.

The white precipitation started falling in the area at about midnight, and was tapering off later in the morning. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory through 11 a.m. -- which meant that drivers could experience slippery roads and have limited visibility.

As of 8 a.m. Thursday, nearly an inch of snow accumulated in the District. Heather Scheffield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, said that on average the Washington region received 1-to-3 inches of snow.

Sheffield said that the afternoon will be dry, sunny and cold. The high temperature for D.C. is predicted to be about 27 degrees.

Thursday morning's snowfall may not be the last of the flurries this week. The National Weather Service reports that there is an 80-percent chance of snow in the District on Friday afternoon and evening, during which there could be 1 or 2 inches of new snow accumulation.

Federal agencies in the D.C. area are open Thursday, but employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. Employees of Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County can also take unscheduled leave.

D.C. public schools opened on time Thursday, but public schools in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Montgomery and Prince George's counties are operating on a two-hour delay. Schools in Prince William County and Manassas City are closed.

A few power outages were being reported Thursday morning. As of 12:10 p.m., Dominion reported that 64 customers were without power in Northern Virginia (down from 1,167 in the morning), while Pepco reported 108 customers with no power (up from 83).

The District Snow Team -- made up of the Department of Public Works and District Department of Transportation -- deployed nearly 200 snow plows, and major road and bridges were pre-treated with a brine/beet juice mixture to help prevent the snow from sticking.

Still, Sheffield encouraged residents to "drive slow, with caution." Because it's cold, the snow will stay on the ground throughout the weekend, and slick spots may freeze, she said.

Virginia State Police responded to numerous traffic crashes in Northern Virginia on Thursday morning, and the slick, icy conditions have been factors in the accidents, spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. A series of crashes on Interstate 95 in Prince William County resulted in injuries to a state trooper and a Virginia Department of Transportation Safety Services Patroller.

About 8:30 a.m., two state troopers and a VDOT Safety Services Patrol truck responded to a three-vehicle crash with no injuries in the southbound lanes of I-95 near Exit 150A. A few minutes later, a Nissan Frontier ran off the road and struck one of the trooper's vehicles, as well as two of the vehicles involved in the original crash, Geller said.

The trooper was inside his vehicle at the time it was struck, and he and the Nissan's driver were taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A few minutes after the Nissan struck the vehicles, the driver of a 2004 Ford Ranger lost control, slid sideways into the VDOT truck and struck the other trooper's patrol car.

The Ranger's impact caused the VDOT truck to hit the Safety Services Patroller, who was standing outside his vehicle, Geller said. The patroller was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and the Ranger's driver was charged with reckless driving.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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Naomi Jagoda

Staff reporter
The Washington Examiner