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Winter storm bears down on D.C. area

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Eric P. Newcomer,April Burbank

Snow shovels, salt and windshield wiper fluid sold quickly Tuesday afternoon at hardware stores around the D.C. area, ahead of a major winter storm expected to drop up to eight inches of snow locally.

The National Weather Service declared a winter storm warning for much of the region until 3 a.m. Thursday.

Storm tips
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Metro: Sign up for Metro alerts at wmata.com/alerts to get text or email notifications about bus service and Metro lines. Also check for updates at wmata.com/snow. If snowfall gets particularly heavy, WMATA could opt to shut down aboveground lines. The agency posted a map of underground sections that would likely keep functioning even with heavy snowfall.
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Federal workers: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management will have updates on federal agencies' delay and closure status available by calling 202-606-1900.
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Power outages: Dominion Virginia Power customers can call 866-DOM-HELP (366-4357) or visit dom.com to report outages and trees fallen on power lines. Pepco customers can call 877-Pepco-62 (877-737-2662) or visit pepco.com.
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Drivers: AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends drivers stay off the roads if at all possible. If you have to drive, make sure to have fresh tread on your tires and don't use cruise control. Track D.C. snowplows at snowmap.dc.gov.
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Walkers: Don't underestimate the dangers of an icy sidewalk. Avoid smooth soles and high heels. Think hiking boots.

Local government agencies prepared for the wet and heavy snow expected to fall, bringing down tree limbs and power lines along with it.

Anne Stom joked that her Annie's Ace Hardware store in Northwest D.C. caused the storm by taking most of its winter merchandise off its shelves last week and putting the rest on sale.

"I had bought a whole lot of stuff for the winter, and then we didn't have winter -- so we decided last week that since our spring stuff was coming out that we would put it in storage," Stom said.

The District planned to send out 230 snowplows starting at 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Joan Morris said the Virginia Department of Transportation was preparing to send out 4,000 salt trucks and plows.

"This is full-blown, just because we're talking about up to a foot [of snow]," Morris said. "We are bringing in pretty much all of our equipment, all of our contractors."

Pepco spokesman Marcus Beal said 450 power line contractors were preparing for the storm Tuesday, and crews from Alabama and Georgia had already arrived to help. He said the last time Pepco had to call for assistance was in the fall for Hurricane Sandy.

"The biggest concern for us is the trees that may either bend or break onto the power lines," said Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson, adding that it was more likely to happen given the wet, heavy snow that had been predicted. She said people should stay away from and report any trees leaning on power lines.

The incoming storm had already disrupted thousands of travel plans by Tuesday afternoon: Nearly 1,000 flights coming and going from Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Wednesday had been canceled, according to the website FlightAware.com.

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

aburbank@washingtonexaminer.com

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