(Washington, DC) Yesterday the District of Columbia braced itself for what was initially forecast to be the first massive snowstorm of the 2010-2011 winter-weather season. With vivid memories of last year’s “Snowmageddon” still looming in everyone’s mind, City officials and District government agencies swung into action, preparing the city streets and ensuring that all hands were on deck and ready to do all they could to help safeguard property and to keep the streets and walkways throughout the city clear and as safe as possible. But as you know by now, the District saw just a minor dusting.
Today, we awoke to high winds with gust as high as 41 mph, below freezing temperatures and icy conditions; all of which posed challenges to this morning’s commute. Overnight temperatures in the low 20’s ensured that what little accumulation of snow we had yesterday has frozen. Motorist and pedestrians are strongly encouraged to take extra precautions throughout the day.
The DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) wants to reiterate that below freezing temperatures will likely make sidewalks, roadways, bridges, overpasses, ramps and elevated areas prone to slippery, icy and extremely dangerous conditions. District residents, business owners and building managers are strongly encouraged to give special attention to the stairs, walkways and sidewalks in front of homes and business. The increase in wind gusts we are experiencing could mean limited visibility for motorists and pedestrians. High winds are also a catalyst for power outages.
Please take time to prepare for imminent snow storms. Make a plan. Make a go-kit. Be Ready. Know the difference between a storm watch and advisory. As you work to prepare your home, business and or your work place for inclement weather conditions, visit www.hsema.dc.gov and keep the following protective actions in mind:
Protective Actions for Motorist:
- Do not drive. If you must drive do not drive distracted. Use hands free tools while talking on your cellular phone.
- Clear all the snow and ice from your vehicle’s hood, roof and even the windows and lights before driving.
- Watch for slippery bridges and bridge decks. Even when the rest of the pavement appears to be in good condition, bridge decks will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.
- Be aware of hazardous road conditions, particularly black ice which can be particularly deceptive in its appearance giving the driver a false sense of security on the road.
- Have an emergency “go-kit” in your car. Visit www.hsema.dc.gov to learn how to make your go-kit.
- Stay on main roads – avoid back roads and alleys.
- Keep your gas tank full.
- If a snow emergency is declared, do not park your car on snow emergency routes. Vehicles parked on these streets are subject to a significant fine and/or towing.
Protective Actions for Homeowners/Building Managers:
- Ensure that all stairways, walkways and sidewalks are cleared of snow and ice as soon as possible. Pre-treat these areas.
- Have an emergency “go- kit” in your home. Visit www.hsema.dc.gov to learn how to make a go-kit for your home and business.
- Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles; keep such devices away from all flammable materials.
- Clear catch basins and fire hydrants
- Please do not put snow in the street. Put all cleared snow from parked cars and in the “tree box”, front yard, or between the curb and sidewalk.
Protective Actions for Everyone:
- Listen to your radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
- Dress for the weather. Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wear mittens, a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Watch for signs of frostbite—Skin appears white and waxy, numbness or no feeling in that area and/or possible blisters.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia—Shivering and numbness, confusion or dizziness, stumbling and weakness, slow or slurred speech and shock.
- If you see a homeless person stranded in the cold, call the Hypothermia Hotline. Vans will transport homeless individuals to a shelter.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death during the winter.
For more information about the District’s snow and ice control plan, visit DDOT’s website at ddot.dc.gov or DPW’s website at dpw.dc.gov. Visit www.hsema.dc.gov for emergency preparedness tips and updates.