Region digs out from Thursday storm -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 4:45 p.m. Feb. 13, 2014.

Plowing. That’s what the region is doing today.

As residents try to uncover their cars from more than a foot of snow that fell overnight and early into Thursday morning, roads crews were doing the same on a larger scale.

Accumulations are between 12 and 18 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Another round of moderate to heavy snow is expected later in the afternoon and into the evening. Maryland and Virginia both declared states of emergency on Tuesday ahead of the storm. Motorists are being urged to stay off the roads.

Keith Compton, chief of the Division of Highway Services at Montgomery County Department of Transportation, said in a press conference Thursday that contractors are working on clearing primary roads, but more snow is set to hit the county late in the afternoon and may complicate their efforts.

“We have 600 pieces of equipment out; they are all concentrated in the primary and secondary roads. Once we get those roads completely open, everyone in the county will be within a half a mile of a plowed road,” Compton said.

He said the region received about 15 inches of snow with reports of higher amounts in the northern part of the county. Currently, Compton said at least one lane is open on most plowed roads.

“We are pushing to get those roads wide open by later this afternoon,” Compton said adding that public safety is their No. 1 priority.

According to Compton, police, firefighters and other emergency personnel will be fighting the storm for several days. They will try to move into neighborhood plowing as soon as possible.

The National Weather Service has forecasted another 2 to 5 inches of snow late afternoon today and another 3 to 5 inches tomorrow.

“We have the equipment that we need, it is just a matter of us to get the job done,” said Compton.

Track what roads have been plowed in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties through maps at the county government website.

Montgomery County has a list here of jurisdictions that cover their own plowing.

Crews were working to keep the streets clear of snow in Kensington, according to an email update from Mayor Pete Fosselman, although residents were encouraged to venture out only if necessary. The town was also looking for volunteers to help shovel sidewalks for those who are not able to do so; to volunteer or ask for assistance, email Government offices at the City of Rockville were closed Thursday, and classes and city facilities were closed. Trash collection was also canceled, and the city planned to shift Thursday collection to Friday and Friday collection to Saturday, according to a city news release. A snow emergency declaration is in effect for Rockville, meaning residents should remove all vehicles from roads. Residents without garages or driveways are asked to park on the even-numbered side of the street. Residents may also park at the Elwood Smith Park and Community Center, Rockville Civic Center Park, or the Rockville Swim and Fitness Center. For more information and updates, visit

Prince George’s County law enforcement and emergency responders said they a quiet day Thursday dealing with the repercussions of the storm that brought between 2 to 9 inches of snow to the county — except for the part where they rescued a horse.

The county Fire/EMS department received a call about a trapped horse in Springdale, and first responders removed the horse from the barn, said Mark Brady, Fire/EMS spokesman. The horse had fallen during the storm and owners needed assistance to get the horse out of the barn due to heavy snow, he said.

“Horses laying on their sides is apparently a big issue,” Brady said.

Firefighters worked to remove the horse and soon discovered the animal was too weak to stand on its own, so they rigged up a hoisting system to pull the horse back on its feet, but it was still too weak to stand, Brady said. As of 2 p.m., veterinarians were still trying to help the horse, with concerns that they may have to put the animal down.

“They didn’t have to do what they did,” Brady said. “But they did it out of compassion for the horse and the owners.”

The rest of the county fared relatively well during storm, officials said. Two tractor trailers were flipped on the Beltway during the early morning, resulting in one minor injury, and there were other minor accidents, but officials said it has otherwise been quiet.

“Prince George’s County has come out relatively unscathed,” said Lt. William Alexander, a county police spokesman.

While the county’s primary roads are mostly clear, Paula Jones, special assistant to the director of county public works and transportation, said another one to three inches of snow will fall overnight. As temperatures drop to freezing levels during the night, Jones said county work crews will salt the roads to combat ice. Drivers should still be wary, she said.

“I would say that commuters should still exercise caution,” Jones said. “Be very mindful of ramps and the side roads and residential areas.”

Montgomery County government closed Thursday, though essential personnel must report, according to a county news release. Government facilities won’t be open to the public. Montgomery County Isiah Leggett (D) declared a snow emergency beginning at 9 p.m. Wednesday evening and encouraged residents to stay off the roads, according to a county news release. During a snow emergency, parking is prohibited along roads marked as emergency routes.

Ronna Borenstein-Levy, spokeswoman for Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, said they’re faring well, despite the weather.

“Many of our staff members actually slept overnight at the hospital,” she said.

The staff there have been able to meet the needs of their patients, she said, and they have a backup generator ready if power is lost.

At Shady Grove Adventist in Rockville, staff are looking for volunteers with all-wheel-drive vehicles to transport them to the hospital. Those who would like to volunteer should call the hospital at 240-826-6010.

In Prince George’s County, government remained open, with liberal leave in effect except for essential personnel. The circuit and district courts closed, according to the county website.

Fairfax government offices and courts also closed, according to the county’s website. Virginia Railway Express will not operate any train service. Fairfax Connector and other local bus service is suspended.

Municipal governments in Falls Church, Fairfax, Vienna and Herndon are also closed.

Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George’s county schools closed Thursday. The Prince George’s school system issued a Code Red on Wednesday afternoon, closing all schools and canceling all meetings for Thursday, said system spokesman Max Pugh. Prince George’s County schools are closed on Friday for teacher planning, and the system will wait until Thursday evening to decide whether employees should report on Friday, Pugh said.

Montgomery County Public Schools will be closed Friday, though a decision about whether to close the system’s administrative offices had not yet been made as of around 3:20 p.m. Thursday.

After Friday, the Montgomery school system will have had seven snow days, three more than were built into the school year calendar.

If the system doesn’t receive a waiver for the lost days, it would push back the end of the school year, said Dana Tofig, a spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Tofig said Thursday morning he hadn’t heard of any issues at school buildings related to the snow.

“There’s a lot of parking lot and sidewalks to clear,” he said in an email.

Pepco, BGE and Dominion reported few outages. It’s not clear that Pepco outages were storm-related, company spokesman Marcus Beal said.

Metrobus service was suspended across the region until further notice, but Metro’s rail system opened at 5 a.m., with trains running on a normal weekday schedule.

Staff Writers Krista Brick, Aline Barros, Steve Cahill, Sylvia Carignan, Emilie Eastman, Meredith Hooker, Lindsay Powers, Sarah Scully and Elizabeth Waibel contributed to this report.