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Winter Storm

Winter storms can include high winds, freezing rain, sleet, heavy snowfall and extreme cold. Severe winter storms can cause blocked roads, downed power lines, power outages and transportation accidents.

In general, you should know the following terms:

  • Winter Storm Watch means a winter storm is possible.
  • Winter Storm Warning means a winter storm is occurring or will soon occur.
  • Blizzard Warning: Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter of a mile) are expected for a period of three hours or longer.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected.
  • Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground, causing moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.

In the event of a winter storm, you should:

  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death during the winter.
  • Listen to your radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Have an Emergency Go Kit in your home and car.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, consider the following:
  • Travel during the day and keep others informed of your schedule.
  • Stay on main roads; avoid back roads and alleys.
  • Keep your gas tank as full as possible during cold weather.
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • 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.
  • Watch for homeless people stranded in the cold, and call the Hypothermia Hotline at 1 (800) 535-7252. Vans will transport homeless individuals to a shelter.
  • Go to a medical facility immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing signs of hypothermia.

Snow

  • In the District, you can expect some accumulation of snow during the winter months. Small amounts of snow can create slippery conditions on the roads and heavy amounts of snow can create dangerous driving conditions, blocked roads and power outages throughout the city. Snow in conjunction with gusty winds can significantly reduce visibility, therefore, motorist are urged to use extreme caution when these conditions are present.
  • In general, you should know the difference between an advisory and a warning. A snow ADVISORY means that snow is expected to occur and may accumulate. A snow WARNING means that snowfall is imminent or occurring.
  • In the event of a snow advisory or warning, you should:
  • Listen to your radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Have an Emergency Go Kit in your home and car.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, consider the following:
  • Travel during the day and keep others informed of your schedule.
  • Stay on main roads; avoid back roads and alleys.
  • DO NOT park your car on a Snow Emergency Route if a snow emergency is declared. Vehicles parked on these streets are subject to a $250 fine and or/towing.
  • Clear snow and ice from sidewalks and steps next to your home and/or business. DC law requires residents to remove snow from sidewalks and steps within eight hours of daylight after the snow stops.
    Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death during the winter.
  • 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.
  • Watch for homeless people stranded in the cold, and call the Hypothermia Hotline at 1 (800) 535-7252.
  • Vans will transport homeless individuals to a shelter.
  • Go to a medical facility immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing signs of hypothermia or frostbite.

For power outages:

Call Pepco's 24-Hour Outage Report Line at 1 (877) 737-2662.

For downed wires call Pepco immediately at (877) 737-2662 and press two(2).

To have trees or debris removed:

Call the Mayor's Citywide Call Center at 311.

 

For the Hypothermia Hotline, call 1 (800) 535-7252.

To locate a towed vehicle, call (202) 541-6083.