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District Snow Team Encourages Residents to Get Ready for Winter Weather

Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Sign up for Weather Updates, Practice Safety Tips and Learn How DC Government Responds During Storms

(Washington, DC) – As DC continues through hypothermia season and heads into what is forecast to be a snowy winter, the District Snow Team is proactively spreading the word about what to expect during a winter weather event. While there is no immediate forecast for snow in DC, the District Snow Team is encouraging the community to familiarize themselves with how they can prepare their homes for winter and support any future deployments of the District Snow Team. Residents who have not already signed up to receive real-time updates through Alert DC are encouraged to do so at alert.dc.gov
 
One way residents can support their neighbors this winter is by signing up for ServeDC’s Volunteer District Snow Team at servedc.galaxydigital.com/snow-team/. After snowfall, the DC Volunteer Snow Team helps remove ice and snow at the homes of seniors and residents with access and functional needs.
 
Below is additional information about how to prepare for and what to expect during a winter weather alert. 
 
Before a Winter Storm 

  • Help Residents in Need: Call 311 or the shelter hotline at 202-399-7093 to request accessible shelter transport for individuals experiencing homelessness, who may have disabilities, other access and/or functional needs, and are outside. The District opens additional Hypothermia Overflow Shelters to ensure there are warm, safe places to be for anyone.
  • Family, pets, home: Keep plenty of water, food, and medications on hand; have winter clothing ready like coats, boots, gloves, hats, and scarves; and bring pets inside and call Humane Rescue Alliance at (202) 723-5730 if you see pets left outdoors.  
  • Outside your property: Before a snow event, residents and commercial property owners should apply abrasives such as rock salt, de-icer, or non-clumping kitty litter to the sidewalks around their properties to reduce the possibility of icing and to prevent slips and falls.  
  • Inside your property: Have your furnace, chimney, and flue checked by professionals, make sure your smoke and CO2 detectors have fresh batteries and caulk and weather strip windows and doors.
  • Your vehicle: Keep your gas tank full and your battery fully charged and keep scrapers in your vehicle to remove snow from windshields and windows.  

 
During a Winter Storm 

  • Protect yourself and others from hypothermia: Stay inside if you can, but if outside cover up and limit exposed skin when you go outside. Check on your neighbors and learn the signs of hypothermia — young children, the elderly, and those with access and functional needs are the most vulnerable.  
  • Transportation: Take public transportation as an alternative to driving but check for service updates since Metro may limit or curtail service for safety reasons during periods of severe weather. If you must drive: 
    • Drive cautiously and maintain safe speeds and distances from other vehicles, particularly emergency and snow vehicles. 
    • Use caution when attempting to pass a snowplow so drivers have enough room to safely do their jobs.  
    • Drive carefully on bridges, ramps, and other elevated structures as they tend to freeze faster than roadways.  

 
During a Snow Emergency 
The Mayor declares a snow emergency based on a forecast of significant snowfall, accumulation speed, and time of day. When a snow emergency is declared motorists cannot park on snow emergency routes, indicated by red and white signs along larger commercial streets, while the emergency is in effect so that snowplows can clear these streets curb-to-curb. Vehicles parked on such routes can be ticketed and towed. If towed, call the Towed Vehicle Locator office at (202) 541-6083 or visit dpw.dc.gov/service/locate-towed-vehicle.  
 
After a Winter Storm 

  • Snow shoveling: Residential and commercial property owners are to clear their sidewalks within eight hours of a snowstorm’s end.
    • Snow shoveling exemption for seniors and residents with access and functional needs: You may be exempt from the snow shoveling requirement if you live in your own home and are 65 years or older and/or a person with a disability.
  • Trash, recycling and leaf collection may be affected: Winter weather events can cause delays or modifications to DPW standard operations, including leaf and sanitation collection. When snow, freezing rain or ice is forecasted, the DST hits the streets to salt and pre-treat roads. This necessitates switching equipment and crews used for leaf collection to snow duties, which unfortunately causes delays.  

 
Get Updates on Winter Weather Events  

  • Sign up for real-time alerts at alert.dc.gov. You can also check social media at X.com/AlertDC
  • Snow emergency status: Go to snow.dc.gov or check local media for notices that a snow emergency has been called and lifted.  
  • Metro service impacts: Visit wmata.com/service/status or call the Metro Customer Information Center at (202) 637-7000.  
  • Hypothermia alerts: Updates are shared through AlertDC and are posted on at dhs.dc.gov.  

 
 
About the District Snow Team
The District Snow Team is made up of more than 800 employees from across District Government, operating more than 250 snowplows to keep DC streets clear. The Department of Public Works oversees the team, with the Department of Transportation (DDOT), the Department of General Services, the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, and ServeDC ensuring cross-agency collaboration. The District Snow Team will deploy based on findings from various sources, including the National Weather Service, as follows:  

  • In advance of a winter weather event: The District Snow Team pre-treats the roadways with a solution of salt, brine, and beet juice. 
  • During a winter weather event: The District Snow Team deploys snowplows to clear residential and commercial routes, which are treated at the same time. After heavy plows finish their routes, they are redeployed to support light plows working on residential routes.  
  • Reporting an area needing attention: Please submit a service request to 311 at least 24 hours after the winter weather event.  

  
For additional winter weather information and preparedness tips, visit https://ready.dc.gov/winterwx
 

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