Blizzerdammerung

IMAGE: Downed power lines on Poplar Avenue. Photo by Eric Bond.


The Voice will update this article through the storm – at least until the power goes out and civilization collapses. 

We will be aggregating photos of your Instagrammed survival heroics, snowball battles, and sled runs under ‪#‎snowkoma2016‬. Show us your view of the blizzard of 2016. (No cannibalism pics, please.)l

We hope everyone has stocked up on macaroni and alcohol.


JAN 24, 4:30 p.m. — The city of Takoma Park will be closed tomorrow. City manager Suzanne Ludlow made the decision late this afternoon.

She also said there will be no enforcement of the new snow removal code tomorrow. She will make a public announcement about it Tuesday or Wednesday.

Ludlow acknowledged at last Wednesday’s city council meeting that this weekend’s snow fall would be unusually large – making both compliance and enforcement difficult.

The new snow-removal code went into effect recently. Last Wednesday’s and this weekend’s snowfalls were the first since it was enacted.

Under the new code, residents are required to shovel their sidewalks by 9 a.m. the day after a snowfall, noon if the snow falls at night. They are also required to clear a three-foot wide swath.

Casting of snow and ice into the roadway is illegal under the code. Treating a public sidewalk with rock salt is also illegal. Ice should be treated with ash, sand, sawdust or other suitable material. This includes ice melting products that do not contain rock salt.

Metro will open Monday on a limited schedule. Fares will not be charged, but WMATA urges riders to travel only if necessary. The Metrorail system opens at 7 a.m. with limited service on the Red, Orange and Green lines: Orange Line: Ballston to Eastern Market only, Red Line: Medical Center to Union Station only, Green Line: Fort Totten to Anacostia only. At the start of service, trains will run every 20-25 minutes. Service levels may be upgraded as conditions allow. The system will remain open until midnight. Fares will not be charged on Metrorail on Monday, January 25.

Metrobus “Lifeline Service” will be limited to 22 routes only, opening at noon Monday until 5 p.m. Many of these routes will operate on snow emergency routes only to keep vehicles off hilly terrain, narrow side streets and other problem areas. Details will be posted at wmata.com and sent via MetroAlerts.

20 inches of snow fell on Takoma Park Friday through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service preliminary snowfall map.

There is an increased chance of rain Tuesday, Jan. 26 – up from 30% to 50%. There continues to be a 30% chance of snow or wintery mix Tuesday night.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are expected to be above freezing, with freezing night temperatures. This, along with potential rain on Tuesday, could make for icy conditions, especially during morning rush hours.

JAN 23, 6:30 p.m. – City manager Suzanne Ludlow reports in her latest update that among those losing power were the Victory Tower senior building on Carroll, the traffic signals at Maple and Philadelphia and New Hampshire Avenue and Sligo Creek Parkway.

A Columbia Avenue resident reports power loss, also – still out at 6:30 p.m.

Ludlow reminds residents affected by a power outage to report it to Pepco. Call 1-877-737-2662, visit their website or use the Pepco app. To report a hazardous situation, call city police at 301-270-1100. Medical or fire emergencies should be reported to 911.

JAN 23, 4:40 – Power has been restored to Gude Avenue. Other streets will have have theirs restored from 8: p.m. to midnight.

JAN 23, 2:50 p.m. — A falling tree cut power to Poplar, Gude and parts of Woodland Avenues around 11:30 a.m. The power will likely be out until Sunday morning, said the repair crew.

Takoma Park’s city manager and elected officials are urging residents not to drive.

“It is nearly impossible to drive anywhere and the snowplows need to do their work,” city manager Suzanne Ludlow writes in her storm update posted to the city website.

Ludlow, who says she woke up to thunder this morning, was glad to report there were no power outages through the night.

The National Weather Service’s blizzard warning update still calls for the storm to continue until 6 a.m Sunday morning. they’ve dropped the predicted amount of snow accumulation west of the city from 30 to 28 inches. They continue to predict accumulations up to 24 inches east of Interstate 95. Takoma Park is a bit to the west of that line.


Tag your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram photos with #snowkoma2016.


What about after the storm?

Sunday will be cold, but the rest of the week is predicted to be a series of above-freezing days and below-freezing nights. This could lead to dangerous ice conditions at night and during morning rush hours.

Rain and snow may develop Tuesday. There is a 30% chance of precipitation. The daytime high of 44º and rain would help reduce the snow cover, but below-freezing night temperatures with a snow/rain wintery mix could create problems Wednesday morning – until it warms up to an expected high of 38.

Wednesday night is predicted to have a bitter low of 18º. The rest of the week continues the warm days/cold nights pattern with no precipitation.

Residents spent the day shoveling, sledding, walking or coccooning indoors. Republic restaurant closed early Friday night but Olive Lounge had a crowded happy hour and evening. CVS pharmacy on Carroll Avenue had a power outage early this morning for about an hour, but they reopened and will remain so until the usual closing time of 10 p.m.

People swapped stories about crowded stores, empty shelves and near panic in local stores. Flashlights, batteries and battery charges were nowhere to be purchased. A Silver Spring resident reported that her local Giant grocery store was stripped of canned pineapple.

Around 4:30 p.m. last night a taxi pulled up in front of the Ace Hardware in Old Takoma, the driver hailed the store manager from his open window. “Only snow shovels!” the manager hollered back from the doorway. The taxi-driver persisted with his request or question (inaudible from across the street) “Snow shovels only! Snow shovels only!” hollered back the manager. Still the taxi driver persisted, but so did the manager, “Snow shovels only! Snow shovels only! Snow shovels only!”

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“Snow shovels only!” Photo by Bill Brown.

JAN 22, 4:15 p.m. – Officially, we’re an hour and 15 minutes into the storm. There is not a battery to be found for sale in Old Takoma. Children are sledding.

National Weather Service says that there may be some thunder tonight and tomorrow. Yes, it’s a Thunder Blizzard! Expect blowing snow after 1 a.m. The wind from the northeast will be 15 to 20 mph increasing to 23 to 28 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 41 mph. How the NWS decides it will be 41 rather than 40, we have no idea. New snow accumulation on top of today’s 1 – 2 inches may be 10 to 14 inches.

Temperatures will dip as low as 26.

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The snow is on the rooster! Photo by Mary Ellsworth.

JAN 22, 2:30 p.m. – Takoma Park wants everyone to know they can park free at the city’s Takoma Junction parking lot (next to the TPSS Co-op) for the duration of the storm. Mayor Kate Stewart urges residents to share driveways. They want to avoid parking on the street if at all possible to facilitate plowing.

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Ace Hardware still had salt and snowshovels as of 1:45 p.m. Photo by Mary Ellsworth.

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But Ace had no flashlights. Photo by Mary Ellsworth.

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The line at CVS on Carroll Avenue around 1:30 p.m. Photo by Mary Ellsworth.

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The Voice’s intrepid Mary Ellsworth sets forth into the storm around 1:00 p.m. Photo by Bill Brown.

JAN 22, 1:00 p.m. – ITS STARTED!

WMATA reports that  Metrobus is operating only on major corridors today and will be taken off the road entirely at 5 p.m. Metrorail will squeal to a halt at 11 p.m. So don’t stay out bar-hopping too late. Bus and rail service will remain closed Saturday and Sunday.

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First flakes have fallen. Photo by Bill Brown.

JAN 22, 12:30 p.m. – Governments, agencies and media are getting in their last-minute storm advice.

National Weather Service blizzard warning update hasn’t changed the storm’s 3 p.m. arrival time today. Snowfall still expected to total between 18 – 24 inches. West of Washington, DC, the prediction is for up to 30 inches. Some people get all the luck!

In her Winter Storm Message, Takoma Park city manager Suzanne Ludlow urges residents to “take these last few hours to move your cars off the road if possible, get any remaining medicines, food, and supplies you need, and prepare to stay inside until Sunday.”

Ludlow says people should call the Takoma Park Police Department at 301-270-1100 to report downed wires, trees or other hazardous situations. Call 911 for medical or fire emergencies. If your power goes out, please report it to Pepco by calling 1-877-737-2662, visiting their website or using the Pepco app.

Non-emergency city offices and facilities are closed as of noon. E-mailing or calling the Public Works department, councilmembers, mayor or the city manager “will not get the best response to a hazardous situation,” says Ludlow.

The Police Department remains open for emergency services and the police lobby will remain open to the public. It is located at the front lower level entrance of the Community Center at 7500 Maple Avenue.

Police, public works dept personnel and other essential employees will be housed nearby. Public works staff, the ones operating the snow-removal equipment, will be working twelve-hour shifts, said Ludlow at Wednesday’s city council meeting.

The city will, says Ludlow, “try to keep main streets passable for emergency services through Saturday.”

She urges residents not to venture onto the streets Saturday, unless it is an emergency.

Meanwhile in DC, a snow emergency went into effect at 9:30 a.m. today. That means snow emergency parking rules are in effect. If your car is towed, call 202-541-6083.

City streets were pre-treated yesterday, DC claims – having learned Wednesday’s lesson. There was “a full deployment of snow resources” at noon: 106 heavy plows, 37 contract plows, 73 light plows, 145 dump trucks, 30 loaders, 20 bobcats and salt domes containing 39,000 tons of salt.

PEPCO has hired additional contractors to take care of tree and wire removal. They will work closely with DDOT to manage downed trees, says the DC announcement.

All non-essential employees were sent home at noon. There will be no Saturday trash pickup.

JAN 22, 9:30 a.m. – Grocery stores have been crowded all week with people buying emergency food supplies. Area schools are already closed, Metro will close. And we haven’t had one snowflake yet – other than the one inch snowfall Wednesday that turned the evening commute into slippery hell because local jurisdictions, focused on the blizzard, failed to pre-treat the roads.

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The TPSS Co-op’s bread shelves, 9:45 p.m. last night. The Co-op assures customers the shelves will be refilled with a new bread shipment today. The food store has been unusually busy this week. Photo by Mary Ellsworth.

It was not a reassuring preamble to the heaviest storm of the winter, or of all time, as the more excitable news media have claimed.

The latest National Weather Service blizzard warning, released at  2:49 a.m., predicts a hazardous snow storm beginning today around 3 p.m. and ending 6 a.m Sunday. A snow-fall of more than 2 feet is expected.

The heaviest snow, strongest winds and most life-threatening conditions are expected Friday night through Saturday, says the NWS. Winds are predicted to blow north 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. Snow drifting is expected. Temperatures will be in the mid 20s.

Sleet may mix with the snow Friday night into Saturday morning before changing back to all snow by Saturday afternoon.

The weather service warns that travel is expected to be severely limited if not impossible during the height of the storm Friday night and Saturday. Visibility will be reduced to near zero at times in whiteout conditions.

“Prepare for the possibility of power outages during snowy and cold conditions,” says the NWS warning. It also urges people not to travel. If travel is necessary, “have a winter survival kit with you. if you get stranded, stay with your vehicle.”