By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
On the first Monday of the year, many in the D.M.V. woke up to a winterland as snow blanketed outside, falling peacefully and piling on inches of cold, soft, wet snow. The winter weather was beautiful and heavy for the D.M.V.’s first snowstorm- totaling more than eight inches of snow in the District proper and some suburbs seeing as little as four inches or as much as almost a foot. Though some people may have been delightfully singing Frank Sinatra’s “Let it Snow,” the picturesque and fast-moving Monday morning to afternoon snowstorm was dangerous, proved fatal for some and is now leaving the Washington Metropolitan area with a lingering mess.
As there was warning of a winter storm to cover the area, District of Columbia Public Schools closed the night before, in expectation of the falling precipitation. Certain area schools, such as Prince George’s County, did not have to worry about announcing closings as some school Districts have already returned to virtual learning due to the rising COVID-19 numbers. However, Monday and Tuesday Jan. 3 and 4, DCPS students and teachers were to begin picking up rapid tests in order to prove COVID negativity to return to school- causing a wrinkle in the plan for District schools.
Federal and District offices were also closed.
Snow began covering the District by 7 a.m. and tapered closer to 3 p.m.
The National Weather Service declared Monday’s weather as a “winter storm,” and while it was underway, warned residents of the danger of being on the road.
“Snow-covered and slippery roads along with heavy snowfall and low visibility will make travel dangerous,” the National Weather Service warned.
The weather got so intense that the District of Columbia Mayor declared a Snow Emergency until 7 a.m. the next day as well as a Cold Weather Emergency Alert- particularly cautioning unhoused residents to consider shelters or hotels for the night and look out for unsheltered neighbors.
Now, before getting into the cons of D.C.’s snow day, it’s the New Year, let’s focus on the positives. The snow was beautiful and soft and the sun was shining brilliantly on the inches of snow that continued to pile up on the first Monday of 2022. People were sledding throughout hills in the District, posting photos of their dogs and children in the snowy weather, and there was even an epic snowball fight called “Battle of Snomicron” outside of the Smithsonian Castle.
Nonetheless, traffic challenges plagued the D.M.V. during the storm, such as on 16th Street Northwest in the Columbia Heights area, where streets remained unplowed for quite some time, and on Monday night a man and woman were killed in Maryland after colliding with a snow plow.
The piles of snow left many people in traffic for hours. At 1:44 a.m. Tuesday morning, NBC News correspondent Josh Lederman tweeted he was stuck in his car for seven plus hours and had not moved on I-95 northbound about 30 miles south of the District.
“There’s nothing to do but tweet at this point,” Lederman wrote before creating a long thread of what sounds like a cold, frightening and frustrating experience.
“The interstate is absolutely littered with disabled vehicles. Not just cars. Semis, everything. Nobody can move. People are running out of gas or abandoning vehicles. People (myself included) are taking exercise breaks outside their cars, walking their dogs on the interstate. I’ve been putting snow in his bowl and letting it melt into water. For a while, people tried to clear their stuck cars shoveling with their feet. Most quickly gave up. But then what? There is zero possibility for any tow truck to get to you right now in the thousands of cars backed up,” Lederman wrote.
“Around the five-hour mark, it felt like it shifted from really inconvenient to a little scary. Folks started turning their cars off, conserving gas, while we wait. It’s 27 degrees outside. There is no way for medical or emergency personnel to reach people stuck in this,” the White House reporter wrote before continuing his long thread explaining the horrifying experience.
After eleven hours, Lederman began moving again.
Some were not as fortunate as Lederman and stranded over 24 hours as lanes became blocked over a 40-mile stretch, just South of the D.C. area on I-95.
Tuesday morning, people were still slipping and sliding on the roads, DCPS closed again but offered rapid COVID test pickup from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and cleanup crews remain busy.
“Our team has been working very hard to address 400 downed tree/ broken branches requests since they start of the snow storm,” DDOT tweeted the day after the storm. “As we continue to provide essential services across the city, we encourage all residents to report all downed tree/ broken branches concerns to the .”
Meteorologists are calling for more snow later this week, with at least one to three more inches.
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