MoCo sees largest snowstorm in the last two years on the second day of Spring
Dangerous road conditions arose from a nor’easter that began dropping snow on Montgomery County late Tuesday, leading to a Wednesday morning traffic nightmare.
It was the most significant snowfall in the region since a blizzard in early 2016.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Pete Piringer said a large percentage of drivers who took to the roads Wednesday morning – the second day of spring - became involved in crashes, many of them single-vehicle accidents due to the weather conditions. One such incident, county officials said, stopped traffic in both directions on U.S. Route 29 – known as Columbia Pike – between Greencastle Road and Sandy Spring Road (Maryland Route 198).
As a result of the early-spring snowstorm, Montgomery County closed all non-public-safety government offices Wednesday, county officials said in a statement.
Josh Faust, public outreach manager for county highways, said County trucks mobilized with materials Tuesday as road conditions deteriorated in many parts of the County.
“Because this is probably the biggest snowstorm we will see this year we will be calling in contractor support,” he added, noting that Montgomery County road crews were now preparing for a greater snowfall than residents saw mid-December, which Faust said was between 3.5 inches and 4 inches.
In some parts of the County, transportation workers shifted from their normal jobs to storm operations responsibilities as part of the Storm Operations Centers when the wintery weather began at noon More would later follow.
Montgomery County has 175 pieces of snow-removal equipment including snow plows, Faust said. County transportation staff maintain 5,200 lane miles.
Montgomery County Public Schools officials Tuesday night canceled school for Wednesday due to the poor weather conditions. School officials canceled after-school activities Tuesday afternoon due to “pending weather conditions.”
Pothole repair will be put on hold when the snowplows are out, Faust said.
“The same crews that patch the potholes are the crews that are going to be plowing the roads,” Faust said. “When obviously they’re out plowing snow, they’re not fixing [potholes].”
However, he said he believed potholes that County employees recently repaired would withstand damage from the storm Tuesday and Wednesday.
“They’re in good shape,” Faust said of the potholes. “I imagine they will hold there, this storm.”
On Tuesday, County employees treated Damascus roads with salt first, Faust said. Damascus residents usually are the first in the County to see snow on their local roads, although that does not necessarily mean they receive the most inches.
PEPCO representative Marcus Beal said less than 1 percent of customers in Montgomery County – 89 customers in all – lost power Wednesday morning. “We are not seeing any major outages or extended outages,” Beal said.
Beal said the outages were spread out and he did not have confirmation whether the power outages were related to the snow fall.
“We don’t have a large concentration of outages in one particular neighborhood or one section of Montgomery County,” Beal said.
In Bethesda, 12 customers lost power due to “a large tree down,” Beal said. Seven customers were without power in Silver Spring related to a tree touching the wires.
County transportation officials planned to employ contractors for backup snow removal (and road treatment?) support.
There’s a misconception that the County uses sand, Faust said. It looks like sand because it’s unrefined salt. Sand would clog the drainage systems, Faust said.
Faust said residents can find information about plowing on the County website at montgomerycountymd.gov/snow or by dialing 311.