Last night’s horrific commutes ranged anywhere from 3-5 hours on the short end to 12-14 hours, we’re hearing, with most of those higher numbers west of the city. Take a look at a couple screenies that Greater Greater Washington put up last night that show pretty much every road west of the Potomac River over capacity with no cars moving.
You can see the snowfall trends in the storm thanks to the Capital Weather Gang’s Submit-a-Report map, and it seems to have aligned a few trends that made things massively difficult for everyone to get around. Read on for all the details.
1. The storm started earliest west of the city and moved east starting as early as 1:30pm, meaning that the plows weren’t in position to deal with the worst of the roads in time for…
2. The Federal Government closed at 3pm. We drove through downtown yesterday right at the 3pm hour in the worst of the mixed icy precipitation and the start of the heavily falling snow. West of the city, where a large proportion of Federal workers live, there was already 1-2″ of snow around that time, and suddenly the plows weren’t able to handle the influx of cars to effectively keep snow off the roads.
3. The ripple effect only made things worse. Cars clogging the roads meant that plows couldn’t move through, which meant snow was piling up, which meant that the roads grew less and less passable for cars that were stuck there. Abandoned vehicles made for obstacles that then needed to be slalomed by the plows, causing further delay.
You see where this was going.
I contend that had the Feds closed at 1, we would’ve seen a sane, if slightly longer than normal commute, but I think that had the Feds stayed open til 5, we would’ve seen a saner commute, as that would’ve given the plows and salt trucks a chance to better treat the roads in the face of the storm.
Am I offbase? Crazy? Say so in the comments.