This is my favorite thing about flying back into DC from a trip: the famous River Visual Approach to DCA, the path planes must take to avoid no-fly zones when landing from the North in clear weather. Sit on the left side of the plane during a river visual landing, and you get great views, from the Mormon Temple and the Beltway, down to the Cathedral, right down to Georgetown, the Watergate, the National Mall, Hains Point, and Southwest Waterfront.
When flying in to DC with a chance to reserve seats, pick a window on the left side. Even if you end up doing the less climactic approach from the South, you get a great view of Alexandria and the George Washington Masonic Memorial before touching down. (Conversely, if flying out, get a window seat on the right side of the plane for similar views.)
Metro has released a new video for riders, providing instructions for riding Metro the same way a flight attendant provides airplane safety instructions. In the same part creepy/part really entertaining/part informative mix of Metro’s othervideos, this one includes a computer-generated flight attendant and four Metro passengers. My favorite part is when the three remaining passengers (one gets kicked off the train for bad behavior) react to a mechanical door issue by shaking their fists and flailing their arms about. Seems pretty realistic, considering some of the reactions from my fellow Metro commuters. Enjoy!
Fitting that this first Metro video ad should be at a Farragut Square station, considering that pre-reboot Captain Kirk’s first deep space assignment was to the USS Farragut as a young lieutenant. Next on the wish list: holodeck Metrobuses. If that’s too much to ask, I’ll settle for working turbolifts escalators.
Snow. It turns us into adventurers. Some of us bundle up to walk the chill, white, stormy landscape like Arctic explorers, braving wind and cold for photos or milk and bread.
And others among us get adventure by roaring out of parking spaces and skidding over slush so that our big black Nissan Pathfinder SUVs end up jumping service road traffic islands in Foggy Bottom, skidding further to straddle the traffic islands like a large, obnoxious, diagonal monorail, before finally triumphing over traffic regulations and common sense.
Snow. It also turns some of us into bemused spectators.
Here’s a video I took Tuesday night on the Metro of an electrical locker swinging open and shut as the train moved. Looks like someone didn’t close the doors properly, and I was wondering just how dangerous it was to have all these sensitive electronics and switches and leads exposed. This was on Blue Line train #3262AC. I’ve read enough about WMATA rolling stock to know that this is one of the Alstom-rehabilitated Breda cars, but I need a WMATA engineer or some other DC transit railfan to tell me what kind of systems are in this locker, specifically. Anyone know?
(And should I have hit the emergency call button? I don’t know if it was safe, but no one was touching it, and I was already at my stop and didn’t want to put the train out of service and cause cascading delays up and down the Blue and Orange Lines.)
As of December 15th and till today, two out of three street-level escalators at Foggy Bottom Metro station are closed. Only one narrow escalator serves double duty as up/down stairs for rush hour crowds. It’s an outrage and an unmitigated catastrophe in progress, but still nothing new to this beleaguered Metro station. This means more lines, more crowding, more walking down broken steps. Avoid it if you can: use this handy map to find alternative Metro station entrances. More on this from Dr. Gridlock.
Update: As of about 7PM, the middle escalator has been opened, but only as stairs, with escalator #3 going up. There was no backup or bottleneck; how was it for you?
Above, some fuzzy cellphone camera video of my walk around the newly reopened Smithsonian National Museum of American History. A lot of the museum off to the sides has stayed mostly the same, but the change to the central chamber is startling. Alas, the old-fashioned ice cream parlor is gone, as well as the Information Age Exhibit with its Stephen Hansen carousel.
Strike one: Calling 911 to complain about I-95 traffic. Strike two: Cursing out the operator when he asks why you’re calling 911 to complain about traffic. Strike three: Voice mail greeting saying you’re working on a “very important family political project.” Joe The McCain, you’re out.
I recently cornered Shana Glickfield of DC Concierge so she could share some of the features of her newly redone website. The coolest new feature is an integration with Google Maps so you can find what you need in your neck of the woods. Great site, Shana!
11:30 PMHanna is history, a Capital Weather Gang postmortem. I’ve switched the radar hotlink at the top of this entry to a time lapse video of the storm, taken with some help from WJLA skycam and curl. So how’d the storm treat you?
6:45 PM Well, the roads downtown are drying off, the wind hasn’t picked up any further, and the weather radar looks relatively clear. I think we can close the book on Hanna as its last precipitation leaves the region. Flooding continues in some areas, so be careful.
5:25 PM (Photo of muddy flood water in Falls Church, VA by larrygol.) Rain’s all gone from downtown, and some blue is starting to appear in the sky. Capital Weather says wind is still gusting, and don’t forget that flash flood risks still remain.
Meanwhile, Hanna continues northeast, now dumping its rain on Philly and NYC.
3:52 PMFAA airport status info for DCA still has general gate hold, taxi, and arrival delays at around 15 minutes, but Hanna is causing delays of 1 to 4 hours for flights heading north to JFK, EWR, and PHL.
3:35 PM News 8 weather people are starting to call it a wrap, saying the worst of the storm has passed. Hurricanes and tropical storms often have strong winds going well after the rain bands have passed, but the weathermen are saying this wasn’t a big wind maker, though still a record-setting soaker. Here’s some earlier video of the rain and water accumulation from BabyBlue in NoVA:
2:53 PM (Photo by philliefan99 from the WeLoveDC group.) The center of storm rotation — not quite an “eye” as this isn’t a hurricane — is now passing just east of the District. Moderate to heavy rain is back downtown, and Manassas, VA rainfall now measures 10.6″.
2:29 PM News 8 has 9.46″ rainfall at Manassas, VA. This storm is a definite soaker.
2:10 PM Wow, radar showing some really, really serious rain in the Clarendon/Ballston area right now. Just a light shower downtown though. Huntington evacuations involved 30 homes in a community called Arlington Terrace.
2:00 PM On Metro, a service disruption on the Blue and Yellow Lines: No train service between Braddock Road and National Airport due to a track circuit malfunction and flood conditions outside Braddock Road station. Shuttle bus service has been requested. Delays in both directions. News 8 is saying this storm is a big rain maker, with not so much in the way of wind.
1:14 PM This is a very fast-moving tropical storm, which will be a factor in keeping rainfall totals down. Still, expect totals of up to 8 inches in the area; currently almost 3″ at DCA. WaPo storm blog reports on the first storm-related death, a man whose car skidded off I-95 in PG County. He was killed but an infant child in the car survived.
12:30 PM Interestingly enough, the rain has weakened considerably downtown, but the wind is starting to pick up. My lower-floor apartment is shielded by buildings all around, but Wunderground has wind at DCA measuring 12 mph from ENE with gusts to 20 mph. “Addled” on Tumblr just tried going out into the storm to sign a form, and came back soaked with sandals waterlogged.
12:00 noon Now it is pouring buckets out! Still no noticeable wind, however; the flags atop buildings still hang limp. Flash Flood Watch for the District. High tide along the Potomac River will be at 1:45 PM, and a 2-4 foot storm surge may occur.
11:20 AM Raining outside, but not much wind yet. Capitalweather has the center of the storm over Norfolk, VA, with rain totals over 1″. This tweet would indicate planes are still landing at local airports, and FAA has National Airport delays at 15 minutes for takeoff and landing — expect that to get worse as the day marches on.
This gets old really fast, but all three escalators at Foggy Bottom Metro Station are out once again, with only one available to act as both up and down stairs for a rush hour crowd this afternoon. GW Hatchet has details, and as usual, I was on hand to get video:
Foggy Bottom Metro escalators have done it again, this time at the height of the Friday afternoon rush, and I have once again gotten video of the mess:
Last time this happened, only one escalator was barricaded, so desperate riders could at least scamper up the opposing escalator. Today, two were blocked, so only one shut-down escalator was available to serve as narrow stairs for both ascending and descending foot traffic. The result: crowds above and below. Epic fail once more.
Metro police and station personnel were on hand to do what little they could, but that didn’t seem to do much to thin the mass of people. And, as before — after taking this video, I didn’t bother waiting in line; it was faster to just walk the two blocks to Farragut West Station.
This is pretty bad, WMATA. Why have escalators at all if your contractors can’t even maintain them?
Big mess at Foggy Bottom this morning. Watch this video:
Foggy Bottom is the singularly worst-designed Metro station I’ve used in the system: only one exit, twin escalators going up together from platform to mezzanine, and just a single escalator going down to the platform, no stairs, traffic bottlenecks all over the place. The situation was made worse this morning when only one of three mezzanine-to-street-level escalators was working — going down. The middle escalator was closed for repairs, and the escalator going up was open but off, serving as stairs. I’ve seen it like that before, but throw in a rush hour crowd in a time of “high” fuel crisis ridership, and you get a foot traffic disaster.
I didn’t even bother joining the line; it was faster to go back in, double back to Farragut West, and walk from there. When I got back to Foggy Bottom to get some video of people emerging from the system, a few daring riders had resorted to running up against the down escalator — to cheers from the crowd, surprisingly.