One quarter of DC's snow plows are out of commission.

09 February 2010

The reasons for DC's generally poor response to Snowpocalypse II and III may have been discovered. WTOP News got hold of a leaked e-mail that seems to describe some of the things going on behind the curtain. Among the stuff going on that we didn't know about is the fact that approximately 25% of Washington, DC's snow plows are in the shop and they can't get enough parts to fix them all. The e-mail says that they're triaging the trucks to stretch the parts and vehicularr consumables they've got; they're working on getting hold of alternative snow clearing equipment (including Bobcat loaders, which I've seen a few of clearing snow in NOVA). Plus, they only have 4.5 tons of roadway salt on hand and they're waiting on another 16 tons to arrive to replenish their supplies. Staff's been working 12-on-12-off since the first snowfall without signs of a respite and, simply, they don't have very many places to push the snow. The streets of downtown DC are pretty cramped and there are really only two options for snow disposal: truck it away or stuff it someplace that not many people will try to traverse. The parts of northern Virginia I've been to seem to be in much the same fix. Ultimately, the second option is the best one they've got.

Consider this apocryphal, folks, even though it was in the e-mail: a couple of units from the National Guard are supposed to be activated tomorrow at 1200 EST5EDT to assist other organizations in getting the city running again. This probably includes using four Humvees to transport personnel and equipment in difficult-to-traverse areas, assisting the five shelters DHS will be opening (unfortunately, power loss during snow storms happens from time to time down here) and helping move people into and out of hospitals inside the DC metroplex.

We're hanging in there, folks. DC and the surrounding lands are looking at another day of enforced downtime at the very least.