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Monday Weather and Your Commute: What to Expect on the Roads

And how to drive on icy roads.

Easy does it. (Patch archive photo) Easy does it. (Patch archive photo)
Easy does it. (Patch archive photo) Easy does it. (Patch archive photo)
By Patch Staff

More than 2,000 salt trucks and plows are working to keep roads passable in Northern Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Crews are plowing as well as salting roads and will continue to do so through tomorrow morning’s rush hours.

While roads are passable, ramps, bridges and underpasses are treacherous and are likely to remain so until temperatures rise sometime tomorrow morning.

“We are urging folks to stay off the road today and to delay travel in the morning until conditions improve,” said Branco Vlacich, head of maintenance for VDOT in northern Virginia. “While crews are keeping up with the storm for now, we expect conditions to deteriorate as the snow turns into freezing rain.”

The Weather Channel predicts freezing rain will continue to fall in Falls Church until 5 a.m., switching to rain at 6 a.m. Temperatures should be at about 33 degrees from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and then the Monday high won't get above 40 degrees.

The Winter Storm Warning from the National Weather Service for the region (Falls Church was under an Advisory) is set to end Monday morning at 10 a.m., but there's still plenty of lousy weather to go for Northern Virginia and Washington, DC.

Rain is expected to continue until 8 p.m. Monday. (And don't look now, but the guys at Capital Weather Gang say we could be in forsnow on Tuesday.)

Temperatures during Monday morning's rush hour are forecast to be right around freezing, and keep in mind that long before the warnings about snow and rain falling, plenty of leaves had already fallen from trees, which can add to the slick conditions. 

Here are tips on how to drive safely on slick roads:

Have an emergency kit and good supplies. In the winter months, AAA recommends that you keep the following items in your vehicle:

  • A bag of abrasive material like sand, salt or kitty litter to sprinkle under your tires if you get stuck.
  • A small snow shovel.
  • An ice scraper.
  • Windshield washer fluid.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Extra-warm items like blankets, hats and gloves.
  • Water and snack food.
  • First-aid kit.

Leave room. It can take a driver twice as long (and twice as much space) to stop a vehicle when driving in snow versus driving on dry pavement. You should leave twice as much room as you normally would between you and other vehicles on the road.

Slow down. Driving too quickly for the conditions is the biggest cause of snow crashes, according to Edmunds.com.

Don’t slam on your brakes. If you’re sliding on a patch of ice, hitting the brakes harder won’t stop you. Learn more about how to safely brake in snow and how to exit a skid here.

Or, don’t drive. If you can avoid driving in when roads are covered in snow or ice, that’s probably your safest bet. Walk when it is safe to do so.

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