Metro prepares for major winter storm Friday and Saturday
Metrobus, Metrorail and MetroAccess customers should expect major service disruptions throughout the weekend as snow accumulates
As the region prepares for the biggest snowstorm since 1996, Metro expects that heavy accumulations of snow and ice will hamper its ability to provide safe rail, bus and paratransit service late Friday, Feb. 5, through Saturday, Feb. 6 and likely into Sunday, Feb 7, as the recovery begins. Today, the National Weather Service advised the public to “plan for substantial disruptions to travel Friday afternoon through the weekend.” See guide to using Metro in a snowstorm.
Metrorail anticipates opening at 5 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 5. and closing above ground portions of the Metrorail system when snow accumulations reach eight inches or higher. Customers riding Metrorail are encouraged to use care and caution on Friday afternoon while entering and exiting Metrorail stations as station platforms may be wet and slippery due to weather conditions.
Metro expects to have up to 20 trains equipped with de-icing equipment to combat snow and ice on the electrified third rail, which must be clear to allow electricity to flow to move the trains. Up to 12 trains will be available to operate in regular passenger service on all rail lines with the remaining eight trains in rail yards.
Impact to Metrorail during a significant snow storm
Metrorail operates very close to a normal schedule in snowfall of up to six inches. However once snow reaches a depth of eight inches, it is difficult to operate trains above ground because snow starts to cover the electrified third rail, which is necessary to provide electricity to power the trains. As a result, Metro may suspend above-ground rail service and serve underground stations only when snow accumulation reaches eight inches or more.
In the event above-ground rail service is suspended, the modified underground service will operate every 30 minutes as follows:
Yellow Line – Pentagon to Crystal City only
Red Line – Medical Center to Union Station only
Orange Line – Ballston to Stadium-Armory only
Green Line – Fort Totten to Congress Heights only
Blue Line – Ballston (extended to Blue Line) and Stadium-Armory only
Running trains only through underground stations when snow reaches eight or more inches will lessen the damage to the electrical components of trains which allows Metro to resume quicker because more trains will be available for use.
Underground-only operations allow for continued connections to key activity centers in the downtown D.C. and Pentagon areas, and support Metro underground rail car storage needs and a rapid return to normal service once the snow stops falling and is cleared from the track.
Metrobus will operate on its regular Friday schedule but will be modified throughout the day and throughout the weekend as road conditions deteriorate. As local road conditions change, Metrobus will first reduce service, then limit service to snow emergency routes. However, if snow accumulates in the manner that has been predicted, Metro will likely stop all bus service until road conditions improve. Customers are encouraged to call the Next Bus number at 202-637-7000 or check Metro’s Next Bus Web site at http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/nextbus/arrivals.cfm to determine when the next bus will arrive.
MetroAccess will operate on its regular Friday schedule but will be modified throughout the day and throughout the weekend as road conditions deteriorate. However, if snow accumulates in the manner that has been predicted, MetroAccess will likely stop all service until road conditions improve. Customers with scheduled rides should call 301-562-5360 for a status update of their ride.
Customers who use Metrorail parking facilities on Monday, Feb. 8, can expect to see surface parking facilities piled with snow, consuming approximately 15 percent of the spaces where vehicles usually park. The top level of parking decks also are expected to have large snow piles on them as more of those surfaces are cleared. Parking lot clearing will continue throughout the weekend and into early next week.
Customers are advised to be on the lookout for “black ice” on paved surfaces, which is often difficult to spot.
Metro personnel will work throughout the day Friday and all weekend to clear train station platforms, station entrances, walkways, access to remote street elevators, access roadways, parking lots, bus lanes and Kiss & Ride areas.
Metro Snow Facts
Metro has 2,200 tons of bulk rock salt to treat Metro roadways and parking lots. The salt is stored in seven salt domes and one storage building around the system. Each dome holds approximately 300 tons of rock salt.
Metro has 18,000, 50-pound bags of de-icer (calcium chloride) for treating sidewalks and platforms.
Metro has 71 tractors, 70 pick up trucks, 18 larger trucks, five dump trucks with plows, 96 snow brooms, and 122 snow blowers to remove snow from Metro-owned facilities.
Metro has two contractors on call to support efforts if snow accumulation reaches four inches or more. They are primarily used to clear parking lots.
Metro has several hundred personnel to aid in support of the snow removal effort.
Updates on Winter Weather Conditions
There are a variety of ways for customers to stay informed during a major storm. Metro constantly updates local news media of Metro service changes. Information is also available at www.metroopensdoors.com on the left side of the home page or by calling Metro at 202-637-7000. Customers can also subscribe to e-alerts and receive up-to-date service disruption information on Metrorail and MetroAccess.