News & Politics

Deep Freeze to Follow Washington’s Biggest Snowstorm in Years

Officials prepare for a deep freeze after the storm passes, while Dupont Circle residents plan an organized snowball fight.

The DC government's snow command center is manned around the clock during a storm. Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

Snow continues to fall across Washington, with up to seven inches forecast for DC and even more in the northern suburbs. But Mayor Vince Gray said that it won’t be until about 11 PM that he decides whether the city’s government and schools reopen in the morning.

And after the snowfall stops, authorities are worried about the next turn in the weather—a gripping cold front that is starting to set in and will get much worse later tonight. High temperatures for much of the area tomorrow will be in the mid-teens, with wind chills below zero degrees.

While transportation authorities are continuing to plow the roads and lay down de-icing agents, officials are also opening additional shelters tonight to make ensure that the homeless can stay off the streets during the cold front.

“We will use all legal means to ensure their safety,” DC Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The city is using the Kennedy, Banneker, and Columbia Heights recreation centers as emergency shelters this week, and is also dispatching at least five Metro buses to serve as warming huts for people who refuse to go to a shelter. Anyone who sees someone on the street is encouraged to call 311 or the District’s hypothermia hotline at (800) 535-7252.

Meanwhile, crews are continuing to treat the roads with a beet juice-based solution, while sidewalks are being coated with a substance that Quander said is “pet-friendly.” Traditional sidewalk salt can be caustic on dogs’ paws.

As for other reactions to the first substantial snowstorm to hit Washington since 2010, Best Bites has a long list of restaurants and bars offering snow-day specials, and, obviously, the hip kids of Dupont Circle are planning an organized snowball fight for 6:30 PM.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.