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Plows Take to the Streets, People Urged to Stay Off Roads

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A snowplow waits for more snow in Arlington, Va. (Credit: Kimberly Suiters/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

A snowplow waits for more snow in Arlington, Va. (Credit: Kimberly Suiters/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — Road crews in the D.C. metro area are ready and waiting for the heavy, wet snow that is expected to coat roadways, and authorities are urging people to stay off the roads Wednesday.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said Wednesday morning that the “most important thing for us is to keep people off the street” so that emergency operations personnel can do their jobs.

Gray says city schools and the government are closed and the city’s emergency operations center is up and running.

At the District of Columbia’s salt dome, trucks were being loaded with a salt-and-sand mixture. The district has more than 450 pieces of snow equipment deployed to treat the roads.

Metro cancelled routine track maintenance to focus on clearing snow from tracks, platforms and parking lots.

The Maryland State Highway Administration says it has 2,000 crews patrolling and treating state roads with salt as a winter storm moves through the region.

The agency says it expects the snow to intensify during the day, adding to accumulations that were measured Wednesday morning.

“We’re urging folks not to travel today and to leave the driving to our professional snow plow drivers,” highway agency spokeswoman Lora Rakowski said.

Maryland Emergency Management Agency spokesman Ed McDonough reported no major incidents as of Wednesday morning.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said its crews across the state will be working in 12-hour shifts to clear roads. In northern Virginia, more than 4,000 salt trucks and plows are ready to be deployed.

Crews were out on the roads Tuesday as they coated highways with brine in preparation for the storm.

“It’ll be windy everywhere Wednesday, especially during the afternoon and into the evening. Whenever you’re talking about that much heavy, wet snow and those winds of 20-30 mph with some higher gusts, there’s a concern for numerous power outages,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jared Klein in Sterling, Va.

As miserable as things could get for commuters, taxi driver Balwinder Singh of Herndon, Va., said he was looking forward to the storm.

“People tip better in the snow,” he said.

Singh said he enjoys the snow, even though he was stuck for 12 hours on the George Washington Parkway in late January 2011, when a storm hit in the middle of evening rush hour. That storm, the region’s last major snowstorm, knocked out power to more than 230,000 homes — some for several days — and contributed to six deaths in the area.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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