COMMUTE

2011 snowstorm hits one year anniversary

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Your commute Friday evening was likely leaps and bounds better than the nightmare it was one year ago.

(Photo: Vinita Channahsorah/User photos | Date: Jan. 26, 2011)
"Snow-mageddon" was one year ago.

The storm hit the metro area during the evening rush hour one year ago—leaving drivers stranded and backed up in traffic for miles.

Some commuters reported that it took around ten hours to get home.

The storm last year was severe, but it also had terrible timing. Since then, a few policy changes took place as well as an effort to better inform commuters when there is bad weather. The efforts are made with the hope that last year’s snowstorm does not happen again.

“It wasn't moving, it was just sitting there for hours,” said Richard Hart, who watched the historic gridlock on I-395 from his apartment last year.

The Jan. 26, 2011 storm over D.C. dropped three inches of snow an hour—just as government workers were allowed to go home. The timing and the weather created the perfect storm. Many of those employees sat in bumper to bumper traffic for hours.

Executive Director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, David Robertson says one year later, the region is better prepared for this kind of weather.

“It was an unfortunate convergence of bad weather certainly not great information to folks, not great coordination,” Robertson said.

Born out of the aftermath of the storm was Capitalregionupdates.gov—a site that provides emergency weather and travel alerts from around the beltway. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has also revised its policies to stagger release times.


“We think that's going to help a lot a lot of the private sector employers piggy back on those, so it's a good model,” Robertson said.

A special committee for the Council of Governments released recommendations in November suggesting more changes that could further prevent a similar disaster.

At the very least, out of this disaster comes lessons learned.

 

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