Freezing rain expected to hit the D.C.-area through Wednesday. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
UPDATE: Pepco announced that as of 6 p.m., all power has been restored from last week's snow storm. A spokesperson says preparations for tonight's storm began on Sunday.
If you have happen to be one of the very unlucky 58 customers in Maryland and D.C. still without power after Wednesday's storm, don't get too attached to it in case it comes back on today — Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson says that the utility is preparing for another round of outages since the ice that's predicted to hit the D.C.-area (primarily Montgomery County) is far worse for utility lines than simple snow.
So here is what Pepco is doing differently to prepare for this storm: they will have three staging areas instead of two, and they will already have 500 mutual assistance crew members on hand.
Why you might want it: You realize that anything containing three strands of saffron in it for less than $1.50 is a huge bargain. You like all of your food to be artisan, right down to the candy. Or, maybe you want your sweets to also be a little on the savory side.
Forget using Montgomery County Libraries as a refuge where you can eat all you want and yap away on your cell phones — new policies limiting behavior inside of libraries go into effect on Tuesday.
Food and drink (other than water) will no longer be allowed inside of the libraries "due to a decrease in the County’s ability to clean library branches," according to a press release. (Translation: budget cuts).
You will also have to set your cell phones to vibrate or silent while inside of a library, and if you're trying to check out a book without a library card, be prepared to show proof of identification.
A developer has long hoped to build a hotel where Kitty O'Shea's is currently located. (Photo: TBD Staff)
Could days be numbered for one of Arlington's last dive bars? Last week, ARLNow spotted a liquor license application for the same address as Kitty O'Shea's, and reported that the existence of the applicant, something called Wilson Tavern, was news to Kitty O'Shea's owner Danny McFadden.
But some form of change for the Kitty O'Shea's property has been in the works for some time, as the property owner, the Schupp Company, has been pursuing a large hotel complex at this site on the 2400 block of Wilson Boulevard since at least 2009.
Arlington County's planning commission has been analyzing the proposed hotel development for the past several months, and will meet again in February to discuss the proposal. The commission's long range planning committee is currently examining whether a hotel is appropriate for the site, which existing zoning and land use maps designate for low-rise commercial uses.
Gov. Martin O'Malley is angry with Pepco, just like you. (Photo: Associated Press)
When the power goes out and doesn't come back on for days, elected officials know their constituents expect them to get angry. So they write letters. They lash out over the airwaves. They mull legislation that enforces reliability standards. Whether all this outrage ever leads to results is debatable, but hey, at least it leads to some colorful quotes!
Here's a brief sampling of official (and not so official) responses to last week's storm and subsequent prolonged power outages, the worst of which were largely concentrated in Montgomery County, though also affected D.C. customers:
Starting today, a speed camera will be catching motorists speeding along the 900 block of University Boulevard in Takoma Park.
This portable speed camera is just a block away from the Capital One Bank that was robbed Friday, and it will issue tickets to motorists driving 12 mph over the speed limit. But those tickets won't carry fines until Feb. 14 — until then, motorists will just get warnings.
Heavy snow caused tree limbs to fall on power lines. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
Wednesday evening’s major snow storm caused power outages for hundreds of thousands people in the D.C.-metro area, most notably to more than 120,000 Pepco customers in Montgomery County. Pepco officials say the vast majority of customers should have their power restored by 11 p.m., Friday. We’ll keep posting updates on the situation below, and feel free to send us a tip on how the outages are affecting your community.
6:00 p.m.: Clay Anderson, a Pepco spokesperson, called ABC7 to give us an update on their repair efforts.
He said they had promised a number of residents in the Silver Spring area that they would have power by 4 p.m. today, however, they found more damage and their power will be restored by 11 p.m., Saturday night. He said they have called all the residents affected by that particular time change.
Sunday night at 11 p.m., is still the deadline for all restoration to be finished.
4:15 p.m.: Pepco outages have been reduced to 23,863, with 21,668 in Montgomery County, 1,211 in Prince George's County, and 984 in the District.
Saturday, 6:19 a.m.: Pepco still maintains its large lead in the number of customers without power three days after the heavy snowfall Wednesday, with a total of 37,316, including 23,831 in Montgomery County, 12,061 in the District, and 1,424 in Prince George's County.
BGE reports 731 outages, with 223 remaining in Montgomery County and 508 in Prince George's.
Dominion reports 97 outages remain in Northern Virginia.
3:59 p.m. OK, we've had several understandably concerned and confused people reach out to us and ask why Pepco's outage map is reporting that entire zip codes or areas won't get power until Saturday or Sunday. We now have an explanation.
Pepco spokesman André Francis says that those estimated restoration times are for all of the customers within a 1-mile radius of one another. And if a home 1 mile away from you is expected to have power on Sunday, but you are supposed to get it tonight, the map will default to the other home, the one with the latest restoration time. (It's a privacy issue — Pepco's map won't zoom in beyond a mile in order protect homeowners. You wouldn't want a burglar to know your house has no electricity, would you?).
So, basically, the online map isn't the most accurate device to use in finding out when your power will come back on. But it does give you some indication on how things are generally looking in your neighborhood, and if some of your neighbors may be among the pocket of customers left in the dark over the weekend. If you do want to find out when the electricity will be turned on in your home, you'll have to do it the old-fashioned way: calling and verifying your account. The number is 1- 877-737-2662. Good luck.
Washington Adventist Hospital's back-up generator leaked 225 gallons of diesel onto its property and into Sligo Creek in Takoma Park on Thursday night, officials report.
The hospital's power went out thanks to Wednesday's storm, so the generator was turned on. Maryland state emergency crews and Montgomery County firefighters responded to the 7620 Carroll Ave. at 5:25 p.m.
Maryland Department of Environment spokesman Jay Apperson says a resident called to report “a red, oily substance coming from a generator."
Why you might want it: You’re conducting research because you’re trying to make the perfect pot of chili for next weekend’s Superbowl festivities. You make a habit of ordering the soup of the day. (This chili is one of three at Earl's today). Or maybe because you’re just not in the mood for a sandwich.
Between the complaints about the Westover beer garden's live music, the recent scuffle over Tupac being played at the Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse, and some prescriptive rules governing Galaxy Hut's jukebox, music seems to be a bone of contention for some in the county.
The Drafthouse situation erupted after an Arlington woman complained about expletive-laden Tupac Shakur songs being played in the theater's Old Arlington Grill.
Would you be offended in this situation? What song would you put on the "no play" list for your favorite watering hole? Take the poll below.
Montgomery County Schools are still facing mass power outages. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
In Montgomery County, the decision to close schools Friday had to do with the weather and treacherous driving conditions, sure, but even more had to do with the fact that as of 6 a.m., 46 schools still had no power.
"If we had just a handful of schools without power then maybe we could open, but when you’ve got basically a quarter of your schools without power, then that’s a problem," says MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig.
Teachers have to deal with power outages, too, like Melissa Ganginis of Derwood (who, full disclosure, is the wife of a friend). Some teachers were able to work from home during their off-days, but it’s much more difficult when you’ve been in the dark for three days.
"For me as a special educator, I’m a case manager for a lot of kids and I have paperwork that has to go home to parents," says Ganginis, a College Gardens Elementary School speech therapist. “It’s just kind of stressful because, yes, I have a day off but at the same time all that work is sitting there on my desk."
Kids in Arlington got an additional snow day Friday. (Photo: Samuel Corum)
Arlington School Board chair Libby Garvey admits she was surprised when word came down Thursday evening that schools were going to be closed today. “I was a little surprised, but then I thought about it, and I said, ‘I guess that makes sense,’” she says when reached at home by phone. “I’m certainly not going to second guess the superintendent.”
Plus, she says, “look out the window!” (It was snowing pretty steadily at that point.) Vindication!
Superintendent Patrick K. Murphy conferred with Arlington County manager Barbara Donnellan before making the call to close school yesterday, Garvey says. There were also still some school buildings without power yesterday evening when school officials made the call about the snow day, according to Arlington Public Schools spokesperson Frank Bellavia.
"There were still some side roads that hadn't been plowed, and would have been difficult for buses to pass,"Bellavia says. "On some streets, there were power lines still down, so we just decided for the safety of the students, let them have the day off, and by Monday everything should be back to normal."
Snow began falling again Friday morning just as D.C. Public Schools were opening. (Photo: TBD Staff)
It's shortly before 11 a.m., and Denise Johnson is running late to work. She's just dropped off her child at Seaton Elementary in D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood, which, like the rest of the D.C. Public Schools, opened on a two-hour delay Friday morning.
Today's forecast may only be calling for an inch or so of more snow, but as flakes start falling furiously around her, Johnson wishes she'd been able to tell her bosses she just needed to stay home all day.
"They never should have opened (the schools) in the first place," Johnson says. "Especially if they don't have after-care, which we don't even know yet, I'm not sure what the point is."
It's mass chaos on Arlington's street corners popular with publication boxes. (Photo: TBD Staff)
Arlington's reputation as a clean, green, friendly utopia on the Potomac hasn't come out of nowhere. Potholes are fixed, bricks are realigned. But there must be some glitches, at least some tiny imperfections in the well-manicured matrix that is Arlington. In Imperfect Arlington, we search for and document these anomalies, and, most likely, take note of how quickly they are repaired into oblivion. Have you caught Arlington off its game? Send us a tip.
It can be tough for pedestrians out there in Arlington, even with all of the county's pedestrian friendly programs. There are all those intrusive A-frame signs on the sidewalks. (Well, except when code enforcement is canvassing.) There are the people riding bikes. It happens. It seems even though their hearts are in the right place, their knowledge of biking laws is a little lacking. And without fail, along any major transit route, there are the newspaper boxes.
Soon, solar panels may be glinting from the roof of Arlington's Central Library. (Photo: TBD Staff)
A lot of people in Arlington are wishing for sun after this week's storms, but some of them may have an ulterior motive. In a few months time, the Arlington Central Library should be at least partially solar powered, with the county expected to hire a contractor in February to install solar panels on the library's roof.
Installation of the panels is expected to be complete before the summer's peak electricity load hits, according to Arlington County energy manager John Morrill.
The panels, expected to cost about $300,000, are being paid for with federal grant money awarded to Arlington in the stimulus package.
All that's left of the house that caught fire Wednesday night in the 800 block of Lanark Way in Silver Spring. (Photo: Courtesy of Michelle Forman)
UPDATE 6:40 p.m. If you're wondering what being on hold with 911 sounds like, David Rotenstein of Historian4Hire brings us this video from Wednesday night. He says he spent 30 minutes trying to report a fire in his yard caused by a downed electrical wire. Many of his neighbors also tried. Rotenstein lives about 1/2-mile away from the Four Corners house that caused so many residents to call 911 and then get busy signals.
UPDATE 5:19 p.m. It seems that those Four Corners residents who received busy signals when calling 911 last night didn't get through because they were using cell phones, according to Montgomery County Police.
Police are now investigating the disruption to its Emergency Communications Center (ECC). The communications center received 134 percent more calls yesterday than it normally does during a 24-hour period. The police department has issued press release about the the busy 911 signals:
Just before 11:00 last night, the Montgomery County Police ECC was notified by both Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C. call centers that there were problems with calls being received from wireless phones. Montgomery County supervisors immediately contacted Verizon and the problem was fixed in approximately 15 minutes. At this stage of the investigation it is believed that trunk lines for wireless phones were affected gradually over a period of time. Because of the high number of calls being received in the ECC call center, there was no indication to call takers and supervisors that there was any disruption to service from wireless phones. Calls from landline phones were not affected.
Verizon had pledged to alert the Montgomery County Police ECC whenever there was an outage of their service to our 911 center. That did not happen last night. Police are currently investigating and coordinating with Verizon to determine why the disruption occurred, why the call center was not notified, and how to best ensure that those circumstances do not occur again.
This is still quite troubling considering that many of the neighbors called from cell phones because their power had gone out.
Widespread power outages in Virginia still have no estimated restoration times. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
The heavy snow that swept through the D.C. region Wednesday night caused a painful commute for many in Northern Virginia — but the more lasting problem was the more than 100,000 people left without electricity in the wake of the storm. Dominion Virginia Power reported more than 110,000 customers without power in Northern Virginia Thursday morning, and estimated later in the day that most power would be restored by Friday evening. We'll update this post with more power outage info as we get it, and let us know how the outages are affecting you by posting in the comments or sending us a tip.
Friday, January 28 @ 5:36 a.m.: Dominion is reporting nearly 12,700 customers are still in the dark in Northern Virginia Friday morning.
6:02 p.m.: Dominion's latest outage number for Northern Virginia is a little more than 50,000 customers — meaning the utility has gotten to more than half its original peak outages today. As of 4 p.m., about 7,600 of those outages were located in Arlington, mostly scattered throughout North Arlington, Arlington Alert reports.
No word from Dominion right now on a further breakdown of outages in other jurisdictions, but we'll update you as we know more.
3:50 p.m. In a press release, Dominion now says it expects power to be restored "to at least 90 percent of the 192,000 affected customers by Friday night." That unlucky 10 percent will have to wait until Saturday at the earliest before getting power back.
The utility also offers this explanation for the severity of outages: "Heavy, sticky snow that was twice as wet as typical snow brought tree limbs and trees into contact with electrical lines and caused extremely difficult driving conditions for repair crews." Twice as wet, eh? Sounds like a job for The Facts Machine!
2 p.m. It may be hard to believe, but if D.C. area utility company responses to today's power outages were an installment of The Curve, Pepco would actually be ahead at this point.
TBD's Elahe Izadi just brought us the news that Pepco is now projecting that all customers should have power restored by 11 p.m. Friday — not exactly good news, but at least a known entity.
Dominion Virginia Power cannot make any similar promises at this hour, however. "Unfortunately, not yet," says a Dominion spokesperson when asked if they know when people can expect the power to go back on. "We're hoping to have most of that later tonight."
The power company followed that up on Twitter with a note that customers shouldn't expect individual restoration times until tomorrow morning.
A snow plow catching on fire? I'm starting to believe the universe is conspiring against D.C.-area residents having cleared roads.
A plow caught on fire at about 10:20 a.m., today in downtown Wheaton, says Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Capt. Oscar Garcia. Firefighters put out the blaze in the 2600 block of University Boulevard, a fire which they believe began in the truck's engine compartment.
This isn't the first report we've seen today of a snow plow causing mayhem; there's a death plow on the loose in Anne Arundel County.
Arlington is testing out a snow removal ordinance for the first time this winter. (Photo: TBD Staff)
In case you're not sure how soon you should get out there to start shoveling, Arlington, we checked with the county. The official end time for last night's "snow event," for the purposes of the county's new sidewalk-clearing requirement, was 12:52 a.m. this morning.