Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snowpocalypse Now

Perhaps we didn't get as much snow as we received over the course of last year's Snowpocalypse, but the timing of this year's storm (now featuring thundersnow!) couldn't have been worse. I was fortunate in that my commute yesterday afternoon was no more than 30-40 minutes, but a lot of people out there trying to escape the city through Silver Spring encountered an apocalyptic nightmare.

I saw a long line of cars forming out in front of my house, but until my power went out at about 8 or so, I wasn't particularly interested in going outside to survey the traffic scene. Once the inevitable outage occurred, I had nothing better to do, so I bundled up and trudged over to Colesville to see what was going on. I got my first indication of the severity of the backup when I noticed that a Postal Service truck that had been in front of my house an hour earlier had only advanced about half a block since.

Colesville & Sligo Creek Pkwy

Over on Colesville, I witnessed a backup of epic proportions. One reason (among many) was that cars were having to be pushed one by one (!) up the hill at the intersection with Franklin Avenue. No cars were advancing in the opposite direction, and as with any good apocalypse, there were actually vehicles headed outbound in the inbound lanes.

As an aside, that's one thing that always bothered me about this poster for the Walking Dead show on AMC. They are implying that either people in Atlanta are law abiding to a fault or really stupid. Why would you not use all available lanes to escape a disaster?

Any buses with routes along Colesville had just given up and pulled over to the side of the road. Inside, the buses were pretty empty, as a lot of people just decided to bail and hoof it.

Colesville Road nightmare

Cars being pushed up the hill, one by one

With my power still out, I decided to explore the neighborhoods, away from the backup on the major streets. These streets were eerily quiet and dark, with no traffic or electricity. It was pretty peaceful, though the sound of wet snow falling from trees onto the road behind you sounds a lot like quickly advancing footsteps, so that was a tad disconcerting.

Back in the neighborhoods it was quiet...
Downtown Silver Spring had juice, but the neighborhoods immediately surrounding it were dark, and at least some of them still were as of this morning.

So how was your commute? Do you have power? Mine eventually came back on last night, so I feel lucky. I'm somewhat less fortunate in that my office is open today, albeit a bit late, so I'm off.

Before I go, I apologize for this but I feel obligated...


Here's some additional photos and videos submitted by readers. If you have some of your own and want to share, email them to me.

A desperate plea for help @ Wayne and Dartmouth. (Submitted by LW)
Fallen cable across Lansdowne Way. (Submitted by JRM)

Bad traction on Dale Dr. (Submitted by CD)


Anonymous said...

No power yet in the Long Branch area. I was on 29 last night coming south from 32. Originally planned to take 95 south but the 32/95 ramp was blocked so it was off to Colesville for me. It was slow but steady for the most part until I hit White Oak then went nowhere. Eventually had to bail to New Hamphire and get to the beltway to make it to University Blvd. 3 1/2 hours later I was home to a dark house.

There are trees down everywhere and I feel bad for the Pepco folks since they will get crucified no matter what.

Tom Hogan said...

RCN was, quite predictably, the first and only service provider that we lost on Eastern Ave. Snowstorm or not, that company is horrendous.

We didn't drive, but that didn't stop a tree branch from falling on our car and shattering the rear window.

Before all that, I did get to enjoy a nice cigar and watch cars meander up and down East/West Highway. It didn't appear there was any issues, but this was also around 6 or so...

Megan said...

We live off Eastern and lost power on and off from 7-9:30ish when it finally went off for good. It was still out when I left at 7am, and 10am when my partner left.

I hate that our power lines run through Rock Creek.

Anonymous said...

We live across from Mrs. K's Toll House restaurant and lost power from about 8:15 - 11:15. Colesville Road wasn't the only calamity--Dale Drive was backed up as far as the eye could see from Colesville toward Wayne and traffic barely crawled. When our lights came back on at 11:15 I ventured out and only then did it appear traffic was slowly moving on Dale. Thank God all that is over.

Anonymous said...

Power still out in parts of the Woodside neighborhood of Silver Spring. Went out around 9pm after an impressive fire/sparks show caused by a live wire hitting a tree.
Maybe it was just my experience and others will quickly chime in to the contrary, but I thought Metro Rail (not so much the buses) did a good job keeping things going. They don't exactly receive much praise these days, but this time I thought they did good.

Anonymous said...

I live in Colesville Towers, right by Colesville & Spring. My windows overlook Spring.

We didn't lose power, but perhaps around 9pm I noticed that the street lights on Spring St. flickered a few times, and eventually they just went out.

Spring St. and Ellsworth Dr. behind the library were parking lots as far as the eye could see. It was very bizarre, because those streets usually have very little traffic. I guess everyone was trying to find alternate ways home, but nothing was moving.

On a completely different note, Tom Hogan's hot.

Anonymous said...

I live off of East-West Hwy near 16th St, and we are still without power, even though Summit Hills across the way is all lit up.

Pepco is saying it might take until Sunday in some areas to restore power. It is too cold for that.

Anonymous said...

My neck of the Long Branch area never lost power; it blinked threateningly but didn't go out. Getting home from DTSS was a challenge though-- my bus got into the bus turn at Colesville and Wayne and had nowhere to go. After sitting there for half an hour I just got out. It was a nice 3 mile walk home, all things considered. Thank goodness for legs, they go where cars can't.

ForestGlen said...

I live in Forest Glen and had a good time watching the traffic going nowhere on Georgia and on 495 from my house.

People were driving in reverse on the southbound lanes of Georgia Avenue because they couldn't get up the hill the begins after it goes under 495.

Our lights flickered several times but thankfully stayed on this time -- over the summer we lost power for three or four days.

Anonymous said...

Re: Tom Hogan

That's funny...I was thinking also hot but didn't have the guts to post it. Now you have two fans, Tom...both of us anonymous so you never know who inn SS is checking you out :)

Vagrarian said...

My area of Long Branch never lost power, although I've found upon coming home today that my cable is out. We also had repeated flickers, and at one point an outage of about a minute, but after that we were fine.

Mike said...

Northwood/Four Corners lost power around 9:30 last night. Ours came on around 111:15 this morning, but most of the neighborhood is still dark.

One of our neighbors had an 81/2 hour commute from Dupont Circle to Southwood last night.

Anonymous said...

On a related note, I couldn't help noticing as a drove through the darkened neighborhood last night that all along Sligo in front of the police station, every single yard had a tree with limbs laying on the wires. So much for preventative pruning.

Anonymous said...

Please, no one defend Pepco. I'm sure there are many decent people there who work very hard, and I appreciate it, but as an org they mishandle nearly every crisis, or even minor event, that comes their way. We were fortunate enough to lose power for only 4 hours this time around (lost cable/internet for 24 hours, and Comcast essentially blamed Pepco for that). But every major city has suburbs with lots of trees; DC/Silver Spring is average. And Pepco is way below average.

Unfortunately any penalties the gov may stick Pepco with, they'll just pass along as costs to customers.

feadog said...

Sadly, we have no video of this:

On Wednesday night a Comcast van got stuck outside our house on Grove St. The driver gunned the engine over and over, spinning the rear wheels with no result (isn't that the definition of insanity?). After a while of this, his rear tire delaminated and fell off and he continued to rev the engine, now with sparks flying off the rim in the back. Eventually, he moved forward -- and got stuck on his own tire. A tow truck came and picked it up the next day.

Which could explain why Comcast employees also have no idea how to install your cable.

FWIW, our power came back on this morning.

Anonymous said...

Still no power despite neighbors on all sides of our street having it. Pretty sure power was restored more quickly to downtown Baghdad after shock and awe. F*ck Pepco.