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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Annandale/Mason digs out after monster snowstorm

Kids scale a snow mountain in the Annandale Shopping Center parking lot.

Two days after a monster snowstorm dumped as much as 30 inches of snow in some areas of Northern Virginia, residents of the Annandale /Mason area are still snowed in.

Local Nextdoor message boards are full of complaints about unplowed streets, cars stuck in the middle of streets, plows that cleared only one lane in busy roads or stopped midway, and huge piles of snow blocking cars in driveways. In Sleepy Hollow Woods, snowplows only did half of Ivydale Drive, leaving Cornie McGrath, age 108, and other residents trapped.

Ivydale Drive is partially plowed.
A news report on NBC/Channel 4 ran a story Jan. 25 focusing on Annandale titled  “Anger Rising in Unplowed Neighborhoods,” that cites snowplows and emergency vehicles stuck on Chestnut Drive and Masonville Drive.

To check on the status of snowplowing in your area, visit VDOT Plows,

For updates on road conditions, visit VDOT’s 511 website, and select news and road conditions. Report problems to VDOT via phone, 800-FOR ROAD (367-7623); email,;; or Twitter, @511northernva.  

VDOT expects the clean-up will extend into the weekend. “We will continue to work 24/7 until our work is complete. Recovery from a blizzard this large will take days, not hours,” states a notice issued by VDOT Jan. 26.

VDOT has divided Northern Virginia into more than 600 “snow maps,” the agency states. “When a plow driver is assigned a snow map, all of the streets on the map are listed ‘in progress.’ When the driver returns to the area headquarters after the entire map is complete, then and only then is the map (and all of the streets contained within) listed as complete.”
Gallows Road is passable.
Within subdivisions, the first priority is the major arteries, VDOT says. “From there, we will address cul-de-sacs. You may see us treat a major artery several times before we address a cul-de-sac. The arteries must remain passable for the rest of our operations to be successful.”

VDOT urges drivers to stay off roads, even if they are passable, and not park on the street as that interferes with snow removal.

Bradley Circle, Annandale.
“We are prioritizing streets that have not yet been plowed,” VDOT continues. Interstates are passable but not all lanes are open, and primary roads are progressing, but drivers should expect “merging difficulties and limited visibility as turn lanes and ramps remain hazardous.”

A Farr Street resident makes the most of being snowbound. 
“The demand on our customer service center has caused server problems,” VDOT notes. “They are being addressed, but we implore residents to not call the customer service center. We are aware of which streets have been completed and which are still outstanding. We have not forgotten about anyone.”

In response to complaints from residents, Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, said VDOT is “bringing in more heavy equipment, from as far away as Connecticut and have about 450 of those pieces in neighborhoods now.”

“VDOT takes front loaders and other heavy equipment about eight hours to clear what a regular  plow can do in an hour, due to the constraints of moving heavy pieces on neighborhood streets, especially with cars parked on them, “ Gross says. “VDOT also has put out an appeal for privately owned equipment and drivers who can help remove snow since there is no place else to push it. The National Guard also has loaned some Humvees to help public safety personnel reach emergency calls for service in some unplowed neighborhoods.”

For up-to-date information on weather-related issues, visit the Fairfax County Emergency Blog.


  1. The VDOT site is useless just like the "plowing". Our street has had one lane reduced to a six inch base of snow, no pavement showing in 2.5 days since the snow quit falling.

    1. I don't understand the need to see pavement. Slow down, use a lower gear and don't slam on your brakes and you can move safely. Not in 22" of course, but in a packed 6"? Works fine in my little Mazda.

  2. i don't understand why they don't clear sidewalks first as people walking in middle of COlumbia Pike wearing all black at night is waiting for someone to be killed.

    1. Shovel the sidewalks...before the roads? You cray.

  3. From the Fairfax County website: Neither the state nor the county clears snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe. They should, as soon as feasible, clear snow off the sidewalks in front of their property so that all pedestrians, especially school children, those with disabilities and the elderly, may walk securely. Homeowner associations may require members of their communities to clear walkways abutting their property. Please contact your association or property manager for further information. Also the site has a catchy little motto, "Take Your Snow and Shovel It." The link to the hints related to that motto is:

  4. I've lived in this area for decades and I have yet to see VDOT properly plow any side street. VDOT only plows a furrow down the middle of the street and then leaves homeowners to fend for themselves. The plow doesn't even reach the pavement. Eventually, that furrow gets widened by the action of the sun melting the snow and by passing cars churning the snow into slush. Without proper VDOT assistance, the only option left to homeowners is to shovel a path to that furrow. In my case, that meant clearing an eight foot deep, six foot wide and two foot high berm of snow that VDOT left behind. In short, VDOT is useless. I'm currently looking for a private contractor to do the work that VDOT refuses to properly perform. It will be expensive, but at least I'll finally be able to leave my home without literally having to shovel the street.

    1. VDOT had nearly all major thoroughfares and highways clear less than 24 hours after receiving a historic snowstorm and there is always someone whining they didn't come personally excavate their own drivey. Grab a shovel and quit complaining, VDOT, overall, did an excellent job with what was a major event.

    2. Ugh, 12:03. I'm glad that you aren't my neighbor. We all have to pitch in. VDOT isn't going to come by and remove every last flake of snow from your street and property.

    3. I've lived in this area for decades, too. I learned long ago that one major factor affecting how our local authorities deal with snow clean-up is: WE DON'T GET THAT MUCH SNOW, relative to other locations. We can't justify spending as much on plows, front loaders, etc., so we deal with it as best we can.

      Don't blame VDOT; Old Man Winter possesses powers they never will.

  5. VDOT did a fantastic job in our neighborhood, especially our cul-de-sac. They didn't get to us until Sunday night, but when they did they made all the waiting worth it. Was very impressed and pleased.