Air and ground transportation networks from coast to coast got hammered by a massive winter storm this week, with the promise of more ice and snow to come today through Tuesday.
Winter Storm Dion, the fourth named winter storm of the 2013-14 season by the national Weather Service, produced snow in Washington, California, Nevada, Texas and parts of the Midwest over the weekend before heading east to hit the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions.
FedEx Corp. reported that although it’s put in place “contingency plans” to deal with the winter storm’s impact on air cargo and ground transportation operations, the company said some service delays and disruptions can be anticipated in a broad swath of states including: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Oho, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
“With severe weather affecting much of the country, we are balancing our priorities of employee safety and customer service,” noted rival United Parcel Service in a statement. “Our team is monitoring the situation and has contingency plans in place to minimize service disruptions.”
The carrier added that its UPS Service Guarantee does not apply when transportation networks are disrupted due to events of this nature.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) noted that the western and northern regions of the Commonwealth are the ones being hit hardest by ice, snow and freezing rain.
The agency pointed out that for the 2013-2014 winter season, its statewide snow-removal budget is $157 million, compared to $149 million for the 2012-2013 season. It also operates over 12,000 pieces of equipment statewide that can be deployed for snow removal opertaions, with 126 of its trucks and plows along with another 4,000 contracted vehicles positioned just to serve the Northern Virginia metropolitan region alone.
Currently all major roadways in Virginia are clear and open with minor to moderate conditions along the I-81corridor in the northwestern region, I-66 in the Culpeper region and I-64 in the western region of the Commonwealth, VDOT noted, with patches on portions of I-95 north of Richmond.
Maryland’s State Highway Administration said its crews continue to salt routes and plow shoulders plus merge lanes while also staying abreast of potential icy conditions in some areas.
“SHA, emergency responders and utility crews will continue to address state roads, and ask that drivers provide room for trucks,” added Melinda Peters, SHA’s administrator.
VDOT added that it’s relying in part on a network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 16 mobile video data platforms to allow snow removal crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing – a critical tool as more severe winter weather is being forecasted for this week.
“Snow is expected to start on Monday night in the mountains of Tennessee, then quickly spread across the mid-Atlantic and New England throughout Tuesday, with most locations picking up 1 to 3 inches of snow from this storm,” noted Brian Lada, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.
“However, the worst of the snow looks to fall across the I-95 corridor with 3 to 6 inches of snow in the forecast for cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Baltimore,” he added.