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Policies and Planning

2015-2016 District of Columbia Winter Snow and Ice Plan

Snow operations standards, based on storm severity:

Snow Removal Processes

Photo of snow plow truckThe District of Columbia begins planning for winter weather months in advance. Equipment must be serviced, vehicles inspected, personnel trained, supplies ordered and snow removal routes evaluated to ensure readiness for the first flake. 


This year the Dry Run showcased Snow and Ice Removal features that include:

  • 14 new heavy plow trucks for larger streets and six new light plows for smaller, residential streets
  • 15 additional rented plows
  • 2,000 tons of salt held in reserve above the city's 39,000 ton capacity
  • New technology to track the plows and new traffic cameras to monitor progress

As in other jurisdictions, public safety determines the priority for snow removal in the District. Clearing and salting efforts focus first on major roads, commuter thoroughfares and designated Snow Emergency Routes. Streets that are narrow, steep, or shaded, receive special attention, as do those streets scheduled for next-day trash collection.

The 800+ members of the DC Snow Team (DPW, DDOT and other agencies) participated in the Dry Run training event to prepare for snow management, proper handling of materials, equipment maintenance, and equipment operation.  Plow drivers navigated through their routes, checking for steel plates, potholes and other obstacles that might be covered during a snow event.  Other staff, including administrative, supervisory, logistics and IT employees practiced their functions at their sites, including the salt domes.

The District's Snow Team is committed to faster completion of plowing and salting along major roads and residential streets, which in turn means more rapid return of normal traffic flow and earlier resumption of trash collection and other city services. Residents are reminded to please be patient and allow sufficient time for snow operations to be implemented. If their streets still have not been treated or plowed in a reasonable amount of time they should call the Mayor's Call Center at 311.

DDOT and DPW remind commuters and residents to:

  • Not drive distracted.
  • Remember that driving on ice is significantly different than driving on snow.Photo of snow covered street with vehicles
  • Use extreme caution and maintain safe speeds and distances from other vehicles.
  • Remember even a 4-wheel drive SUV does not perform well in ice and additional safety measures should be followed.
  • Be aware of road conditions, particularly black ice which can be deceptive in its appearance giving the driver a false sense of security on the road.
  • Watch for slippery bridge decks, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridge decks will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.
  • Remember to keep a safe distance from emergency and snow vehicles and please use caution when attempting to pass a snowplow. Give the drivers plenty of room to safely do their jobs.
  • Clear all the snow and ice from your vehicle's windows and lights — even the hood and roof — before driving.
  • Help your elderly or disabled neighbors remove snow from steps and sidewalks.
  • Clear catch basins and fire hydrants.
  • Please do not put snow in the street. Put all cleared snow, from parked cars and sidewalks, in the "tree box," front yard, or between the curb and sidewalk.

For more information on the District of Columbia Snow Removal and Treatment Plan, please visit the Useful Information section.