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Washington, D.C., Mayor Declares Public Emergency Ahead Of Blizzard

A major winter storm set to arrive in the nation's capital Friday is expected to dump up to two feet of snow. A blizzard warning is in effect.

Last updated on July 3, 2018, at 1:34 p.m. ET

Posted on January 21, 2016, at 12:20 a.m. ET

The nation’s capital was crippled by light snow Wednesday night with icy streets, abandoned cars, and traffic jams, days before a major blizzard was expected to slam the East Coast.

Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

The National Weather Service recorded just an inch and a half of snowfall in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

But a much bigger storm set to arrive Friday is expected to dump up to two feet of snow in the city, where a blizzard warning is in effect.

Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public emergency Thursday in the nation's capital ahead of the blizzard. In addition, a snow emergency will go into effect at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

"It's an extremely large storm that will last for 36 hours," Bowser said during a press conference. Public schools will be closed Friday and District government will close at noon for non-essential and non-emergency personnel.Officials expected Sunday to be a "major clean up day," and that recovery from the storm could last into the beginning of next week, Bowser said.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

"It's an extremely large storm that will last for 36 hours," Bowser said during a press conference. Public schools will be closed Friday and District government will close at noon for non-essential and non-emergency personnel.

Officials expected Sunday to be a "major clean up day," and that recovery from the storm could last into the beginning of next week, Bowser said.

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She also apologized for the District's failure to "deploy the necessary resources" to deal with Wednesday night's snow, which caused President Obama's motorcade to be delayed for over an hour.

Last night the District failed to deploy the necessary resources in response to the snow - for that I am sorry.

The White House pool reported that President Barack Obama's motorcade was even stuck in the traffic and "made its way slowly from Joint Base Andrews to the White House through the snowy streets."

POTUS motorcade from Andrews to WH "slipped and skidded" on icy roads, several times hitting curbs, WH pool report says

It ultimately took the president an hour and 15 minutes, while using sirens, flashing lights, and stoplight privileges, to get home.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

But Obama's car wasn't the only one sliding on the roads:

WUSA9's photojournalist Greg Guise captured bad traffic conditions in Arlington. Be safe! https://t.co/zQuGRPzsFs https://t.co/Za52rmjT23

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Some took to Twitter to share their anxiety about the unsafe driving conditions:

now that I am home, I can't help but be worried about those still on the roads; DC roads were nuts,traffic horrible;cars sliding etc

People posted traffic maps to show it was nearly impossible to drive through the district because of the road conditions.

Going to drive in the #DMV. Don't. It's hell out there. Walking too. #netflixandchill

Many said they spent up to three hours on the road for what would normally be short rides.

No better pal to survive DC #snow-mare with than @GwenIfill -almost 3hrs & miles to go https://t.co/4Tuzx6w2w8

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People were stuck for so long and in such challenging conditions that they started to abandon their cars.

People abandoning cars (some backwards) on the side of Wilson Blvd. It's like Atlanta in Arlington.

The Arlington County Fire Department tweeted that people should either stay in stuck cars or a safe distance away from vehicles, but not stand on the roadway.

A few people were daring enough to try other forms of transportation.

Andrew Caballero-reynolds / Getty Images

Grocery lines of panicked customers backed up at a local Whole Foods.

@PoPville Foggy Bottom Whole Foods (cashiers are upstairs; line goes downstairs)

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Some grocery store shelves were left almost completely bare.

#HouseOfCarbs this weekend. #snowmaggedon2016 @washingtonian @WTOP

The District Department of Transportation said they had worked to de-ice the roads by putting a mixture of brine and beet juice on several routes.

Ice trucks are the most common method of de-icing roads, but the beet juice and brine mixture had been used as an alternative as salt supplies have become costly, according to Time.

The DDOT also said Wednesday's storm was lasting longer than expected, and they planned to have 150 trucks working to de-ice the roads by midnight.

A source at the D.C. mayor's office told BuzzFeed News that the salt trucks were only deployed around 9:30 p.m., and even then, only a handful of trucks were sent.

DC govt source says the mayor didn't deploy salt trucks until an hour ago, and even then, shr only sent a handful. DC has no chem trucks

Overall, people were not particularly impressed with the district's ability to handle the snow.

Live shot from the District of Columbia:

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