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Mayor Bowser Declares Public Emergency for District of Columbia Ahead of Winter Storm

Thursday, January 21, 2016
DC Public Schools will be closed on Friday, January 22; DC Government to close at noon

(Washington, DC) - Today, due to the National Weather Service forecast of an imminent, major winter storm that is approaching the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a public emergency in the District, effective immediately. As a result, DC Public Schools will be closed on Friday, January 22 and the District Government will close at noon for non-essential and non-emergency personnel.

Additionally, the Mayor has declared a snow emergency that will be in effect beginning tomorrow, January 22, 2016, at 9:30 am. By declaring a snow emergency, the District Snow Team (Department of Public Works and Department of Transportation) will be able to clear snow emergency routes curb to curb.  Drivers are advised to remove cars from snow emergency routes starting Thursday night.  Otherwise, they will be towed.

For the latest information on the District’s response to the storm, residents should visit Snow.DC.Gov.

In preparation for the snow, the city’s salt domes are filled to capacity with more than 39,000 tons of salt. The Department of Public Works and the DC Department of Transportation also have a total of:

  • 106 heavy plows, with an additional 37 contract plows
  • 73 light plows
  • 145 dump trucks
  • 30 loaders and 20 bobcats

 Emergency Declaration

The declaration of public emergency will stay in effect for 15 days until and unless provided for by further Mayoral Order. The declaration authorizes the City Administrator, in coordination with the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, the Director of the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and the Chief Financial Officer, to apply for financial assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, any other federal, private, or nonprofit disaster relief and recovery organizations, and any other appropriate agencies of the United States government.
The emergency declaration implements the District response plan and applies to all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the District government as necessary or appropriate. It also permits utility workers and District agencies to retain crews to complete emergency repairs and restore services beyond normal work hours. During the public emergency or 30 days after this declaration (whichever is shorter), it will be unlawful for any person to charge more than the normal average retail price for any merchandise or services sold.

Snow Emergency Declaration

The snow emergency will remain in effect until an announcement is made that it has been lifted. Motorists are asked to tune into television and radio broadcast stations or go to  for a notice that the snow emergency has been lifted.
Vehicles ticketed for a snow emergency violation and towed by DPW will be taken to the DPW Impound Lot at 5001 Shepherd Parkway, SW 20032. The lot is open weekdays from 8 am to 6 pm and can be reached at (202) 645-5500.  The lot is closed weekends, holidays and when DC government is closed. Vehicles also may be towed by private towing companies, and vehicle owners can learn where their vehicle has been towed by calling the Towed Vehicle Locator office at (202) 541-6083 or go to To have an impounded vehicle released, these fees must be paid before the vehicle will be released:

  • $250 ticket for the snow emergency violation.
  • $100 tow fee.
  • $20 per day storage fee.

Additional fees also may be required to be paid, e.g., fees for tickets older than 60 days that have not been entered into the adjudication system. These fees may be paid at the impound lot by bank debit card, credit card (Mastercard, Visa and Discover) or online through the Department of Motor Vehicles Website --
This is a potentially strong and dangerous storm.  We remind all of our residents, commuters, and visitors to prepare for the storm and ensure that, if possible, they stay off the roads. We also ask that you remember your neighbors throughout the storm and during clean up.  Please assist elderly or disabled neighbors with clearing their sidewalks. Visit for updates before, during and after winter storms, and for tips to get your home and family prepared for inclement weather.  Residents also may sign up at to receive emergency alerts and notifications from AlertDC.