Plowing and emergency response efforts continue in national parks in the Greater Washington Area

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Date: January 23, 2016
Contact: Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, 202-619-7400

WASHINGTON— Plowing and emergency response efforts are far from over in national parks in and around the Nation’s Capital. All national park programs are canceled, and facilities will remain closed through at leastSunday—including monuments and memorials at the National Mall. A decision about resuming operations will be made prior toMonday, taking into consideration the safety of park staff and visitors and guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. We appreciate your patience and cooperation as National Park Service employees work to clear roads and reopen national parks throughout the region.

Even though snow is expected to taper offSaturdaynight andSunday’sforecast is calling for sun, we ask everyone— including drivers, pedestrians, and skiers— to please stay off the roads so plows and emergency vehicles can do their work. National park maintenance staff are working hard to keep roads accessible for emergency vehicles.

In the Greater Washington Area alone, the National Park Service manages more than 700 parks and several major roadways, including the Baltimore-Washington, Rock Creek and George Washington Memorial parkways. Crews will continue to plow nearly 300 miles of roads, clear 155 bridges, and shovel more than 100 miles of sidewalks. Efforts to reopen parks, assess facilities, and clear roads, trails and sidewalks will take time even after the storm ends.

As response efforts move into a recovery phaseon SundayorMonday, visitors should remain cautious throughout the week, heed weather warnings, and respect closures:

  • Employee and public safety will continue to be our top priority as we evaluate storm damage and begin to reopen national parks.
  • Our crews are working hard to clear roads of snow and ice, but it will take time.
  • Drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and skiers are urged to stay off the roads so plows and emergency vehicles can do their work.
  • All roads are snow-covered and treacherous. If you must drive, reduce your speed and be cautious of icy conditions that will likely remain throughout the week.
  • Winter is beautiful, but even a short walk in the snow can quickly become dangerous. Park rangers advise you to consider physical limitations before venturing out and to be prepared with proper footwear, extra clothing, high-energy snacks, and water. Safety is the responsibility of each individual, and rescue is not guaranteed.
  • Blizzards are disorienting. Even familiar roads and trails can quickly look very different when the snow is falling.
  • With heavy snow accumulation comes a possibility for roof damage and falling trees.
  • Freeze/thaw cycles will damage roads and sidewalks throughout the area. Be cautious of potholes, other road hazards, and flooding once the storm has ended.
  • Please check individual park websites, social media pages and visitor center phone lines before heading out.

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Last updated: January 23, 2016

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