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Bright yellow snow shovels stood like soldiers in the atrium of the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center this morning, as Mayor Muriel Bowser discussed the District’s efforts to prepare for the winter storm anticipated this weekend.

The shovels, given out to members of D.C.’s all-volunteer Resident Snow Team, are just one piece of that endeavor, which also includes soon-to-be-announced plow deployment, outreach to homeless residents, and communication with regional groups like the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Although it’s too soon to tell how seriously the coming winter storm will disrupt the District, Bowser said local agencies are already mobilizing for snow.

“I tend to be optimistic, so maybe it will pass us,” she told reporters before noting how D.C. is gearing up anyways.

“Planned deployment” details—such as the number of trucks, personnel, and the likely duration of their work—will be announced tomorrow, said Department of Public Works Director Christopher Shorter. He added that D.C.’s Snow Team has several hundred staffers and that deployment will treat more than 150 travel and residential routes. The District boasts 14 new salt-and-plow dump trucks and six new Ford 550s that will treat those respective routes.

Asked about civil fines for certain residents who neglect to shovel their sidewalks in a timely manner, Bowser said the government is focused on clearing snow, which may accumulate to more than a foot, according to some models.

“There will be snow-clearing for sure,” she said. Bowser also noted that it’s too early to tell whether the winter storm will have any spillover effects into next week, such as the closing of D.C. agencies, given the current forecasts.

As for the District’s homeless residents, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Brenda Donald said, “We have opened up a number of additional warming centers and increased outreach” to those now living on the streets.

The National Weather Service announced a blizzard watch for the D.C. area Wednesday morning, which could mean power losses, the mayor said. The District itself has more than 39,000 tons of salt available to manage roads.

Photo by Andrew Giambrone