Arlington Readies for a Winter of Possibilities

Published on December 06, 2018

snowstorm-saturn-e1544042435188.jpg A snowy winter ahead would hardly be surprising after the super-soaked spring-summer-fall of 2018. While long-range forecasts vary, Arlington again hopes for the best — something like last winter's lone one-day blast — while preparing for the worst.

New This Year


Should snow and ice make repeat appearances, Arlington will be ready to fight back with several potent tools.

New this winter is the 6,000-ton capacity interim road salt storage structure at 25th Street North and Old Dominion Drive. The modern, green-skinned "hangar" now houses previous inventory levels from the nearby old salt tank that dates to the 1920s, and the salt that had been stored on the property beneath a large industrial tarp. The new facility allows the County to continue operating an efficient hub for road treatment in north Arlington, complemented by salt storage and loading at the Trades Center facility in south Arlington.

MORE: See inside the new interim salt storage facility

Salt management technology continues to be a key to Arlington storm preparation. New gauging equipment is being piloted on some County trucks to better monitor brine and salt application rates based on road conditions and in the name of environmental sustainability.

Additional anti-icing equipment, including five new large-capacity brine tanks, were added in the off-season for treating bridges, sidewalks and narrow streets. Residents of such streets and cul-de-sacs will receive a mailing with tips to help the County maximize snow fighting in those neighborhoods, which will benefit from new computer-generated routing.

Also new this season will be a pilot of a public-facing online map showing near-real time plow activity across the County. Arlington is responsible for 1,059 miles of roadway, including newly acquired parts of Fairfax Drive and 10th Street North previously controlled and maintained by the state.

And the County is prepared to haul specialized tractors to clear its growing network of protected bike lanes, now at 3.58 miles.

Before, During and After a Storm


Arlington snow operations involve several agencies across the County as well as external partners, representing several hundred employees who work around-the-clock to keep core infrastructure and services running. Once a forecast calls for winter weather — snow, ice or freezing rain — Arlington crews follow the snow removal process and phases.

The County's snow-fighting inventory includes 46 trucks equipped with a salt spreader and plow blade. Additional contractor equipment is available depending on the severity of the storm.

MORE: Do you know the County's 4-phase snow-clearing process?

The County will continue to clear 10 miles of multi-use trails this winter season with specialized equipment. Trail and lane conditions are reported frequently by BikeArlington on social media. Arlington maintains a commitment to supporting a range of transportation options year-round.

How to Help


Residents play a vital role in dealing with winter's fallout. The County's Snow Removal Ordinance requires all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after the end of the storm for snowfalls of less than 6 inches, or 36 hours for those greater than 6 inches.

There are many other ways to assist in snow-clearing efforts:

  • Coordinate with neighbors to park cars on one side of the street, where feasible, or avoid on-street parking so snowplow operators can efficiently clear a wider span of roadway

  • Don't park "head in" on cul-de-sacs so plows have more room to maneuver

  • Clear sidewalks, fire hydrants and storm drains, tossing snow toward buildings, not the street, BUT

  • Wait for plows to come by before clearing snow from the front of driveways, to minimize the amount pushed back by plows

  • Stay home and out of the car or use mass transit only to reduce the number of potentially stranded vehicles

  • Apply only the recommended minimal amount of chemical de-icers on sidewalks and driveways to attain safe footing

  • Stay connected through the County's Snow and Ice Central webpage and DES social media platforms for updates on snow phases, transportation, trash and other important notifications. Follow us on Twitter @ArlingtonDES and on Facebook at Arlington County Department of Environmental Services.


The Department of Environmental Services briefed the County Board on this year's snow response plans at its Recessed Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27.