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Photos: Heavy Snow Continues Through the Late Afternoon

County officials are cautioning against driving today as the heaviest period of snow sweep through the area this afternoon.

About four inches have piled up in Reston, according to measurements from Reston Now readers. Snow is expected to continue into the evening, with light accumulation expected.

Mass transit is operating at reduced service levels. WMATA is running on a severe snow plan, which means major systemwide delays. Metroraill will operate on a modified schedule, with trains running every 12 to 15 minutes on all lines.

If you’re planning to shovel out before freezing temperatures hit, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Departments encourages individuals to “take it slow.”

“It is important to consider your physical limitations. Wear weather appropriate gear to keep you warm. Only shovel snow if you are physically able to do so. This snow is a wet and heavy type of snow,” the department cautioned.

Here’s more from social media:

Photos submitted by Michael Piper, Robbie Nolan, Betty Bley, Angelika Stadel and Douglass Errett

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Snow Ushers In Closures of Fairfax County Government, Schools

A light layer of snow in the morning, which greeted some with disappointment today, will likely become thicker, forecasters say.

A blend of snow, sleet and freezing drizzle is expected to transform into snow later today. A blanket of three to seven inches is possible, with a high near 33 and a low of 27. Snow is expected to taper off before 11 p.m. Tomorrow’s partly sunny conditions may melt some snow away.

Local county entities are taking no chances on the snow despite a slow start this morning. Fairfax County Public Schools and Fairfax County government offices are closed today.

Here’s a roundup of other snow-related closures:

  • Reston Community Center – closed
  • Reston Association – closed
  • Fairfax County Circuit Court – closed
  • Fairfax County Circuit Court
  • The Walker Nature Center – closed
  • Reston Regional Library – pending
  • Metro – operating on modified schedule
  • Fairfax Connector – operating on Saturday service schedules

This post will be updated.

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As Spring Begins, Winter Storm Warning In Effect for Reston

The D.C. area will be under a Winter Storm Warning from tonight through Wednesday night. 

Between four and eight inches of snow is expected in the region. Local snow accumulation may be lower.

Fairfax County Public Schools has canceled all afternoon and evening activities on school campuses. A decision on tomorrow’s possible closure is expected by 9 p.m. today.

Forecasters encouraged residents to be wary of difficult travel conditions and limited visibility. If travel is mandatory, drivers are encouraged to keep an extra flashlight, food and water in the vehicle incase of an emergency, according to the National Weather Service.

Photo by Twitter user @MrErrett

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Thursday Morning Notes

Morning Notes - Winter

Fairfax County Expert Talks Coyotes — Coyotes can be found all over Fairfax County, certified wildlife specialist Katherine Edwards says in a video aiming to educate residents. Edwards says coyotes generally avoid humans, but they may prey on small domestic animals like cats and dogs. The biologist says it’s best to avoid keeping pets outdoors for long periods of time, and to keep their food indoors. [Fairfax County/YouTube]

South Lakes Sports Back in Full Swing — South Lakes High School’s winter break is over and Seahawks sports teams are back in action. This week, the basketball teams engaged in several contests with McLean High. The varsity boys team scored a 73-45 win, while the JV boys dropped a close one, 47-45. The boys freshman team also lost, 59-51. The JV girls team scored a victory, however, winning 47-36 in overtime. [South Lakes Athletics]

County Offers Tips For Winterizing Your Car — With winter weather in the forecast, Fairfax County offered tips this week for preparing your car for the cold and snow. Among them are maintaining an adequate level of antifreeze; making sure heaters, defrosters and hazard lights are in top working order; and choosing tires with good tread for navigating snowy or icy roads. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

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Is It Safe to Walk on Reston’s Lakes?

Frozen Lake Anne, Jan. 2014/Credit: David King via Facebook

Is the ice on Reston’s lakes thick enough for skating and walking?

It doesn’t seem like it, at least according to a spirited debate on the Reston Now Facebook page this weekend. But that’s not stopping some folks from trying.

“I live right on Lake Anne – NOT think enough for a cat to walk on much less a 50 lb. child,” Erin wrote.

Others said the lakes are strong enough to support a snowmobile right about now.

Officially, the Reston Association policy is “no skating,” said RA CEO Cate Fulkerson. But, like many parks policies, it is difficult to enforce.

Ice should be at least four-inches thick before it can support any human activity, according to a state agency that should know such things — the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. But many factors other than thickness can play a role in safety. Those factors may include the age of the ice, sun and wind. Newly-formed, clear ice is stronger and safer than white ice or “snow ice.”

“Old rule of thumb we used to use was at least four days with below freezing temps,” Virginia wrote on Facebook. “Depended on the size of the body of water though. That seldom occurs here in Virginia.”

But even that old rule of thumb may not be enough. For four inches of ice to form, the area would need more than a week of air temperatures consistently well below freezing. Around 9 a.m. Monday, the temperature in Reston was 37 degrees and had been above freezing for several hours. The air temperature also rose above freezing last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 19-21, according to weather reports from the National Weather Service.

Two weeks ago, a Gaithersburg boy died when he fell through the ice on a pond.

The Minnesota authorities have some advice for anyone who falls through ice and into water.

Place your forearms and hands on an unbroken ice surface and kick your legs to propel yourself up onto the ice. Try to keep your body weight as spread out as possible, so don’t use the palms of your hands to lift yourself out of the water like you would with a pool. When you’re out of the water, remain lying down and roll away toward safety instead of standing up and walking.

What are your thoughts on walking on ice on Reston’s lakes? Tell us in the comments. 

Photo of frozen Lake Anne courtesy of Dave King, via Facebook.

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