LEND A HAND

“I feel bad”—The mayor of Boston is really worried about Washington DC’s snow skills

Get ready.
Get ready.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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Washington, DC is bracing for an epic blizzard that is about to wallop the metropolitan area with between one and three feet (0.3-0.9 meters) of snow. And the mayor of Boston, which such storms are much more common, isn’t totally sure the notoriously snow-averse US capital can handle what’s coming.

“I feel bad,” Boston mayor Marty Walsh said yesterday (Jan. 21), when reporters asked him if he had advice for DC. Walsh also said that DC could borrow two of Boston’s snow plows if it needed them.

Meteorologists in the US agree that DC is about to get hit with heavy precipitation and high winds—a classic blizzard that other American cities in the northeast are far more experienced at handling. (As Slate’s Eric Holthaus noted, “the meteorologist who literally wrote the textbook on Northeast snowstorms has already called it ‘textbook.'”)

Take Boston, for example. The record snowfall in the New England city in 2015 may have shut down local schools and public transportation, but there were few signs of panic as the government steadily deployed snow plows and snow melters; the city government even launched a new website so residents could track which streets were clear or not.

In contrast, Washington, DC—which has only endured four major snowstorms (with more than 10 inches of snow) this century—is at risk of paralysis each time it sees more than a flurry of snow. The city got a preview on Wednesday night (Jan. 20), when a very modest snowfall caused nine hours of rush hour traffic delays.

Wednesday’s weather conditions had been forecast ahead of time, residents complained, and yet the city had made no effort to salt roads or otherwise prepare. DC mayor Muriel Bowser apologized publicly and said the city would do better this weekend, when more than 24 inches of snow might fall.

It’s not just DC that is going to get hit— though it is expected to bear the brunt of the impact. The storm will dump snow all along the US east coast, along with tornadoes, ice storms, and coastal flooding.