Arlington Snowfall Records and Emergency Snow Removal

Published January 27, 2016

The first snowstorm of the year has come and gone. While it may not be the last snow we see in 2016, it almost certainly will be the largest amount at one time. Like many other industries, commercial real estate development is affected by the weather. Excessive snowfall can bring projects to a halt – both during the storm and after. Piles of snow can block traffic and prevent materials from getting moved to the proper location.

two-liberty-snow shooshan-company-snow-bonnie-flippin

“Snowzilla 2016,” as it’s been labeled (1), was one of the biggest snowstorms the Washington, D.C. area has ever seen, but how does the 2016 snowfall compare to other years in the area? According to the National Weather Service (2), the recent behemoth tied with a storm in 2010 as the fourth largest amount of snow in Washington, D.C. within a three day period since weather recording began in 1884 (in D.C.). The top snowfall amounts are:

Washington, D.C. Area Top Snowfall Within a Three Day Period


Source: National Weather Service (2)




Jan 27-29, 1922


Feb 12-14, 1899


Feb 18-19, 1979

Feb 5-6, 2010


Jan 22-23, 2016


Jan 7-9, 1996

After seeing this table, it’s clear conditions could have been worse – can you imagine dealing with 28 inches of snow in 1922? These days, we have more efficient ways of cleaning up snow, and being “trapped” in your home or apartment doesn’t mean all is lost. Telecommuting, cloud services, smart phones – everything we need to work from home is available 24/7. However, for industries like ours (commercial development), being on-site is key to progress. So, how does a city like Arlington remove all of that snow to allow businesses to resume normal operations?

Photo by Bonnie Flippin shooshan-company-snow-arlington-bonnie-flippin

The Arlington County Snow Removal Process

According to the Arlington County Government (3), there are four “phases” to the snow removal process: alert, primary routes, neighborhood streets and cleanup. When snow is 2 inches or less, Arlington County “treats” the streets, meaning chemicals and salt are used to help speed melting. Plowing only begins (and is really only necessary) when snow accumulates to 2-4 inches. The main focus during snowfall is to keep roads clear for “emergency vehicles and public transportation.”

Arlington County Snowphase InfographicThe four phases previously mentioned take place during and after snowstorms, and are pretty self-explanatory based on their titles. First comes the “Alert,” where the county advises on weather conditions, starts treating roads and informs the public on what to do such as moving parked cars off the side of the street or necessary items you need in your home. After this, we enter phase two, “Primary Routes.” This is when the county is working to remove snow from priority streets and trails, represented by the red and blue lines in this map (4). Next, the county starts clearing residential areas (phase three). This can take some time, as some neighborhoods are more difficult to maneuver around than others. However, Arlington County residents can always submit a Snow Issue Form via the handy website here (5). The form is mainly to “report any snow removal problems 24 hours after snow has fallen.” The final phase, called “Clean Up,” is where Arlington County finishes removing slush and other elements from the roadways. If you would rather see the phases in an easy-to-read infographic, Arlington County has provided one (click on image to the right) (6):

At The Shooshan Company, we care about the community. By following proper procedures during emergency situations, we can help insure the safety of our family, employees and neighbors. When it comes to development, safety is always a priority. We’re glad Arlington County has put steps in place to make sure we, along with everyone else working in the county, can get back to doing what we do best in a reasonable amount of time after snowfall.

Here are some more image of the 2016 snowstorm courtesy of Arlington resident Bonnie Flippin:


shooshan-snow-removal-arlington-bonnie-flippin Photo by Bonnie Flippin Photo by Bonnie Flippin Photo by Bonnie Flippin


    1. We hereby name this winter storm “Snowzilla.” (2016). The Washington Post. Source:
    2. Top 1-, 2- and 3-day snowfalls. (2016). National Weather Service. Source:
    3. Snow removal process and phases. (2016). Arlington County Government Emergency Services. Source:
    4. Snow priority streets and trails. (2016). Arlington County, VA – MAPS. Source:
    5. Snow issue form. (2016). Arlington County Dept. Of Environmental Services. Source:
    6. Phase system. (2016). Arlington County. Source:
    7. Photos courtesy of Arlington resident Bonnie Flippin