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Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

image of penguin      Winter Storm Travel Guide

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) will be using the Winter Storm Travel Guide to advise citizens on what can be expected as far as winter travel conditions and transportation services given a certain amount of snow. Working with the Department of Transportation (DOT), METRO and other rail services, the National Weather Service (NWS), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and many other agencies, COG has developed a penguin guide to categorize winter storms in the metropolitan area and to generalize the area's response to those storms.

The guide has six categories of storms ranging from a one penguin storm which is a minor storm with less than four inches of snow and increases up to a five penguin storm which is 18 to 24 inches of snow and brings the area to a stand-still for a period of time. The final category is a penguin in an ice cube which describes the area's response to an ice storm.

When the National Weather Service anticipates a major storm to impact the Metropolitan Washington area, a COG conference call is held with NWS, DOTs and key decision-makers from the city, surrounding counties, and various agencies including OPM. This conference call includes a briefing by NWS on the forecasted storm impact, a briefing by DOT on current conditions or readiness, and then discussion of actions that will be taken such as government closings, etc. During this conference call, COG and its members will determine what category of storm looks to impact the majority of the metropolitan area. This information will then be released by COG so that people can be better informed on what to expect as far as transportation services and blowing of roads for travel through the region.

image of penguin
Information about the Penguin categories and the Travel Guide is available through COG at 202-962-3236 or at their web site:   The Penguin graphic is available through COG for use in public broadcasts of this information by the media.

For information on the Unified Regional Snow to

For information on Virginia Road to

For information on Metrobus and to

For information on Federal Government to

Virginia Dept of Emergency Services Winter Weather Page