Winter weather guidelines announced for federal employees

Officials announced new winter weather guidelines for federal employees Thursday, hoping to avoid the kind of commute chaos seen previously during snowfalls.

Local government agencies have taken steps to do so.

The plans announced by the Office of Personnel Management include letting employees leave early. Metro said it’s prepared for winter weather to help make snowy commutes run more smoothly.

Federal department can choose between staggered departures, letting employees leave at different times, immediate departures and a shelter-in-place option if it’s deemed too dangerous to let all employees leave.

Last January, many commuters got stuck in their cars for hours on the GW parkway.

Ultimately, the responsibility for a smooth snowy commute lies in the hands of employees.

“At the end of this, we all must share responsibility for our safety. We are all in this together,” said John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Metro says it has enough equipment to keep all of its lines plowed and may run above-ground trains even in eight inches of snow.

“That's great news they're going to be more operational. It's always a hassle getting places when the Metro's not running,” said Laura McDaniel.

The personnel management office will continue to increase the amount of federal employees who can work remotely.

The plans come as the National Weather Service announced its winter forecast, expecting an average season.

“We expect temperatures to be about normal, maybe a touch above normal, and we expect precipitation to be maybe equal chances of above or below normal,” said Steve Zubrick, a scientist with the National Weather Service.