Forecast: Major early season winter storm impacts the area with rain, snow and wind

* Winter weather advisory for Fairfax, Montgomery, Prince William, Howard and southern Fauquier counties. *
* Winter storm warning for northern Fauquier, Loudoun and Frederick counties (and points north and west, including much of northern Md. and northwest Va.) Saturday - primarily above 1,000 feet *

** A full update will be posted around or shortly after 10 a.m. **

8:30 a.m. update: Temperatures mainly in the mid-30s to near 40 are not terribly pleasant in themselves, but the intrigue of an early season storm is in high gear. For the immediate area, many places are still experiencing rain, but once into Fairfax and Montgomery counties, snow reports become more widespread, though flips back and forth are still common. At higher elevations, reports of snow accumulating easily and even some tree problems are now coming in. A new batch of heavier precipitation (likely to aid snow reaching the surface in cold spots) is moving in from the southwest, and places already seeing snow could enter into a period of 1-2”/hour rates here shortly.

Check out some pics across the area: Ashburn, Va.; more Ashburn, Va. ; Leesburg, Va.; Winchester, Va.; and up higher in elevation (~3,000 feet) along the WV/Va. border.

7:00 a.m. update: Rain is mixing with or changing to all snow across west and north parts of the area this morning. Numerous snow reports out of Loudoun County become more of a continual rain/snow mix heading back toward parts of western Montgomery and Fairfax Counties, and then pretty much all rain once nearer I-95 to the southeast. Way out west (and up in elevation) in Lake Front Royal, snow is accumulating pretty nicely. Closer in, so far any accumulation is on colder surfaces like decks, cartops and other elevated objects. Periods of moderate to heavy precipitation will continue to push through as the snowline dips further south and east this morning.

Today’s Daily Digit
 
A somewhat subjective rating of the
day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.

 
Rain, snow, wind & cold. On Halloween weekend?? As w/ Hurricane Irene, I just can’t give extreme weather a 0!
 
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EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Rain changing to snow from NW to SE. Accumulation likely, particularly N & W of D.C. Upper 30s to near 40 and dropping. | Tonight: Clearing, breezy. Upper 20s to low 30s. | Tomorrow: Mostly sunny. Mid-40s to near 50. | Get Express Forecast by E-mail

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Today is shaping up as one for the record books, even if some locales don’t end up with much more than a cold rain. Daily snowfall records should fall in spots, monthly ones could seemingly be set too. D.C. itself may not end up with the most extreme conditions, but a lowest maximum temperatures of 44 degrees (20 degrees below average) for the date looks to be bested. And the daily snowfall record of a trace is a decent bet to be tied if not surpassed. As one heads west or north, wintry weather only becomes progressively more spooky...

Today (Saturday): If you’re waking up well north and west of D.C., snow may already be falling or about to. That general trend should continue to work south and east during the day as temperatures generally sink through the 30s. Periods of heavy precipitation -- potentially multi-inch per hour snowfall rates in Loudoun and Frederick counties toward I-81 -- are possible throughout the morning and into the midday. Elsewhere, rain probably transitions to a mix or even all snow heading into afternoon, with tapering snowfall amounts as one heads south and east. This is such a dynamic system that we may hear some thunder, particularly in any heavy snow bands. With this idea in mind, our snowfall map amounts may end up low in some locations, though we continue to like the amounts depicted overall.

Thanks to wind as high as 15-20 mph sustained (with higher gusts) during the mid-and-late day, and snow-laden trees in some locations, we’re likely looking at power outage problems across parts of the area. Where it snows very heavily, particularly at higher elevation, roads could become an issue as well, though perhaps not as much as during mid-winter. Confidence: Low

ACCUMULATION MAP AND TIMELINE

5 AM to 10 AM SATURDAY
Rain changing to snow N &W. Rain elsewhere. Precipitation becoming heavy. Temps 35-41.
10 AM to 2 PM SATURDAY
Snow N & W. Rain, possibly mixing with/changing to snow elsewhere. Heavy precipitation maybe tapering late. Temps 33-39.
2 PM to 7 PM SATURDAY
Snow N & W, gradually ending. Rain or snow ending elsewhere. 32-37.

Tonight: The storm should be headed out prior to or by evening, but some lingering light snow or rain may still linger in the area ‘til around dark in a really slow scenario. It’s going to be cold though. I’m talking wintertime cold, especially with wind chills. The first freeze of the year is upon many of us. Lows should reach the upper 20s (maybe mid-20s well north and west) in the suburbs, even flirting with freezing downtown and well southeast. Winds decrease from about 15 mph sustained early to 5-10 mph late. Confidence: Medium

Keep reading for the forecast through the beginning of next week...

Tomorrow (Sunday): Lots of sun but this does not feel like the day before Halloween. Temperatures may get stuck in the mid-and-upper 40s and even potentially cooler in spots that end up with snow cover. That stuff, here much too soon, should melt pretty quick though, aiding in any needed cleanup efforts. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: We’ll see a fair amount of clouds pass by, and it could even be mostly cloudy at times. Lows range from near freezing in the north and west suburbs to the mid-or-upper 30s downtown and southeast. Confidence: Medium

A LOOK AHEAD

Some clouds stick around through the day on Halloween Monday and they may increase again late as a weak cold front approaches, but at least we should warm up a bit during the day. Highs reach the low-or-mid 50s most spots. And by trick-or-treat time... temperatures should be on their way through the 40s. A good year to be dressed like an Eskimo? Confidence: Low-Medium

On Tuesday we might be seeing temperatures dip back down, at least temporarily. Right now it seems partly sunny skies will be accompanied by a breeze and temperatures near 50. That means maybe some more upper 40s in some spots -- sorry. Confidence: Low-Medium

Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank.

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