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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/06/2013

Snowquester hitting its stride with heavy snow in western suburbs, but struggling in the city

* Winter storm warning for entire area through 3 a.m. Thursday*

Useful links: Storm news, transportation impacts, and more: Live Blog | Compilation of Snowquester photos and Tweets: The Grid | Snow total reports from National Weather Service | How Snowquester got its name | Storm talking points | Thundersnow? | The structure of a snowflake | The past as a predictor | March snowstorm history

Overview: Snow and mixed precipitation, in the city and points east, are falling throughout the region. Substantial snow accumulations, thus far, have mainly occurred west and southwest of the Beltway, and it’s those areas likely to reach forecast snow totals of 7-14 inches.

In the city and east of town, due to the rain mix, snow amounts will likely fall short of forecasts for 5-10 inches. However, bands of heavy snow may still cycle through these underperforming areas, reducing visibility and laying down some lighter amounts of a few inches or so.

12:03 p.m. update: National Weather Service says it will be decreasing forecast totals in metro area and points east.

12:00 p.m. update: Here are some of the latest snow total reports from readers (on Twitter/Facebook): In Maryland: Kensington 1”, Glenmont 1.75”, Rockville 2”, New Market 4”; In Virginia: Falls Church 2”, Sterling 2”, Burke 3”, Chantilly 3.5”, Herndon 3.5”, Oakton 4.5”, Ashburn 5”, Brambleton 5”, Woodbridge 5”, North Stafford 5.5”, Aldie 6”, Manassas 6”, Haymarket 6.5”, Warrenton 7-10”, Winchester 11”

11:50 a.m. update: This is definitely a western Virginia snowstorm. A Twitter follower reports 23 inches at Massanutten mountain near Harrisonburg. Ski weekend ahead?


(NASA)
11:45 a.m. update: While underwhelming in the city, the satellite image of Snowquester from space is impressive. The storm is rapidly intensifying offshore and has produced wind gusts to around 50 mph at the Maryland, Virginia and Delaware beaches according to the Weather Bug network.

11:20 a.m. update: Inside the Beltway snow hopefuls may want to look to the south, where more than 4 inches of snow has occurred around Richmond as heavier bands moved in. There’s still a chance - although confidence is not particularly high - that heavier snow and colder air will wrap into the region as the storm exits and produce some accumulating snow around town.

11:00 a.m. update: Here’s the National Weather Service response to my question below (see 10:55 a.m. update): “There are definitely more bands to come, and we've just gotten the winds to turn out of the north. We are continually updating things at this point - we do have reports surrounding the District of ~2 inches on almost all sides so far. We are always re-assessing (and we have cut back the totals DC east the last two updates)...and they are working on another adjustment right now.”

10:55 a.m. update: For its part, the National Weather Service is still forecasting 6-8 inches for the District and nearby locations. I (Jason) just posted this question to our local NWS office (through a chat program): “We have rain and no accumulation in downtown D.C.: any indication you're going to downgrade [totals] in the urban core, and adjacent areas....? Or, do you still think heavy bands could materialize and dramatically reverse the current situation? My skepticism is growing.” I’ll keep you posted on any response.

10:50 a.m. update: Elevation matters. Snow totals have reached 6-8 inches in Warrenton, 8-9 inches in Purcellville, around 8 inches in Winchester, and 5 inches in Gainesville. Up to a foot of snow has already fallen in Front Royal

10:30 a.m. update: Thundersnow! Yes, we’ve heard reports of thundersnow around Waldorf east of town, in Bealeton southwest of town and in Richmond’s western suburbs. It remains a possibility throughout the region and is one way locations which have received little accumulation so far might achieve some.

10:15 a.m. update: A very heavy snow band is affecting central and western Fairfax county. Up to 3 inches have accumulated around Oakton reports Capital Weather Gang’s Kevin Ambrose and it’s ripping there. Locations west of the beltway stand a decent chance of reaching the low end of accumulation forecasts. Link: Snow video from Reston

9:45 a.m. Update: The difference in the snow situation is amazing over short distances. In Upper Northwest D.C., over 1 inch of snow can be found on grassy areas and even some slush on the roads but there is hardly a coating downtown. The differences are even more dramatic farther west and southwest, where totals are mounting, exceeding 6 inches in most of western and central Virginia, including a report of 10 inches in Front Royal.

9:25 a.m. Update: Now that we’re starting to see some honest snow, it’s time to assess whether we’ll reach the accumulations in our forecast, which last evening we upped to 5-10” for D.C. and the east suburbs, 7-14” in the north and west suburbs. This storm will have several heavy spurts through afternoon and possibly into evening, mingled with with some lulls as well, so there’s still a chance we get into the forecast ranges even after the slow start. Though it may be hard at the traditionally warmer and underperforming National Airport, D.C.’s official reporting station.

From 8:45 a.m.: Moderate to heavy snow has engulfed the D.C. area, a touch later than some might have expected, but mostly on track with forecasts. Expect periods of moderate to heavy snow through afternoon. With the heavier snow, temperatures are dropping and road conditions will deteriorate quickly, though highways may do ok if well treated. There may be some lightning (thundersnow) around as well.

Initial accumulations of a dusting to a few inches in the metro area fell mainly on grassy areas with temperatures in the mid-30s. More significant impacts were seen in areas like Winchester, Staunton and Charlottesville, Va., where as much as 6-8 inches fell during the storm’s initial push. As expected, the storm’s initial low pressure over the Midwest has weakened, but a new stronger one to our south is intensifying.

See our full forecast guide to Snowquester including updates and tidbits from earlier this morning. And stay tuned for more live blog updates above.

By and  |  11:00 AM ET, 03/06/2013

Categories:  Latest, Winter Storms

 
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