D.C. area forecast: Ice and rain pull away; still fuzzy on weekend storm situation

** Freezing rain advisory through noon for Montgomery, Loudoun and Howard counties. Winter storm warning until 1 p.m. for points northward. **

* Latest snow and ice amounts | Slippery roads make for messy commute | Closings and delays *


Radar & lightning: Latest D.C. area radar shows movement of precipitation and lightning strikes over past two hours. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

9:45 a.m. Update: This storm is about over as the last band of steady precipitation is pushing through. An widely scattered shower or two and some patchy drizzle/fog (freezing drizzle colder areas north and west) could linger through late morning, but partial clearing should commence between late morning and early afternoon with sunshine ultimately emerging. Afternoon temperatures should rise into the 40s in most areas (but maybe just near 40 in western Loudoun County and into northern Maryland) – melting ice.


Ice in Oakton, Va. (Kevin Ambrose)

This storm is having a major impact not only in northern Maryland (where there have been tens of thousands of outages), but also from southeastern Pennsylvania into New England. The Weather Channel reports over 500,000 power outages in Southeast Pennsylvania alone due to icing. Up the coast, the ice changes to snow in southern New England. 8-12 inches are expected in Boston. See the video overview below.

The weather is certainly putting on a show for National Weatherperson’s Day. Yes, that’s a real thing.

This is our last update on this storm. Be careful – still some icy sidewalks out there.

We’ll have a detailed update on the possible weekend winter weather event in an update early this afternoon. Scroll (way down) for the forecast for the next several days.

9:15 a.m. Update: There’s definitely light at the end of this ice event’s tunnel. Radar shows a gap in the steady precipitation over the region now, with perhaps one more batch of light rain/freezing rain showers to cycle through in the next hour or so. Precipitation should end before noon everywhere. In our colder north and west suburbs (northern Maryland and western Loudoun county), temperatures remain at or below freezing, so continue to use extreme caution on sidewalks and side roads, especially. Getting lots of reports of people falling.

Here are a couple more ice pics:

 

 

8:20 a.m. Update: In the immediate metro area, most spots have risen to near freezing or a little above (31 at Dulles Airport, 35 at Reagan National). Still, there are slippery sidewalks and some patchy iciness on untreated side roads. But the icing is still pretty bad in western Loudoun county, and especially northern Maryland (Washington, Frederick, Carroll, northern Baltimore counties) with thousands of power outages. If there’s any good news, the coverage and intensity of precipitation is decreasing and rain and freezing rain should become more patchy and intermittent over the next few hours.

Here are some photos from the hardest hit areas:

 

 

Below: Sterling, Virginia: National Weather Service forecast office, with 0.2″ of ice accretion:

 

 

7:50 a.m. Update: While many surfaces remain slick in D.C.’s northern and western suburbs, this is a more serious ice storm for our friends further north in Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties, where power outages and falling tree branches have made a mess of things. For example, the latest compilation from NWS shows 0.25-0.50″ of ice has accumulated in Frederick and Carroll counties. Locally we can expect continued improvement with temperatures edging past freezing for most spots inside the Beltway and to the south and east over the next hour or so, and for areas further north and west by around 9-11 a.m. Rain remains fairly steady for now, but should become more patchy by around 9-10 a.m.

7:15 a.m. Overview and Update: At 7 a.m., temperatures are mainly 32-34 in the District (though 35 at DCA) and for areas east of I-95, and 31-32 west of I-95. That subtle difference in temperatures is why most reports of icing on streets and sidewalks are north and west of D.C. and I-95. Even in those areas, however, conditions can vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, though generally speaking main streets are in good shape while sidewalks and side streets range from wet to treacherous. Our Facebook followers provide a good summary of ground truth. By about an hour from now, icing should ease considerably for the closer-in north and west suburbs like Fairfax, southern Montgomery and southern Howard counties, while lingering longer for points further north and west. See below for pictures of icing from across the area.

Scroll below for earlier updates and our full forecast through the weekend…

 

 

 

6:40 a.m. Update: Icing amounts as of a bit earlier this morning were mainly .05-.25″ from SE to NW across the area (see reports from NWS). In Maryland, the worst of the impacts in terms of power outages is clearly across the northern tier in Frederick, Carroll and Baltimore counties as you can see in the outage map below. Outages do not seem to be much of an issue in the District or in Northern Virginia (see Dominion outage map here).


Maryland power outages as of 6:30 a.m. from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (h/t @DCAbloob)

6 a.m. Update: The worst of the icing is across the suburbs north and west of the District. But as you can see in the temperature snapshot below, just about everyone is still at or a degree or so below freezing except perhaps right downtown and at National Airport. Temperatures remain 30-32 even a good bit south and east of D.C. As a result, the NWS has extended the freezing rain advisory for Charles, Calvert, St. Mary’s and Stafford counties until 8 a.m.

Snapshot of temperatures at 5:50 a.m.
Snapshot of temperatures at 5:50 a.m.

5:30 a.m. Update: Icing concerns have materialized about as expected early this morning, with light rain and drizzle still falling and freezing on contact across much of the area, and steadier freezing rain across much of Loudoun, Montgomery and Howard counties and points north. Temperatures are mainly 30-32 across the area, although National Airport was 34 at 5 a.m. The Federal government is open on time, but many schools are delayed or closed. Given the glaze of ice that has formed on many surfaces, everyone needs to use extreme caution outside this morning, especially driving on bridges, ramps and overpasses. We expect temperatures to edge above freezing for most of the area by around 8 a.m., but could be as late as 11 a.m. for areas far north and west (Carroll, Frederick, Loudoun, Fauquier, and far northern Montgomery Counties).

Today’s Daily Digit

A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 1 to 10.

3
Chilly/freezing morning rain drags the digit down, despite afternoon clearing and temps into 40s.

Express Forecast

Today: Rain, with freezing rain north and west, tapers by noon. Highs: 40s.

Tonight: Partly cloudy, breezy. Lows: 20s.

Tomorrow: Partly cloudy and cold. Highs: Mid-30s.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

A rain-chilled morning gets the day off to a drab start, not to mention iciness that lingers longest north and west of town. The rain moves out around late morning toward noon, and then we’re worry-free in the precipitation department through Friday, though with temperatures still on the chilly side. For the weekend and its possible storminess, we unfortunately still have more questions than answers.

Today (Wednesday): Freezing may linger in the far north and west suburbs (Carroll, Frederick, Loudoun and Fauquier counties) until around 9-11 a.m., but everyone else should be out of the woods with just plain rain by around 6-8 a.m. Before then, be extremely careful walking or driving, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses. The rain tapers by late morning to around noon as temperatures struggle through the 30s, followed by clearing afternoon skies and highs in the 40s. Afternoon winds increase to 10-15 mph from the west-northwest. Confidence: Medium

Tonight: Colder, drier air pushes in on winds near 15 mph from the northwest. Lows dip into the 20s area-wide under partly cloudy skies. Confidence: High

For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock. Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend…

Tomorrow (Thursday): It’s a quiet but chilled weather day with partly cloudy skies and a breeze near 10 mph from the north-northwest. Highs only manage the mid-30s. Confidence: High

Snow Potential Index

A daily assessment of the potential for at least ~1″ of snow in the next week, on a 0-10 scale.

5 (→) No point in hedging one way or the other until the weekend storm situation becomes more apparent.

Tomorrow night: Nothing to see here, folks! Just partly sunny skies and lows in the 20s once more. Confidence: High

A LOOK AHEAD

Friday shapes up as another partly sunny day and a touch warmer with highs in the upper 30s to near 40. Friday night, high pressure keeps us precipitation-free as lows drop back to the 20s. Confidence: Medium-High

On Saturday we have a chance of light snow or snow showers with highs in the mid-30s to near 40. For now any snow looks to be of the conversational variety. But it’s possible a system tries to come at us from the south with steadier precipitation. Sometime late Saturday into early Monday still presents the chance of a more significant storm, but that is far from a sure bet and the jury is still out as to precipitation type. Best guess on temperatures is Saturday night lows in the upper 20s to low 30s, and Sunday highs in the 30s to near 40. Confidence: Low

Dan Stillman is a meteorologist and editor for the Capital Weather Gang. He earned an M.S. in Meteorology from Texas A&M University, and a B.S. in Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences from the University of Michigan.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local
Next Story
Ian Livingston · February 4