** Winter storm warning tonight through Thursday afternoon **
The waiting game is almost over as snow progresses toward the area, now moving north past Richmond, Va. With temperatures falling back through the 20s most spots, we’ll not be doing the typical worrying about temperatures unable to support accumulation, at least through most of the night. As we get toward sunrise, things become a little trickier, but by then it’s going to look very wintry across the area.
Through Tonight: Snow pushes into the area during the mid-evening, perhaps as early as 6 p.m. to the south, but still more in the 7-9 p.m. range overall. With plenty of cold air to start, snow accumulates right away, including on roadways. Snow should mostly be light to moderate through the evening, but trending toward periods of heavy snow around midnight. Periods of heavy snow, as much as 1-2 inches per hour at times, then persist into the pre-dawn hours with a mix ultimately pushing in from the southeast as well.
Accumulations of at least 4-8 inches are likely, and the boom potential in this time-frame is perhaps higher than any other, with models advertising the risk for up to 10 inches or so area-wide by morning. Temperatures make the low-to-mid 20s once snow gets going, and that’s our low for the night. But temperatures especially near and east of I-95 rise as we get toward sunrise, facilitating a mix with sleet, freezing rain and perhaps rain rain in spots south and east.
Winds increase from the north and northeast through the night, with sustained winds around 20-25 mph possible by morning, and gusts to near 35 mph possible. This may lead to at least localized near whiteout conditions.
Tomorrow (Thursday): A mixed bag of precipitation continues in the morning, with locations near I-95 and east seeing a a range in precipitation from snow, to a mix with freezing rain and sleet, or even plain rain (mainly nearer the bay). From western Fairfax County and western Montgomery and to the west, precipitation may stay all snow, with another 4-6″ or so possible through the morning.
As we get into afternoon, banding on the backside of the storm may push back through the entire area, causing additional snow accumulations of up to a few inches area-wide This part is fairly uncertain, both due to unknowns about where the banding sets up and because temperatures rise to near or above freezing during the day. Highs are mainly between 30 and 35 unless the storm winds down early and allows most people to rise to the mid-30s.
Winds remain strong for much of the day, sustained around 20 mph or so from the north early, but tending to diminish as the storm pulls away.
Feel free to comment on the forecast and your current conditions here, but please see the live blog for continued updates.