D.C. area forecast: Windy today with raw rain, sleet, and snow; warmer weather on the way

March 30

* Winter weather advisory Montgomery, Howard and Carroll counties through midnight, mainly elevated areas (map) *
* Wind advisory Loudoun and Prince William counties and points west through tonight *


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.

8:35 p.m. update: A wind advisory for gusts near 50 mph now includes Loudoun and Prince William counties (and remains in effect as before for points west of there) through the night. The National Weather Service warns that scattered tree and power line damage is possible in the advisory area. Steady rain and mixed precipitation continues along a narrow band centered directly over the D.C. area, but should begin to taper by around 10 p.m. With temperatures now mostly in the upper 30s to mid-40s, we are going forgo a SchoolCast or FedCast. Not impossible places like Frederick and Carroll counties, where early-morning temps may touch near freezing, could see a delay, but wouldn’t count on it.

7:55 p.m. update: Radar shows a couple more hours until our rain and mixed precipitation tapers in the immediate metro area, but it does seem that the threat of accumulating snow has ended, with temperatures now mainly in the upper 30s to low 40s. The exception may be from around Howard County toward points north and northeast, where a little more accumulation can’t be ruled out with temperatures in the mid-30s. The winter weather advisory has been cancelled where the precipitation and snow risk is ending in Frederick, Loudoun and northern Fauquier counties.

6:35 p.m. update: The snow – more or less seems over  - south and west of around Silver Spring, Md.  In these areas, snow has changed to mostly rain and temperatures are above freezing.  To the north and east of Silver Spring, snow is falling and a slushy accumulation is possible before precipitation ends and/or changes back to rain in all likelihood.  Based on the moderating temperatures and rain, we do not expect many school closings or delays but will continue to monitor conditions and will issue SchoolCast if needed.  We’re confident FedCast will not be needed.

While the snow may be ending in many areas, the rain – heavy at times – should continue – gradually ending from west to east over the next few hours.  It’s already ended in areas west of Frederick to Leesburg.  Reagan National Airport has picked up an impressive 1.87 inches of rain (and melted snow) this weekend.

5:45 p.m. update: As the snow band edges east, the cold air is starting to erode in our western areas which were getting hammered earlier.  Places like Leesburg, Germantown, and Herndon report snow is mixing with or changing to rain and snow cover is diminishing.  In other areas to the east and northeast, it continues to snow at a good clip and could see some slick conditions before the intensity diminishes and rain mixes back in.  Bottom line, it seems like this last blast from winter is starting to cave.  It was dramatic for a while and certainly more than we expected, but conditions may actually begin to improve in many areas over the next couple of hours.  We are evaluating the need for SchoolCast and FedCast, but may not be required.

4:40 p.m. update: As the sun continues to go down and temperatures fall further into the low-and-mid 30s across the area, snow is now falling moderately to heavily in many spots. It should continue to do so over the next several hours, except ending on the early side over far western locations.


Radar and temperatures as of 4:30 p.m. Although it shows much as rain, more snow is falling than not at this point. (Wundermap)

A general 1-3 inches is possible in grass across almost the whole area — progressively less as you get south and east of Fairfax County, and the lowest totals (maybe little to no snow) focus on Southern Maryland. Up to 3-6 inches could be the end result in places like upper Montgomery County or the hills of Loudoun and Frederick counties, again highest in the coldest and more elevated locations. Significant accumulation variation is possible with elevation changes, but in heavier activity any spot may pick up quick accumulation including slushy stuff on main roads.

Here’s a sample of snow scenes from around the area:

 

 

 

3:45 p.m. update: Areas of moderate to heavy snow have been reported west of the Beltway and into the western suburbs as another area of moderate to heavy snow and sleet drops in from the north. In lighter zones and lower elevation spots, rain and sleet is still often predominant. But as we head later in the day with temperatures falling through the 30s, everyone may end up seeing some snow bursts in the time ahead. Areas of quite heavy precipitation are possible in this band, which means even low elevations could see at least brief road accumulation in consistent snowfall. Up to an inch or a few (mainly in elevated spots) is possible on grass, especially north and west of the city or spots near freezing.

3:00 p.m. Update: The heaviest precipitation, much of it in the form of snow (with some mixing), continues west and northwest of the Beltway.  Many areas are reporting a coating on grassy surfaces and, in some of the higher spots, nearly an inch with even some slush on the road.  Inside the Beltway, the precipitation type varies and alternates (with some of the western areas with a wet coating of snow on the grass) and east of the Beltway mostly rain and/or sleet is falling.  Temperatures range from the low 30s in our colder spots to mid-to-upper 30s elsewhere.  Dulles reported snow and rain at 3 p.m. at 33 degrees; Reagan National overcast at 39.

Some pictures:


Snow in Oakton, Va. this afternoon (Kevin Ambrose)

2:00 p.m. Update: Along and west of I-95, sleet and snow and is now mixing with rain. And in Montgomery County, western Fairfax County and Loudoun County, there is snow or a snow/sleet mix. Temperatures should remain above freezing in most spots – in the mid-to-upper 30s, but some slushy accumulation on grassy areas is possible north and west of the District, especially outside the Beltway, where temperatures fall into the low 30s. In elevated portions of Montgomery, Frederick and Loudoun County (above 800 feet), one to three inches of snow is possible, and slush on roads could build-up when snow falls heavily (see: Damascus webcam), before precipitation tapers off between 7 and 10 p.m., southwest to northeast.

11:20 a.m. Update: As expected, temperatures have dropped to near 40 across much of the area, with winds now gusting near 25-35 mph and could gust near 40 mph this afternoon. Steady rain covers most of the area except Southern Maryland, and most spots should stay rainy through the afternoon. There are even reports of sleet and west snow mixing in to the west — from around Reston and Fairfax toward points west — though no icing issues are expected until you get well west toward the mountains, as temperatures locally should remain safely above freezing.

Today’s Daily Digit

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

3
About the same as Saturday’s shower-fest, and this time we add wind to the mix.

Express Forecast

Today: Numerous showers, becoming windy. Highs: Mid-40s to near 50 early, then falling.

Tonight: Showers taper. Lows: Low-to-mid 30s.

Tomorrow: Becoming mostly sunny, still breezy.  Mid-50s to near 60.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

No saving grace in the forecast this weekend as “April showers” seem to have arrived ahead of schedule. With this slow-moving storm system, we’ve got another damp and dreary day to deal with today, not to mention gusty winds. Nicer weather moves in just as we head back to work. Figures. Tomorrow is markedly improved despite a lingering breeze. And as we get into midweek I have a feeling the “Nice Day Sun” could be coming out of its winter hibernation.

Today (Sunday): Our storm system slows and almost stalls, and that means another overcast day with plenty of showers. Some could train over the same areas, which could lead to localized flooding. Generally we’re looking at another half-inch or so of rain today, after many spots picked up close to an inch yesterday. In between any breaks in the showers it’s still damp and raw-ish, with winds from the northwest increasing to 15-25 mph by late morning, and gusting near 30-40 mph in the afternoon. (From Fauquier County to the west, a wind advisory is in effect for gusts up to near 50 mph). Temperatures may actually be at their highest in the early morning, in the mid-40s to near 50, before falling back to the mid-40s to near 40 for the balance of the day. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Showers should taper by mid-to-late evening and exit overnight or toward dawn. We’ve been watching for the possibility of some back-end snowflakes with this system. I wouldn’t rule it out completely, but it’s more likely out west toward the Blue Ridge than in the D.C. metro area. Regardless, temperatures look to stay above freezing until the precipitation moves out. Skies begin to clear toward morning as lows bottom in the mid-30s around downtown and to the south and east, perhaps near freezing north and west. Winds from the northwest could still gust near 30 mph during the night. Confidence: Medium

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

Tomorrow (Monday): Any lingering cloud cover should clear out by mid-morning. Then the springtime sun gets to work, helping lift morning temperatures into and through the 40s. Winds continue on the breezy side form the northwest, near 15-20 mph, but it should still feel pretty nice during the afternoon as highs reach the mid-50s to near 60 under mostly sunny skies. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: Winds finally relax Monday evening and that leads to a cool overnight. Skies are partly cloudy and temperatures drop off toward lows in the mid-30s to low 40s. Confidence: Medium-High

A LOOK AHEAD

High pressure building across the Southeast U.S. pumps milder air our way as we head into midweek. Tuesday and Wednesday are partly to mostly sunny, and temperatures respond in kind. Highs in the 60s on Tuesday warm to the upper 60s to near 70 on Wednesday. Tuesday night lows look like they will hang up in the 40s area-wide. Confidence: Medium-High

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Ian Livingston · March 29