Washington area residents are hunkering down for the first snowstorm of the season, a rare October event that by Saturday morning had already left several inches in the West Virginia mountains and a dusting in some outer D.C. suburbs.
In Loudoun County, a mix of rain, sleet and snow was falling heavily, coating fields and woods with a glaze of snow and ice. Route 50 in Aldie was covered with a thin layer of slush, and in the rural countryside around Middleburg, about an inch of heavy, wet snow piled on stone walls and rooftops.
Slick roads have led to a number of car accidents in the western part of Loudoun, according to an official with the county’s sheriff’s office, who urged motorists to take extra caution today.
The National Weather Service forecasts up to three inches in Leesburg and seven inches in Frederick.
Closer to the District and in the city itself, temperatures are hovering in the upper 30s and low 40s, and the rain that’s drenching widespread areas has not yet turned to snow.
There have been reports of heavy rain in upper Montgomery County, said fire department spokesman Capt. Oscar Garcia, and lighter rain in the lower part of the county. Roads are wet, but there have been no notable traffic problems, he said.
The National Weather Service expects less than one inch of snow and sleet to fall in the District.
Dominion Virginia Power spokesman David Botkins said that Northern Virginia has largely been spared power outages with the exception of Leesburg and Warrenton, and even those towns have only been grazed.
At noon, each had fewer than 600 customers without electricity.
Harder hit has been the Shenandoah Valley and I-81 corridor, he said, where about 3,900 customers are in the dark. Crews are already at work.
“My intel is telling me that the worst of the weather has passed and we’re simply in a restoration mode right now,” Botkins said.
Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson said extra personnel are on duty today in case of widespread outages. But now that the storm is moving in ahead of freezing temperatures, he said, the utility company anticipates few problems for its customers.
“We’re watching the weather, but I don’t think this particular storm is going to affect us,” he said. The District and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will see rain and wind, he said, but “most of the action is going to be in Frederick, Hagerstown and west of 270.”