In some parts of the region, that proved prudent planning; in others, it caused a day to be wasted for no real weather reason.
Meteorologists said that’s the price of living on a weather fault line.
“It’s always been [the forecast that] the rain-snow line was going to be right around the D.C. and Baltimore metro area,” said Chris Strong of the National Weather Service office in Sterling. “And those on the rain side were going to be left lacking snowfall, and those on the other side were going to get quite a few inches.”
The real snow fell in outer western suburbs such as Leesburg.
“It’s a perfect snow day,” said Anthony Ciravolo, 37, as he and his 5-year-old son, Isaac, gleefully tossed snowballs at each other in between sledding runs in Ida Lee Park. “There’s a lot of snow.”
The heavy snow arrived suddenly in the Foggy Bottom area of the District about 8:20 a.m. Big, fat flakes in swirling clouds cut visibility so sharply that the skyline of Rosslyn could no longer be seen from the D.C. side of the Potomac.
A few indefatigable joggers ran on the paved path that borders the river. And to underscore the fluctuations in the storm’s intensity, when the size and number of the flakes diminished, the towers of Rosslyn reappeared, perhaps 10 minutes after they had seemingly vanished.
That same uncertainty of the storm’s intent touched Matthew Brower, owner of Grounds Central Station coffee shop on Main Street in Manassas, as the streets and sidewalks turned slushy with about an inch of snow.
“I thought about closing,” Brower said. “But I had nothing else to do. If I’m going to be watching TV all day, I might as well be watching it here.”
The roads got slushy in Rockville by late morning, where Lauren Fiske sipped hot chocolate in a Starbucks off Seven Locks Road. A doctor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, she had been out early for several hours checking on her patients. She intended to be home within the hour.
“I don’t think many people in Maryland know how to drive in snow,” she said with a laugh.
But what threatened as a bad dose of January winter turned into a typical early March day for most of the Washington region — a trail of wet, sloppy snow, wind-driven rain and general grumpiness that will be erased from memory when spring arrives in a couple of weeks.
By nightfall Wednesday, the best post-storm barometer for the region — the number of power outages — told the day’s tale. In Northern Virginia, extending beyond Washington’s suburbs, 10,700 outages were reported as of 9 p.m. Closer to Washington, nearly 3,700 houses and businesses were without power in Fauquier County, and 1,700 in Fairfax. Only a few dozen outages were reported in the District and the Maryland suburbs.