The National Weather Service office in Sterling yesterday beefed up its usual Sunday staff, anticipating calls about the snowstorm it had been forecasting since Friday -- predicting six to 10 inches between last night and this evening.
But the meteorologists had only each other to talk to until midafternoon, when they put out the heavy-snow advisory.
Blame it on recent sunny skies or a relaxing weekend, but it was almost as if no one believed the snow was on its way.
"In all the [snowstorm] events of this year, the media has pretty much has been calling it days before," meteorologist Brian Guyer said yesterday afternoon. "This one, it's real strange. I've been waiting here [saying to myself]: 'When is the media going to call? When is the media going to call?' . . . We've had some snow this year, so some people may not be as interested or they don't feel as worried."
Unlike last week's feeble system, forecasters say, snow probably will accumulate throughout today -- through both morning and evening rush hours -- before the storm tapers off about 7 p.m. Accumulation could be highest along Interstate 95 in Virginia, which will act like a shivering spine to the storm as it crawls up from the south.
The Weather Service issued a heavy-snow warning for the Washington region. The District said it would implement its snow emergency plan at 9:30 a.m. today, meaning that cars parked on "snow emergency" routes could be towed. The storm was predicted to pack two punches -- a long, wet pounding from a Gulf of Mexico system, then a cold, quick hit from the west, with winds up to 25 mph.
Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Ryan Hall said people should not be lulled by the recently warmer temperatures or Thursday's weak system, which dropped a lot of snow but left little on the ground, he said.
"Even though it's snuck up on everybody . . . it is a different storm from Thursday, so the roads are going to look a little worse," he said. "People are going to have to be extra vigilant."