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Washington region could get more than 20 inches of snow

Yet another winter storm socked the region with 3-6 inches of snow on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The storm didn't pack the punch of December's near-blizzard, but it was enough to keep many kids home from school and make roads slick.

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By Debbi Wilgoren and Ashley Halsey III
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 4, 2010

Calculating the odds we'll be digging out from another big snowfall this weekend has been a bookmaker's delight and a meteorologist's nightmare, but with each passing hour, the likelihood of serious accumulation grows.

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"The [weather] models have been pretty consistent, and if that continues, there's going to be a major winter storm," said Dan Stillman of The Post's Capital Weather Gang. "It's hard to put numbers on it, but some areas will see 10 inches, and there's a chance for significantly more than that."

The bad weather is developing in Texas, and the forecast has it sweeping along the Gulf Coast and then swinging north to wallop the mid-Atlantic region.

Stillman added a number of caveats and the obligatory reminder that here on the fabled "weather fault line," nothing is a sure bet until it lands in your driveway. He promised to post more definitive snowfall predictions by Thursday morning.

The National Weather Service was a bit less bashful about talking depths, more than 36 hours before the first flake.

"Right now, it looks like we'll get at least a foot, with localized depths of more than 20 inches," said Brandon Peloquin of the Weather Service. "It's looking a lot like a repeat of the big snow in December."

But if the storm turns a little to the north, "we may get some freezing rain in the mix," he said.

The vicissitudes of weather wonking aside, here's solid advice: If the threat of snow always sends you scampering to the supermarket, be sure to buy chips, dips and beer, because there's a good chance that the Super Bowl party you planned on attending will be relocated to your house.

If there's good news to be found in a bad winter, it's that the road crews might be bending, but they're not breaking, and there's plenty of salt left.

"We've had a lot of snow, but these have been plowing storms," said Dave Buck of Maryland's State Highway Administration. "They haven't been salt storms. We still have 80 percent of our salt left."

Even as they tidied up from the storm that delivered between two and six inches overnight Tuesday, preparations were being made for another full deployment in the District, Virginia and Maryland by Friday morning.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell declared a state of emergency Wednesday in Virginia in anticipation of the storm, authorizing state agencies to assist local governments.

The midweek snowstorm was shrugged off as more nuisance than calamity by winter-weary Washington.

It was a snowstorm that would have struck terror at the outset of the season, but District schools stayed open. However, most suburban school systems opened later or used a snow day.

"It's mostly just wet pavement now," Kellie Boulware of the Maryland State Highway Administration said by late morning. "Especially with the two-hour school delays and the closings. That really helped us out."

Although the Capital Weather Gang pegged the snow totals at two to four inches, Facebook was rife with claims from people who looked out on the back deck and swore they saw seven, eight or more.


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