Fear not, area weather forecasters insisted yesterday, snow will accumulate in metropolitan Washington today, but probably will not rival the surprise blizzard last month that broke records, stranded motorists, and startled experts.
No more than two inches of snowfall is expected today, forecasters said, adding that even less snow is likely to accumulate in the District. A winter storm, bringing freezing temperatures and strong winds, passed Indiana late yesterday and most of it was expected to drift over Pennsylvania and New Jersey early today, forecasters said.
Metropolitan Washington is expected to receive only the fringes of that storm, so long as it remains on course, forecasters said. But unlike last month, when more than 12 inches of snow fell in the area despite contrary predictions, weather forecasters spoke cautiously yesterday.
"Because of what's happened, all the forecasters are just a bit leery," said Rick Thoman, a forecaster with Accu-Weather Services. "We don't think this one will do much around here, but these are tricky calls to make. In the last few storms, somehow or another the atmosphere has managed to pull off a last-minute move that sent more snow to Washington."
Even if the storm suddenly veers to a southerly course, Thoman said, metropolitan Washington will receive only a few inches of snow.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service agreed, but predicted about an inch of snow to fall by sunrise, and taper off into flurries by noon.
On Nov. 11, residents in metropolitan Washington awoke to find snow covering the ground, and watched it fall continuously into the evening.
The unexpected deluge surprised officials, and some snow-covered roads were slow to be shoveled, leading to accidents that stalled traffic for hours and miles.
City officials, along with Metro transit officials, said yesterday they have alerted their staffs to prepare for a snow emergency. But they said they would not make plans until early this morning, when the storm's course was to be more evident.
"It wouldn't take much for that storm to swing over eastern Maryland instead," Thoman said, "but we don't expect that to happen, even though it has in every storm since last January."
Temperatures are not expected to exceed 40 degrees today, and winds will be between 15 and 25 miles an hour, forecasters said. A light freeze is predicted for the District tonight, with temperature dipping into the low 20s or high teens in the metropolitan area. After this morning's snow, forecasters said, no rain is predicted through the weekend.
The weather will remain brisk and cold through Sunday, with highs in the mid-40s and lows near freezing, according to the National Weather Service.
With strong winds also expected to continue, forecasters said, temperatures will seem to be in the teens.