The Washington Post

Rain and sleet south of D.C. to edge north, perhaps transitioning to snow late today

Irony: a power-packed storm whitening the landscape of Mississippi and northwest Alabama this morning will struggle to produce meaningful snow in Washington, D.C. today. Although a period of “conversational” snow is possible, our longest period on record without at least 2 inches of snow is most likely to continue.

Key points

* Temperatures this morning are around 40 meaning precipitation - mainly south of D.C. - will start as sleet and/or rain, with no problems on area roadways through mid-afternoon, at least.

* Temperatures will slowly fall this afternoon, and sleet/rain should creep northward and change to snow in areas where there is steady precipitation - the highest odds being south of the District.

* A late afternoon to evening period of snow is possible around D.C. Sloppy accumulations - if any - are favored on grassy areas rather than roads due to 1) mainly light precipitation 2) above freezing temperatures and 3) a relatively warm ground. But...if it snows hard enough (small chance), we cannot rule out a few slick spots around rush hour.

* Overall, this is shaping up as a low impact impact storm for most of the immediate D.C. area. There may not be much snow. But a period of moderate-to-heavy snow is likely to the south and southwest towards central Virginia. Parts of southern Maryland may also get enough snow to shovel. In southwest Virginia, this will be a major storm with 5-10 inches around Roanoke and up to a foot in the mountains.

* Temperatures tonight after the storm passes will drop below freezing so there is some risk of black ice late tonight into Friday morning.

Regional breakdown

Immediate D.C. area (including Montgomery, Prince William, Prince Geroge’s and Fairfax counties): Light rain and/or sleet develops to the south this morning and overspreads much of the area into this afternoon, but remains steadiest south. Sleet (and/or rain) may change to snow between mid-afternoon and early evening as temperatures slowly fall back into the 30s. For the most part, intensity is light, although some moderate bursts are possible from the District and points south. Any snow accumulation (a coating to at most 2 inches in southern areas) is probably mostly on grassy areas, although a slick spot or two cannot be ruled out early this evening if it snows hard enough

Northern suburbs (including Loudoun, Frederick, and Howard counties): Patchy and light sleet and/or snow is possible this afternoon into the early evening with little or no accumulation.

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.

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