* High wind warning 6 p.m. tonight through 2 p.m. Sunday
* Wind chill advisory 6 p.m. tonight through 12 p.m. Sunday *
* Winter weather advisory through midnight *

Observed snowfall totals

Peak observed wind gusts | Power outage maps: Pepco | Dominion | BG & E

Overview

Brace yourself for a volatile Valentine’s Day night and Sunday morning with slick roads, possibly damaging winds and dangerous wind chills.  Here’s what’s happening (and/or what happened earlier):

  • Winds crank to 25-35 mph this evening into the overnight, with gusts over 50 mph and perhaps near 60 mph, sending wind chills as low as 15 to 25 degrees below zero. Power outages are possible.
  • Snow showers moved west to east through the area mainly between 4 and 9 p.m., with a few reports of thunder
  • With temperatures dropping through the 30s, some snow showers were heavy enough to sharply reduce visibilities, whiten roads, and coat the ground with up to an inch or a little more, making for hazardous driving conditions.
  • Temperatures this evening quickly dropped below freezing, creating icy roads for those out for Valentine’s dinner or otherwise, especially in D.C.’s northern and eastern suburbs.

The latest updates:

11:00 p.m. Update: Winds continue to rip. Gusts range from 40-55 mph, and could still even tick up a bit towards early Sunday morning.  So some downed trees and tree limbs and additional outages, unfortunately, may come to pass overnight.

At 11 p.m., BWI had a sustained wind of 39 mph (that is tropical storm force!) and gusted to 55 mph.  Gusts at Reagan National and Dulles were in the 40-45 mph range.

Air temperatures have dropped into the teens in most locations, with chills near or below zero.  Here are the temperatures and wind chills at the three airports at 11 p.m.:

Reagan National: 19/1
Dulles: 15/-5
BWI: 15/-8

Here’s a regional view of temperatures:


11 p.m. temperatures

With these extremely cold temperatures, wet and/or snowy roads have completely frozen over, so use extreme caution if you have to drive overnight. We are still getting reports of hazardous roads.

This is the last update for tonight. We’ll have a fresh post up around 6 a.m. Sunday.  

10:00 p.m. Update:  Unfortunately, power outages are starting to mount.  Over 30,000 customers are without power in the region (7,800 Pepco, 25,100 Dominion, and 1,900 BG&E). Wind gusts are in the 40-50 mph range throughout the region (44 at Reagan National, and 46 at Dulles, at 10 p.m.).

Temperatures and wind chills also are plummeting. At 10 p.m.. Reagan National was down to 23F, with a wind chill of 8, and Dulles reported 17F with a wind chill of -4.

Our next update will be at 11 p.m.

9:10 p.m. Update: Winds are really cranking up and we are receiving reports of lights flickering and some isolated outages. At Dulles, the wind was gusting to 48 mph at 9 p.m., and 32 and 35 mph at Reagan National and BWI, respectively.  The worst of the winds arrive between about 1 a.m. and 10 a.m overnight and Sunday morning (when 50-60 mph gusts are possible). This wind event is just getting started.  

Temperatures meanwhile range from 22 at Dulles to 31 at Reagan National, and will fall quickly in the next few hours, into the teens everywhere.  Wind chills will go below zero in many spots before midnight (already down to 5 at Dulles).

Our next update will be around 10 p.m.

8:40 and 8:55 p.m. Updates: Via our Twitter feed, we’re getting reports of very icy conditions even on main roads, like Rt 50, I-95 and the Beltway,  due to the flash freeze and falling temperature situation.  The worst conditions seem to be north of the District towards Baltimore. If you can stay in tonight, stay in!

8:00 p.m. Update: As the snow is mostly over inside the Beltway and west, and tapering off to the east, visibility has improved and roads are in better shape than they were during the height of the snow squall.  However, temperatures are below freezing throughout the area and many roads have not been treated.  In other words, many roads will remain quite slick overnight. Any areas that are untreated and wet will freeze as temperatures fall through the 20s and into the teens before midnight (and then even lower).

Look at these temperatures at 8 p.m. (below) – mostly below freezing in the metro region, with teens and even single digits already in West Virginia and western Maryland.


8 p.m. temperatures

Our next update will be around 9 p.m.

7:50 p.m. Update: The snow is pretty much over west of the Beltway and will taper off inside the Beltway in next 15-30 minutes. Incoming? Crashing temperatures and howling winds.  Meanwhile, it’s still coming down in Annapolis.

7:43 p.m. Update: As the snow tapers off inside the Beltway, areas to our northeast continue to get clocked by heavy snow.  For the next 30 minutes or so, Bowie, Annapolis, Glen Burnie and Baltimore will all have snow, low visibility and hazardous roads.

7:33 p.m. Update: The heavy snow squall is pasting the area from Baltimore to Bowie, including much of northeast Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, but the worst is over from Fairfax to Gaithersburg and west – in terms of snow, at least.

7:29 p.m. Update: Capital Weather Gang’s Ian Livingston reports Reagan National clocked a wind gust to 52 mph as the snow squall came through.

7:25 p.m. Update: At 7 p.m., winds gusted to 51 mph at Dulles and in Manassas as snow squall came through. Intense! (Hat tip: Jeff Halverson)

7:20 p.m. Update: Heaviest part of snow squall right along I-95 from Baltimore to D.C. into Alexandria.  Widespread reports of covered roads, strong winds, and low visibility.  The snow is rapidly ending in our western suburbs but it will continue to snow heavily in our eastern suburbs for the next 30 to 60 minutes.  Some reports:

7:10 p.m. Update: As this intense snow squall brings whiteout conditions inside the Beltway, the snow has ended in Loudoun and Frederick County.  This snow squall moves through very fast, but temperatures crash and winds crank up in its wake.

Latest reports:

7:04 p.m. Update: Leading edge of very heavy snow burst from Silver Spring through north Arlington and into Dale City.  In just a few minutes, areas along this line will go from nothing to near blizzard conditions.  It will charge into District over next few minutes.  Reports:

 

6:57 p.m. Update: Widespread reports of heavy snow and extremely low visibility in central Fairfax and central Montgomery County. New reports:

6:52 p.m. Update: The heart of snow burst now stretches from Gaithersburg to Reston to Centreville where roads have quickly become covered, and it’s windy. The leading edge of this snow squall runs from Aspen Hill to Fairfax to just east of Manassas where conditions will quickly deteriorate.

6:45 p.m. Update: Conditions are rapidly deteriorating from west to east across the entire area.  Snow is quickly accumulating, winds are picking up, visibilities and temperatures are falling. Even some thundersnow possible. Reports:

https://twitter.com/AlyssaAnnNguyen/status/566744738372788224

Through 8 p.m. in D.C. area: Given rapidly deteriorating conditions, if you don’t have to travel, DON’T. Expect burst of heavy snow, strong winds, low visibility and covered roads. We’ve also had a couple reports of thundersnow.

6:37 p.m. Update: The rate at which conditions are deteriorating in our western areas is astounding.  Avoid traveling for the next hour or so if you can.  The snow squalls are now into Fairfax and Montgomery County, with especially bad conditions in Loudoun and Frederick County. Reports:

6:27 p.m. Update: Reports of rapidly deteriorating conditions in Leesburg and to the west in Purcellville. This is all pushing into the immediate metro region over the next 60-90 minutes.

6:25 p.m. Update: The squall line is moving – now into western Fairfax and Montgomery County – is transformative.  Areas go from nothing to low visibility in heavy, accumulating snow in a matter of moments. We are also hearing about accidents in Frederick County, Md. from slick roads. Some reports and imagery from our west and northwest:

6:20 p.m. Update: As the snow showers, some heavy, move into our western suburbs, it’s useful to see how quickly temperatures fall as they come through.  At 6 p.m., the freezing line was right along I-81 and will be coming into Fairfax County by 7 p.m. and through the District by 8 p.m.  Look at those teens back in West Virginia.


6:10 p.m. Update: Snow showers to the west are moving quickly east, now into Loudoun and northern Prince William counties. These will likely drop temperatures into and through the 30s as they come through the entire metro area west to east during the next couple hours, whitening some roads and sharply reducing visibility.

5:45 p.m. Update: Roads are quickly covering with snow in areas north of the northern branch of the Beltway and east of I-270. That’s mainly eastern Montgomery County, Howard County and northern Prince George’s County, where driving conditions are deteriorating. As that area of snow now drifts off to the east, more snow showers are approaching the entire area from the west, set to move through the immediate metro area from west to east approximately 6-9 p.m.

5:20 p.m. Update: A band of heavier snow has developed across Montgomery and Howard counties, especially from around Gaithersburg east to Columbia, where temperatures are in the mid-30s and dropping. This could whiten roads there during the next hour. More snow showers are moving into the far western suburbs and headed east. These too could whiten roads and suddenly reduce visibilities as they come through over the next couple hours. The National Weather Service warns: “BURSTS OF HEAVY SNOW WITH SUDDEN VISIBILITY RESTRICTIONS COULD MAKE FOR DANGEROUS DRIVING CONDITIONS.” For example, it took less than 15 minutes to go from not much to covered ground in Columbia…

4:35 p.m. Update: Radar indicates snow flurries and snow showers now moving across northern Loudoun, northern Montgomery, Frederick and Howard counties and around Baltimore. With temperatures still mainly in the upper 30s to low 40s, these should not cause much trouble. It’s the approximately 5-9 p.m. period where any heavier snow showers moving in from the west combined with falling temperatures could slicken roads. Below is a model simulation of radar at 6 p.m., showing some snow tracking west to east.


The HRRR model for 6 p.m. this evening shows a band of mainly snow moving through the area. (WeatherBell.com)