- Rain is pushing into the area from the south.
- Travel will be difficult across the area through the evening.
- Power outages in some near west suburbs are ongoing.
- The “boom scenario” snow totals have fallen some places, especially north and west of D.C. (western Fairfax, central Montgomery County, and eastern Loudoun counties)
10:30 p.m. (final) update: Temperatures have really spiked over the past couple of hours, climbing anywhere from three to five degrees across the area. Everyone is above the freezing mark except for Baltimore at this point. Reagan National is at 35 degrees with light rain, and Dulles is at 32 degrees and is reporting light freezing rain.
Wintry mix will continue to move north out of the area through midnight, changing over to all rain. Light to moderate rain will continue in the early morning hours before dissipating between 3 and 6 a.m.
The HRRR model suggests that rain will end around 4 a.m.:
With high temperatures climbing to the low 40s on Sunday, it should help to melt the snow and ice that has accumulated on the streets tonight. Of course, untreated side streets that are not well-traveled will probably remain slushy.
For these locations, it’s possible that lows in the 20s on Sunday night could lead to refreezing. While we’re not expecting widespread delays or closures on Monday morning, we’re thinking there may be a few in the near north and west suburbs, and a few closures possible in the outer counties like Carroll, Frederick, and Loudoun. Federal offices seem likely to be open, with the telecommute option. Of course, it really hinges on just how warm it gets tomorrow, and how much the street crews are able to clear away the ice and snow.
Taking a look back at our snow totals before it changed over to sleet, Jordan Tessler was kind enough to whip up a preliminary total map. We will have updates to these numbers tomorrow in a winter storm recap.
9:28 p.m. update: You can now get updates on local power outages on the power outage tracker. Many of the outages reported are in Northern Virginia, and a big spike occurs in the 8 p.m. hour when the transformer flashes were reported in Falls Church and Arlington.
Current radar shows rain working its way across the area from the south, and it has actually stopped entirely in Frederick now — a brief lull since it looks like there’s more light precipitation building to the southwest.
Sleet and freezing rain continue for our northern suburbs, and the roads are turning very icy in some locations. Unfortunately the rain on top of ice will lead to even less traction. Roads and sidewalks are treacherous this evening.
8:48 p.m. update: With the sleet and freezing rain on top of the snow, the roads have turned into ice skating rinks.
Current radar shows sleet and freezing rain has pushed north, and now rain is spreading across the southern half of the D.C. area. As the temperature climbs, we’ll see the rain line push farther north through midnight. The temperature at Reagan National was 34 degrees at 8 p.m.
8:10 p.m. update: Roads are nasty! Hopefully people are staying indoors this evening, but we understand many of you need to head out there for work. If you do try and drive somewhere, you’re going to need a lot of extra time and ample caution.
7:52 p.m. update: Well, we can officially confirm the flashes and the power outages first hand in Arlington. Two or three blue flashes lit up the sky across the Cherrydale and Ballston neighborhoods of Arlington around 7:50 p.m., and the power has been going on and off, coinciding with the flashes. Others on social media have reported total power outages in Falls Church and Arlington.
7:40 p.m. update: The radar indication of sleet all the way up in Frederick County has been confirmed by ground reports on social media, so thanks to everyone who’s been tracking the storm with us tonight!
As you can see in our radar loop above, a break in the precipitation is moving ever-so-slowly to the east, having just crossed over I-81. This weakening is also showing up in the high resolution models. Here’s a loop of “future radar” starting at 7 p.m. and ending at Midnight. This model suggests precipitation will switch over to almost entirely sleet and/or freezing rain, and also weakens at the same time. This will come as good news to the road crews that have been trying to keep up with the snow and ice this evening. A few road reports below the radar…
Area road reports:
We’ve also seen reports of a blown transformer in Falls Church which lit up the sky with multiple blue flashes, and subsequent power outages have been reported in Arlington.
7:11 p.m. update: Heavy snow continues to fall across the areas that haven’t already changed over to sleet. Some snowflakes might be mixing in around the near western suburbs. Reports form Loudoun have come in suggesting that they are changing over to sleet now, and radar indicates that wintry mix could stretch all the way up into Frederick at this point, but it’s still probably mostly snow in our far north and northwest suburbs.
In the meantime, roads are still a mess out there.
7 p.m. temperatures:
6:30 p.m. update: The Storm Prediction Center has issued a statement regarding the potential for heavy snow in some of our northwest suburbs.
The center is concerned about the period through 9 or 10 p.m. for the area outlined in blue below. A nose of warm air loft — the same reason the snow is changing over to sleet and then rain — is expected to also intensify the rate of snowfall to as much as 1 inch per hour in areas that remain well below freezing (ie. our far north and northwest suburbs).
Since we’ve already seen the transition to sleet occur into the northern suburbs, this statement is most applicable to western Loudoun and Frederick counties in our area. But over the next few hours these areas will also change to sleet — they might just have some very heavy snow before that transition occurs.
In the meantime, most areas in the Beltway and to the east have switched over to sleet, though we’re getting reports of precipitation changing back over to snow in the western suburbs (Sterling, Chantilly, etc.). This isn’t surprising, and it might even switch back to snow for a bit in parts of the Beltway, but eventually sleet and then rain will prevail, tonight.
5:50 p.m. update: As sleet is starting to end snow accumulation in many areas from the Beltway and points south, here’s a preliminary take on how much snow fell:
The District: 3-5 inches (SE to NW)
Fairfax County: 3-8 inches (E to W)
Prince George’s County: 2-6 inches (S to N)
Loudoun County: 5-10 inches
Montgomery County: 4-9 inches (SE to NW)
Anne Arundel County: 1-6 inches (S to N)
Howard County: 5-10 inches (E to W)
Calvert County: Around 1 inch
St. Mary’s County: Less than 1 inch
Stafford County: 1-3 inches
Prince William County: 2-6 inches (SE to NW)
Fauquier County: 3-7 inches (S to N)
Frederick County, Md: 5-10 inches
These totals are based on NWS and reader reports. Do they seem more or less right?
5:35 p.m. update: The snow is transitioning to sleet in Fairfax, Arlington, and the District according to reports, so expect little additional snow accumulation from D.C. south although snow may alternate with sleet a bit over the next hour before sleet wins the battle.
Here are some nice pictures coming in of the snow as the snow phase of this storm ends…
5:10 p.m. update: The National Weather Service has expanded the winter storm warning to cover the District, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel County and all areas inside the Beltway through 6 a.m. However, these particular locations probably won’t see a lot more snow accumulation as the sleet transition is happening or about to. Even so, temperatures will remain below freezing for a few more hours, at least, so conditions will remain hazardous outside.
4:55 p.m. update: Even as we watch the snow transition to sleet from south to north, temperatures are still well below freezing. It will probably take until between 8 p.m. and midnight for temperatures to edge to freezing or a little above from south to north. In other words, expect road conditions to remain hazardous with frozen precipitation falling for the balance of the evening.
The map below shows temperatures and a radar screenshot from around 4:45 p.m. You can see the sleet into Stafford County — it’s advancing north pretty quickly and most spots from the District south should see some mixing between 5 and 6 p.m. Mixing should advance into our northern suburbs between 6 and 7 p.m.
We only expect another inch or so snow accumulation (which may include some sleet) from the District south, with perhaps another 1-2 of combined snow and sleet north of the Beltway.
4:35 p.m. update: The mix is coming. But first we may keep cashing in on some heavier snow in the D.C. area as more intense activity moves up from the south. We’ve seen reports on social media of sleet mixing in down near Fredericksburg. Freezing rain and other assorted mixy types are possible too.
Radar confirms the mix advancement to the north with some “bright banding” on the normal view (below left), and areas indicative of being “not snow” on dual polarization (below right).
Temperatures are continuing to slowly climb on a south wind both at the surface and aloft. More and more mix is likely heading into the evening. The HRRR model shows what it envisions for this mix across the area at 7 p.m. below.
4:00 p.m. update: Lots of general snow pictures, and lots of ruler pictures. Based on all the great snow measurement reports, it seems we’re up to about 3-7 inches locally, perhaps a bit less well south and east and a bit more in a spot or the snowiest spots.
Damascus – 9 inches (link)
Sterling – 7.5 inches (link)
Aspen Hill – 6.75 inches (link)
Gaithersburg – 6.2 inches (link)
Bethesda – 6 inches (link)
Haymarket – 6 inches (link)
Ashburn – 5.5 inches (link)
Silver Spring – 4.5 inches (link)
Michigan Park – 3 inches (link)
3:40 p.m. update: So. Many. Snow. Pictures. Here are a few from recently across the area:
3:05 p.m. update: If you’re looking for some sign of improvement, we are starting to see temperatures slowly warm. Everyone has now climbed out of the teens and is solidly in the 20s (low 20s north of D.C. to mid-20s from D.C. to the south). But it’s still going to take until at least this evening until we start flirting with the freezing mark in the immediate metro area and points north. Meanwhile, another band of heavier snow is crossing the area from west to east as seen below.
Outside of this band, snow is generally lighter than it has been. But whatever falls is still accumulating, now up to 3″ at American University in D.C., 6.8″ at Dulles and 2″ in Fairfax. Here are
from the National Weather Service, though note that some are dated. Still looking at a transition from snow to sleet and freezing rain (from south to north) after 5 p.m. or so. http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/local/social-video-captures-dc-snowfall/2015/02/21/825ce9f2-ba03-11e4-bc30-a4e75503948a_video.html
2:15 p.m. update:
Snow continues to fall moderate to heavy in many places. Radar shows a bit of drier air trying to work in from the west, and that combined with what short-term models show suggests that the snow may lighten during the 3-5 p.m. period. Road conditions probably don’t improve much, though, and precipitation may still get heavier again after 5 p.m., as sleet and freezing rain likely start to mix in from south to north.
1:45 p.m. update: Hopefully word has gotten out that roads stink and you are in a safe place enjoying watching the snow out your window this afternoon. The snow is piling up nicely with the National Weather Service reporting the following accumulations so far: Frederick (3″), Ellicott City (2″), Germantown (4″), Rockville (1.5″), Wheaton (1.4″), Arlington (1″), Vienna (2″), Leesburg (4″). Note that these totals are all from the 12-1 p.m. hour and have certainly grown since. Recent totals reported on American Weather have Frederick at 5″, Clarksburg at 5.4″ and Purcelville at 5.25″. CWG’s Camden Walker has the report from the University of Maryland…
1:15 p.m. update: Flakes have gone from small to big in many areas and the snow is accumulating fast. Generally we’re hearing reports so far of 2-4″ and counting in the north and west suburbs, and 1-2″ and counting from D.C. to the south and east. Snow has been especially intense north and west of D.C., but just about everyone probably sees periods of heavy snow the next few hours, during which time we could add another 2-4″ on top of what’s already fallen. Roads are awful. Stay home!
12:30 p.m. update: The winter storm warning has now been expanded southward on the west side of D.C. to include Fairfax, Prince William and southern Fauquier counties, where the National Weather Service is calling for 3-6″ of snow, and then a trace to a few hundredths of an inch of ice. The warning, which now covers all the north and west suburbs, is in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday. 12: 10 p.m. update: Well, the current traffic pattern sure does match up well with where we’ve seen the most and heaviest snow so far…
This is what happens when it snows at a decent rate with a cold ground and temperatures in the teens to near 20. Road treatments don’t accomplish much at these temperatures, and it’s hard for snow plows to keep up.
11:40 a.m. update: Moderate snow continues to fall all across the area, with pockets of heavier snow especially northwest and west of D.C., with a half-inch to inch of snow already accumulated in many spots. Looking at radar and all the model information available, it sure looks like snow totals will end up toward the higher end of the ranges on our map above. Many roads are snow covered and treacherous as you can see below.
11:10 a.m. update: Snow is now falling just about everywhere locally, and it is moderate to heavy for a good chunk of the western part of the region. It will pick up further east as an intense area of snow pushes into and through the immediate area. Rates up to and even past 1 inch per hour are a good bet in the heaviest activity.
10:50 a.m. update: Within 20 minutes of beginning, snow has become steady and is sticking to roads in the city. That’s generally the case everywhere as it begins. This is just the beginning of a lengthy slug of moisture pointed at the area with this system.
And while we expect temperatures to climb both aloft and here at the ground with time, ultimately changing us over to a wintry mix from snow, above freezing temperatures are nowhere to be found locally right now.
10:25 a.m. update: We can confirm the first flakes are falling in D.C. now. Here’s a look at current conditions to the west. Be careful if out and about, everything’s turning white again rather quick.
10:10 a.m. update: Snow is coming, about right on schedule. The front edge is currently lined up with I-95 and is about to push east across the city. We can’t stress enough that this is all sticking immediately, and untreated roads/sidewalks/etc. are likely to become a problem pretty quick.
9:40 a.m. initial post: Snow is racing through the area, now about to meet up with most of the I-95 corridor. Thus far, snow is mainly light to occasionally moderate in intensity, but some heavier bursts are also embedded.
Short-term modeling and weather radar both suggest we’re in for a snowy rest of the daylight period.
Below is a look at what the HRRR thinks radar will do into the evening. Note that it expects snow to hang on into evening before any major changeover, something we also anticipate ourselves.