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Blizzard warning updates: Moderate snow pasting Washington region

Blizzard warning | Latest forecast | Radar | Live news updates | Watch the storm live | Power outage tracker | What does two feet of snow look like?

Key points:

  • This is a long-duration event, with snow forecast for 36 hours or so through Saturday night.
  • Conditions are the worst starting late this afternoon, continuing into Saturday.
  • Thunder snow is possible late tonight and Saturday. Extreme snowfall rates of two to three inches per hour are possible at the storm’s peak late Friday night and into Saturday.
  • Winds may gust to 40 mph on Saturday, causing whiteout conditions and some blowing and drifting snow. Stronger gusts to 50 mph are possible east of the District toward the bay.
  • Total snow accumulations 16-30 inches. Highest north and west of District, lowest southeast.

6:45 p.m. update: We’re going to start a new post with updates to take us through the evening hours. So please go here for the next round of update and keep following along with us: Blizzard warning updates: Snow intensity up, and heavier stuff on the way.

6:25 p.m. update: This is what the storm looked like as it approached. Awesome view!

6:00 p.m. update: Radar shows steady snow falling at about a half to one inch per hour clip and many locations now have totals around and even over three inches. Temperatures are holding in the low 20s with visibility around one half mile.

5:30 p.m. update: The HRRR short-range computer model absolutely buries the D.C. area overnight, with 18-20 inches in its latest run through 7 a.m Saturday. If it’s correct, that is stunning and would set this storm up to challenge the Knickerbocker storm of 1922, which unloaded 28 inches in the District, as the biggest on record for the region.

5:00 p.m. update: Snow amounts are quickly passing the two inch mark in the immediate metro area as steady moderate snow continues and shows no signs of stopping.  Temperatures are cold, mostly in the low 20s.  Snow is reducing visibility in the region to half a mile or less, and winds haven’t really kicked in yet.

4:44 p.m. update: Our latest forecast video!

Capital Weather Gang's Jason Samenow gives the latest forecast and snow accumulation predictions for the potentially historic blizzard hitting the Washington area and the mid-Atlantic. (Video: Ashleigh Joplin, Jason Samenow/The Washington Post)

4:33 p.m. update: The pets are out, enjoying the weather before things really start to deteriorate. We have a feeling they won’t be as happy to head outside when winds are howling tomorrow. But for now it’s fun and games.

Some pets are happy to watch from the comfort of the indoors.

4:20 p.m. update: Capital Weather Gang’s Ian Livingston points out temperatures in this storm are much colder to begin with than Snowmageddon of Feb. 5-6, 2010, when some initial accumulation was lost due to above freezing temperatures.  That’s a reason why this storm may produce greater totals.

4:10 p.m. update: Many locations in the immediate D.C. area have now received their first inch of snow. In Charlottesville, where it’s been snowing for a few hours longer, amounts are over three inches.  A reader from Warrenton checks in with almost three inches. Some photos around the region:

3:50 p.m. update: An observant reader just pointed out that last winter’s entire snow total — 18.3 inches — is in jeopardy this weekend! That total was accumulated over a number of storms that lasted into the beginning of March. What a storm this will be!

3:28 p.m. update: Watch the winter storm all weekend, live from the roof of The Washington Post!

3:14 p.m. update: Our go-to short-range model, called the HRRR, pastes the region with moderate to heavy snow for the next 12 hours.  The result? 11-15 inches predicted by 4 a.m.

3:00 p.m. update: The Blizzard Warning officially takes effect right now and continues through 6 a.m. Sunday. With the snow picking up and sun going lower in the sky, roads will steadily get worse into this evening.  By now or very, very soon, we recommend being off the roads.

2:54 p.m. update: Snow is steadily mounting in our southern areas.  Up to nearly one inch in Manassas and already three inches in Culpeper.  Inside the Beltway, we’d call it a heavy dusting, but roads are becoming snow covered.

2:45 p.m. update: Here’s a beautiful view of the storm developing over the Southeast…

2:30 p.m. update: Pressure is falling off the coast of South Carolina where the center of the storm is redeveloping. This is expected in big coastal storms. The low pressure center is essentially jumping across the Appalachians from a position in the Tennessee Valley, said Jeff Halverson this morning in a post on why this storm is so textbook. It then reforms just off the Southeast coast.

“This type of pattern is called a ‘secondary low’ or ‘Miller Type-B’ pattern – a classic, textbook scenario for the biggest snowstorms,” Jeff said.

2:18 p.m. update: Most locations inside the Beltway already have a dusting as snow increases in intensity and surges north.  Conditions are deteriorating on the roads and we urge folks still out to carefully negotiate their way home.

2:00 p.m. update: We’re already getting accumulation reports down to our southwest in central Virginia. Two to three inches have fallen around Waynesboro, and 2 inches in Charlottesville.

1:44 p.m. update: The latest and last European model is in, which will simulate this storm in D.C. for its entirety.  This model has been like a rock, for several days now predicting totals in the range of 18-26 inches or so for D.C.  And this final run has stayed the course.

The University of Maryland has run a model simulating about two feet in D.C. as well:

1:34 p.m. update: This storm is HUGE. Here are two images that show its scope:



1:13 p.m. update: The Storm Prediction Center is expecting heavy snowfall to begin in the D.C. region in the next hour or two, with snowfall rates in excess of 1 inch per hour possible. They note that to our south, things have escalated from no precipitation to heavy snow very quickly.

12:55 p.m. update: Very light flurries have arrived as far northeast as the District, Bethesda and Silver Spring.

Conditions are deteriorating in the higher elevations out west:

12:45 p.m. update: The flakes are flying in the western suburbs! Manassas, Haymarket, Reston, Herndon and Fairfax are all reporting snow. It’s only a matter of minutes before the Beltway can say the same.

12:17 p.m. update: Snow is falling in our far southwest areas and some of our far western suburbs, making its way toward the immediate metro. Expect the first flakes to fall in the Beltway by 1:30 p.m.