3:20 p.m. update: Here are some snowfall totals we’re seeing from readers and the Weather Service. If you’d like to share your total, make sure to measure on a hard surface away from structures!
Today’s snowfall updates can be found below the forecast. Have a great weekend!
TODAY’S DAILY DIGIT
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
5/10: For weather geeks like me, a day with snow falling is a 10. For some others, that might make it a zero.
Today: Morning snow, tapering in the afternoon. Highs: 23 to 29.
Tonight: Mostly clear, breezy. Lows: Teens.
Tomorrow: Mostly sunny, breezy. Highs: Mid-20s to near 30.
View the current weather at The Washington Post headquarters.
FORECAST IN DETAIL
Many folks have been waiting for the first real snowfall of the year, while others have been dreading it. Some will see that today, especially south and east of town. We’re also nearing the coldest time of the year as well, and we’ve got that to go with this event. The cold lasts through the weekend.
Today (Saturday): Snow overtakes part of the area in the pre-dawn period. It starts to add up instantly where it falls, thanks to the cold air in place. Plan on roads heading downhill in spots, although at least this will be a fairly fluffy snow, which might help a little. Even by sunrise, we could have a coating on the ground in parts of the area. Totals rise where into the midmorning where it snows as the storm hits its peak. Heavier stuff becomes more likely as you head farther south and east, and maybe with any banding locally.
Snow tapers off during the morning (west) to early afternoon (east). Since we’re on the edge, some locations may only see a very brief period of snow, and perhaps little or even no accumulation. The snow will be battling a cold and dry air mass. The edge is a tough place to be.
With precipitation and clouds around into core “heating” of the day, it’s pretty likely temperatures struggle. Mid-20s could about as warm as many spots get. Wind, too. Out of the north around 15 to 20 mph, with higher gusts. Confidence: Medium
Tonight: Skies trend fully clear. With fresh snow plus a cold air mass overhead, it’s one of the chilliest nights of the winter. Winds from the northwest around 10 to 15 mph may keep us from reaching our true cold potential, but either way, everyone is down into the teens. A range from about 11 to 18 seems good. Bundle up! Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow (Sunday): Arctic air is overhead and winds are still blowing. It’s looking like a good day to tend to indoor chores, or football. Some of that snow is blowing around as winds whip. Those winds are sustained around 20 mph, with higher gusts. It will at least be quite sunny, although it doesn’t help warm things up at all. Temperatures only make the mid-20s to near 30. Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow night: Another very cold night. Possibly a little colder than tonight thanks to calming winds. Clear skies and snow cover again conspire to send temperatures way down. Some of the suburbs may make it into the upper single digits as the rest of the area settles into the teens. Confidence: Medium-High
A LOOK AHEAD
Coming off a frigid start, temperatures begin to moderate on Monday. That said, the moderation is so minor it might not feel like much when you’re outside. We will again see a lot of sun, and with lighter winds, there’s not that added bight to the air. But temperatures only make it to a range of about 32 to 38, which is still below normal. We’ll probably see more in the way of melting than during the weekend, though. Confidence: Medium
A storm system running through the Great Lakes region sends us some clouds for Tuesday. It also gets a warmer air flow moving into the region. Cloud cover may be thick enough to keep us from warming up notably, though. But near or above 40 feels mild compared to what we’ve been through lately, and it’s just the beginning of a longer warm stretch to come. Confidence: Medium
SNOW POTENTIAL INDEX
A daily assessment of the potential for at least 1 inch of snow in the next week, on a 0-10 scale.
7/10 (↑): Saturday delivers our best widespread chance to play in the snow so far this winter. And on a weekend!
Previous storm updates
2:26 p.m. update: Accumulating snow has ended for nearly all of the Beltway. Flurries will continue for the next hour or so, but it’s time to break out the shovels.
The eastern areas were always going to get it a little bit worse, and that’s what we’re hearing from neighbors in Prince Georges and Anne Arundel. It might take more time for roads in those counties to recover, so be patient and slow on the roads.
We’re waiting for an update from the National Weather Service to post a big list of snow totals, but for right now we can tell you that areas in the Beltway got 1 to 2 inches. Arlington looks like it registers at 1.5 inches, and Jason just measured 1.9 inches in Friendship Heights.
Lower totals will be seen at the Capital — maybe around 1 inch — since it’s at a lower elevation (slightly warmer), and of course National Airport is only coming in at 0.4 inches as of 1:30 p.m., which is pretty low given the reports we’ve seen from the surrounding area. That isn’t a measurement problem, it’s just temperature — the airport is warmer.
1:30 p.m. update: Well, we’re seeing the snow lighten up on radar. Part of this has to do with the size of the snowflakes — they’re much smaller than they were at noon! — but there’s also less of it falling from the sky (check out the animation in our tweet below).
We suspect that roads are starting to get a little better in the northwest Beltway area. Bethesda and Silver Spring should start to recover soon. Roads in Arlington and the District are still messy but we’re starting to see tire tracks melting a little bit more and that will help with traction. Southeast areas will be the last to recover.
12:55 p.m. update: We’re hearing from lots of people wondering when this will be over inside the Beltway. Our best guess is another hour or so for the northwest areas, and 90 minutes for southeast areas.
There’s still light snow falling in northwest Montgomery County, but Dan Stillman just reported that it’s not sticking anymore in Rockville, and the roads are just wet. Of course, the snow is still coming down on the other side of the county in places like Bethesda and Silver Spring.
We’re also hearing reports of accidents, and the sound of sirens is starting to pick up. It’s really best to stay off the roads until the snow has ended, unless you need to be at work or you have an emergency. You may know how to handle the snow, but other drivers probably don’t. We want everyone to stay safe today.
12:30 p.m. update: The back edge of this storm is appearing on radar now — we’re watching it push into far northwest Montgomery County on radar, where the snow has already ended. Frederick County and most of Loudoun are also out of the woods.
Heavy snow should last in the immediate metro area over the next hour or two, ending from northwest to southeast. Roads will continue to deteriorate until it stops, so stay off the roads until it’s over. Jason Samenow was running errands when the heavy snow started, and he’s telling us roads are slushy and people are having a hard time handling the situation — in true Washington form. Neighborhood roads are snow-covered, and since they weren’t pre-treated, those will be the worst places to drive.
One of our contributors, Jordan Tessler, made this hour-long radar animation that shows how the heaviest snow came together over the D.C. metro area in the storm’s final hours. For a while we didn’t think this storm was going to be much of a snowmaker for us — turns out it was just taking its time!
Noon update: This snow band means business. Moderate to heavy snow is affecting the immediate area. Conditions have deteriorated significantly within this band. It is best to delay travel until it passes and conditions begin to improve.
11:40 a.m. update: The snow band moving into D.C. continues to strengthen. Moderate to even briefly heavy snow is possible as it passes. Conditions head noticeably downhill with visibility and on roads during its passage.
11:25 a.m. update: Snow bands that developed to the southwest are moving into the immediate area now. Some are locally intense.
The most hefty band was lined up from near Rockville to near Manassas. Moderate snowfall is occurring within this band as it pushes east and northeast. It will roll through D.C. and the rest of the immediate area shortly. Additional snow is also occurring in other areas. Radar and short-term modeling suggest it could last a few hours into the afternoon.
10:45 a.m. update: While there is a bit of a lull over parts of the area, additional light accumulating snow is headed this way from the southwest and west.
This area of snow could drop up to another inch or so if it holds together while passing through.
It also remains frigid out there as temperatures fell off into the upper teens and low 20s with the onset of steadier snow. In some cases, readings have since rebounded slightly, but many spots remain near 20, or just a little above, late this morning.
6:35 a.m. key point: At this point we’re going to go ahead and bring back our first snowfall map, which had lower amounts than a second version.
6:35 a.m. update: Living on the edge is tough. So far this morning, snow advancement on the area is not quite what it should if you’re looking for a snow event that drops meaningful snow across the whole area. This air mass is very dry. Although light snow has been reported in D.C. and surrounding locations, dew points (a measure of moisture in the air) are hovering near and below 10 degrees. That helps eat snow as it falls. At present, snow intensity doesn’t pick up markedly until southeast of the area.
While we should still see light accumulation into the I-95 corridor, short-range models have tightened up the gradient and cut precipitation totals. This can be seen in the latest HRRR and RAP runs below.
HRRR snow totals…
RAP precipitation totals…
At this point we’re going to go ahead and bring back our first snowfall map, which had lower amounts than the update.
7:25 a.m. update: Well, the cold is verifying. Near 20 to low 20s most spots at 7 a.m.
As the sun rises and it brightens up outside, many of us are waking up to brown ground and no visible snow falling. Trends continue to look poor if you are hoping for much snow near and west of I-95 in particular. That said, there is a snow band over western suburbs that threatens a dusting or so as it passes.
Given the very cold temperatures, any snow that falls is sticking immediately. The good news is it’s rather dry snow, but do use caution while traveling.
Snow accumulation locally is likely to be rather low overall, with any totals of real significance further south and east. But, we should keep seeing flakes in the air and slowly whitening the ground in many spots over the next few hours.
8:35 a.m. update: It’s worth reiterating a key with today’s snowfall: It’ll stick to everything right away. Roads are becoming snow covered where activity is consistent.
9:20 a.m. update: The D.C. “snow hole” was evident for a while there, with heavier bands that set up west and east of the city. That gap continues to fill in. Light accumulating snow is now ongoing in much of the immediate area and that will continue in the period ahead.
Far western and northwestern suburbs are already out of the main snow area with this storm, but there is another brief but somewhat intense band to the west that will slide through if it holds together.
Snowy scenes are on the increase.
10 a.m. update: Here’s a nice update from the National Weather Service on the ongoing snow. Slick spots are a risk across the area.