9:20 p.m. update: The bulk of this event is over, where it happened to begin with. The main area of any accumulation that amounted to anything ended up focused from near the northeast Beltway area and to the north and east of that. Even there, we’re mostly talking hefty coatings.
It’s still enough to cause some slick travel. This is particularly the case if you are headed from D.C. toward Baltimore. A similar story is ongoing across much of northern Maryland, despite small snowfall amounts.
Scroll to bottom for previous storm updates… Immediately below, original post from 3:30 p.m…
A fast-moving weather disturbance could bring a short period of snow to the D.C. region Wednesday evening toward the end of the commute and shortly thereafter. Because air and road temperatures are cold, around freezing, some slick spots cannot be ruled out.
Consider leaving work a little early or allowing extra time to get wherever you’re going this evening.
The National Weather Service issued a special winter commuting hazard statement due to the possibility of light snow on frigid roads that could cause them to “quickly turn icy.”
Snow showers could develop in our far-western areas between 6 and 7 p.m. and move into the rest of the region between 7 and 8 p.m. Any snow should exit our eastern suburbs by about 10 p.m. although a few scattered flurries are possible thereafter.
Snow accumulation that occurs, if any, is likely to be light. However, because low temperatures fell to near 20 degrees this morning and have struggled to get much above freezing this afternoon, road temperatures are cold enough that the snow could stick.
The concern for some slick spots is greatest west and northwest of the Beltway where pavement temperatures are coldest and where the chance of snow is highest, but icy roads are possible anywhere steady snow falls.
“Motorists should be prepared for roads which could quickly become coated with snow,” the Weather Service said in a tweet. “Snow may start during the evening rush in western areas, and just after rush hour in the metro.”
Some areas may just get flurries or no snow, especially well south of the District.
“There is a 40 percent chance [of snow] for Washington, and a 60 percent chance for Baltimore,” the Weather Service said. “If there is accumulation, it is expected to be less than an inch.”
While only a very limited amount of snow is predicted and it is possible some areas get passed over, past events of this nature — in which just a film of light snow fell on cold roads — have caused extremely hazardous conditions.
On Jan. 20, 2016, a fast-moving disturbance dropped just a dusting to a couple inches of snow across the Washington region, but the area became paralyzed as roads turned into a sheet of ice. Thousands of cars were stranded for hours.
The event, which was at first overshadowed by the impending blizzard forecast two days later, prompted the Weather Service to develop the special commuting hazard statement, which has been issued for this evening into early Thursday morning.
Snowfall from Wednesday night’s event is unlikely to be as widespread or amount to as much as Jan. 20, 2016, and it’s likely to occur toward the end of commute rather than during the thick of it, but pockets of icy travel are possible.
Any snow should have long ended before Thursday morning’s commute, so expect schools and federal offices to open on time.
Previous storm updates
8:10 p.m. update: A zone from the northeast portion of the Beltway up through Baltimore has been seeing some steadier snow lately that is sticking with ease. Some slick spots are likely to develop in that region. Elsewhere, activity remains quite hit-or-miss, and really more of the miss variety. It seems a good bet that the most persistent snow will continue to stay north and northeast of the city over the short term.
7:05 p.m. update: So far, this event isn’t amounting to a whole lot. The majority of early snow shower activity has fizzled while crossing the mountains. It’s not quite time to write it off entirely, though.
Some heavier activity is poised to cross parts of the northern part of the area shortly. First in line will be places like Frederick, then other spots to the east of there if it holds together. To the south of that, a bigger zone of snow showers will attempt a push into the area as well. Closer to home, a couple quick spritzes of graupel and snowflakes have been happening.
Short-term modeling has largely backed off the idea of any accumulation locally, but the northern suburbs in particular still seem likely to pick up a dusting or so in the heavier activity and some of that is still possible in the immediate area over the next several hours.