Drivers will be heading into the sunset as they begin their holiday getaways. Preparation is the key to safe trips. (Robert Thomson — The Washington Post)

The Capital Weather Gang foresees some showers in the D.C. area on Friday, with clouds and temperatures diminishing as the day goes on, but out in western Maryland, State Highway Administration crews are preparing for blizzard conditions.

A storm from the west should begin as rain on Thursday night, then quickly change to snow on Friday and Saturday, the highway administration said. With sustained winds of 25 to 45 mph predicted, travelers could encounter blowing and drifting snow.

“Based on the latest forecast, this storm will hit Western Maryland and points west,” SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters said in a statement. “SHA crews are prepared and ready and we are asking anyone traveling west to do the same. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition if you must travel and please consider delaying your trip as conditions are expected to be treacherous through Saturday. Call 511 for current weather and traffic information.”

This is not a warning for the D.C. area, but many drivers are preparing for long trips as the holidays approach, and we always stress the need to check the weather forecast not only for the departure point but also for the destination, and the roadways in between.

If you do wind up in an area where the snowplows are out, don’t pass them. They’re out there trying to keep you safe, so don’t endanger them as well as yourselves.

The SHA recommends that drivers include these items for their winter trips: a shovel, jumper cables, snacks, a blanket or sleeping bag, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, extra clothes, bottled water, a charged cell phone, kitty litter or other abrasives in case you have to get out of a slick spot.

See our getaway guide for the December holidays.