Roads have escaped accumulation for the most part from D.C. toward the south and east, but many side roads are snow covered north and west of the District. With temperatures expected to hold right around freezing through the night, as shown below, slick spots could last into the morning commute, especially in our north and west suburbs where school delays and a few cancellations seem increasingly likely.
This is our last update for the evening. Make sure to check road conditions before you head out in the morning...
10:35 p.m. - Snow picking up again, driving conditions may deteriorate
Driving conditions may deteriorate again as an area of somewhat steadier snow moves through over the next hour or so. Temperatures continue to hold steady mainly around 29-33, which means any brief burst of snow could whiten the pavement, especially in our colder areas outside the Beltway. Below you can see the activity starting to move through on radar, and below that you see the current temperatures near freezing, which could lead to more slick spots on the roads and sidewalks.
9:25 p.m. - Patchy light snow and flurries for now, another dusting to half-inch possible overnight
So far this little storm has, for the most part, played out as expected. Accumulations from that initial batch of steadier snow that came through around 5-8 p.m. have ranged mainly from around a half-inch to one inch. Some recent reports from the National Weather Service include: Fairfax (1.0″), Dulles Airport (1.1″), Alexandria (0.6″), Columbia (0.6″), Herndon (1.1″), Bailey’s Crossroads (0.9″), Dale City (0.5″), Damascus (0.8″).
Currently we’ve got patchy flurries with a little bit of light snow continuing to move through. An area of steadier snow is aiming to track west to east across the southern suburbs, although it looks like it will weaken as it does. Similarly, the larger batch approaching from the west out of West Virginia has shown signs of weakening on approach, but could perhaps hold together enough for another dusting to half-inch in parts of the area as it moves through from west to east between approximately 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.
8:10 p.m. - First batch of snow fizzles out, with second batch possible later, but will it hold together?
Our first batch of steady snow has fizzled out, with patchy light snow and flurries remaining. Areas west and north of D.C., where temperatures are mainly around 30-32, have seen the most impact from this initial band of snow, with a coating of snow and slick spots on side streets, driveways and sidewalks. From D.C. toward points south and east, temperatures more like 31-33 have limited the accumulation on pavement. Main roads are mainly just wet area-wide.
We now turn our attention toward a possible second batch of steadier snow now moving east through West Virginia (see image below). While short-term modeling shows this batch dissipating as it approaches the metro area, it currently looks healthy enough on radar that it could hold together better than the models anticipate. If it does, then we could see another dusting to an inch or so as it moves through from west to east after 10 p.m. or so.
7:00 p.m. - First band of snow advancing eastward before exiting, second band possible later this evening
This initial band of snow, which has come down moderate at times, continues to advance west to east across the area, with the front edge now reaching the Chesapeake Bay and the back edge now reaching into the western suburbs. Most main roads seem to be just wet, but some side roads, sidewalks and driveways, especially north and west of the Beltway, have picked up a light accumulation and could be slick. This band should exit the east suburbs by around 8 p.m., followed by a lull, with the chance of another batch of snow arriving from the west after 10 p.m. or so.
5:55 p.m. - Snow arriving near the Beltway and should spread into eastern areas next hour
The snow has begun in Washington’s western suburbs and is now moving inside the Beltway. Reports indicate the flakes are fat and even mixed with rain in some areas.
A few reports of a slushy coating have come in from around Interstate 81 but so far no reports of major problems on roadways.
Radar and modeling suggest this opening wave of snow may just last a couple hours or so before a break around 8 or 9 p.m.
Another wave may then move through starting between 10 p.m. and midnight that subsides in the predawn hours. This second wave may more target areas from the District north, which have the best chance of picking up an inch of snow (or a little more). We’ll keep you posted.
5:05 p.m. - Snow moving into Washington’s western suburbs
Our Twitter followers indicate flakes have begun in Warrenton, Gainesville, and Haymarket in Virginia and radar shows the snow arriving in Frederick to the north in Maryland.
Initial reports indicate the snow is melting on paved surfaces out toward Interstate 81, but starting to coat other areas.
We still expect the first flakes inside the Beltway around 6 p.m. or so.
Temperatures are currently around 32 or 33 degrees where snow has begun in our western areas, which will allow snow to gradually begin accumulating.
Closer to town, they’re around 35 but should fall to near freezing as the snow gets going.
4:10 p.m. - Snow is breaking out along Interstate 81 corridor
Radar shows snow has arrived around Winchester in northwest Virginia and Martinsburg in the West Virginia panhandle. It seems on track to arrive in Washington’s western suburbs over the next couple of hours.
Based on both radar and model projections, some snow could hit the Beltway between 6 and 7 p.m.
1:20 p.m. - Snow onset likely between 5 and 8 p.m.
Short-range models have come into fairly good agreement that the light snow should begin in our western areas close to sunset this evening, but may hold off around the Beltway and points east until between 6 and 8 p.m.
Temperatures early this afternoon have reached the mid-30s or so and pavement temperatures average around 40, so we don’t expect a rapid ice over when the snow begins. But, some slushy spots could develop especially in our colder areas north and west of the city. Especially east and southeast of Interstate 95, the snow could mix with rain and/or sleet at times, so we expect minimal issues with slick travel in this area.
Models also tend to suggest the snow will be most widespread in our northern areas, lasting the longest and more spotty to the south.
The bottom line - we don’t see this event leading to gridlock and widespread iciness. But delays and areas of slipperiness are possible, especially north and northwest of the city... so consider building in extra time for getting home, or think about leaving early or late.
10:45 a.m. - Winter weather advisory expanded to immediate metro area
The National Weather Service expanded the winter weather advisory southeast into the immediate Washington area, including all areas from around Interstate 95 and to the north and west, including all of Fairfax, Montgomery, Prince William and Prince George’s counties. The advisory for the immediate area takes effect at 6 p.m. whereas the advisory to the northwest (described below) begins at 4 p.m., where snow will likely develop first.
The Weather Service predicts up to an inch of snow in the immediate metro area and one to two inches for our far northwest areas. This is consistent with our snowfall prediction.
Areas south of Prince William and Prince George’s County, including Southern Maryland, are not included in the advisory and are likely to see a coating, at most. In these southern areas, precipitation may be spotty and mixed with sleet and rain.
In terms of disruption to the afternoon-evening commute, it still seems more likely that snow will affect our far west and north areas during this time (between 4 and 6 p.m.) than the Beltway and areas to the east. However, pinning down the start time to the hour is difficult and it’s not out of the question some light snow develops close to town by 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. We would still advise building in extra time for commuting home.
Fortunately, road temperatures aren’t frigid so we don’t expect them to quickly ice over. The main threat would be some slushiness during steadier bursts of snow.
7:40 a.m. - Winter weather advisory for northwest areas this evening
Overnight, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for our far northwest areas beginning late this afternoon and continuing into the predawn hours Friday. In this zone, one to two inches of snow are possible with slick roads.
To the southeast of the advisory zone, generally a coating to an inch is most likely down to the Interstate 95 corridor, with a coating or less farther southeast.
Some of the latest models suggest the snow should not be a commuting issue around the Beltway, waiting until after 7 p.m. or so to begin this evening, but some could breakout in our far northwest areas (in the advisory zone) in the 4 to 7 p.m. timeframe. Some modeling also suggests the snow may be pretty spotty and perhaps a fairly minimal event in the immediate area and to the southeast.
Forecast through the weekend
TODAY’S DAILY DIGIT
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
4/10: Sun quickly fades away, light snow by late in the day; enough to make a commuter’s nerves fray?
Today: Increasing clouds, light snow possible late. Highs: 33-37
Tonight: Light snow at times, tapering off predawn. Lows: 29-33
Tomorrow: Clearing, light breezes. Highs: 43-47
View the current weather at The Washington Post headquarters.
FORECAST IN DETAIL
Light snow tonight may cause a nuisance and, while the specifics are still fuzzy, so too could the weekend storminess. The dreaded wintry mix is possible on Saturday but it could rather quickly change to rain before causing too many problems. The exception might be in our far northwest areas, where frozen precipitation may accumulate more. The Arctic blast on Sunday has a chance to switch rain back to snow before ending and is guaranteed to chill to the bone.
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Today (Thursday): Expect sunshine to be short-lived today as clouds increase and thicken as the day progresses. A few flakes of snow may develop in our western areas by late afternoon, but little impact is anticipated before sunset. Highs only reach the mid-30s or so. Winds are nearly calm. Confidence: Medium-High
Tonight: The main band of snow is likely to come through during the evening and overnight hours. As the onset of snow may coincide with the evening commute, especially in our western areas, build in extra time to get home or consider leaving a little early to beat the rush. Some slick spots could develop, especially on untreated roads.
Accumulations should range from a coating southeast of the city, where snow could mix with rain and sleet, to an inch or two northwest. Snow should quickly taper off after midnight but flurries remain possible into the predawn hours. Winds are very light as temperatures hold in the lower 30s. Confidence: Medium
Tomorrow (Friday): Any snow ends before dawn but clouds will be hard to shake until late in the day. Winds remain very light. Highs rise to the mid-40s. Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow night: The calm before the storm holds true with partly cloudy skies and barely a breeze. Lows hold in the upper 20s to lower 30s. Confidence: Medium-High
A LOOK AHEAD
Saturday morning clouds thicken quickly. A few spits of snow or sleet could break out late morning but become more likely after noon. Temperatures remain in the low-to-mid 30s. Much of the area looks likely to switch over to a rain/snow/sleet mix fairly quickly and likely to all rain by evening. However, our northwest suburbs could hold on to frozen precipitation much of the day and accumulation of snow and ice is quite possible. From the District south and east accumulation before the rain is currently a low probability but this is not at all set in stone. Warm air threatens to break into the area overnight pushing readings into the 50s especially from the District south. Confidence: Low
Rain showers Sunday morning may briefly switch over to snow before quickly ending as northwest winds push much colder air into the area by midday. A light accumulation is possible if dry air is slow to filter in. Temperatures likely fall through the 30s and into the 20s by around sunset. There is a good chance that skies clear soon enough in the late evening to allow a view of the eclipse of the super moon. Overnight lows range through the teens. Confidence: Low
Monday is sunny but frigid with gusty northwest winds likely to produce wind chills near zero in the morning and highs struggle to reach the low-to-mid 20s. 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.
5/10 (↑): Light snow tonight has some chance to produce an inch plus there’s a slight risk of a little snow on the front and/or back end of the weekend storm.