On Wednesday, howling winds from the northwest will blow into the region, sustained at 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Some widely scattered snow showers could zip through the region, especially between the mid-morning and mid-afternoon hours. They could briefly reduce visibility and put down a quick coating. Highs should range from 30-35 around midday or early afternoon before falling off sharply late in the day.
Scroll way down for the forecast for the rest of the week. This is tonight’s final update. Check back for a brand new forecast at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
7:50 p.m. - How much snow fell?
As the last of the snow exits Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, let’s summarize snowfall totals from this event. Generally, north and west of the Beltway, 1 to 3 inches fell. But from the Beltway and to the south and east, just trace amounts (no accumulation) to an inch were reported.
Here’s a round-up of some reports into the National Weather Service and from Capital Weather Gang readers:
- Alexandria: 0.2 inches (Reagan National Airport)
- Arlington: Coating to 1 inch
- Manassas: 1.0 inches
- Fairfax: 2.0 inches
- Chantilly: 2.0 inches
- Vienna: 1.5 to 3 inches
- Centreville: 2.5 inches
- Dulles: 3.0 inches
- Ashburn: 3.0 inches
- Leesburg: 3.0 inches
- BWI Marshall: 0.3 inches
- Bethesda: Around an inch
- Columbia: 1.0 inches
- Rockville: 1.0 inches
- Gaithersburg: 1.5 inches
- Clarksburg: 2.5 inches
- Damascus: 2.6 inches
Amounts were generally close to what were forecast but totals boomed a bit (reaching 3 inches) in our western suburbs and were a bust around downtown Washington and some areas to the south and east due to temperatures that were just a bit too warm for snow to stick.
6:40 p.m. - Snow has ended from the Beltway west but temperatures are falling
The snow is over in all but our eastern suburbs, where it should end in the next hour or so. The concern now is temperatures. As they drop through this evening, wet and slushy areas will freeze and untreated roads will become icy.
Here is a look at temperatures around the region at 6:30 p.m. (see below). Areas to the left of the yellow line are already at or below freezing and will continue to fall. These are the areas where you should be particularly careful driving. The potential for slick spots will expand eastward as freezing temperature extend further east with time.
5:40 p.m. - Heaviest of the snow moving crossing Interstate 95, quickly ending west of Beltway
The heaviest of the closing snow burst is passing through downtown, where the local heat island effect has prevented much if any accumulation. This grand finale should push through our eastern areas over the next hour or two.
To the west, the snow has abruptly shutoff. Frederick, Md. even witnessed a bit of sunset after a couple inches of snow:
While downtown has seen minimal accumulation, snowfall totals west and northwest of Washington have mostly been in the one to two-inch range, with a few three inch totals. Here are some scenes:
5:00 p.m. - Closing burst of snow entering western areas
Around the Beltway, the snow has briefly eased or stopped but one last burst is approaching from the west. So we should expect to see visibility drop and areas of slushy accumulation again as this final batch passes by through around 6 p.m. in the immediate area. It may take until 8 p.m. or so for the snow to exit our eastern zones near the Chesapeake Bay.
But the snow is already ending just west of Frederick and Warrenton. Accumulations have generally ranged from 0.5 to 1.5 inches west of the Beltway, with a coating or less inside the Beltway, as temperatures have remained too warm. This last batch has the potential to put down a coating or so in areas that have yet to see accumulation.
Temperatures have mostly fallen into the low 30s across the region except mid-to-upper 30s near the Bay - but they should begin to fall steadily there. Areas left of the yellow line drawn below (but east of Frederick to Warrenton) are most likely to see snow accumulate over the next hour or so.
4:00 p.m. - Moderate to heavy snow moving over region with low visibility and slick travel
The brunt of this storm is now hitting the region with a burst of snow. The worst conditions are in our western areas where temperatures are coldest and snow has been falling the longest.
We now have many reports of conditions going downhill quickly due to the intensity of the snow and falling temperatures. Especially west of the Beltway, some areas have already seen half an inch to an inch of snow. Steady snow should continue for at least another hour or two (and a bit longer east of Interstate 95) before tapering this evening.
Here are some scenes:
3:30 p.m. - Deteriorating conditions west of Beltway as snow hits prime; rain changing to snow downtown
The heaviest part of this event is now beginning in our western areas (west of the Beltway) as the front arrives and snow falls at a rapid clip. Snow has coated grassy areas and is beginning to accumulate on some paved surfaces. Travel is likely to become increasingly slick over the next couple of hours and visibility will be low at times.
Meanwhile, in locations closer to Interstate 95, rain has changed to snow or is going through the process and a few slushy spots are starting to develop.
We expect the rain-snow line to continue pushing east bringing snow into our eastern suburbs by 5 p.m. or so. Areas along and east of Interstate 95 are likely to see slushy snow accumulation especially as we head into the early evening.
2:45 p.m. - Snow coating colder areas west of Interstate 95, and will increase
Precipitation is increasing in intensity and more and more areas - that were seeing rain earlier - are changing to snow. Snow is falling pretty much everywhere west of downtown and, in our colder areas, a slushy accumulation has begun.
Radar suggests moderate snow will fall for the next few hours with accumulation increasing, especially in our colder areas. Areas along and east of Interstate 95, where mostly rain is falling, should transition to snow with the worst conditions late this afternoon into this evening.
Temperatures range from the upper 30s along and east of Interstate 95 to the low-to-mid 30s to the west. These should gradually fall several more degrees over the next couple hours.
1:45 p.m. - Reports of snow increasing, especially north and west of downtown
A cold rain and sleet are falling in downtown Washington, but - just to the west, northwest, and north - raindrops turns to snowflakes. Conditions turn snowier and snowier as you head northwest with flakes beginning to coat some surfaces.
Here are some pictures:
1:10 p.m. - Precipitation expanding over much of region
Rain, sleet, and snow have rapidly overspread the region signaling a slightly early onset to this event.
Temperatures in the immediate area, where rain and sleet are falling, are mostly in the mid-to-upper 30s - so no initial concerns about slippery travel and accumulation. However, west of a line from roughly Frederick, Md. to Warrenton, Va., where snow is falling, temperatures drop into the low-to-mid 30s and the snow may begin to coat these areas shortly, especially on grassy areas.
As the afternoon wears on, temperatures fall, and rain and sleet changes to snow (where it’s not already snowing), the chance for slushy accumulation will increase from west to east. We still think the heaviest snow and best chance of slippery travel is likely from late afternoon into early evening.
12:20 p.m. - Snow starting to increase in mountains to the west and may begin in western suburbs over next hour
Radar shows an area of snow developing along the arctic cold front positioned near the Virginia-West Virginia border. Over the next hour or so, snow will increase over the Interstate 81 corridor and should reach Washington’s far western suburbs between 1 and 2 p.m. As precipitation moves closer to Interstate 95 around mid-afternoon, it may begin as rain before quickly changing to snow.
Ahead of the main area of snow along the front, some snow has also coated areas of northern and northeast Maryland - which is where we expect to see some of the heavier amounts due to its duration.
10:15 a.m. - Potential for heavy burst of snow by mid-to-late afternoon
Many school systems and the Federal government are dismissing early this afternoon - which is a good call considering the snowfall potential.
Short-range models show a line of heavy precipitation hitting the metro region between 2 and 5 p.m. from west to east. It may begin as rain, especially along and east of Interstate 95, but should quickly change to snow. Snowfall rates of an inch per hour are possible. Such snowfall rates would rapidly reduce visibility to a half mile or less and cause slush to build up on roads. Temperatures will fall into the low 30s as the snow gets going.
Models are pretty consistent that the snow should end between 6 and 9 p.m. from west to east. But then, temperatures will rapidly fall below freezing, icing over wet and slushy areas.
6:45 a.m. - No real early morning commuting issues but a little light precipitation developing; Conditions deteriorate by late this afternoon
Radar is mostly clear early this morning but there are some spotty and very light areas of frozen precipitation popping up mainly north and northwest of the District. You’ll probably be able to get around okay, but use caution as, except downtown and near the Chesapeake Bay, temperatures are around and below freezing.
Short range models do show precipitation increasing over the area, especially by mid-to-late morning. It will probably come as a wintry mix with more snow and sleet in our colder areas to the north and west, and rain - at least initially - around the Beltway and to the south and east. Temperatures by mid-morning should lift above freezing in most areas, before falling as the afternoon wears on and precipitation increases.
The period from around 3 to 7 p.m. really looks like the biggest concern and we do advise being flexible with plans, allowing plenty of extra time for commuting and - if possible - teleworking or taking metro. Snow could fall heavily with low visibility, slushy/slippery conditions, and significant traffic delays.
Even though precipitation should shutoff pretty quickly after 7 p.m., temperatures will then drop well below freezing, causing wet and slushy spots to rapidly freeze. In other words, icy roads are likely after the snow ends this evening and overnight.
Detailed forecast from early Tuesday morning
TODAY’S DAILY DIGIT
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
3/10: Complicated precipitation situation precedes polar pain.
Today: Rain/snow to snow. Highs: 35 to 42.
Tonight: Evening snow, breezy, colder. Lows: 15 to 23.
Tomorrow: Variable clouds, snow showers. Highs: 28 to 32.
View the current weather at The Washington Post.
FORECAST IN DETAIL
Wintry mix, rain and snow are in the forecast today as a big cold front cuts our way. Exercise caution and give yourself more time for travel, especially later this afternoon and evening. The cold air arrives tonight, and the worst of it hits by Thursday. Friday features some snow showers, and a gradual warming trend begins this weekend as we say hi to February.
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Today (Tuesday): A wintry mix of sleet, snow and rain possible this morning as temperatures lift into the 30s to low 40s for highs under mostly cloudy skies. Rain changes to snow during the afternoon as temperatures drop below freezing, which could create slippery road and sidewalk conditions where surfaces are untreated. Total snow accumulation ranges from just a coating to two inches in the immediate D.C. area and between one and three inches north of the city and toward Baltimore. Confidence: Medium
Tonight: Untreated roads and sidewalks could be icy. Temperatures fall into the 20s and even down to the mid- and upper teens in the outer suburbs toward dawn, but stronger winds from the northwest at 10 to 15 mph with higher gusts will make the wind chills worst (single digits and teens). Confidence: Medium
Tomorrow (Wednesday): Variable sky conditions provide some sunny and cloudy periods with some snow showers midday or afternoon (dusting possible). Highs only get up to about the freezing mark, but it’ll feel like 20s or even teens at times because of winds that increase from 10 to 15 mph in the morning to 15 to 20 mph with higher gusts in the afternoon. Confidence: Medium
Tomorrow night: Cold air settles in further with gusty winds amplifying the impact. Lows by dawn range from near zero in the western to northwestern suburbs to about 10 degrees in the city, marking the coldest morning so far this winter. Wind chills run slightly below zero prior to dawn as winds blow from the northwest at 10 to 20 mph with higher gusts. Confidence: Medium-high
A LOOK AHEAD
Thursday continues very cold conditions under mostly sunny skies and still some breezy weather. Highs only range through the 20s. Thursday night sees some increase in clouds with lows ranging from about 10 to 20. Confidence: Medium-high
Friday aims for mostly cloudy skies with scattered snow showers, with highs in the upper 20s to low 30s. Friday night should see partly cloudy skies with lows in the middle teens to low 20s. Confidence: Medium
The first weekend of February features a groundhog update on Saturday as we slowly moderate from the severe cold. Both Saturday and Sunday should be mostly sunny with highs in the 30s Saturday and then 40s to maybe near 50 Sunday. Lows Saturday night range from the upper teens to the 20s. Confidence: Medium
SNOW POTENTIAL INDEX
A daily assessment of the potential for at least an inch of snow in the next week, on a 0-10 scale.
7/10 (↑): Reasonable risk for an inch today, and we’re watching for more snow showers on Friday.