- A wet coating of up to a couple of inches of snow fell across the Washington region today, with most accumulation west of Interstate 95.
- Watch out for icy spots overnight, especially on side roads in colder areas west of the Beltway, where an inch or more of snow fell.
- Partly sunny and blustery on Wednesday, with a brief snow flurry possible in the morning.
6:30 p.m. — Snow is over but concern for slick spots overnight. Blustery on Wednesday.
Snow has ended in the Washington region, the winter weather advisory discontinued, and snow will conclude in the Baltimore area by 7 p.m.
The main concern overnight will be falling temperatures that may allow wet and slushy areas to refreeze in areas where snow accumulated on paved surfaces, mainly on side roads west of the Beltway.
Overnight, it’s a mix of stars and clouds late as lows settle to a mid-20s to low 30s range. Winds around 10 mph from the northwest should help dry roads out with time.
On Wednesday, we may still have some clouds around as very cold air aloft passes by. Perhaps even a morning flurry or snow shower. Skies do trend clearer into the afternoon as temperatures head mainly to the mid-40s. Winds are out of the southwest, peaking at around 20 to 25 mph in the midday to early afternoon. Some gusts around 40 mph are a good bet.
This is the final update in this post. Scroll down for earlier snow updates and deeper down for the forecast through the weekend.
5:45 p.m. — Almost over.
5 p.m. — A quick closing burst of snow possible
Radar shows the back edge of the snow from roughly Frederick to Manassas pushing east-northeastward. As this final band of snow comes through the region over the next one to two hours, the intensity could briefly pick up, causing visibility to drop and a bit of slush buildup on the roads, especially from the Beltway north.
Here are few more photos:
4:15 p.m. — Snow starting to ease some, but may linger for another hour or two
The intensity of snowfall on radar has lessened some over the past 30 minutes, but there are still some moderate pockets. We’ve also seen the rain-snow line advance east, nearly to the Chesapeake Bay.
However, we don’t expect a lot of additional accumulation. Most areas where snow sticks probably will see less than 0.5 inches. That said, slick spots are possible, especially west and north of the Beltway, so use caution. Dulles Airport has now received 1.7 inches of snow.
The snow should start to taper off southwest of the Beltway over the next hour, inside the Beltway by 6 p.m., and in our northeast areas by around 7 p.m.
Here are some more pictures and scenes:
3:20 p.m. — Snow, some heavy, over most areas along and west of I-95. Road conditions deteriorating, especially in colder areas.
Over the past hour, a rapid transition from rain to snow has happened over the I-95 corridor. In many areas, the snow is moderate to heavy.
The intensity of the snow is such that it is fairly quickly sticking to grassy areas and even causing slushy spots on roads, especially in our colder areas west of the Beltway.
Temperatures have dropped pretty quickly from near 40 into the low to mid-30s. With snow continuing for the next couple of hours and the loss of daylight, slick spots on roads are likely to increase, and visibility has dropped below a mile in many areas.
The worst conditions for traveling in this event will occur over the next couple of hours, so wait it out if you don’t have to drive in it. The back edge of the snow is already into Fauquier County. Precipitation should end from southwest to northeast between 4 and 7 p.m.
Snow totals in our western areas continue climbing. Dulles has received 1.3 inches. Some areas out toward Interstate 81 have seen over 3 inches, including 3.5 inches in Winchester and 3.7 inches near Front Royal.
Some more pictures:
2:40 p.m. — Rain rapidly changing to snow inside the Beltway. Snow totals mount in western areas, nearly an inch at Dulles.
Many areas inside the Beltway, including the District, have seen rain change to snow in the past half-hour, and temperatures are dropping into the 30s. In downtown Washington, the rain changed to snow in just 12 minutes. Mostly rain is still falling east of I-95 but should gradually mix with and change to snow over the next hour or two.
Snow totals are climbing west of the Beltway, where snowfall is locally heavy. Dulles Airport has received 0.8 inches, with 0.6 inches in Manassas. Watch for slick spots developing as temperatures drop to near freezing and road surfaces cool. In our colder areas, the worst conditions are expected over the next couple of hours.
Here are some pictures:
2 p.m. — Rain-snow line is just west of the Beltway, slowly creeping east. Dulles has picked up nearly half an inch of snow.
Snow is falling, moderately to heavy at times, in the western part of the Washington region. The rain-snow line runs from near Olney through Rockville, Fairfax, and then just east of Manassas. Accumulating snow is occurring in northwest Montgomery, Loudoun, central and western Prince William, and Fauquier counties. Dulles Airport has received 0.4 inches so far.
For areas along and east of Interstate 95, so far this is mainly just a cold rain.
The rain-snow line is evident on the map of temperatures below. Where it’s in the mid-30s or colder, mostly snow is falling. Where it’s in the upper 30s or higher, we have mostly rain.
We do expect the rain-snow line to creep east to near the Interstate 95 corridor, but accumulating snowfall — especially on roads — is likely to focus in areas farther west, generally west of the yellow line in the map above.
Here are a few pictures of the snow in the region:
1:05 p.m. — Period between 2 and 4 p.m. one to watch for heavy snowfall burst, especially west of Interstate 95
The National Weather Service issued a special discussion highlighting the possibility of a “1 to 3 hour period of snow, perhaps occasionally including rates in excess of 1 inch per hour” near and west of the northern portion of the District.
In its technical discussion, it notes that although temperatures are warm right around Washington, the heavier precipitation should help cool the air to allow for snowfall.
We should note, however, that if heavier precipitation doesn’t materialize, temperatures may remain too warm for much if any snow accumulation along and east of Interstate 95 and rain may dominate.
We have higher confidence in accumulating snowfall north and west of the Beltway.
12:35 p.m. — Snow arriving in Washington’s west and southwest suburbs; some light rain closer to town
We’re getting our first reports of light snow in the Washington region, mainly northwest, west and southwest of the Beltway, with flakes coming down in Gaithersburg, Leesburg, Burke, Haymarket, Gainesville, Frederick, Rockville, Sterling and Ashburn.
Some areas are also reporting light rain or a mix of snow and light rain, mainly near and inside the Beltway, including in Arlington, Springfield and Vienna.
The general trend should be for snow to become the dominant precipitation type along and west of Interstate 95 as precipitation becomes steadier over the next hour. Temperatures currently in the upper 30s to mid-40s in the immediate area will fall back into the 30s and eventually the low-to-mid 30s as moderate to heavy snow develops. They’ve already fallen into the low-to-mid 30s to the west and southwest.
Reports to the southwest suggest some very heavy bursts of snowfall, including 0.75 inches of snow in 30 minutes in Charlottesville, where two inches are on the ground. Roads are reportedly messy.
Here are a couple photos showing conditions southwest of Washington in western and central Virginia:
11:40 a.m. — Expected timing of burst of snow
Based on radar and computer model projections, we’ve made a map of when to expect the heaviest snowfall, when visibility may be reduced and roads could become slick. Note that things are coming in about 30 to 60 minutes faster than we projected earlier:
Steady snowfall has begun in the southwestern-most zone and is rapidly spreading northeast. However, as the snow moves into milder air along and east of Interstate 95, it may turn to rain or a rain-snow mix. In this zone, it may take some time for the air to cool and for rain or the rain-snow mix to turn to snow.
Again, we expect the best chance of accumulating snow and challenging conditions west and northwest of I-95 as this precipitation zooms over the region.
11:10 a.m. — Weather Service warns of ‘sudden onset of heavy snow’ north and west of Beltway
In a special statement issued at 11 a.m., the Weather Service said radar and on-the-ground observations indicated “a sudden onset of heavy snow moving across eastern West Virginia, northern Maryland and portions of northern Virginia” with visibility dropping from “unrestricted to a half mile or less in the span of 15 to 30 minutes” and snowfall rates of an inch per hour. It said the snow could reach Highway 15 by 11:30 a.m. and Interstate 95 by 1 p.m. “Remain alert for rapidly changing [visibilities] and quickly deteriorating road conditions,” it warned.
10:30 a.m. — Snow concern: ‘Not the duration … but the intensity’
In its latest discussion, the National Weather Service said its forecast, which is similar to ours, “remains on track.” It noted the heavy snowfall developing to the west and southwest, over West Virginia, which is headed in the general direction of our area.
“Impressive burst of snow upstream over West Virginia with visibility to 1/4 mile or less, and already reports of accumulations of an inch in under 30 minutes,” the discussion says. “It’s not the duration or totals amounts expected, but the intensity and timing (with the evening commute for the I-95 corridor) that are expected to have a high impact.”
10:05 a.m. — Snow spreading through southwest into central Virginia
Regional radar shows snow streaking through southwest into central Virginia. Flurries have begun in Charlottesville. The National Weather Service issued a special statement for the Interstate 81 corridor in western Virginia warning of snowfall rates of up to 1 to 1.5 inches per hour through late morning.
Here’s the scene in Roanoke County:
9:45 a.m. — Forecast on track, but question marks about snow accumulation east of Interstate 95, where it might be too warm
Capital Weather Gang winter weather expert Wes Junker writes in:
“Our forecast from D.C. to points north and west of the city still looks good and there is little reason for making any changes. However, for the southern and eastern suburbs the forecast is more complicated as temperatures are likely to climb into the low to even mid-40s. That makes it tough to get accumulation unless it snows very heavily to cool temperatures. Unfortunately, the models are at odds on whether the heavy precipitation will extend south and east of D.C.
“If the band of heaviest precipitation tracks just north of your area and you only get light precipitation rather than a heavy thump of snow, you might see mostly rain or rain mixed with snow and not even see a covering on your grass and mulch. If you get into the more intense precipitation rates, your temperature is likely to fall enough to allow a slushy accumulation of snow.”
7 a.m. — Winter weather advisory expanded into the District; update on overnight computer models
Early this morning, the National Weather Service added the District, Arlington, and Alexandria to the winter weather advisory, which is now in effect for most areas along and west of Interstate 95 between noon and 7 p.m.
That said, some of the more aggressive models for snowfall backed off a little overnight though they still advertise a period of moderate to heavy snow between about 2 and 6 p.m. In general, models have shifted the area of greatest snow potential somewhat north compared to yesterday. This reduces the snow potential for areas well east and southeast of the Beltway, including Southern Maryland, which may see more rain. If there’s any more north shift in the snow, this could reduce snow potential closer to Interstate 95 and the District and is something we’ll be watching today.
Today’s daily digit
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
5/10: Cloudy skies with an afternoon pasting of rain changing to wet snow.
- Today: Afternoon rain-snow mix changing to snow. Highs: Near 40.
- Tonight: Snow exits, then partly cloudy. Lows: 25-32.
- Tomorrow: Partly to mostly sunny. Highs: 43-47.
Forecast in detail
A fast-moving but potent weather system darts through the area this afternoon. While precipitation may initially mix with rain in some areas, it should turn to mostly wet snow by mid- to late afternoon, lasting into the very early evening. Accumulations in the city are probably limited to colder surfaces such as grassy areas, but watch out for slick spots in the western to northwestern suburbs. We clear out but stay chilly through Thursday before a big warm-up this weekend.
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Today (Tuesday): Cloudy this morning as temperatures move up through the 30s to around 40 by midday. Rain and/or snow should start from southwest to northeast across the area between noon and 2 p.m. A period of moderate to heavy snow could reduce driving visibility at times from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., with accumulations of a trace to 2 inches right around the immediate city and points just to the east. Higher totals of up to 1 to 3 inches are possible from western Fairfax to upper Montgomery counties to points north and west. Afternoon temperatures slip back into the low to mid-30s with precipitation as light winds blow mainly from the southeast at about 5 mph. Confidence: Medium
Stay flexible with your commuting plans and consider leaving early, before 3 p.m., or late, after 7 p.m., to avoid the worst of the snow and possible delays. Also be aware that some schools may dismiss early and/or cancel after-school activities.
Tonight: Snow ends early, with cloudy skies overnight as lows reach the mid-20s to low 30s. Watch for slick spots as previously wet or untreated areas freeze. Light winds from the west at 5 to 10 mph. Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow (Wednesday): Partly to mostly sunny skies as highs range through the low to mid-40s. The air mass is dry and the winds pick up to deliver a wind chill that feels like the 30s at times. Winds from the west at 5 to 15 mph may gust up to 30 mph. Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow night: Mostly clear and cold, with lows ranging from the upper teens in our colder areas to the mid-20s downtown. Lighter breezes from the northwest. Confidence: Medium-High
A look ahead
Thursday edges to the colder side despite sunny skies at least in the morning. Highs in the upper 30s to low 40s are favored as skies turn partly cloudy by the afternoon. Thursday night runs mostly cloudy, with lows in the 30s. Confidence: Medium-High
Friday features increasing clouds and warming temperatures. Highs surge into the 50s. Friday night picks up a chance for showers, with lows only in the warm low 50s. Confidence: Medium
The weekend starts on the wet side with showers Saturday as temperatures surge well into the 60s with maybe a few spots even hitting the 70s. Warm with showers at times Saturday night as lows dip only into the 50s again. Sunday sees morning to maybe midday showers, with partial clearing by afternoon and turning breezier as temperatures fall from highs in the 60s to the 40s by evening. Confidence: w
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 (↑): Odds improve for at least an inch of snow in parts of the region, and maybe more in some spots.