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Burst of wind follows snow, ice and rain in D.C. area with precipitation easing overnight

Very windy on Monday with a few snow showers possible early

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Radar courtesy MyRadar | © OpenStreetMap contributors

* Winter storm warning from 1 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday for northern Fauquier, western Loudoun and Frederick counties and locations to the west | Wind advisory 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday *

Key points and latest developments

  • After 1.5 to 3 inches of snow, precipitation changed to rain and freezing rain with howling winds. A number of power outages have been reported late this evening, with strong winds at the tail end of the rain.
  • Across most of the area, temperatures have risen above freezing and precipitation changed to plain rain before winding down, allowing for some melting.
  • In our coldest areas west and northwest ice may continue to stick to untreated roads and walkways until precipitation ends. About 0.10 to 0.20 inches of ice accumulated in the coldest spots.
  • We advise staying off the roads tonight, if possible, even where temperatures go above freezing and after precipitation ends, because of previous snow and ice.
  • Toward dawn, temperatures fall back to near freezing, with a few snow showers possible on the storm’s backside. Icy travel is most probable west and northwest of the Beltway early Monday.

A powerful, messy winter storm is charging up the East Coast


11:15 p.m. — Main area of precipitation pulling away, flanked by powerful wind gusts. Remaining windy on Monday as storm exits with a snow shower possible early.

The “dry slot” of the storm is moving into the area. This means you’re either done or just about done with the heaviest precipitation, although some showers may still occur behind the main band. In areas north of the city, the main band will clear over the next hour.

Some of the final squalls have produced strong wind gusts, and even earlier prompted a severe thunderstorm warning to the east of the city, including Annapolis. Additional strong wind gusts as high as 50-plus mph have been reported as precipitation ends. Power outages are occurring across parts of the region, like Wheaton and Ellicott City. Gusty winds may continue to be an issue overnight, but the strongest gusts for now are pushing north of the Beltway.

Winds that have more generally gusted to 30 to 40 mph will stay up through the night and even increase around dawn, then we’ll see more gusty conditions into Monday. As such, a wind advisory is in effect from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. Wind gusts as high as 50 mph are possible.

Temperatures overnight will mostly be above freezing in the immediate area, where they’re currently in the upper 30s to near 40. The freezing line has pushed west of Frederick and Leesburg, which are now around 33 degrees. Toward morning, as colder air returns, we may see temperatures fall back toward the freezing mark from west to east, but we don’t expect a hard freeze.

A few snow showers can’t be ruled out around dawn Monday on the storm’s backside before skies partially clear with daytime highs near 40.

This will be our last update. Check back at 5 a.m. for the forecast.

10:00 p.m. — Much of the area above freezing as the back edge approaches

Milder air continues to surge into the area. Even to the west of Interstate 95, many spots have risen above freezing, with far west locations like Leesburg and Frederick still holding just below that mark.

It’s a rough one out there, with wind gusts of 30 to 35 mph and moderate to heavy rain falling. The good news is that the end is near. The back edge of the heaviest precipitation stretches from near Manassas to La Plata and then into southern Maryland. It will rotate through over the next hour or two. In the city, it looks like the back edge is moving through around 11 p.m. Some showers are possible behind it, but they’ll be considerably less intense.

8:50 p.m. — D.C. and I-95 adjacent locations dropped from winter weather advisory

The Weather Service has canceled the winter weather advisory for D.C. as temperatures have risen above freezing and precipitation is falling as rain. Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria and Fairfax were also dropped from the advisory. Although the advisory has been dropped in some spots, travel is still difficult and not advised in those locations.

A grand finale of sorts is about to sweep through as the dry slot of the storm approaches. Out ahead of it, heavy rain and freezing rain is likely before precipitation winds down from southwest to northeast from 10 p.m. to midnight. Rainfall rates of up to a half-inch per hour are possible with this final band.

8 p.m. — Winds increasing, temperatures rising

Near and east of Interstate 95, temperatures have reached 32 to 34 degrees and ice is transitioning to rain. But west and northwest of Fairfax County, temperatures are still in the 20s and freezing rain and sleet continue. It’s these areas where bad road conditions will linger longest.

The increasing winds from the east, gusting over 30 mph in some areas, will continue to draw in milder air, but it’s not clear it will be enough to change ice to rain in our colder areas.

The only good news is that because a dry slot is expected to come in between about 10 and 11 p.m., precipitation should stop before too much ice can build up and cause too many power issues. But we will monitor this.

7:30 p.m. — Snowfall totals

As precipitation has changed to sleet and freezing rain across the region, here’s how much snow fell:

Damascus: 3.3 inches | Germantown: 3 inches | Columbia: 3 inches | Norbeck (Montgomery County): 2.7 inches | Chantilly: 2.7 inches | Rockville: 2.5 inches | Centreville: 2.5 inches | Herndon: 2.5 inches | Bethesda: 2.5 inches | Dulles International Airport: 2.3 inches | Falls Church: 2.3 inches | Manassas: 2.2 inches | Northwest Washington: 2 inches | Greenbelt: 2 inches | Marlton (Prince George’s County): 2 inches | Rosslyn: 1.9 inches | Waldorf: 1.8 inches | Anacostia: 1.5 inches

According to the observer at Reagan National Airport, 2.6 inches fell there, bringing its monthly total to 12.2 inches, more than double the norm. It’s now the snowiest January in the District since 2016.

6:35 p.m. — Most areas have now switched to sleet and freezing rain; roads are very slick

The transition to ice (sleet and freezing rain) has occurred throughout the immediate metro area and is pushing northwest toward Frederick and Carroll counties in northern Maryland and west through central Loudoun County.

The ice falling on top of the snow from earlier is causing very slick roads. One Capital Weather Gang reader, @_oldbooksmell_, tweeted: “Roads are AWFUL (in case anyone had doubts!) Had to drive less than a mile and was scared the whole time. 0/10 do not recommend.”

Inside the Beltway and points east, temperatures have risen into the upper 20s to near 30, and these are the areas that have the best chance to switch to plain rain after 8 p.m. or so. Parts of Southern Maryland have already warmed above freezing.

However, west and northwest of Fairfax County, temperatures are still just 15 to 20. They may make a move toward freezing by about midnight, but treacherous, icy conditions will definitely last longer there.

5:30 p.m. — Transition from snow to sleet and freezing rain underway in the District and progressing north

Radar shows that the snow-ice transition line has advanced north of Alexandria into downtown Washington. Over the next hour, most spots in the immediate area will see snow change to sleet and freezing rain. This transition will take a little longer in our far west and northwest areas but should even reach Leesburg and Frederick by 7 or 8 p.m.

Snowfall totals are mostly around 2 inches, but we’ve seen a few 3- or 4-inch totals and some places with closer to an inch (mainly east of town).

The transition to ice may make roads even more hazardous, especially as cold as it is. While temperatures have risen 2 or 3 degrees in the past couple of hours, they are well below freezing.

It may take several hours before temperatures get above freezing and longer than that (if at all) in our far western areas, where it’s still in the upper teens. We have the highest confidence in temperatures rising above freezing along and east of Interstate 95. Near the Chesapeake Bay, it could even happen in the next hour or two.

4:35 p.m. — Moderate snow continues as winds increase, mixing with ice near Fredericksburg. Expect transition from snow to ice over the next couple of hours.

Radar shows moderate snow over most of the region, with some heavier bursts, especially from the District south. However, toward Fredericksburg and Southern Maryland, there are signs that the snow is starting to mix with sleet and freezing rain. The snow mix line should keep progressing north and northwest.

The transition from snow to ice should begin in our southern suburbs around 5 p.m. and in the immediate area about 6 p.m.

In the meantime, the snow should continue to pile up with many areas seeing totals of 2 or 3 inches before the flip to ice. Snowfall rates could be 1 to 1.5 inches per hour briefly before the precipitation transition, according to the National Weather Service. This will mean limited visibility and hazardous roads.

With the storm cranking up to our south and its center drawing closer to the area, winds are starting to increase. Especially after 5 or 6 p.m., we may start to see some gusts over 20 or even 30 mph.

3:35 p.m. — Moderate snow falling areawide with slick roads

Snow is falling at a fast clip throughout the region with a solid coating to half-inch in our northern areas and over an inch south of the Beltway.

Untreated roads are snow-covered. The condition of treated roads varies, but many are also snow-covered and slick. Temperatures are mostly holding in the low to mid-20s.

We should see steady snow continue for at least another hour or two. The snow-ice line is advancing north and is just north of Richmond. We still expect a changeover from snow to sleet and freezing rain between about 5 and 8 p.m.

2:22 p.m. — Snow increasing in intensity, especially south of the District

Most areas from the Beltway south now have at least a coating as the snow progresses into northern Maryland. Radar shows a moderate-to-heavy band of snow just south of the Beltway expanding northward. Driving conditions will rapidly deteriorate over the region as this snow continues and spreads north. Temperatures are mostly in the low 20s (even upper teens in our colder areas west of the Beltway), meaning every flake is sticking on untreated surfaces.

As the snow intensity increases, even treated surfaces may become slick and snow-covered. The situation in Central Virginia around Charlottesville, where it has been snowing moderately for a few hours, offers a preview of what we should see within a few hours:

We advise staying off the roads if possible.

1:30 p.m. — Snow moves inside the Beltway, first flakes in the District

The snow has rapidly spread north with reports of flakes in Fairfax, Northwest Washington, Falls Church, Herndon, Bethesda, Hyattsville and Alexandria. Areas south of the Beltway such as Warrenton already have a coating.

The arrival of snow on the early side of our predicted window should give it more time to accumulate before the changeover to ice. So we feel pretty confident that most spots should indeed see at least predicted amounts.

Here’s what the latest models predict for the District: UKMet: 3 inches | GFS: 2-3 inches | HRRR: 2-3 inches | ICON: 2-3 inches | European: 2 inches | High-resolution NAM: 2 inches | Canadian: 2 inches | HREF: 1-2 inches | High-resolution Canadian: 1 inch | SREF: 0.5 inches | NAM: Dusting

12:35 p.m. — Snow developing south of Beltway, should spread over the entire region in one to two hours

Radar indicates the snow has advanced as far north as around Dale City, Va., and Waldorf, Md. Reports that flurries have reached Manassas. The snow should spread north over the Beltway between 1 and 2 p.m., and, by 3 p.m., it should be snowing as far north as Baltimore.

South of Fredericksburg, the snow is already coating paved surfaces. With temperatures in the low to mid-20s, every flake that falls this afternoon will stick.

If you’re in the immediate area, finish up any errands in the next hour. South of the Beltway, it’s best to be in for the day at this point unless you have essential travel, in which case take it slow.

11:30 a.m. — Snow getting closer from the south, should move in by around 1 to 3 p.m.

The snow is getting closer from the south and should overspread the D.C. metro area from southwest to northeast about 1 to 3 p.m. It could be briefly light but should pick up in intensity fairly quickly, so we recommend staying off the roads if you can by around 1 to 2 p.m., although the worst road conditions will be later this afternoon (after 3 or 4 p.m.) as the snow starts to pile up and changes to ice. Temperatures are rising into the low 20s across most of the area, still well below freezing.

The graphic below from the National Weather Service is a pretty good estimate of snow onset time across the area. Please check back for updates throughout the afternoon as the snow moves in, accumulates and eventually changes to ice from southeast to northwest around 4 to 8 p.m.

8:20 a.m. — Frozen morning as storm slowly but steadily approaches from the south

The DMV woke up to the chilly teens, the coldest weather in nearly three years, as the leading edge of our storm reached central Virginia, with snow developing in the Richmond area. (Reagan National Airport dipped to 17 degrees this morning, ending a record-long streak of 1,078 days staying above 20 degrees.)

No changes in our forecast below at this time, other than to point out that for D.C. and to the south and west, the snow may arrive closer to 1 or 2 p.m. So to be safe, folks may want to be off the roads as early as about 3 p.m., when roads may start to get slick.

Below is the latest forecast radar from the HRRR model from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Original article from 6 a.m.

Today’s daily digit

A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.

2/10: At least morning-to-midday hours are salvageable for errands, and afternoon snow looks pretty for a time before roads quickly deteriorate as snow changes to ice into the evening.

Express forecast

  • Today: Snow developing this afternoon, changing to ice late. Highs: Upper 20s to low 30s.
  • Tonight: Ice changing to rain, hazardous roads. Temps: Rising to mid-30s to low 40s.
  • Tomorrow: Scattered snow showers possible, gusty winds. Highs: 30s to near 40.

Forecast in detail

The Washington region is under a winter storm watch ahead of a Jan. 16 storm expected to bring snow, sleet and rain. Here’s what you need to know. (Video: Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)

A winter storm arrives this afternoon, with the D.C. area likely to see more ice than snow. Roads turn slick in afternoon snow but especially hazardous by this evening’s heavier mix of sleet and freezing rain. We recommend avoiding travel from about 3 or 4 p.m. to midnight. The entire area should be receiving plain rain by midnight, but it’s a process to get there.

We expect anywhere from a dusting to about 3 inches of snow in the immediate metro area. Areas north and west of the Beltway should see the most snow and ice, while areas from D.C. and Interstate 95 to the south and east see more ice and rain.

The potential for several hours of ice buildup on trees, especially west and northwest of Fairfax County, along with strong winds, could cause some limbs to snap, triggering scattered power outages. However, we don’t expect widespread power problems because temperatures will be rising and the storm will be fairly fast-moving.

Get our daily forecasts on your Amazon Alexa device.

Today (Sunday): It’s a bone-chilling start with morning temperatures rising through the teens into the low 20s and increasing clouds. Snow then moves in from southwest to northeast by midafternoon as temperatures continue rising through the 20s to near 30, still plenty cold enough for every flake to stick. After starting as snow, we expect a changeover to sleet, freezing rain and rain, according to the timeline below. Confidence: Medium.

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday: Snow develops from southwest to northeast. Temperatures 25 to 31, mid-to-upper 20s inside the Beltway. Winds gusting up to 20 mph.

4 to 8 p.m.: Snow, heavy at times, changing to sleet and freezing rain from southeast to northwest. Temperatures rising to 27 to 34, near freezing inside the Beltway. Winds gusting up to 30 mph.

8 p.m. to 11 p.m.: Sleet and freezing rain changing to rain from southeast to northwest. Temperatures rising to 30 to 40, mid-30s inside the Beltway. Winds gusting to 30-40 mph.

11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday: Rain tapers off as a dry slot comes through area. Temperatures rising to 32 to 42, probably mid-30s inside the Beltway. Winds gusting to 30-40 mph.

2 a.m. to 5 a.m.: Mostly dry, scattered snow showers possible in the far west. Temperatures falling to 32 to 37. Winds gusting to 20-30 mph.

5 a.m. to 8 a.m.: Scattered snow showers with a coating possible. Temperatures: 31 to 35. Winds gusting to 20-30 mph.

8 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Partial clearing. Temperatures rising to mid-to-upper 30s. Winds gusting to 25-35 mph.

Follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates. Keep reading for the forecast into next week …

Tomorrow (Martin Luther King Jr. Day): The storm is pulling away, but we could still see some scattered snow showers with a coating possible in spots. Temperatures hover in the 30s to near 40, with plenty of clouds and winds gusting from the west near 40 mph. Confidence: medium-high.

Tomorrow night: Still the chance of an evening flurry or snow shower. Otherwise skies slowly clear, but westerly winds remain a bit gusty near 30 mph, slowly declining only near dawn. Low temperatures should bottom out in the mid-20s to near 30. Confidence: medium-high.

A look ahead

Windiness and cloud cover try to diminish on Tuesday, with high in the mid-30s to near 40. With the most sunshine we’ve seen in days, and relatively less wind (although still a noticeable breeze), you may want to venture outside to get some fresh air. It’s not too much below-average for this part of January, and wind chills should be manageable. Confidence: medium-high.

More clouds and mildness Wednesday take over as we trade in sunshine and chilliness. High temperatures should reach at least the mid-40s and could get to near 50 in some spots. There’s a slight chance for raindrops near sunset, as clouds really thicken. 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.

7/10 (): Along and west of I-95 we still have a pretty good chance of at least one inch of snow (which is the criteria for the SPI) on Sunday afternoon before a messy changeover to ice and then rain. Late this week or early next weekend could bring another chance of snow.

Read more about Capital Weather Gang’s confidence rating.