Get your shovels ready. The first snow of the year is falling upon the D.C. area. A winter storm warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday. Anywhere from 2 to 5 inches of snowfall is expected to fall Saturday. By the end of Sunday, when the snow is expected to stop, a total of anywhere between 4 to 8 inches is expected.
WASHINGTON — As snow falls upon the D.C. area for the first time this year, the entire region is now covered by a winter storm warning through 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Heavy snow is expected to fall throughout the weekend and anywhere between 5 to 10 inches can be expected at the end of it all.
The winter weather conditions will make travel very dangerous as roads become slippery and covered with snow.
Though parts of the region already began to see snow by 4 p.m. Saturday, the snow is expected to accumulate closer to sundown. The heaviest snow is looking to arrive overnight through Sunday morning.
“The bulk of the accumulating snow will come [Saturday night] and Sunday,” Storm Team 4 Mark Stinneford said.
There could be a morning flurry on Monday before weather warms up a bit on Tuesday.
Totals will vary depending on location, and areas from D.C. south into Virginia are the most likely to see higher amounts.
Several school systems in the area have canceled Saturday activities. For a complete list of closures, visit WTOP’s Closings and Delays page.
Watches and warnings:
The following counties in the WTOP listening areas are under a Winter Storm Warning starting at 4 p.m.:
In Maryland: Southern Montgomery, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties until 6 p.m. Sunday. In Anne Arundel and southern Baltimore County, the warning begins at 7 p.m. Saturday and lasts through 6 p.m. Sunday.
In Virginia: Arlington, Alexandria City, Fairfax, Loudoun, Fauquier, Falls Church City, Manassas City, Manassas Park City, Prince William and Stafford counties until 6 p.m. Sunday.
A Winter Storm Warning means severe winter weather conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
The updated warning issued at 1 p.m. on Saturday included the majority of the WTOP listening area, and also included Anne Arundel and the southern part of Baltimore County. Those areas should expect 4 to 8 inches of snow by the time the storm moves out.
A swath of moisture will be picked up from the Gulf of Mexico by the storm, transporting it toward the area and interacting with cold, initially dry air already in place. The storm’s center will head through the Southeast states, eventually moving to the coast of the Carolinas and strengthening as it heads out to sea.
It does not look like it is going to be a classic Nor’easter heading up the eastern seaboard. This will put the area on the northern fringe of the precipitation shield, where it will stay cold enough for all snow. The ground will be cold enough for most of the snow that falls to stick, though likely not right away.
In its afternoon weather discussion, the NWS noted that the predictions include some “uncertainty regarding the placement and location of any banding precipitation … any slight change in either direction will have an impact on snowfall totals.”
Snow intensity will wind down Sunday, but the chance exists for “steadier snow late Sunday into Sunday night,” the NWS wrote.
There will be some bands of heavier snowfall close to the wintry mix/rain line somewhere in central Virginia. A secondary wave of snow could occur, giving the Interstate 64 corridor ultimately higher accumulations.
The dry air may keep most of northern Maryland up to the Pennsylvania line on the low end of the potential range.
Again, areas south of Interstate 66, especially closer to I-64, should be aware of the potential for a little more than that range. Considering how much of the storm will be occurring at night, the fact that it’s occurring during the weekend and that accumulations will be drawn out over a period of time, this would qualify as a low-to-moderate-impact storm.
Traffic and road conditions:
In Maryland, the State Highway Administration pre-treated roads and got equipment ready. They said in a statement Friday that they plan to have bringing completed by Saturday and staging trucks and plows beginning Saturday night.
Locally, in Prince George’s County, 40 brand-new snowplows were ready to be deployed to cover the 2000 miles of county road, according to executive Angela Alsobrooks.
“There are 25,000 tons of salt behind me,” she said, early Saturday afternoon. “We have new vehicles this year that we are introducing out onto the roads. So we’re ready, but we want the residents to be very careful. Let me handle the snow. Stay home, watch a movie, sit in front of the fireplace and let us handle the snow.”
You can track the Maryland snow preparations on the Statewide Transportation Operations Resources Map (STORM) app.
The highway agency said that if more than 6 inches of snowfall, they’ll make certain park-and-rides available for truckers to ride it out. They have a list of locations online.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has been pre-treating roads since Thursday, especially in the Fredericksburg area.
Roads will likely become slippery Saturday night, and drivers should be careful and increase their following distance, NBC Washington meteorologist Steve Prinzivalli said.
Alsobrooks emphasized that her county’s first priority is to treat and clear the primary roads. She asked residents to “please give us 24 hours to reach residential areas before you start calling about them.”
Total accumulations will range from three to six inches with as much as eight inches possible in the southwestern suburbs toward Front Royal and south of I-66. Expect lighter amounts north of D.C. toward Baltimore where two to four inches are possible.
Saturday: Cloudy, with snow moving in during the afternoon hours and continuing overnight. Highs in the low- to mid-30s. Overnight lows in the 20s.
Sunday: Light to moderate snow in the morning, with 4 to 8 inches of accumulation. Slightly higher amounts in central Virginia are possible with more snow Sunday afternoon and evening in central Virginia.
Monday: Morning flurries possible. Some sun in the afternoon. Highs in the low to mid-30s.
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