DC area braces for 1st snowstorm of 2019

WASHINGTON — The first snowstorm the D.C. area has seen since November looks ready to begin Saturday in the early afternoon.

Winter storm warnings have been posted for parts of the area from 10 a.m. Saturday until 1 p.m. Sunday in Fauquier, Prince William and Stafford counties in Virginia; and Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland.

The rest of the D.C. area is under a Winter Weather Advisory, from 4 p.m. Saturday through 7 a.m. Sunday.

Potential accumulations are looking like 4 to 7 inches for most of the D.C. area, Storm Team4 Meteorologist Doug Kammerer said Friday afternoon.

“It is going to be a little bit of a difference depending on where you live,” Kammerer said. “Some areas will get more than others. But the big thing here is, everybody gets snow.”

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.

The National Weather Service has parts of the Shenandoah Valley, down through central Virginia, the Northern Neck and St. Mary’s County in a Winter Storm Watch, which will go into effect at noon and last until noon Sunday. (Courtesy National Weather Service)

The forecast looks like light snow should arrive around early afternoon Saturday, though light accumulations probably won’t start until closer to evening. But the accumulation will continue overnight into Sunday. The height of the storm in terms of when most accumulation will occur and add up the fastest looks like it will be Sunday midmorning into Sunday early afternoon.

Snow intensity will rapidly wind down Sunday evening, with only snow showers or flurries lingering into Monday morning (and plenty of icy spots). 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 official forecast from the Baltimore-Washington office of the National Weather Service. Within central Virginia, there is potential to get more than the rest of the WTOP listening area, depending on the storm lingering there into Sunday evening. (Courtesy National Weather Service)

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 Admnistration pre-treated roads and got equipment ready. They said in a statement Friday that they plan to have brining completed by Saturday and staging trucks and plows beginning Saturday night.

You can track the Maryland snow preparations on the Statewide Transportation Operations Resources Map (STORM) app.

For the latest traffic, visit the WTOP Traffic center.

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, Storm Team4 meteorologist Steve Prinzivalli said.


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.

Sunday: Light to moderate snow in the morning, with 3 to 5 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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