The metro area of the capital is swarming with the first accumulated snow of the season, and it is expected to be significant. Snow is falling all over the area. A winter storm warning will remain in place for most of the region until 4 p.m. Between 5 and 10 inches is possible in DC and Baltimore.
the main points:
- a Winter Storm Warning It continues throughout most of the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan area until 4 p.m. Monday.
- totals: Between 5 and 10 inches in D.C. and Baltimore, with 1 to 4 inches in the northern and western suburbs and higher amounts possible in the South and East.
- It will snow heavily between dawn and late morning.
- Federal offices and most public school districts are closed. See WTOP’s full list of closures and delays.
It’s taken a while, but winter is finally here in earnest: The central metropolitan area is holed up in the season’s first cumulative snowfall, and it’s expected to be significant.
Between 5 and 8 inches likely by noon Monday for millions from DC to Baltimore. Those that haven’t transitioned from a winter mix to all snow as of 7 a.m. will soon happen, and forecasters expect groups of heavy snow to develop and intensify over the next few hours.
A winter storm warning is in effect for Washington and Baltimore metro areas. Those who live near Interstate 66 and U.S. Route 50 or south of it will see the most mid- to late-morning snow, with forecasts of up to 10 inches expected. Northern and western points, including parts of Loudoun County in Virginia and Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland, are subject to the Winter Weather Advisory for more modest totals of 3 to 5 inches.
Driving will be treacherous, especially in heavy packages. Plan for slippery conditions and visibility of less than half a mile. If you must go outside on Monday, drive slowly, give way to plows and be careful on steps, sidewalks, driveways, and streets. Beware of re-frozen roads from Monday evening through Tuesday morning.
Computer models continued to push the storm’s path north all night, putting D.C. and Baltimore below target center in a major winter weather event. Snow rates of at least an inch per hour are possible in the WTOP listening area from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. as the storm quickly deepens over the Carolinas.
But while the odds of a significant event have trended higher for urban areas, uncertainty remains about the northern extent to which suburbs are reaching their extremes. Forecasters are eyeing a sharp dip at the storm’s northern edge, and any last-minute alerts could mean a big difference in totals for central Maryland and parts of northern Virginia.
The exact setting of heavier snow bands has also been known to be difficult to predict, and this may also be a limiting factor.
“This is kind of a storm that’s going to be on the coast and there’s going to be a narrow slope between where it rains and where there will be none,” said Storm Team 4 meteorologist Ryan Miller.
Mass transit and traffic
Metrobus operates a heavy snow service pattern for Monday. Buses will only operate on major routes, with most lines that normally operate on Sundays remaining in service – see full list of affected routes. Buses may be delayed on a line by line basis; Riders should consider Metrorail as an alternative.
Virginia Railway Express trains operate on a schedule S. Mark commuter trains in Maryland will run on an improved schedule. MTA Express BusLink routes will not work in conjunction with LocalLink 38, 57, and 92 routes.
Response across the region
Maryland and county transportation officials spent the night getting their plows and salt supplies ready — but staffing shortages due to a spike in coronavirus cases could lead to slower-than-usual start-ups.
Current estimates are that Montgomery County’s plow operators are down 25% to 30%, but the Department of Transportation doesn’t anticipate problems clearing major streets. Chris Gildart, the city’s deputy mayor for public safety, said the area is short of 40 drivers, but has contractors to fill those positions.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a snow emergency and deployed a team of more than 100 snowplows. The city also began to treat roads with salt.
In Maryland, the crew spent the night loading rock salt. They will begin spreading salt on roads before plowing operations, Charlie Geslar, director of community relations for the Maryland State Highway Department of Transportation, said.
Because the storm started as rain, Geslar said crews couldn’t pre-treat the roads effectively: “All the materials would simply wash off the road. So now we’re on our way to loading up and ready to go.”
Crews there have also started moving through the night and will drop blades once they are two inches off the ground, said Eileen Kamilakis, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“We now have about 2,300 trucks packed, and this will increase to about 2,700 when we bring the neighborhood fleets in,” Kamilakis told WTOP. “If you can, stay out of the way.”
Monday: A mixture of snow, sleet, and rain, turning into snow around dawn. Snow ends in the late afternoon. windy. Temperatures drop to nearly 30.
Monday night: Clear with a waning wind. so cold. Bottoms in the mid-teens to nearly 20 years.
Tuesday: sunny. Highest levels in the thirties to forties.
Wednesday: cloudy. Highs in the mid forties upwards.
Thursday: Often cloudy. Highest levels in the mid-forties.