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The Snow is Coming: Storm update #1

Jason Samenow @ 11:00 AM

The next update will be around 4:30pm. is upgrading metro area accumulations very slightly to 6-9" due to the likelihood of heavy snow during the overnight hours. Snowfall rates exceeding 1"/hour are possible after dark, and could persist through the early morning hours, particularly east of town. Isolated thundersnow is possible.

Winter Storm Forecast: Saturday midday, Feb. 11 -- Sunday A.M., Feb. 12
11am SAT to 2pm: Patchy light rain (District and S&E) and snow (N &W) will continue.
2pm to 6pm: A light, steady snow should develop SW to NE. 1" possible on grassy areas--more sticking N&W.
6pm to 4am SUN:
Snow, heavy at times. 4-6" possible in metro area.
4am to 11am:
Snow gradually diminishes SW to NE - up to 1-2" additional accumulation, more N & E. Becoming windy, cold.
Storm Impact: Travelcast:Schoolcast (Mon.):

Frequently asked Questions (updated as of 11am)

Where will the heaviest snow fall? Current guidance suggests generally east of the District. Places like Anne Arundel County and St. Mary's County may see more snow than Loudoun and Montgomery counties. It would not surprise me if some areas within an hour of DC, on the east or northeast side, receive double digit snow totals.

When will the "real" snow start? Steady snow is not particularly likely until the mid to late afternoon in the metro area, with accumulating snow most likely after dark.

When will travel be most difficult? Travel will be hazardous Saturday night. By late afternoon, temperatures will be falling and snow will increase in coverage and intensity. Periods of heavy snow are possible overnight, with temperatures in the 20s along with 15-25 mph winds. Unless you're an experienced driver in snow and/or have 4-wheel drive, travel will likely be discouraged by local officials Saturday night.

When will conditions improve? Most snow should taper off by mid morning Sunday. However, it will remain breezy and cold and it may take until Sunday night and Monday for neighborhood roads to be plowed.

Could it fizzle out? I don't think so. There has been unusually strong consensus in the computer models we use to forecast this event and it has the classic characteristics of a significant snowstorm for our area. Furthermore, we can see the storm developing on radar -- it is moisture laden, and as it moves into the colder air, will fall out as snow. Could it underperform forecasted totals? Sure. As with all snowstorms that impact the East Coast, slight deviations in track can have important implications. But the steering currents present in the atmosphere support a track conducive to snow in DC.

Could it turn into a crippling blockbuster storm? This scenario is not likely, but some areas may see double digit snow totals, particularly if there are locally heavy bands that develop, and thundersnow. And some would define double digit snows in this area crippling. Again, this would be most likely to occur east of DC, but could happen anywhere in the regions where 6 or more inches is expected.

What are other forecasters saying? Most forecasters are in the same ballpark forecasting this storm, although there is range of 3-14" among all forecasts. Here is a summary:
  • The National Weather Service is forecasting 8-14" (as of this morning)
  • Channel 4 is calling for 4-9" in DC and points north and west, and 6-12" south and east of DC
  • Channel 5 is forecasting 3-5" (low end forecast, as of last night--no am update)
  • Dave Zahren (Channel 7) is calling for 6-10" (as of this morning)
  • Tony Pann (Channel 9) is forecasting 4-8" (as of this morning)
  • Paul Kocin, Winter Weather Expert at The Weather Channel says 7-12" for DC
  • Meteorologist Dave Tolleris of is forecasting 10"+ for the DC metro area.
Do you have a question? Ask it in the comment area below and someone from the will attempt to answer it. Given the volume of comments, we may not see or be able to respond to every question.


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