top border

Please note, not all links may be active. This site is a snapshot of an earlier time.

Snowstorm on Approach

Jason Samenow @ 12:17 AM

next update: Delayed until 11am. Considering modifying snowfall totals.

Confidence is high that snow will gradually overspread the DC metro area today and accumulate at least 5 inches by the time the storm is over Sunday morning. A Heavy Snow Warning is in effect for the entire area. This storm will likely produce the heaviest snowfall since February of 2003. The storm timeline and accumulation map is shown below. We encourage you to comment (see the bottom of the post) with storm reports from where you live.

Winter Storm Forecast: Saturday midday, Feb. 11 -- Sunday A.M., Feb. 12
7am SAT to 2pm: Light snow/flurries overspread the area from SW to NE. Best guess for first flakes inside the beltway is around 11am.
2pm to 5pm: Snow increases in coverage and intensity. 1-2" possible.
5pm to 3am SUN:
Snow, heavy at times. 3-4" possible in metro area.
3am to 11am:
Snow gradually diminishes SW to NE - up to 2" additional accumulation, more N & E. Becoming windy, cold.
Storm Impact: Travelcast:Schoolcast (Mon.):

Frequently asked Questions

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 snow start? Light snow or flurries could start in the southwest part of the area (places like Fredericksburg, Warrenton) as early as dawn. This activity may reach the metro area by mid morning. Steady snow is not particularly likely until the early afternoon in the metro area, with accumulating snow really getting going in the mid to late afternoon.

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 5 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 3-12" among all forecasts. Here is a summary:
  • The National Weather Service is forecasting 4-8"
  • Bob Ryan (Channel 4) is calling for 5-9" in DC and points north and west, and 6-12" south and east of DC
  • Channel 5 is forecasting 3-5" (low end forecast)
  • Doug Hill (Channel 7) is calling for 3-6" north and west of DC and 6-10" in DC and points east
  • Topper Shutt (Channel 9) is forecasting 4-8" in DC and points north and west, and 6-12" south and east of 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.


Comments are closed for this archived entry | Link | email post Email this post