What better way to say "Happy Birthday" to the Presidents than with a little snowfall? Here are five things you need to know about the coming Presidents’ Day winter storm.
1) Treacherous Travel
I’ll be blunt. If you don’t have to be on the roads tomorrow, stay at home. Temps Sunday morning were in the low teens and single digits. Washington, DC has not been above freezing since 5 p.m. on February 10th, so ground temperatures are extremely cold. What falls will stick and the region will quickly get a coating on everything. This includes treated roads, as even pretreatment chemicals do not work as well when ground temperatures are as cold as they are.
If you have to hit the roads, leave yourself a lot of extra time. Remember that clipper before the big snowstorm in January? I expect conditions during the morning and afternoon to be worse than this.
2) What Time Does This All Start?
Models have been faster with a wave of upper level energy late this evening across the region. This will likely bring light snow showers to the region sometime between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. that may leave an initial coating up to 1”. There looks to be a brief break after that before the main storm starts pushing into the region, which models are saying is likely between 6 to 9 a.m.
Monday morning. Snow looks to be heaviest between 10 a.m. and about 3 p.m. before the rain/snow line begins to march its way to the northwest from the southeast. By the evening hours we are likely mixing around I-95 and in DC and Baltimore, with snow still falling to the northwest and rain to the southeast. This is actually the period that could be the most dangerous as sleet and freezing rain could make for some icy conditions, especially west of I-95.
3) Speaking of Snow Totals…
The image above shows you our expected snow totals as of Sunday afternoon. This situation remains tricky and totals could rapidly change. The ranges shown show general expected snow totals in each zone, however given the amount of moisture available and a rain/snow line that may struggle to move westward, we would easily be looking at scattered locations in the 2-4” inch zone picking up 3-4”, while some in the 2-4” get more like 4-6”, etc.
This is why the plus symbol has been added, because isolated higher amounts are possible. The threat with storms like this one is that snowfall ends up being on the higher end as opposed to the lower end. We have seen it happen before with this type of setup and I would not be surprised in the least if some locations that get stuck under heavier bands of snow during the morning hours don’t see some higher totals. This becomes increasingly likely
4) A Quick Melt
So break out the icebreakers, snow shovels, and go clean out the store shelves right? Not necessarily. Heading into the overnight hours into Tuesday warm air will be spilling into the region, but that will not be doing most of the melting. Mother Nature has a much more effective tool for that: heavy rain.
Keep in mind water that falls as rain is above freezing itself. As it hits the snow, that heat is transferred, and melting occurs. This is especially true in heavy rain, which models bring into the region sometime between 7 a.m. to 12p.m. on Tuesday at this time. Current guidance shows enough energy with this line that lightning and thunder are possible. The timing of this line will be worth watching for area schools as well, as there could still be slick spots from icing still present on sidewalks and roads until this lie pushes through.
5) Refreeze & More Snow?
As noted yesterday, a fast moving clipper system moves in on the heels of the exiting storm system on Tuesday night. This could once again bring some snow showers back to the region overnight perhaps lingering into the early morning commute Wednesday.
At this time, the scattered and light nature of the snow associated with this clipper means little threat for additional accumulations with the exception of the westward facing slopes in the mountains where several inches of additional snow is possible. The bigger concern Wednesday morning may be a refreeze as temperatures, especially in the suburbs, dip below freezing. This could allow for slick conditions as late as the Wednesday morning commute.
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