WASHINGTON - Here we go again! For the third time in the last week, there was some accumulating snow for parts of the Washington D.C. region. Only halfway through the month and with 2 inches of snow, this is already the District's snowiest December in seven years.
Temperatures on Friday morning started below freezing for everyone in our region, including some lower 20s north of town. It is not expected to climb very much during the afternoon hours. Some, particularly north of town, likely will not break the freezing point Friday afternoon. This has the effect of keeping the ground cold, making it more likely that what falls is likely to stick to the surface.
While we are not expecting much snow in the region, it is the timing of the snow that is the biggest concern. Snow began to fall during the early stages of the afternoon and evening commute, and created some hazardous conditions on the road. Due to what is known as the "threat of an inch of snow during rush hour" rule, the National Weather Service decided to go ahead and issue the second Winter Weather Advisory of the year for Washington, D.C. and counties north and east of town. They also issued a "Potential Winter Commuting Hazard" statement for the D.C. and Baltimore metro regions later Friday night, urging commuters to be cautious during the evening rush.
Let's talk details. Snow was expected to begin to develop in the region sometime early Friday afternoon, likely between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. The snow is likely going to begin very scattered in nature, with the scattered bands and snow showers expected to come together and form an area of steadier, light snow across portions of central and northeastern Maryland. Snow lovers in Southern Maryland, downtown D.C., Northern Virginia and areas west of town…as of this morning this is not looking like the storm for you. A few areas may pick up a coating or a little more, but models are not showing snow falling in an organized enough fashion that we anticipate major problems in these regions. Right now, the main focus for the higher amounts is closer to Baltimore. Make no mistake about it, this is NOT your sledding, snowman, and snow shovels type of snowfall. It is of the lighter, faster moving variety.
Speaking of problems, with temperatures in downtown Washington being near to even a little above freezing later this afternoon, your treated roadways should make it through just fine. We do not anticipate highways like 495, 95, 295, etc. to see any significant problems because we do not anticipate the snow coming down heavily enough. It's your untreated roadways, your side streets, sidewalks, and alleyways that could get a little slick with a light coating of snow. In this way, this event is very similar to what Maryland saw on Wednesday night. If there are any problems on major roadways, it would most likely be up towards the Baltimore area as this is where snow could fall a little longer and steadier than we are expecting here in the immediate D.C. area.
So it has been a cold, busy, and rather winterish final full week of autumn. With winter starting next Thursday, it could only get worse, right? Actually quite the opposite is true. Any snow that does fall and accumulate this afternoon will melt by tomorrow afternoon with sunshine back and temperatures returning to the seasonal normal of 47°. By Sunday, despite clouds building throughout the day the mercury is expected to hit 50°. A late day shower can't be rule completely out, but if precipitation does fall it will be of the liquid variety as opposed to the frozen kind. By next Tuesday, part of the region will see temperatures break into the lower 60s. As things stand this morning, I do not see any more potential for snow in our region after today until after the Christmas holiday.