Freezing rain, ice expected Tuesday into Wednesday

WASHINGTON — Freezing rain and the chance for ice accumulation is headed our way as Wednesday morning dawns.

The first signs of precipitation moved into the region Tuesday night, as an area of low pressure developed off the Gulf Coast between Texas and Louisiana during the day. That is continuing to track to the north and east, spreading precipitation all the way into the Mid- Atlantic.

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An area of low pressure forming off the Gulf of Mexico between the Louisiana and Texas border will bring freezing rain/sleet/snow and rain to the eastern portion of the United States and into our area this evening through the first part of your Wednesday.

Winter weather and ice warnings and advisories spread across the eastern United States and all the way into our area. We are currently looking at Freezing Rain Advisories (in purple) and Winter Storm Warnings north and west of the D.C. area (pink) through Wednesday.


Get even more information about the winter weather in the WTOP live blog.

TIMING: Different parts of our listening area can expect differing precipitation so let’s break it down.

This will mainly be an icing event, with some minor snow accumulations well north and west of town. Freezing rain with pockets of sleet is the rule of thumb with this storm for our area. I do believe there will be delays and/or cancellations Wednesday, as well as power outages for those locations that gather slightly more ice.

FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY AREA (purple): This will be an all-freezing-rain event. Although 0.10 inches of ice will gather as freezing rain spreads across the area, temperatures will move above freezing between 6 and 8 a.m. and the precipitation will fall as just plain rain.

This is why we are not expecting such hefty ice accumulations in this region; however, 0.10 inches is still a good amount of ice that will make commuting difficult. There is a better chance of delays rather than cancellations, because most of the region will change over to just rain by the morning commute. Rain will continue to fall through the early afternoon hours as temperatures gradually move into the mid- to upper 40s by the late afternoon.

WINTER STORM WARNING AREA (pink): A mixed bag of precipitation (sleet, freezing rain with some isolated areas of snow) will move through this area. The cold air near the surface will hold in place longer than in the warned area, which means a better chance of a prolonged period of ice. A change to plain rain will take place between 8 a.m. and noon in the warning area.

This means that more ice accumulation is expected in this region before temperatures rise above freezing. There’s a better chance of cancellations and power outages in this area, since the cold air will linger. Rain will continue to fall during the early afternoon as temperatures move into the lower to mid 40s by the late afternoon.


Those south and east of D.C. can expect mainly a rain event, while north and west of town will get the brunt of the possible ice accumulations.

Again, this should all be out by the mid-afternoon hours, and temperatures will shoot on up through the 40s. However, even a little bit of ice can create problems. The winds will pick up slightly Wednesday evening, possibly bringing down tree limbs and/or power lines for regions that accumulate some ice that does not melt off. Here is what areas that receive ice accumulations can expect:

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The SPIA or the Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index predicts the projected footprint, total ice accumulation, and resulting potential damage from approaching ice storms. It is a tool to be used for risk management and/or winter weather preparedness.

Thank goodness Thursday and Friday look pretty quiet, as high pressure builds into the region. We’ll get some sunshine towards the end of the week with temperatures around 40 degrees before we await our next system this weekend.

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