Slicker than you think: Snow, graupel led to spinouts

WASHINGTON — Snow with snow pellets, known as graupel, mixed in was falling in D.C. and across the region and causing slick road conditions in Maryland, where several vehicle spinouts were reported this afternoon.

The Friday afternoon rush got started early with drivers trying to beat the snow and early dismissals for several counties in Maryland.

“We’re all ready in the middle of our Friday afternoon rush hour,” WTOP Traffic reporter Bob Marbourg said. “It is much heavier and slower than it would otherwise be at this time.”

A Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect until 7 p.m. for D.C. and its suburbs. A trace of snow up to an inch is likely by this evening, with more accumulations expected north and east of D.C.

In Maryland, the advisory covers the following counties: Montgomery; Prince George’s; Anne Arundel; Frederick; Howard; Baltimore; and Harford.

The advisory also includes Arlington, Falls Church and Alexandria in Virginia and D.C.

Expect icy conditions on roads, ramps, sidewalks and parking lots thanks to cold temperatures overnight.


Snow accumulations of a trace were reported in Virginia with totals hitting 2 inches in Baltimore County, according to the National Weather Service.

A mix of snow with graupel mixed in fell throughout the afternoon and was beginning to move out of the region before 6 p.m., said Storm Team4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts.

Graupel is snow coated in supercooled liquid. This precipitation typically forms when the lower atmosphere is unstable.

The snow was expected to by 7 p.m. and dryer air will move in tonight.

Temperatures will remain well below the freezing mark overnight. Expect icy road and sidewalks. Drivers and pedestrians should take care when driving or walking Friday evening.

(Courtesy National Weather Service)


This Evening: Snow coming to an end after 5 p.m., clearing skies
Highs: 20s
Winds: SE @ 5 mph

Overnight: Clear and cold – some slick spots possible
Temps: 20s
Winds: W 5-10 mph

Saturday: Mostly sunny, warmer
Highs: Mid 40s
Winds: W 5-10 mph

See the current radar plus the Winter Weather Advisory areas, which are shaded white in the map below:

Get the full forecast on the weather page.


Spinouts were reported on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway before the big curve and on Route 32 and a snow plow also overturned in the 3 o’clock hour, according to WTOP Traffic reporter Bob Marbourg.

Road conditions varied from just wet to significant accumulations of snow reported along the Baltimore Beltway and on Interstate 97, Marbourg said.

The Friday afternoon rush got started several hours early as drivers tried beat the snow and early dismissals for several counties in Maryland put more vehicles on the road in the early afternoon.

“The timing couldn’t be worse,” said Charlie Gischlar, spokesperson for the Maryland State Highway Administration. “The tables are now stacked against a good commute.”

Roads were pre-treated in Maryland. The Maryland Transit Administration modified the schedule for Commuter Bus Service for Friday.

Listen to WTOP Traffic for live updates every 10 minutes on the 8s.

Get the latest traffic updates on the WTOP traffic page, by following @WTOPTraffic on Twitter and by listening to 103.5 FM on-air or online.


Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Carroll County and Howard County schools have all announced changes to the Friday afternoon schedule.

See all closings and delays announcements on WTOP’s Closings and Delays page.


Listen live on, on the WTOP app or tune in to 103.5 FM.

WTOP’s Will Vitka Colleen Kelleher contributed to this report.

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