Snow could put wrench in holiday travel plans

WASHINGTON — After some amazingly warm days, yes — we are talking about
snow in the forecast.

And unfortunately, we can expect the snow to fall during one of the busiest
travel days of the year, this Wednesday.

This system could affect the entire eastern seaboard leading up to
Thanksgiving Day. The storm system will start in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday
and move up the East Coast through Thursday. And a winter storm watch has been
issued for parts of the listening area.



A dry frontal system passed through the area on Monday afternoon and evening.
Eventually, that front will stall out just off the East Coast. An area of low
pressure will travel along the stalled front out of the Gulf of Mexico, past
the Carolinas and up the off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic.

As it travels, it will bring plenty of Gulf moisture with it. Several
questions still have to be answered, but it is looking more and more likely
that we will see some wintry precipitation around the D.C. area.


The purple dots represent different tracks of the area of low pressure from various computer models.

The track of the low is still going to be extremely important when sealing our
fate and determining our precipitation type. There is a lack of truly cold air
around D.C. so it is going to be difficult for this to be a major snow event.
With that being said, yes, we are confident that we will see a messy and
breezy Wednesday.

However, if the low tracks a little more to the east, the system could pull in
more cold air, which would create a better chance of snow all around the WTOP
listening area. If that low tracks a little farther west, then we could see a
greater chance for rain.

Either way, understand that after several days of warm weather, it will take a
lot to overcome the warm temperature of the road pavement.


The precip will spread in from the south and the first areas to possibly see
some wet snow (with perhaps some rain mixed in) will be along the Interstate
81/ Shenandoah Valley corridor and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

The cold air will be available in those areas before the snow line starts to
spread east by the afternoon. As the area of low pressure moves north, it will
draw in cold air from the north and west.

As the snow/rain mix moves east during the afternoon hours, it will gradually
transition to all snow before the system exits the area by Wednesday evening.

Traveling Advice

  • If you are headed north on Interstate 95, to get ahead of the system,
    drivers should aim to complete their trip (or at least make it through much of
    Pennsylvania) by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

  • If you are traveling south on I-95, I would wait until the storm system
    has passed, probably after 7 p.m. (or later) Wednesday.

  • If you are traveling along I-81, I would leave on Wednesday as early as
    possible (Tuesday night would be ideal), especially if you are headed south.



Wednesday snow

Again, remember the track of this system is still in question so it is
difficult to nail down details because any shift in the track or timing will
result in different precipitation types and amounts. Given the warm surface, a
lot of the snow will melt on contact, however. If we get a good heavy band of
snow that could overcome the warm surface and we could still see some good
accumulation. However, most of the accumulation I believe will still set up
north and west of town.


This map shows the probability of 1 inch of snow, or more, through Wednesday night.

We will continue to update the forecast as we get closer to Wednesday.
However, this is definitely something to watch as I believe there will be a
few areas that could receive several inches of snow by Wednesday night.

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