Wintry mix of snow, rain messes with area roads

WASHINGTON — The D.C. area’s first snow of the season made trouble on the roads all through the day Thursday. Commuters have had a cold, wet and dangerous trip in the morning and the evening; accidents are stacked up all over the region, and the gradual changeover to rain isn’t making things much better, especially north and west of D.C.

A Winter Weather Advisory was in effect for the entire D.C. area for much of the day. Fauquier and Culpeper counties in Virginia are still under that advisory until midnight; in Loudoun County and the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and Frederick, Carroll and northern Montgomery counties in Maryland, a Winter Storm Warning will be in effect until 4 a.m. Friday.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, there’s snow, sleet and freezing rain north and west of the District, and rain elsewhere, said Storm Team 4 meteorologist Mike Stinneford.

The snow is still falling between Germantown and Frederick, Maryland, around Interstate 270, Stinneford said. Between Frederick and Front Royal, they’re getting sleet on top of snow – “kind of like little ball bearings,” Stinneford said.

Snow totals at about 3 p.m., provided by Stinneford:

  • Thurmont, Md.: 7.5 inches
  • Walkersville, Md.: 6.1 inches
  • Hillsboro, Va.: 6 inches
  • New Market, Md.: 5.3 inches
  • Westminster, Md.: 5.3 inches
  • Clarksburg, Md.: 5.2 inches
  • Purcellville, Va.: 4.8 inches
  • Leesburg, Va.: 4.8 inches
  • National Zoo: 2 inches
  • American University: 1.5 inches
  • Dulles Airport: 3 inches
  • Reagan National: 1.4 inches
  • BWI Marshall: 1.3 inches

The area might get a bit of freezing rain, sleet or snow late Thursday night as temperatures drop back into the 30s.

The weather closed and delayed many school systems Thursday, and they’re starting to make decisions about Friday too. You can check out all the closings and delays.

Currently on area roads 

The conditions, and the people driving in them, have caused havoc on several area roadways.

The worst road conditions, like the worst weather conditions, are around I-270 and I-70, said Bob Marbourg in WTOP’s Traffic Center. With a lot of slush on the roads as of 5:45 p.m., traffic is barely moving around the intersection of those two roads.

Cars were stuck in traffic for hours, especially between Frederick and Hagerstown, Maryland, on I-70, Marbourg said.

The time it takes to clear any crash has been magnified by the conditions, he added.

East of the District, roads are simply wet – which still poses a set of challenges, Marbourg said.

The Maryland State Police said they responded to 97 crashes and assisted with 14 disabled vehicles between 6 and 10 a.m.

“A lot of people didn’t think the snow would materialize this early in the year. It’s a little bit of a shock value,” said Ellen Kamilakis, with the Virginia Department of Transportation. “We ask people to slow down, to add in more time to their commutes, to not underestimate things. Don’t drive like it’s a fall day; drive like this is a winter day.”

Snow coming down in Fairfax County, Virginia, Nov. 15, 2018. (WTOP/John Domen)
Snow coming down in Fairfax County, Virginia, Thursday morning. (WTOP/John Domen)

Snow is making for slippery conditions on Route 7 in Western Loudoun County. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Snow is making for slippery conditions on Route 7 in western Loudoun County. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

(WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
(WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
(WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Snow collects on grassy areas in Gaithersburg, Maryland. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Grassy areas in Gaithersburg, Maryland, have some accumulation. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

(WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
(WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
(WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Snow coming down in Fairfax County, Virginia, Nov. 15, 2018. (WTOP/John Domen)
Snow is making for slippery conditions on Route 7 in Western Loudoun County. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Snow collects on grassy areas in Gaithersburg, Maryland. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

Icy and snowy conditions have also caused problems on Interstate 395 and Interstate 95.

As of 5 p.m. in Fairfax County, Hillview Avenue is closed between Ronson Drive and Telegraph Road.

Area airports are open and operating.

Closings and Delays 

Several school systems have announced that they will open two hours late Friday. See WTOP’s Closings and Delays page for the latest updates.

What to expect Thursday evening

There could be some sleet, snow and freezing rain in the area, said Storm Team 4 meteorologist Mike Stinneford.

On Thursday night, there’s a chance that the rain will briefly change back over to snow for the Shenandoah Valley and northern Maryland before ending very early Friday morning.

The weekend and much of next week is expected to be chilly, but without all the precipitation this Thursday is bringing.

Current conditions


Thursday P.M.

Rain, with a chance of bit more of a wintry mix late at night.

Highs: D.C. area, around 40; north and west of D.C. area, low to mid-30s; south and east of D.C. area, 40s.

Friday: Rain ends before 7 a.m. Increasing sun and breezy with highs in the mid-40s to low 50s.

Saturday: Partly sunny. Highs in the mid-40s to low 50s.

WTOP’s Will Vitka, Rob Woodfork, Teta Alim and Jack Pointer contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2012 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He went to George Washington University as an undergraduate and is regularly surprised at the changes to the city since that faraway time.

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