1st snow of season lightly coated DC region

D.C.’s Chevy Chase neighborhood wakes up to a wintry scene after a light dusting of snow during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

The first snow of the season fell on the D.C. area Wednesday morning, but the parts of the region that did see snow saw only a light dusting, no more than 2 inches.

Even so, Prince William County Public Schools, Fauquier County Public Schools, Stafford County Public Schools, Spotsylvania County Public Schools and Fredericksburg City Schools announced they would open on a two-hour delay Wednesday.

Storm Team 4 meteorologist Chuck Bell said snow raced into the area overnight. Many areas saw enough snow to whiten the ground but not a lot of accumulation. All the snow the region saw was out by 9 a.m.

In Northwest D.C., the first flakes came mixed with rain shortly before midnight, said Storm Team 4 meteorologist Doug Kammerer.

For the rest of the day, the forecast called for mostly sunshine in the afternoon with temperatures getting back close to 40, Bell said.

“We need the sun and the breeze to dry the roads as much as possible because, with clear skies and light winds tonight, there will be a hard freeze tomorrow morning,” said Bell.

Temperatures are then expected to fall to the low to mid-20s by Thursday morning.

But the dry weather won’t last long, said Bell. The area’s next storm arrives Friday afternoon, and this one will be a cold rain from start to finish.

Tips for driving in wintry conditions

Sgt. Colin Bristow with the Maryland State Police said that he sees firsthand the hazards of winter driving and what can happen when drivers are not prepared or paying attention.

Bristow warned that if drivers must travel in wintry weather, make sure that their vehicle is in good working condition, with proper tires, good windshield wipers and a full tank of gas.

“Park your cellphones. Focus on your driving and the road ahead of you,” Bristow said.

Local response

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement that the city’s snow team was out to pretreat roads through the District. Residents were also encouraged to pretreat sidewalks around their properties.

Hypothermia shelters were activated and opened until 7 a.m. Find a list of those shelters here.

The Virginia Department of Transportation crews were also ready; they said they didn’t pretreat roads in the morning due to Tuesday’s rainy start, but they set out Tuesday evening. Crews were out in the Fredericksburg area and along the Interstate 95 corridor at midnight.

“Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and adjust travel plans, especially in the early morning hours,” said Maryland’s State Highway Administration in a statement Tuesday. “Drivers should exercise extreme caution, especially on ramps, bridges and overpasses, which freeze first.”

Current conditions

WTOP’s Teta Alim and Will Vitka contributed to this report.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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