The coldest air of the winter thus far made its way into the D.C. region, setting up a bitterly cold weekend that is expected to end with snow.
The National Weather Service put out a winter storm watch for Saturday and Sunday for the D.C. area and counties west of the Chesapeake Bay and eastern West Virginia.
These areas could see up to 5 inches of snow, and travel could become difficult.
The bulk of the impact would be felt from late Saturday night into Sunday night.
Winter Storm Watch in effect late Saturday night through Sunday night for the potential of 5 or more inches of snow. Additional snow is possible Monday and Monday night as well. The latest winter graphics at: https://t.co/DtvXcTe0Qk pic.twitter.com/oxfL2m7Ng5
— NWS Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) January 29, 2021
Metro announced that trains and buses would be operating on a moderate snow plan Sunday.
Alexandria City Public Schools announced that they would be canceling all programs held at school buildings on Monday, such as meal distribution, child care programs and the tech help desk.
The school system said meal distribution would instead take place on Tuesday.
Wind gusts reached up to 40 mph Friday, bringing wind chills into the teens to 20s throughout the day, Storm Team4 Meteorologist Amelia Draper said.
Winds will be lighter, but it will still be cold on Saturday with highs only in the 30s.
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“Sunshine on Saturday will be short-lived as another storm system will head our way, bringing us our next chance for some accumulating snow starting midday Sunday, possibly lasting into Monday,” Storm Team4 meteorologist Matt Ritter said.
The storm could bring snow some 2 to 5 inches of snow to the area by Sunday morning. And the warm air following that could lead to a wintry mix Monday morning, according to Draper.
Dust off the shovel, grab some extra firewood and find the sled. How about these odds for Sunday’s snow!? pic.twitter.com/NrKxbfQSOT
— Amelia Draper (@amelia_draper) January 28, 2021
According to Storm Team4 meteorologist Doug Kammerer, the European model suggests about 6 to 10 inches of snow for “most everyone.”
This would be the D.C. area’s first chance at significant snow accumulations in two years, Ritter said, adding travel would be affected Sunday into Monday even with “the smallest realistically possible amounts” in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
“Everyone should have their first inch before noon,” Storm Team4 meteorologist Chuck Bell said about Sunday’s anticipated snow. “By sunset most of the area will have at least 2, to perhaps as many as 5 or 6 inches of snow.”
For areas to the west of Dulles International Airport and north of Gaithersburg the storm will “likely be all snow from start to finish,” Bell said. He forecasts snow totals in those areas are “likely to be in the 10-12″ range.”
Meanwhile, Bell said D.C. and the immediate suburbs will likely end up in the 4-8 inch range while Southern Maryland will end up with 4 inches or less due to the rain mixing in for a longer period of time.
He said as the storm pulls away from the D.C. region on Tuesday morning, cold air will rush in behind it. “We are unlikely to get too much additional snow on the back side of the storm but it will lock cold air in place so multiple refreeze issues are expected on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday night.”
Friday night: Clear and cold with diminishing winds. Low temperatures in the mid teens to low 20s.
Saturday: Morning sunshine followed by increasing clouds late in the day. Brisk and cold. High temperatures in the mid to upper 30s.
Sunday: Cloudy with periods of accumulating snow. 2-5 inches with some mixed sleet and rain, especially south of D.C. High temperatures in the upper 20s to mid 30s.
Monday: Cloudy, blustery and cold with periods of snow, plus a wintry mix of precipitation. An additional 2-5 inches of snow with some mixed precipitation is expected again near D.C. and points south. High temperatures in the low to mid 30s.