Snow sense of timing: Winter weather could come just in time for morning commute

Another round of snow is on the way Thursday morning, and while it won’t be a blockbuster event as far as totals go, it’ll be enough — and just at the right time — to create a travel headache for commuters.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Baltimore-Washington metro area from late Wednesday night through midday Thursday.

Rain will start late Wednesday night, changing over to snow, the weather service said. And while the expected snowfall will only top out around an inch or two, it’s expected to start in much of the area between 5 and 7 a.m.

A cold front will bring a blast of arctic air into the D.C. region after a relatively mild Wednesday. Those plummeting temperatures, as well as the rain, will make the transition to snow even more difficult for commuters.

“Since it will be raining overnight, road crews will not be able to pretreat the pavement,” Storm Team4 meteorologist Chuck Bell told WTOP. “This, combined with the fact that snow plows will also be stuck in slow-moving traffic, could lead to a very slow, slushy or slippery morning commute. If you have a work-from-home option on Thursday, take it.”

D.C. will deploy its snow team at 6 a.m. Thursday, to begin to salt the streets in preparation for a mix of rain turning into snow. Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Transportation said Wednesday that crews have began pretreating interstates and primary and major secondary roadways ahead of the storm.

As always: Drive slow, leave plenty of stopping distance behind the vehicle in front of you, and take extra care on ice-prone driveways, bridges, overpasses and highway ramps.

Expected snow totals for the D.C. area for Thursday. (Courtesy National Weather Service)
Here’s when the rain is expected to change over to snow. (Courtesy National Weather Service)

As the snow tapers off, temperatures stay frigid: Highs from Thursday through Saturday won’t make it far above the freezing mark. Friday, in particular, is poised to be bitter cold — high temperatures are forecast in the mid-20s. A breeze will make it feel even colder, with wind chill values in the teens.

The region’s next chance for significant snowfall comes late Friday into Saturday. Keeping in mind that the thinking could still change, recent trends in computer models aren’t looking great for winter weather lovers.

“The likelihood of getting more than 3 inches of snow with this storm are much lower today than they were yesterday, thanks to a more southern track,” Bell said. “It now appears more likely that any amounts of 6 inches or higher will be south of Richmond, toward Virginia Beach and Eastern North Carolina.”


Wednesday night: Rain developing, mainly after midnight. Lows in the mid- to upper 30s.

Thursday: Rain changing to snow, and ending in the afternoon. An accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible. Becoming windy and colder. A morning high in the mid- to upper 30s, then falling temperatures.

Friday: Mostly cloudy and cold. A chance of light snow after sunset. Highs in the upper 20s.

Saturday: A chance of light snow early, then partly sunny. Highs in the lower 30s.

Current conditions:

Power outages:

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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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