Winter weather blitz: Snow, subzero wind chills in DC-area forecast

If you have not had your fill of winter weather yet, here’s some fantastic news for you: A major storm is in store for the D.C. region on Saturday with frigid weather poised to continue through the weekend.

First, the near-term. Weak winds and a lack of overcast will send temperatures plummeting to their lowest values yet Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. City-dwellers will wake up Thursday morning to temperatures in the teens, while sheltered valleys and rural areas could drop to near zero. Bundle up, limit exposure and beware of black ice on the roads.

The focus then shifts to the skies as a low developing over the Carolinas phases together with a cold front sweeping east from the Ohio Valley, setting the stage for a powerful coastal storm late Friday through Saturday.

The current thinking puts Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Delaware and much of coastal New England through Boston under the bullseye for at least 6 inches of snow, with a rising risk of up to a foot or more.

For Baltimore, D.C. and regions west, the forecast is considerably more subtle: Snowfall along the Interstate 95 corridor looks to be between 2 and 4 inches.

“How far to our east the center of the storm passes will be the key to predicting snow totals; as of now, the D.C. is on the far western edge of the snow shield,” Storm Team4 meteorologist Chuck Bell said. “This would leave us with flurries and light snow Friday evening and the chance for accumulations into Saturday morning.”

Signs point to a major winter weather event for the Delmarva, but the forecast farther west is complicated. Adding to that uncertainty, Bell added, are small nudges in the storm’s predicted track — less important for coastal areas firmly under the bullseye, but more consequential inland.

“Confidence is high on an accumulating snowfall across most of the area but remains low with regards to totals, especially the I-95 corridor and Southern Maryland,” the National Weather Service said in its forecast discussion. “Should the track move farther west, then areas like Southern Maryland and the I-95 corridor may see significant changes in potential impacts and snowfall totals.”

Temperatures will be cold enough across the region for precipitation to stay frozen for most or all of Saturday. Snow — heavy at times — falls steadily after midnight Saturday before tapering off Saturday afternoon from west to east, leaving a mindbogglingly cold breeze in its wake.

“No matter the amount of snow we get on Saturday, you should be prepared for a ferocious wind and bitter cold,” Bell said.

The current wind chills are nothing compared to what the forecast currently calls for Saturday night into Sunday: The weather service expects wind chills at or near zero for most of the WTOP listening area, plummeting as far as 20 below zero for the higher elevations of Northern Maryland and Virginia’s Blue Ridge.


Wednesday: Mostly sunny, breezy and bitterly cold with daytime chills in the teens. No chance of snow and winds northwest at 10 mph to 18 mph. Highs of 28 to 32.

Wednesday night: Clear. Bitterly cold. Light breeze. No chance of snow. Northwest winds of 3 mph to 6 mph. Lows of 10 to 16.

Thursday: Mostly sunny and staying cold with daytime chills in the mid-20s. No chance of snow and winds south at 4 mph to 8 mph. Highs of 32 to 38.

Friday: Cloudy and cold. Afternoon flurries. Snow by evening. Chance of snow is 60%. Southerly winds of 3 mph to 6 mph. Highs of 32 to 38.

Saturday: Snow in the morning. Chance of snow is 60%. Accumulations of 1 inch to 3 inches. Becoming windy, with winds out of the northwest at 18 mph to 28 mph. Highs of 25 to 30.

Current conditions:

Power outages:

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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