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Updates: Patchy wintry mix through the midday, then steadier rain later afternoon into early evening


Jan. 18, 2020

Only minor impacts expected, mainly north of D.C.
* Winter weather advisory north and west of the District until 7 p.m. *
Key points
Quick burst of early-morning snow left around a dusting to half-inch across much of the area.
Steadier precipitation redevelops after 2 p.m. or so. Mostly rain, with a touch of sleet possible early on. Temps mainly above freezing for most of the area, but with some freezing rain and icy spots possible in our outer northern suburbs.
Precipitation ends between approximately 6 and 8 p.m.
2:10 p.m. — New batch of mixed precipitation
Our one long lull became two shorter lulls thanks to a concentrated area of mixed precipitation midday. The next round is beginning to work in from the west. It will spread across the region over the next few hours. The main impact from this batch should come from about 3 to 7 p.m. In the immediate area it is looking more like 4 to 6 p.m. for now.
Sleet may be dominant in spots with this batch, especially north and west, but in many places it should be largely rain or freezing rain. At this point, much of the area is at or above freezing. Slick spots should remain few in general, although we’ll need to reassess as the sun sets.
12 p.m. — Temperatures slowly rising as precipitation changes over
Another batch of organized precipitation popped up and is moving through the area. While it started as snow, much of this activity is changing over to sleet and freezing rain or rain. Temperatures near and east of Interstate 95 are now rising above freezing, while places to the west generally remain below. Readings should continue nudging upward this afternoon. While a passing shower remains possible, the lull returns early afternoon before the later afternoon into evening batch.
10 a.m. — Not much happening for now, steadier precipitation to return this afternoon
Snow totals early this morning were on the order of a quick dusting to half-inch or so, with 0.1 inches at Reagan National and 0.3 inches at Dulles. As expected we’re looking at an extended pause in stead precipitation, although patchy areas of light snow and sleet could bring a another dusting and some slick spots to parts of the metro area late morning into early afternoon.
A steadier area of rain, possibly mixed with sleet early on, moves in after 2 p.m. or so. By then, temperatures should be at least a couple of degrees above freezing across most of the area thanks to a breeze from the south, so we don’t expect much in the way of icy spots on roads or sidewalks.
However there may still be some pockets of air and road temperatures right around the freezing mark in our outer northern suburbs, areas like northern Loudoun, northern Montgomery, northern Howard counties and points north. Freezing rain with minor icing remains possible in these areas into the early evening, especially on untreated surfaces.
7:10 a.m. — Burst of snow moving out of the area
The band of snow moving through the region is seemingly in a hurry, as it’s already ended in much of the area.
Given the speed in which this band of snow has passed by, most spots locally are ending up with a dusting to about a half inch of snow. While some more snow showers are possible this morning, little to no additional accumulation is expected through the morning.
5:20 a.m. — Burst of snow approaching from southwest, passing through region by 8 a.m.
A narrow, but locally heavy burst of snow is approaching from the southwest. It’s already passing through Fauquier County and entering Prince William County. With temperatures below freezing (generally 25 to 30 degrees), this snow may stick to roads and cause slick spots, while reducing visibility. Take it slow if driving or just wait it out. This should last an hour or less in most areas.
This area of snow should reach the Beltway by 6 a.m. or little earlier, and exit by 7 a.m. A quick dusting or coating is most likely, with no more than an inch at most.
We should then see a long pause before the next batch of precipitation moves in this afternoon, likely freezing rain in our colder areas and rain elsewhere.
Detailed forecast (from 5 a.m.)
Today’s daily digit
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
3/10: It’s nice to see some snowflakes falling. That’s mainly early, though, and the rest of the day is rather icky.
Express forecast
Today: Morning snow, afternoon wintry mix. Highs: 30s to near 40.
Tonight: Wintry mix ending, clearing and breezy. Lows: 30s.
Tomorrow: Partly to mostly sunny. Highs: Near 40 to low 40s.
Forecast in detail
We’re getting into prime snow season, so it’s probably no major shock we’ve got some snow to deal with. Snow is just part of this complex system that wants to throw just about every precipitation type at us. Fortunately it’s moving fast, so it will be of limited impact most spots. Nonetheless, take it easy out there today.
Get our daily forecasts on your Amazon Alexa device .
Today (Saturday): Snow is in the area early this morning. It’s mainly light, but some shorter bursts of moderate or even heavy activity are possible. Given that overnight temperatures were quite cold, anything that falls sticks easily and could make for slick spots, particularly on untreated surfaces. Since it’s moving fast, it probably only amounts to a dusting to an inch most spots. Ending in our area by 10 a.m. or so, we should have a lull in precipitation into the afternoon. This should allow many spots, especially Interstate 95 and south or east, to warm above freezing. Western and northern parts of the area may stay below or near freezing for longer.
As the second main round of precipitation moves in, it’s a mix of rain, sleet, and freezing rain. This probably comes mid-to-late afternoon. North and west suburbs may see a light glaze, with some spots up to about 0.10 inch of ice. Probably not enough for major issues, but certainly enough to mess with travel in spots. Highs eventually rise into the mid-30s to around 40. Confidence: Medium
Tonight: Showers, some heavy, persist into the evening. To the north and west, some spots may still deal with freezing rain, especially toward northern Maryland. Precipitation should wind down by 8 p.m. or thereabouts. Temperatures don’t change a lot much of the night. They may keep warming through about midnight or so before falling back off to near where they were earlier in the day. In other words, lows are spread across the 30s. A couple more late-night snow showers are possible. Confidence: Medium
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Tomorrow (Sunday): Some clouds may linger into the morning, but probably not much longer. We end up mostly sunny by afternoon. It’s seasonably chilly as highs aim for the low 40s. Northwest winds blow around 10 to 20 mph, with gusts into the 35 mph zone. Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow night: Skies remain largely clear and winds are in no hurry to die off. Lows ranging from the upper teens to mid-20s feel a good 10 degrees colder much of the time. Those chilly gusts are out of the northwest, sustained around 10 to 15 mph. Confidence: Medium-High
A look ahead
With Arctic high pressure dominating our pattern, it’s a cold Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday . Clouds should continue to be few and far between as highs rise to the mid-30s to near 40. Winds are likely still a bit feisty from the northwest. Confidence: Medium-High
There’s not a whole lot of change into Tuesday . It’s possible we’ll see winds come down slightly, and perhaps a few more clouds than Monday, but it’s still mostly clear. Highs are in the upper 30s to lower 40s. Confidence: Medium
Snow potential index
A daily assessment of the potential for at least 1 inch of snow in the next week, on a 0-10 scale.
4/10 ( → ): Some locations, especially north and west, could see an inch of snow Saturday. It doesn’t last long enough for much more than that.
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