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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 01/27/2009

Snow Bursts Onto Scene; Turns to Ice Tonight

By Jason Samenow

Several inches possible by tonight

* CWG's Forecast, Accumulation Map, Timeline and FAQs | SnowCam *

Winter Storm Warning through 12 p.m. tomorrow for Loudoun and Montgomery counties and N & W

Winter Weather Advisory through 12 p.m. tomorrow for the rest of the metro area

Slightly ahead of schedule, light to moderate snow has rapidly spread across the metro area. In most places, the ground is already white and an inch may accumulate by mid-to-late morning. National radar indicates the snow extends well to the west (through the Tennessee Valley) and should continue feeding into the region throughout the day, with variable intensity.

Keep reading for more on today's snow outlook...

Some of the steadiest and heaviest precipitation may actually fall just south of the District. Two or three inches is certainly possible by early evening throughout the area. Sleet may start mixing in with the snow at that time especially from the District and points south and east. If sleet does not mix in with the snow until later, snowfall totals will have to be adjusted upward. We'll keep you posted.

DC Snow Chatter on Twitter

Washington Post: Snowfall Threat Closes Schools

What's happening where you live? Report in with your snowfall updates/amounts.

By Jason Samenow  | January 27, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Updates  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Some Shovelable Snow, Then Ice & Rain
Next: Snow Lets Up; Heavier Again Later, Then Ice


I just drove from Alexandria to Arlington via 395 and Washington blvd. My neighborhood was pretty slick and I got to feel the ABS on a slide to a stop at an intersection. But once I hit the ramp to 395 it was clear, just wet. Everyone was behaving themselves nicely and actually leaving space and everything! Arlington streets weren't as bad as my neighborhood but Wilson blvd looked awfully close and the the snow is still coming...

I expect some major trouble getting home.

Posted by: AnneinSand | January 27, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Just out of curiosity ... with essentially the same forecast for DC metro and for points N&W (Loudoun/Montgomery), why does NWS have the Winter Weather Advisory for the metro and the Winter Storm Warning for N&W? Being out here in Herndon, I'm a lot closer to Loudoun than I am to central Fairfax County, so it seems like the mixed alert guidance would be more confusing for most people given that both statements have basically the same outlook on accumulation and conditions.

Posted by: joshnva | January 27, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse


I see your point. It's one of those borderline calls where they have to draw the line somewhere.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I'll just go ahead and say it, since I always do - the knee jerk school closings are not a good thing. Not only are we raising a generation to freak out at just a few inches of snow, but we are putting parents who work hourly jobs with no paid vacation in a terrible predicament. Leave kids home alone where they could get into trouble, or take the day off and risk not making ends meet in already tough economic times. I just don't get it, and never will.

Posted by: SouthsideFFX | January 27, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Oh, get over it. You've been complaining about this same thing for years and it doesn't accomplish anything and there are way too many teachers and students that frequent this site to ever agree with you.

Posted by: AnneinSand | January 27, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully when I go to the supermarket tonight, it won't be out of bread, toilet paper and milk.

Odds of the Fed Gov't closing early or closing tomorrow? 20%?

Posted by: Rafael3 | January 27, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I am working from home today and keeping my kids here. But as for school closings, for those parents who do work but need to use extended day care the one positive about this situation is that generally the daycare centers stay open. For example, Montgomery County schools are closed today but our extended care provider is open ( located at the school) and will provide care for the entire day unless the weather becomes too dangerous. I realize that's not an option for all parents but it does help many working parents who regularly use this extended care.
As for weather, I am in Montgomery Village in MD and we have about an inch so far with the roads beginning to be covered now. I think it will be a mess.

Posted by: soleil2000 | January 27, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Old Town Alexandria has at least a 1/2 inch of snow - my forcast is that we'll get at least 3 inches here, if it continues to come down the way it is.

My concern is this afternoon - while I take public transportation home, I need to drive to my class... :( ... which I might actually try since the first day has already been postponed by the Inauguration...

Posted by: MKoehl | January 27, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse


My wife asked the same question. I said 1 in 3 chance Fed Gov provides early dismissal. Tomorrow's status will depend on temps overnight...but my early guess might be unscheduled leave policy.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse


Is it just me or does the entire batch of moisture look like it want to slide just enough south of us to screw us over?

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 27, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Glad they cancelled school from the get go and didn't make us go in early. Nice job as always CWG on the coverage!

Posted by: PoorTeacher | January 27, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I echo that --great job on the coverage. Love the timeline and the maps!

Posted by: soleil2000 | January 27, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse


Model guidance has pretty consistently shown the heaviest precip just to our south until tonight. So, for the most part, snow intensity will be light for us today (hence the forecast of 2 or 3 inches instead of a lot more)...but will wax and wane a bit. I also wouldn't be entirely surprised if it even stopped for a time.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

@capweather guys
what do the "models" and so on look like for the chances of this hitting us perfectly and not having things change over to sleet/rain before ending?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 27, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse


I moved from Oregon about 6 months ago and drivers here are a lot more impatient and reckless. I totally agree with the decision to close school due to a couple of inches. Too many drivers are careless in this area and we need to look out for the safety of our children.

Posted by: snowedin1985 | January 27, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but "worst snow in years" (headline in the print edition) is followed in the opening paragraph with "one to four inches."

For heaven's sake, do DC area weather folks get paid to hyperventilate about the fact that it snows in January and February almost every year?

Drop the adjectives. Stick to the projections and probabilities. Trust me, area residents will generate all the hysteria necessary, and then some.

Posted by: NorwegianBlue | January 27, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

About 0.5 inches here near Union Station. Sidewalks are covered due to a fairly moderate burst of snow. Looking at the radar, it's looking like we're going to go into a period of lighter snow for a while now.

Productivity will be hurting today....

-Skywalker from Silver Spring

Posted by: SkywalkerSS | January 27, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Two questions: is Walter ready to do his snow sculptures and does everyone have chocolate?

Posted by: Etta- | January 27, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Did someone take a bite out of the SnowCam ruler?

Posted by: joemktg1 | January 27, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

talk of multi-car pile-ups on the radio. Apparently Charles County schools just closed but the buses can't get back to the schools because of the conditions. Glad some other counties didn't bother trying to drive children in buses around in this for no reason.

Posted by: AnneinSand | January 27, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I have to say, anytime I think school systems are stupid for closing I venture outside and realize that no, this area just sucks at treating roads. I live at the intersect of 3 main roads in Alexandria, none treated- snow melting under the cars and refreezing into ice. Dangerous times, completely preventable.

But with that said- yay! SNOW! Even if this is all we get, I'll take it. I was extremely afraid we would have a snowless winter.

Posted by: kallieh | January 27, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Snow in Potomac! It's beautiful. I've taken stock of the necessities - diapers, cheezits, orange juice, wine (I have four kids), firewood... Now a day to just hang out, play in the snow, make a beef bourguignon and settle in with the older kids later in the day for a Simpsons marathon (thank you Netflix!). Ah. Bliss. Enjoy everyone and thanks again for this site - you guys do a great job.

Posted by: someonelikeyou | January 27, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

snowing pretty good now in bethesda, about 2 inches on the ground

Posted by: samdman95 | January 27, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure the rest of the gang can chime in (and I know the team will have a full update before lunch). However, at this point, the odds look pretty low that we won't get a change over to non-snow by late this evening. However, stranger things have happened, and this is a very dynamic situation, so i wouldn't rule it out (but would say the odds are very, very low).

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Looks like about 1.5 - 2 inches already on the balcony of my Lake Ridge aerie...and that sky is pretty low and determined-looking.

I notice that the fanged cloud is back in the forecast for tomorrow.

Posted by: meta2 | January 27, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Looks like we have pretty big lull coming!
I think that maybe keep the totals down a lot!

Posted by: clintonportis17 | January 27, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Glad to see the forecast was upped from 1-3, because I just took over an inch off my car here in Manassas, and it is still snowing at a good clip. LOL.

Off to fight traffic...the only thing I don't like about snow is the folks who seem to lose their minds when they have to drive in it....

Kim in Manassas

Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | January 27, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Our schoolbuses here in Arlington were delayed due to weather. Roads surrounding our school (small, residential, and hilly) are not good. Staff that arrived around 7:45 were slipping and sliding on the hill coming in.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 27, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Looks like we're heading into the "eye" here for the next few hours. The next batch is still snow over WV and OH, hopefully, it will stay that way

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Perhapts a slight push to north with this would have made a difference! I HATE THE EYE! lol

Posted by: clintonportis17 | January 27, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

go figure the one day it finally snows here & the red line was awful this am - unrelated to all the snow...

Posted by: madisondc | January 27, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

ready on both counts! (and surprised you remembered me!)

thanks. so, i can at least cling to "very, very low" odds and "wouldn't rule it out." it's something...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 27, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

It seems the precip thats over the area now is moving southward. Is this supposed to be happening? And is the precip after the "eye" going to move in our direction or is it also going to go southward?

Posted by: PeterBethesda | January 27, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

About 2 inches of snow in Lake Ridge.

Great pictures, horrible walking. I slid about every two steps. Guess I should have worn better shoes?

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 27, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Which model do you guys prefer to follow? Talking with a friend, it seems that not all the models were forecasting the same thing with the GFS providing more of a wintry model and the Euro going the other way with mostly rain and the NAM more of an inbetween the 2.

Posted by: Krazijoe | January 27, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

PeterBethesda you and I seem to the only ones to spot this movement on the radar. The snow shield has already moved south of the Pennsylvania border. Kiddies this snow won't be lasting much longer.

Posted by: MKadyman | January 27, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Fatal crash on 15 in MD... closed at Hayward Rd.

be careful!!

Posted by: AnneinSand | January 27, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Snow picked up.. Been snowing heavily in Lake Ridge for about 20 minutes.

Posted by: ZmanVA | January 27, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse


The staff here typically goes off a variety of models (no model is 100% correct), and uses local climatology to refine what they see. For example, the models never seem to handle the effect of the mountains on west to east precip very well, as well as how much cold air remains west of the mountains

Removing my capital weather - official hat here for a second, I'd probably say the forecast the gang is using right now is based a good bit of the European Models in terms of being conservative, but with an eye to the American models and their high end possibilities.

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I noticed the radar early this morning showing a definite southern movement of the precip. Not sure what will cause the snow to pick back up after the "eye" because it all looks like its shifting south of us. Any opinions from the pros??

Posted by: schrute | January 27, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

i vote for the "wintery" GFS model.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 27, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

MKadyman: I picked up on it an hour or two ago, as well (one of my comments above is the batch moving south). NWS still seems adamant that it's going to do what they said it will. I dunno though. It may just be an illusion. Let's stick with that.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 27, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Since this is my first winter as a federal employee, any idea when they'd let us know if we had an early dismissal?

In the meantime, I'm thoroughly enjoying watching the snow come down over the wall of my cubicle.

Posted by: museum_lady | January 27, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse


Usually they will let you know early afternoon. But if the snow stops like the radar is showing, you should probably bet on being here all day. :-(

Keep an eye on OPM's website and check the "Operating Status" tab.

Posted by: schrute | January 27, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

They'll let us out (if at all) about 2 hours after they should. For me, it's 8-plus years staring out the window, hoping OPM would get a clue.

Posted by: phanieb | January 27, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Can someone explain the large difference n the rain/snow line on between the local and regional radars on the CWG Weather Wall (and other radar feeds as well). Which is to be believed? Seems like a pretty important parameter to get right on the question of whether it will continue to rain or snow.

Posted by: mkjec1 | January 27, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Museum_Lady---Officially it's when OPM puts it on their website.
Unofficially it's when your director realizes that OPM is dragging their feet.

Posted by: Krazijoe | January 27, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse


The slight southern movement is not surprising. We've mentioned a couple times in a various posts the heaviest snow during the day today would be to the south. We're in a squeeze between high pressure to the north and moisture feeding in from the southwest.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Where are yall seeing the snow hole? In general, most of the returns from the radars on the weather wall [linkage] seem solid, with more precip moving into the area from the southwest.

However, with that said (and as Jason mentioned earlier), I fully expect to see a lull in precip as the day draws on before the second batch (and stronger low pressure system) gets going.

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, that radar...

Somebody please tell me that it's not what it looks like.

Well, before I get too sad, maybe if it dries right up the way the radar suggests, there won't be any precip by the time temps warm up, meaning no ice. I like snow, but ice? That I could do without.

But seriously, the radar looks so different from the current forecast that surely we must be failing to take SOMETHING into account.

Posted by: LaurainNWDC | January 27, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

1.5 inches in New Baltimore. It's been snowing steadily since about 7 ish. First it was small grainy, flakes, falling like rain. Now it's big fat fluffy flake coming down at a pretty steady clip. Snow is very light, easy to sweep.

Posted by: weathergrrl | January 27, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

A second batch? Somebody explain to me where it's going to come from. Teach me, wise ones.

Posted by: LaurainNWDC | January 27, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Big fluffy flakes here at Union Station right now. I think I've been spending more time at the window than at my desk so far today.

Even though the radar echos appear to be shifting south, I'm confident (maybe just hopeful) that the precip will fill back in as the main storm begins to move northeast.

Back to the snow-watching...

ps... also hopeful (but not terribly optimistic) that OPM sends us home.

Posted by: SkywalkerSS | January 27, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

1.3" here in Mt Pleasant...loving the snow

Posted by: MattRoss | January 27, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

hey kim in manassas. i can remember when mannassas was one of the coldest spots west of dc, even colder than dulles most of the time. even in the summer it would cool way down. its seldom like that anymore. add a zillion pepole,houses and asphalt and there you go. talk about climate change. data should confirm this i bet?? question anyone?? i still would like to know why this winter is the first that i can recall, that nws makes it a point to forcast ice/snow at such and such feet above sea level in there advisories, other than the nova mt forcast for elevations above 2000 ft. have i missed hearing this all these years? oh btw this is like the 4th time i have asked this and it keeps geting skipped over?? please

Posted by: deveinmadisonva | January 27, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

woohoo...about 2 inches out on the back deck in the LoCo bootheel...BabyARC's first snow adventure to come in about an hour!

Posted by: DullesARC | January 27, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

looking at that radar it looks like we might be in for a break, but there is more snow immediately behind that dry slot

Posted by: cjespn | January 27, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't count on the govvies being let out early today. I remember a time when worked for Uncle Sam about 20 years ago when the Fed was not closed unless we had a blizzard with a foot of snow on the ground!

Posted by: mchristinaw | January 27, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

since the storm seems to be wintereyer than your prevous forecasts sugges (over 2 inches here in bethesda) are you going to raise the storm cast up to three flakes?

Posted by: samdman95 | January 27, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure the low pressure south of us will keep it from moving down too far. But maybe that's just my wishful thinking :-P

Posted by: kallieh | January 27, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

The snow is still coming down here in Dulles (light to moderate), despite some radar (undersensitive wunderground radar for example), showing no snow. I think the "eye" or gap that was west of us may be filling in.... looks like there isn't much of a respite if you ask me, and looking at the more accurate capitalweather radar we are currently in the lightest shade of blue, which continues into WV and joins with the heavier stuff.

Posted by: markinva | January 27, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Well, I made it to work despite 1: no plows having visited anywhere in my neighborhood and 2: idiots who fail to recognize the fact that you can't drive like a maniac on the interstate and side roads, no matter how much it looks like the road is OK. (maybe those spinning wheels should be a good indicator to slow down???)

Still snowing nicely here in Chantilly...and lots of white stuff in Manassas...where someone needs to start thinking about the side roads......


Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | January 27, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

You all are the experts but is this an optical illusion? Earlier this morning the snow covered central Pennsylvania, then dropped down to Harrisburg, and now has completely deserted Pennsylvania. Before it was moving west to east. Now it is moving northwest to southeast.

Posted by: MKadyman | January 27, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse


The different radar use different programs to determine snow vs ice vs rain. Agree they're not perfect, but it's challenging to get it exactly right due variability over short distances and sometimes spotty observations.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Arlington County Schools to close early today.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 27, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

3 inches of snow in Lake Ridge and it's still coming down nicely.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 27, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

It never ceases to amaze me how 1-4" is considered a "major winter weather event" in the DC metro area. No doubt anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line and points west are laughing at us right now, as they should be.

Posted by: RightWinger9 | January 27, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

wow. nbc4 predicts 5-8 inches of snow and .25 inches of ice for places north and west of dc, with 3-5 plus.1 ice for dc!! even i think that is a bit extreme!

Posted by: samdman95 | January 27, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I just measured the snow with my National Weather Service ruler that they gave out at their open house event last year. We have 2 and 1/8 inches of snow near Oakton, VA. There is still steady, light snow falling.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Tom Kierein is the first met to note that the snow will taper off around noon. It has almost stopped in northern Montgomery.

Posted by: MKadyman | January 27, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse


The snow isn't entirely stopping this afternoon but it will let up and maybe stop briefly in northern areas. We've been talking about the fact the snow will be heavier in the south (during the day today) since last night.


New post here. We have upped accumulation amounts.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | January 27, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Walter, Etta is not the only one to remember you. At least, I remember your snow sculptures, though I had forgotten your name (but I knew who she meant!) You are a talented artist!

ChickenLady, in Riverdale
where the chickens are hunkering down in their coop out of this freaky cold white stuff

Posted by: reginak | January 27, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

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