How snow-covered roads in the D.C. area complicate the morning commute

How snow-covered roads in the D.C. area complicate the morning commute

Forecasters say we can expect to see 1 to 3 inches of snow in the D.C. area on Friday, the heaviest snowfall the region has seen in two years.

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An early Friday storm means snow-covered roads and cold winds for the morning commute

Listen live to WTOP for the latest 80s traffic and weather.

Snow already blanketed the D.C. area Friday morning, leading to closures and delays. Here’s what you need to know.

Snow totals reached more than 2 inches in Ashburn and Leesburg, Virginia, by 6 a.m. Snow totals in Alexandria reached 2.1 inches, while Columbia and Laurel, Maryland, reached 3.5 and 2.9 inches, respectively.

Forecasters say we can expect to see between 2 and 4 inches of snow in the D.C. area on Friday, adding to the heaviest snowfall the region has seen in two years.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for parts of central Maryland, the District of Columbia and northern Virginia. The advice continues until seven in the evening

“As the snow continues to fall across the area, there will be some dips in movement before it subsides this afternoon but some heavier pockets at times as well,” 7News First Alert Meteorologist Brian Van De Graaff said.

A winter storm warning was also issued until 7 p.m. for parts of central Maryland and northern Virginia, including Loudoun County in Virginia and Montgomery County in Maryland, where the weather service said up to six inches of snow could occur.

“Snow will continue to fall until mid-afternoon with snow accumulation decreasing between 3 and 4 p.m.,” Van de Graaf said.

Soft snow creates slippery conditions on roads

The soft snow has already taken its toll on roads in the Capital Region.

U.S. Park Police closed the George Washington Parkway from the Capital Beltway to Spout Run Parkway shortly after 6 a.m., with both directions closed due to hazardous driving conditions in persistent snow.

According to Domaine, the busiest roads have improved a lot as the snow has been cleared from Route 1 through Alexandria and Interstate 395, making driving easier.

“It’s still going to slip a little bit depending on the break time and what the road looks like in that spot over there,” Domaine said. “But with a lot less traffic, you’ll have a lot more grace on the road, too.”

WTOP reporter Steve Dresner reported earlier Friday that there had been two separate incidents where vehicles took exit ramps too quickly in Montgomery County, Maryland, adding that visibility had become an issue.

By 4 a.m., Gaithersburg’s secondary streets, along with portions of I-270, were covered in snow, creating difficult driving conditions, he said.

“If you don’t need to go out, please stay home,” Dresner said.

7News First Alert meteorologist Brian Van De Graaff agreed, telling drivers to “try to limit your time on roads that can definitely be smooth.”

WMATA also announced that Metrobus is operating under a moderate snow plan, with some routes suspended and others taking detours around routes with hazardous conditions. The transit agency also said snow could cause delays and increase wait times for buses.

How much snow will we get?

A low pressure system will begin to intensify quickly throughout the day, meaning the area will get between 2 to 4 inches of snow, with Bullseye likely forming around the area, according to WTOP meteorologist Lauren Ricketts.

The highest snow concentrations are expected in Loudoun County, northern Virginia and northern Maryland, which could result in four to five inches of snow and reduced visibility.

“This overperformance of snowfall intensity rates is something we will continue to monitor throughout the remainder of the morning and into the early afternoon,” Ricketts said.

She added that the snow will diminish to scattered and intermittent snow showers until the afternoon. According to Ricketts, some snow showers could occur as winds shift to the northwest in the afternoon.

Temperatures will be in the 30s at that time as snowfall will stick to untreated surfaces, Ricketts said.

Ricketts said he expects to refreeze Saturday morning. On that day, temperatures will be in the 20s, and winds are expected to reach 30 mph. Temperatures will rise slightly around 30 degrees on Sunday before a warming trend next week when temperatures will be in the 40s and 50s. Ricketts said rain will move into the area on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Friday’s snow comes on top of the remnants of Monday’s snowstorm, which brought 2-6 inches of accumulation to the area. The area got about 4 inches on Monday, but some parts of Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, exceeded 5 inches.

A noticeable amount of that snow remained stuck around due to the cold temperatures that moved in after the snowfall, with Friday’s system bringing more of the same.

Cold and severe storms expected on Saturday could bring another “hard freeze” and bring more difficult conditions for drivers in the D.C. area to end the week, but “while snow will fall on the roads during the day, when traffic is heaviest, the sun will shine through the clouds.” And strict treatment of roads should prevent any widespread congestion, according to WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildin.

Complete forecast

Friday: Winter Alert
Snow likely
Heights: 31-36
Wind: NE 5-10 mph

Friday night:
Lingering snow blows, gradually clearing overnight
Lows: 16-21
Wind: NW 5-10 mph

Saturday: Cold alert
Partly sunny
Heights: 22-29
Wind: NW 15-20, wind 30 mph

Partly to mostly sunny
Heights: 30-36
Wind: NW 15-20, wind 30 mph

Current radar

WTOP’s Tadeusz Abidji, Steve Dresner and John Domen contributed to this report.

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