Winter Storm Watch in the DC area, state of emergency in Va. as snow, winter mix is ​​expected on Sunday


The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for parts of Maryland and Virginia with 5 to 9 inches of snow and 0.2 inches of ice possible.

The DC area is not finished with winter weather for the month of January yet, as the forecast calls for a snowstorm that will turn to freezing rain on Sunday, and a state of emergency has been declared in Virginia. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Snow, sleet and freezing rain will roll through the area from Sunday, and the hardest hit areas will likely get up to 10 inches of snow.
  • Storm Team4 Meteorologist Chuck Bell said people should avoid traveling Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning.
  • Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency to help agencies prepare for the storm. He made the decision after consulting with newly elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who will take office on Saturday, and his team.
  • The area’s road people are already preparing roads.
  • Utilities are working to avoid a recurrence of the disruptions that plagued the area earlier this month.

Start around

Snow will begin to move into the western and southern suburbs around noon Sunday, covering the entire region during the afternoon.

“There can be several inches of snow at sunset,” said Storm Team4 meteorologist Mike Stinneford.

Eventually the precipitation will turn to sleet, freezing rain and then rain on Sunday evening. Precipitation can remain mostly snow near Blue Ridge throughout this event.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch that was valid Sunday afternoon until Monday morning for Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland; and Rappahannock, Culpeper, northern Fauquier and western Loudoun counties of Virginia.

NWS said heavy snow is possible in these areas, with total snow accumulations of five to eight inches most likely, and up to 10 inches possible. Ice accumulations of one to two tenths of an inch are also possible. Wind can blow up to 40 mph.

The storm will then move up along Calvert and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland and through DC Sunday night, with rain in most of the region, which could knock down the amount of snow that accumulates on the ground. Some areas are expected to get freezing rain, sleet or even more snow before the system leaves Monday morning.

NWS predicts that snow will fall one to three inches per hour in the late afternoon and Sunday evening, making “approaching impassable roads.” Storm Team4 Meteorologist Chuck Bell said people should avoid traveling Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning.

Bell said most of the Interstate 95 corridor will receive three to four inches of snow before the transition to sleet or rain.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth due to the impending storm. “Declaring a state of emergency now allows our emergency response personnel to prepare and move supplies and equipment where they expect to need them most,” Northam said in a statement. “This also gives the elected Governor Youngkin the opportunity to respond to any storm need quickly. I urge the people of Virginian to take this storm seriously and make preparations now.”

Northam and state emergency officials spoke Friday morning with newly elected Governor Glenn Youngkin, who will take office Saturday, and his team.

Winter Storm Watch in the DC area, state of emergency in Va.  as snow, winter mix is ​​expected on Sunday
Expected snowfall for Sunday’s storm. (Courtesy National Weather Service)

Areas west of Blue Ridge, West Virginia and Northern Maryland will get the most snow, with 8 to 12 inches possible.

Bell said there are still many areas of uncertainty in this forecast, but confidence continues to rise in terms of timing and impact.

Commuters working on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, should plan for the snow to freeze overnight Sunday, which could create dangerous driving conditions Monday morning.

Total ice accumulations are expected on Sunday 16 January.


Preparing the roads for another round of snow

In an effort to avoid another travel nightmare as experienced a week ago some drivers are stuck on Interstate 95 for more than 24 hours, DC, Maryland and Virginia have started taking action before the snow arrives.

Road staff sprayed brine on both sides of I-95 Thursday between Joplin Road in Prince William County and Caroline County. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, the solution will prevent ice from bonding to the sidewalk during the storm, reducing the risk of dangerous road conditions while helping crews remove snow and ice.

Crews will continue to use pre-treatment on as many roads as possible on Friday, including in Fredericksburg, the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. VDOT said drivers can see daytime delays on various routes during “slow-running operation.”

“The brine vehicles are traveling at slower speeds to spray the brine solution on the road with precision and to ensure that an appropriate amount is absorbed into the pavement,” VDOT said.

When two or more inches of snow have accumulated, Virginia’s online snowplow tracker is activated and users can monitor the status of the roads, as well as where snow plows work. Maryland has a similar interactive tool online.

DC began applying a brine to the roads Thursday night, according to Chris Rodriguez, head of the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. Crews ended in DC around noon. 7 in the morning, but will apply more saline over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Rodriguez told the WTOP that the Department of Public Works and the Department of Transportation will be in full broadcast for the winter storm.

“We have up to 400 plows available both through the public sector and also our contract plows. So we are prepared and we can move our operations if we need to if the forecast changes, “Rodriguez said.

Maryland State Highway spokesman Sherry Christian said areas without residual salt from the last storms would be treated starting after rush hour Friday morning.

Christian said drivers should continue to follow the “basic guidelines.”

“But when you’re in bad weather, take it down a notch,” Christian said. “Then slow down. Remember the stated speed limits are for ideal weather conditions, which is what this storm is not.”

Christian advised people to drive at least 10 km / h below the speed limit, be careful around snow plows and clear all snow from vehicles before driving.

Motorists are also asked to avoid unnecessary driving due to the possibility of dangerous weather and road conditions during and after the storm. VDOT encouraged college students to either arrive early on campus or delay their trip as many start their spring semester this week.

“The best news with this storm is the timing,” Kammerer said. “We look at Sunday night to very early Monday morning. And of course, [with] Monday is a holiday, far fewer people on the area’s roads. “

Virginia’s power company is preparing for outages

In addition to slippery roads, storms earlier in January also brought power outages to the DC area as wind, snow and freezing rain damaged power lines.

If the storm brings wet snow, Casey Hollins, a spokesman for the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, said there could be similar challenges. But if the system changes and the snow is light and airy, it will have less impact on the power lines.

Hollins said the company has proactively staged workers around their service territory in anticipation of Sunday’s snow. It’s all hands on deck with the cooperative preparing 300 company employees, more than 100 Electric Co Ops workers and over 125 contractors and woodworkers. The company’s website has one tool for reporting outcomes.

Dominion Energy will also have workers and contractors on standby for possible outages, according to Peggy Fox, a spokesman for the company. Outcomes can be reported on the company’s app.

Sean Matthews, a spokesman for PEPCO, said their crews are also preparing for snow in DC and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland.

Matthew said interruptions can be reported online on the company website or by calling 1-877-PEPCO-62.

“If you see an unsafe condition, whether it’s a lowered rod or a wire that has fallen down, always treat it in that situation as if that wire is active and powered,” Matthew said. “Do not touch it; stay away from it and call us. “

Across the board, power companies are monitoring the storm and are ready to adjust their resources based on the forecast.

People should prepare all necessary supplies alternative heat sources; Hollins reminded people to have wood for fireplaces or gas for generators.

“The last storm created a lot of travel challenges,” Hollins said. “So if you do not have these heat sources to keep you safe, then we recommend that you think about where you might be going in advance.”

Other reminders Matthew provided included charging devices and checking emergency kits for water bottles, non-perishable food, battery-powered radios, flashlights, first aid and medicine.

Fox also said Dominion Energy is aware of mixed messages when the power would return after the last storm felled trees onto the roads and made it difficult to assess the damage.

“Our goal is to provide accurate data based on what we know at any given time,” Fox said. This time, we’ll wait until we have more accurate damage information before providing an individual ETR (estimated time for recovery). “


Forecast:

FRIDAY: Gets mostly sunny and windy. Gets colder in the late afternoon. Higher in the upper 40s to lower 50s.

FRIDAY NIGHT: Good, windy and colder. Lowers mid-teens to under-20s, with winds chilling 5 to 15.

SATURDAY: Gets cloudy. Windy and colder. Height upper 20s to mid 30s.

SUNDAY: Snow develops around noon. Several inches of snow possible at sunset. Highlights in the low to mid 30s.

SUNDAY EVENING: Snow changes to ice and then rain. Precipitation remains mostly snow near Blue Ridge. Constant or rising temperatures.

MONDAY: Rain / snow ends before kl. Windy. Highlights in the 30s.


Current conditions:

WTOP’s Rick Massimo, Jose Umana, Andrew Alsbrooks, Abigail Constantino and Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.

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