What there is to know
- A winter storm is expected to hit the DC area and could drop 2 to 5 inches of snow Sunday evening before changing to sleet and rain over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.
- The largest snowfall totals are for areas along Interstate 81 and the Shenandoah Valley, where a winter storm watch has been issued.
- The storm is expected to dissipate on Monday, but travel impacts and difficult road conditions could continue through Tuesday.
A winter storm is expected to dump snow, rain and sleet in the Washington, DC area on Sunday and early Monday, and travel impacts could persist through Tuesday.
The DC area could see several inches of snow Sunday afternoon before the storm turns to sleet and rain, Storm Team4 said.
Areas near Interstate 81 and the Shenandoah Valley could see 6 to 12 inches or more of snow.
A winter storm watch was issued Sunday afternoon through Monday morning for areas including Culpeper, northern Fauquier and western Loudoun Counties in Virginia and Frederick County, Maryland. Here is a complete list of severe weather alerts.
“It’s going to be a high-impact event no matter how you slice it, and the travel impacts are expected to last through Tuesday morning,” said Storm Team4 meteorologist Chuck Bell.
Temperatures are above zero in the morning on Friday and will hit the 40s. Friday evening is expected to turn windy and chilly as an arctic outburst arrives, bringing much needed chill for Sunday’s chance of snow.
Bundle up on Saturday for temperatures stuck below freezing all day. Wind chills will be in teenagers.
Prepare your preparations for the storm Sunday at noon and reconsider your travel plans during the latter part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day long weekend, Bell says.
The storm, dubbed Winter Storm Izzy by The Weather Channel, is expected from Sunday afternoon through Monday morning.
What time is it expected to snow on Sunday?
For areas near DC, expect the winter storm to arrive after noon Sunday. Due to the cold air in place, it will start as snow and a rapid accumulation of 2 to 5 inches is possible by 6 p.m. Sunday.
By Sunday evening, areas east of Interstate 95 could see a shift to rain and sleet as warm air pushes the rain-snow line toward Blue Ridge.
A pocket of dry air could limit the amount of precipitation and frost in southern Maryland.
The rain and snow should end by noon Monday. Sunday evening and Monday will be windy before a solid refreeze Monday evening, setting up potentially treacherous trips on Tuesday.
How much snow is forecast for Sunday and Monday in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia?
There are still many areas of uncertainty in these forecasts, but confidence continues to grow in the snow totals.
In the DC metro area — the 10 miles around the Capital Beltway — 3 inches of snow is likely. Here is the Storm Team4 breakdown:
- 80% chance the DC subway will get 3 inches of snow
- 30% chance the DC subway will get 6 inches of snow
- 10% chance the DC subway will get 8 inches of snow
About 5 to 9 inches of snow is possible for areas including parts of Fauquier and Loudoun counties in Virginia and Frederick County, Maryland, according to the National Weather Service.
The heaviest and longest snowfall is expected along Interstate 81 and in the Shenandoah Valley. Here’s what’s possible, according to Storm Team4:
- 80% chance of 6 inches or more of snow
- 60% chance of having 9 inches or more of snow
- 30% chance of 12 inches or more of snow
How to prepare for a winter storm and road conditions
Road conditions will likely be better if the storm starts out as total snow, as chemicals on the roads are expected to be more effective than they were during the January 3 snowstorm, which started with rain . Plus, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday on Monday means fewer commuters and more room for road crews to work.
The Virginia Department of Transportation treats roads before snow and ice. The agency is trying to avoid a repeat of the Interstate 95 fiasco seen nearly two weeks ago, when thousands of drivers were trapped, some for 24 hours.
Take advantage of the next few days to prepare as much as possible for the storms. Fill up your car’s gas tank, go to the grocery store or drugstore, and get some de-icing gear ready for the steps and sidewalks.
Here are four tips for staying safe this winter and our guide to packing an emergency kit to keep in your car.
Stay with Storm Team4 for the latest predictions. Download the NBC Washington app on iOS and Android to receive severe weather alerts on your phone.