From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for category Travel November 2014

Snow in the D.C. area Wednesday; Send your pictures!

November 26, 2014 - 09:58 AM


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1:07pm: Snow is beginning to taper off in spots already but light precipitation will continue to fall over the next few hours. Any additional accumulations will be very light in nature and no additional accumulations are expected on the roads with temperatures mainly above freezing.

You can find the latest snowfall reports here

Snow in Berkeley Springs, WV from Chuck Marsh

11:25am Update:  The transition to snow has occurred across the majority of the D.C. Metro. Heavy snow is being reported across much of the metro which has caused visibilities to plunge to a quarter of a mile in spots. The Dulles Toll Road recently reported some slushy road conditions in spots and crews have been dispatched to treat the roadways. Here's a look at the latest Doppler radar image.

Live Super Doppler Radar as of 11:30am

We are still thinking snow will end later on this afternoon closer to 3pm west of D.C. and 4pm around the Metro.

10am Update: Rain will continue to be likely along and east of I-95. Wet snowflakes will mix in at times with a better chance for flakes closer to Noon through the early afternoon hours.

Areas west of I-95 will continue to see wet snow, with the potential for rates of a half on an inch to an inch per hour in some locations. Current temperatures are mainly above freezing at the surface, so snowfall rates will need to be heavy in order for accumulations on the road surfaces.

We have been seeing many areas still experiencing accumulating snow on the roads, even as close as Leesburg, VA. We will continue to keep you posted with the latest snowfall totals, where it is and when it will end. As of now, snow and rain looks to end by 3 or 4pm this afternoon.


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UPDATE: Chances of Season's First Snowfall and Forecast Totals

November 25, 2014 - 07:44 AM

Today will be a fabulous weather day to travel if you have the ability to adjust your plans at all. All signs are leading to a major travel headache for D.C. and throughout the Megalopolis for Wednesday all day long. We are officially on Stormwatch now. Here are the latest warnings and advisories for our area.

Winter Storm Watch
The pink area is under a warning and most likely to have the heaviest snowfall totals that could reach 6" or more. In the advisory snow will only be a few inches. As new information from computer models continue to pour in, we still have some variations on the solution, so it makes for a tricky one. No big surprise, this is D.C.  Let's start with timing. Here is a look at the most recent Futurecast7 model of the start of rain, transition to snow and sharp ending.
ABC7 Futurecast

The models depict a cold rain to start, mix by late morning, with some hovering or the transition line around I-95 and then ending with snow.

Here are the big three things that you need to know:


1)  Starts as rain before dawn, changes to rain/snow mid-late morning, finishes as snow before evening commute.

2) Little-to-no accumulation is expected inside beltway, mainly just wet Roads. If snow rate is heavy enough, up to a slushy 1/2" or inch possible. Watch for slick spots after dark temperatures start around 40 and end just above freezing. Fairfax and Montgomery Counties may see 1-2".

3) Heaviest precipitation will be between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Impact for Potomac Highlands and Mountains:

1) May start as wintry mix or snow in the morning.

2) Snow totals are likely 3-6" with isolated spots getting more.

3) Hazardous roads much of the day. Ending mid-afternoon, but slick spots will stay unless roads are treated.

Challenge: Temperatures. Through the duration of the storm, temperatures are currently forecast to be above freezing in the close-in metro. We've been very warm the past few days, so snow will melt on contact for a while.  There is no arctic air in place, but the storm will create it's own cold. How much is still somewhat in question. Bottom line is that confidence is moderate on this storm and these forecast totals could go up or down still.  Here is my latest forecast snow totals map.

ABC7 Snowfall Forecast Wednesday

Make sure you join ABC7's Stormteam of meteorologists today from Noon-6:30 p.m. on Facebook.  We will take your questions in a live Q & A session about the storm and travel across the country.

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Coastal Storm with Big Travel Impact Imminent for D.C. on Wednesday

November 24, 2014 - 08:15 AM

It seemed unlikely last week, but now it is almost certain that D.C. will see a strong storm on Wednesday that will bring the first snowfall of the season. The timing couldn't be worse for Thanksgiving travelers. There are still many elements that have to come together. Here is what we know right now.

A cold front will pass our region tonight and stall just to our east in the Atlantic Ocean. Low pressure will develop near the Carolinas Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and head up the coast. It will pull in colder air from the northwest and moisture from the Atlantic to make a travel headache for millions of Americans from D.C. to New England. All of the weather computer models have predicted that there will be a strong coastal storm, but they differ on the exact track. This means it is still uncertain where the rain/snow line is and how much snow could accumulate.

Possible Computer Model Storm Tracks

What can we expect in the D.C metro? Right now, I expect temperatures to be in the 40s when we wake up on Wednesday, leading to the onset of precipitation as a cold rain. As temperatures drop, it will transition to snow in the afternoon. Because of the borderline temperatures at the surface and warm ground with today's record heat, it is going to be tough to get snow to accumulate on roads inside the beltway.  Minor accumulations are possible on grassy areas, but the snow rates will have to be very heavy for that to happen.

Potomac Highlands/Blue Ridge/Mountains:  Temperatures are key here too with upper 30s possible to start the day as moisture moves in. A rain/snow mix is possible to start with before transitioning to snow by late morning or early afternoon. With falling temperatures and elevation, snow will likely accumulate here. It's too soon to put numbers on this, but we may need a whole hand to count the number of inches that accumulate. As temperatures drop further after sunset, roads will become icy.

Computer models are showing a very wide range of possible accumulations. We will have a better idea Tuesday morning so stay tuned for snow band maps. Here is a look at a probability graphic of 1" of snow or more accumulating from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning.

Percentage of Probability of 1" of Snow or More- NOAA

The storm will exit late Wednesday or very early Thursday morning with wrap around snow showers in the mountains. The rest of Thursday will be clear and cold with highs in the upper 30s to lower 40s. A good day to turn on the oven and cook a bird and stay indoors.  The rest of the holiday weekend is looking calm and cool.

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Record cold across the D.C. area Wednesday morning

November 19, 2014 - 11:07 AM

Record lows were broken at both Dulles and BWI Marshall last night. Dulles broke the record of 20F set back in 1990 by 7 degrees as the location plunged to 13F this morning. BWI Marshall broke its record of 20F set in 1936 as they dropped to 19F this morning. Reagan National, which hasn't broken any record lows between November and March since 1996 was close, but still failed to break the record of 18F this morning as it only fell to 22F.

Record Lows at Dulles and BWI Marshall Wednesday morning

 A number of other records were broken across the country this morning as well. Here are a few cities that also broke or tied low temperature records. You can find a bigger list of all kinds of records from the NWS here.

Elkins, WV: 12F (Old record 14F-1990)

Richmond, VA: 18F (Tied 1936)

Philadelphia, PA: 20F (Tied 1936)

Morgantown, WV: 16F (Old record 19F-1989)

Charleston, SC: 23F (Old record 27F-1949)

Savannah, GA: 26F (Old record 27F-2008)

Jacksonville, FL: 27F (Old record 28F-2008)

New Orleans, LA: 31F (Tied-1946)

While it was freezing in the central and eastern U.S., the opposite is happening in parts of Alaska, with record highs broken in both Anchorage and Nome yesterday.

Temperatures will begin to moderate tomorrow as they settle back into the mid 40s, but another brief cold push is expected Friday before a milder weekend ahead. Just to put this cold in perspective, today will be the earliest day with highs below 40 degrees at Reagan National since 1996. Basically, this is the coldest it's been this early in the season in 18 years. I don't think anyone I've spoken to has missed the cold!

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Chilly Rain Monday Then Bitter Blast Tuesday

November 16, 2014 - 04:47 PM

Grab the umbrella and rain coat Monday morning and allow for some extra time for the AM commute.  Rain, and even some sleet, started falling Sunday evening and rain will continue, on and off, through late Monday afternoon.  Even though there were reports of sleet at the onset of precipitation, temperatures will remain above freezing for the duration of the wet weather, so it will be an all rain event.

Here's a radar simulation at 7 AM Monday.  Notice the wide shield of rain overhead.  Expect extra delays for the morning rush, so be prepared.

The rain is coming from an area of low pressure currently over the deep south.  This low will track northeastward overnight and tomorrow bringing ample moisture.  Between .75-1.00" of rain is expected.  Here's a larger view of our weather story.

The bulk of the moisture should be out of the region by the evening commute.  Winds will begin to shift out of the NW drawing in another very cold airmass.  Temperatures will tumble quickly Monday night into the lower 30s.  The gusty winds should help dry the roads, but icy spots are possible Tuesday morning.  Even during the afternoon, highs will struggle to reach the freezing marks in spots.

Temperatures will be nearly 20° colder than average for this time of year.  And it's not just us dealing with the bitter cold.  The map below shows the temperature departure from average.  The blue and purple colors indicate temperatures 20-30° below average. 

WxBell GFS Output

If the cold wasn't enough, winds will be howling between 25-35 mph Tuesday.  That means wind chills will be in teens and 20s during the day.  Here's an hourly forecast of the "feels like" temperature on Tuesday.

Winds will gradually diminish late Tuesday night, but the cold air sticks around Wednesday with highs, again, in the mid 30s.  Temperatures will rebound slightly by the end of the week and into next week, but will still be well below our average of 58°.

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