Light, fluffy snow kicks off frigid Friday in DC area

The D.C. area is experiencing its second bout of snowy weather in a week, and accumulations that started Thursday night could have an impact on your Friday morning commute. Here’s what you need to know.

Key points:

  • Winter Weather Advisory is in effect through 7 a.m. Friday for the D.C. and Baltimore metro areas, parts of central and southern Maryland, and portions of northern Virginia.
  • A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Frederick, Baltimore and Carroll counties in Maryland.
  • Totals: Between 2 and 4 inches for most, with up to 6 inches possible in higher elevations.
  • The heaviest snow will fall through to 2 a.m. Friday.
  • Icy road conditions will affect Friday morning commute.

The D.C. area is experiencing its second bout of snowy weather in a week, and accumulations that started Thursday night could have an impact on your Friday morning commute. Here’s what you need to know.

The Virginia Department of Transportation reported the first snow flakes falling just after 10 p.m. Thursday in western Virginia. Earlier, they urged everyone to avoid nonessential travel during the storm to give crews time to plow and apply treatment.

“A low pressure center in the Deep South Thursday evening will march toward the Mid-Atlantic. We expect a wintry mix of rain and wet snow to overspread the area and change to all snow,” Storm Team4 meteorologist Steve Prinzivalli said.

As snow arrived into the region, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for three Maryland jurisdictions: Frederick and Carroll counties until 4 a.m. and Baltimore County until 7 a.m.

Steady snow will fall through 3 or 4 a.m., leading to slippery roads and poor visibility so drivers should be especially careful.

Just before the first snow fall, plows and trucks were ready to roll out at the Route 17 commuter lot in Stafford County.

On Thursday, VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon said tankers began pretreating Interstate 95 with a salt brine solution on Thursday morning, and said crews will prioritize clearing operations on major highways and primary roads during the height of the storm.

This fast-moving storm’s accumulations will be lower than Monday’s, where some places saw as much as 13 inches of snow. By the time this second storm leaves before dawn Friday, between 2 to 4 inches of snow could blanket most of the listening area, with up to 6 inches possible in the far northern and western suburbs.

“This will be a lighter, fluffy snow than Monday’s storm so it will be easier to shovel,” Prinzivalli said.

The National Weather Service expanded its winter storm warning across the Interstate 81 corridor.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency, noting that the state’s resources are stretched thin from the previous storm.

“Having two bouts of snow and icy weather back-to-back makes it more likely communities will need additional help as they continue to recover from the first round of tree-snapping wet snow and ice that we saw Monday,” Northam said. “While we typically have ample resources for snowstorms, these back-to-back events will generate landmark winter weather that requires extra flexibility.”

Virginia agencies detailed plans to prepare for this second storm, while offering assurances that they will review what went wrong during the last storm, which left some motorists freezing and stranded on I-95 for more than 24 hours.

Below is an image of the aftermath of Monday’s storm.

Mass transit and traffic

Metrobus: Some routes may not operate or experience longer wait times than usual due to a driver shortage. A moderate snow service plan is in place, in which service on some routes is suspended and detours will be in effect on certain routes to avoid areas prone to hazardous conditions, such as hilly terrain and narrow streets. Approximately 119 out of 183 routes will operate, Metro said.

Fairfax Connector: Operating regular schedule, but passengers should check for potential detours and allow for extra time.

Virginia Railway Express: Trains running on an S schedule.

RideOn: Operating as normal, but expect some weather-related delays and detours.

VanGo: VanGO will be operating on a three-hour delay Friday.

Loudoun Bus: Check Bus Service Changes website after 4 a.m.

PRTC OmniRide: No Express or Access service. East-West Express (96) — Delayed start of service. First bus departs OmniRide Transit Center at 8:15 a.m. OmniRide Local – Delayed start of service. There will be no OFF-ROUTE trips. Buses will operate along snow routing and stops with snowflake stickers won’t be served.


In the wake of the storm, northwesterly winds of 15 to 30 mph will bring cold and dry air into the area Friday, leading to sunshine. However, highs will only reach the lower to middle 30s, and it will feel like the teens and 20s with the gusty winds.

Friday: Becoming mostly sunny. Blustery and cold. Highs in the low to mid 30s.

Saturday: Sunny and cold but with less wind. Highs in the low to mid 30s.

Sunday: Rain arriving, possibly starting as freezing rain and sleet. Highs in the upper 30s to low 40s.

Current weather



Some testing, vaccination sites closed or have delayed opening

The Virginia Department of Health is closing five of its Community Vaccination Centers Friday in preparation for the coming storm. VDH said those with appointments will be notified of the cancellation.

The centers in Charlottesville, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Prince William and Roanoke will be closed Friday. VDH said they will decide on Friday whether to open the closed sites on Saturday.

Several testing sites in Maryland will have delayed opening times Friday, the Maryland Department of Health said. The following sites will be open noon until 6 p.m.: Annapolis on the corner of Bladen and Calvert streets; Anne Arundel Medical Center; Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center; UM Upper Chesapeake Health; City of Praise Family Ministries; and UM Laurel Alternate Care Site Testing Site.

Due to the anticipated winter storm, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) announced today that MDH testing and vaccination sites will also delay their opening times Friday.

WTOP’s Zeke Hartner and Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report. 

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