More snow and longer storm now ex­pected

FORE­CAST­ERS CALL FOR UP TO 10 INCHES Like­li­hood of de­lays and clo­sures in re­gion rises

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - BY KATHER­INE SHAVER

As the Wash­ing­ton re­gion braced Satur­day for its first sig­nif­i­cant snow­fall of the win­ter, fore­cast­ers upped their inch to­tals and pre­dicted the storm would last longer than pre­vi­ously ex­pected, mak­ing it more likely that de­lays and clo­sures could oc­cur Mon­day.

Even be­fore the first flakes fell midafter­noon, fore­cast­ers had in­creased the pos­si­ble snow to­tals for the im­me­di­ate area to four to 10 inches, which would make it the big­gest Jan­uary snow­storm since 2016.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice pre­dicted six to eight inches for the Dis­trict and five to 10 inches for sur­round­ing suburbs. The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Cap­i­tal Weather Gang fore­cast four to eight inches for the im­me­di­ate metro area, with more snow to the south and less to the north.

Ar­eas west and south of the city — parts of Prince Wil­liam County, south­ern Fair­fax County and es­pe­cially Fred­er­icks­burg and south­ern Mary­land — could ex­pe­ri­ence five to 10 inches, said Jason Sa­menow, the Cap­i­tal Weather Gang’s chief me­te­o­rol­o­gist.

“It’s a sub­stan­tial snow­storm for the area — not his­toric but a mod­er­ate-to-sub­stan­tial snow­storm for us,” he said. “It’s now look­ing to be a long-du­ra­tion event.”

Al­though Sa­menow and oth­ers had ini­tially pre­dicted that snow would stop fall­ing early Sun­day af­ter­noon, he said it is now likely to stretch into the evening. That would give plows less time to reach sec­ondary and

neigh­bor­hood roads be­fore the Mon­day morn­ing com­mute, mak­ing school and gov­ern­ment de­lays or can­cel­la­tions more likely.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice ex­tended its win­ter storm warning to 6 p.m. Sun­day and warned that trav­el­ing would be­come “very haz­ardous or im­pos­si­ble.”

“We thought if it ended [ear­lier] Sun­day, things would be back to nor­mal by Mon­day,” Sa­menow said, “but prob­a­bly not now.”

The storm had al­ready brought sleet, freez­ing rain and snow to the Mid­west, with St. Louis re­port­ing 10.1 inches by Satur­day morn­ing and ice down­ing trees and power lines in south-cen­tral Mis­souri, ac­cord­ing to Weather.com.

In Wash­ing­ton, the par­tial shut­down of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will not leave fed­er­ally con­trolled roads un­plowed.

Al­though Na­tional Park Ser­vice em­ploy­ees have been fur­loughed, the agency will con­tinue to clear snow from roads it op­er­ates, in­clud­ing the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Memo­rial Park­way, Bal­ti­more-Wash­ing­ton Park­way, Rock Creek Park­way and parts of roads around the Mall, spokesman Mike Lit­terst said.

The Park Ser­vice also will clear side­walks around Metro sta­tion en­trances on its prop­erty, in­clud­ing along the Mall and at Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery, he said.

The cen­ter re­versible lane on the Ar­ling­ton Memo­rial Bridge will be closed dur­ing the storm to al­low crews to move large equip­ment and snow­plows, Lit­terst said.

Across the Wash­ing­ton re­gion, side­walks turned light blue with salt and plows stood ready as res­i­dents snapped up ice scrap­ers and scram­bled for gro­cery store carts.

High­way crews sprayed salt mix­tures on roads and high­ways to pre­vent ic­ing and al­low plows to hit the pave­ment more quickly.

“The trucks are loaded through­out North­ern Vir­ginia and are staged or mov­ing,” said Jenni McCord, a spokes­woman for the Vir­ginia De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

Plows will get to work af­ter one to two inches have fallen, she said, but they will need sev­eral passes any­where that gets the fore­cast max­i­mum of 10 inches. In­ter­states and roads serv­ing hos­pi­tals, fire sta­tions and other emer­gency facilities will be given pri­or­ity, she said.

Neigh­bor­hood streets, she said, “may take a lit­tle bit of time to get to.”

With pave­ment tem­per­a­tures ex­pected to dip be­low freez­ing overnight, McCord said, even pre­treated roads could be­come slick quickly.

Ash­ley Ross-Scott, a spokes­woman for the Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said it helped that the storm ar­rived as snow rather than rain, which washes away the salt mix­ture.

Mo­torists who can’t stay off the roads should at least stick to plowed roads, she said.

“The safest place is be­hind the plow — and give it plenty of clear­ance,” Ross-Scott said.

Some res­i­dents got ready for the storm by snap­ping up sleds and stock­ing re­frig­er­a­tors. Traf­fic try­ing to get into a Whole Foods in Bethesda backed up onto River Road, while shop­pers at gro­cery stores in Ar­ling­ton and North­west Wash­ing­ton said carts were scarce and lines long.

At An­nie’s Ace Hard­ware Store in Pet­worth, three sleds re­mained by early Satur­day af­ter­noon. Snow-weary shop­pers loaded up on the usual ice melt, shov­els and wind­shield scrap­ers — and some­thing not of­ten equated with a snow day.

“I was most sur­prised to see how many peo­ple were buy­ing paint for a fun snowed-in ac­tiv­ity,” said owner Anne Stom. “I’ve no­ticed more peo­ple seem to be ner­vous about heavy snow hit­ting the Dis­trict.”

At Stros­niders Hard­ware Store in Bethesda, clerks di­rected cus­tomers to check­out lines and un­loaded cases of ice melt as a light snow fell out­side.

“The panic has be­gun,” a clerk de­clared.

Sa­menow said the snow should be pow­dery — not as good for snowballs as a wet snow, “but it should pack down pretty well and be good for sled­ding.”

PHO­TOS BY CALLA KESSLER/ THE WASH­ING­TON POST

TOP: Wenkai Sand­fort, 5, left, and his twin sis­ter, Lin­nea Wang, try to catch snowflakes Satur­day af­ter­noon while walk­ing with their par­ents on 14th Street NW.

LEFT: The flur­ries pick up in front of the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment early Satur­day evening.

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