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Mess of wintry weather to kick off March in the Mid-Atlantic

 (Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

March will come in a bit like a lion, as the saying goes, across several states in the Northeast region. Later tonight (Thursday, February 28), mainly after midnight, cold air will spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic, interacting with moisture from the Southeast to produce a mix of precipitation into the Friday morning rush hour.

 Estimated areas of wintry weather.
Estimated areas of wintry weather.

It’ll start as rain for most areas, changing to sleet, snow, and/or freezing rain as the cold air settles in. Only a few inches of snow and sleet are forecast, but combined with freezing rain the mess may cause just enough icy spots to have drivers “slip-sliding away.”

Most of the ice buildup will happen in the higher elevations of eastern West Virginia and western Virginia, as well as from western Maryland to State College in central Pennsylvania. Some of the areas in Virginia included in the risk zone are Augusta, Greene and Highland counties, as well as the central Blue Ridge Mountains and Lexington. In West Virginia, one of the main impact areas will be Snowshoe. Ice accumulation could reach one-tenth of an inch, making roads quite slick.

Some of the same areas mentioned above could also receive sleet and snow, two to four inches of it, making roads even worse, and blowing snow could occasionally reduce visibility a bit. However, some major metropolitan areas will also get in on the act. Washington, D.C. and Baltimore could see up to three inches of snow and sleet through Friday morning, potentially slowing down drivers on I-95 and the Beltway. Depending on the exact track of the system, Philadelphia and New York City may be spared, barely getting an inch, but this doesn’t mean there couldn’t be travel troubles.

The FreightWaves SONAR map below indicates icy, snowy and slushy roads during the Friday morning commute where you see the purple-, red- and peach-colored routes inside the circle.

 SONAR road conditions for 7:00 a.m. EST on Friday, March 1, 2019.
SONAR road conditions for 7:00 a.m. EST on Friday, March 1, 2019.

While snowfall won’t be anywhere near record-breaking, it will add to what has been the snowiest meteorological winter, December through February, for the nation’s capital and Baltimore since 2015-2016. This is according to the National Weather Service (NWS). So far, those three-month totals for the cities are 21.9 and 13.9 inches, respectively, compared to 34.3 and 32.6 for 2015-2016.

This is by no means a major storm as far as intensity or geographical scope, and it will be a quick-hitter, fading by late Friday morning. Nonetheless, the NWS has issued Winter Weather Advisories for the region. A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Also, remember to be careful when walking in winter weather. Upon venturing outside, watch your footing on steps, sidewalks and driveways. They could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.

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