ABC 7 Meteorologists are tracking major winter storm that will strike the region beginning late tonight and lasting for 30 hours, until Sunday morning.
ABC 7 and NewsChannel 8 will offer live coverage of the storm, beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday, when we’ll awake to at least a few inches of snow on the ground.
On Sunday morning, there will be 10 to 15 inches of snow. Some areas will have as many of 20 inches of of accumulated snow, especially across Southern Maryland. The storm should taper Sunday morning.
Areas to the west of the metro, specifically west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, will see less snow, perhaps only 5 to 10 inches.
ABC 7 Meteorologists say if there’s anything positive about the storm, it will be all snow. The temperatures will be cold enough that we don’t have to worry about freezing rain and ice. But the roads will still be messy, especially late Saturday through Sunday morning. Plows will likely struggle to keep up on main roads and won’t be able to keep up on side streets.
“If you don’t have to go anywhere, don’t, unless it’s really, really necessary,” said ABC 7 Meteorologist Adam Caskey. His advice for those with last-minute holiday shopping to do: “Shop online. Reserve for store pickup Tuesday morning.”
Road crews are already pre-treating roads. Maryland State Highway Administration trucks are loading up up ready to prepare the roads. In Virginia, VDOT crews began treating the highways Thursday and will continue Friday and through the storm.
But the level of accumulation is believed to be enough to cause significant problems Saturday afternoon. It’s likely that many Saturday events will be canceled. The University of Maryland has already canceled its winter commencement ceremony Saturday.
Residents are stocking up on items to get them through the weekend. Grocery stores were swamped with people stocking up on the basics. At The Home Depot in Falls Church, shovels and salt were flying off shelves.
ABC 7’s Julie Parker reports “chaos” at a Giant Food in Rockville, with crowds extending from the parking lot to the bread aisles. Some stores have waits for shopping carts.
Julie also reports a Lowe’s in Gaithersburg has run out of snow shovels, and had only two snowblowers left as of noon. She also visited a Home Depot in Rockville and Kmart in Gaithersburg that were out of snow shovels.
One Frederick County man was buying buying a generator at the Lowe’s. He says he always loses power during snow storms.
Traci Allan didn’t take any chances. She took advantage of late-night hours Thursday at a Kohl’s in Burke to finish up her holiday shopping before the possibility of pandemonium sets in.
Allan worries the snow-covered streets on the weekend prior to Christmas could dampen spirits and prove dangerous.
“Christmas just kind of snuck up, I think, on a lot of folks and I think they’re depending on this weekend to shop, so the weather could be a big factor in that,” said Allan. “Not so much for me — I have a four-wheel drive so I’m OK but it’s the other people on the roads doing their last-minute shopping.”
The storm warning isn’t affecting travelers like Jose Martinez. He has some driving planned this weekend, a journey that may prove problematic.
“I know its going to be complicated but I’m going to do it anyway,” said Arlington resident Jose Martinez. “We’re going there for the holiday.”
But fellow Arlingtonian Sarah Kelley may have to call off a weekend trip to New York City. “I [want to] make sure that we can arrive safely and return safely on time,” she said. “I heard a foot. I heard a foot this morning — a foot of snow.”
She’s slated to leave Saturday morning by bus but the prospect of a storm could take a sizable bite out of her Big Apple plans.
“I’ll be out if the snow happens but safety is definitely a priority,” she said.
Geneva Cox worries about getting around. She travels strictly by public transportation.
“So my concern is: Will the Metro run and will the buses run?”
Check back with wjla.com/weather for the latest as meteorologists get a clearer picture of the storm.