A major snowstorm — the biggest since the blizzard of 2016 — dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the D.C. area, leaving residents coping with power outages, poor road conditions and disruptions to COVID-19 testing sites.
Traffic remains a mess, with hundreds of drivers stuck — some, shockingly, for more than 24 hours — or getting into crashes on roadways throughout the region.
Many school systems declared a snow day Monday, and most of the region's school systems closed again Tuesday. Some of those include: Arlington, Anne Arundel, Fairfax, Loudoun, Manassas City, Prince George's, Prince William and Stafford public schools. Alexandria City public school students were having virtual learning Tuesday. At least two school systems have already announced they will be closed again Wednesday.
Snow Totals in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia
A whopping 15.5 inches of snow fell in Huntingtown in Calvert County, Maryland, and about 14 inches of snow fell in the Fredericksburg area of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Storm Team4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer said.
Here are some of the other snowfall totals for our region:
- 3.9 inches - Dulles International Airport
- 5.9 inches - Herndon, Virginia
- 6 inches - Bethesda, Maryland
- 6.7 inches - Reagan National Airport
- 7.5 inches - Aspen Hill, Maryland
- 10.5 inches - Manassas, Virginia
- 11.8 inches - Franconia, Virginia
- 13.5 inches - Waldorf, Maryland
Here are snow totals tracked by the National Weather Service so far. The NWS typically updates data every three hours.
Storm Team4 is in Weather Alert mode and has minute-to-minute team coverage across D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.
Wet, heavy snow started to stick in parts of the region in the early hours, and fell fast. During the thick of the storm, Kammerer said up to 1.5 inches of snow fell per hour in downtown D.C.
The snowfall stopped by late Monday afternoon.
D.C.-area federal offices closed Monday and all Metrobus service was suspended. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a snow emergency and then extended it through 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Many COVID-19 testing sites were closed during the storm. All D.C. government testing sites were closed, and residents cannot pick up self-testing kits at firehouses as planned. The kits initially were set to be available despite the closure of the test sites. Go here for more info.
All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo were closed Monday. The Smithsonians opened three hours late Tuesday; the zoo remained closed for a second day.
A winter storm warning and a winter weather advisory for parts of the region have ended. However, a special weather statement is warning that Wednesday's commute could be icy due to the chance of light freezing rain or drizzle. Go here for a full list of weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
Power Outages in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia
As of about 4:30 p.m. Monday, more than 200,000 power company customers across the region had no power, but those numbers have been decreasing as service was being restored Tuesday.
Dominion Energy reported more than 147,000 customers without power; by early Tuesday afternoon, that number had dropped to just under 116,000. Pepco reported more than 12,300 customers without power; by Tuesday afternoon, just 624 were still waiting. In southern Maryland, SMECO reported more than 37,000 customers without power; that number has since dropped considerably. NOVEC had 15,300 in Northern Virginia; that number has decreased to about 5,100.
Road and Transit Conditions in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia
News4 is tracking what you should know about road conditions in the region. Hundreds of crashes have occurred. Crews across the region are working to make roads safer.
D.C.’s mayor asked residents to stay off the roads and let crews work.
Virginia State Police had responded as of mid-morning to 313 crashes and 277 disabled vehicles, many caused by drivers going too fast for the conditions. No deaths were reported.
Hundreds of drivers were stranded for more than 24 hours in Virginia, making national headlines as they remained in their cars overnight, some without food, water or blankets.
In D.C., a full deployment of more than 100 snowplows hit the streets at midnight Monday to treat roads with salt. You can go here to track plows in real time.
“My message from State Highway to all the drivers out there is, if you don’t have to be on the roads, please stay off,” said Sherry Christian of the Maryland State Highway Administration.
All Metrobus service across the D.C. area was suspended Monday, the transit agency announced that morning, citing “rapidly deteriorating weather and hazardous road conditions.” D.C. Circulator service also was suspended Monday.
Metrobus had initially said it would operate on a severe snow service plan, with service limited to major roads. The transit agency then stopped all service. Metrobus resumed operations Tuesday on their severe snow service plan.
School Closures in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia
The list of school closures grew by the minute Monday, and more closures were announced Tuesday. Some are now coming in for Wednesday as well. Go here for the full list.
D.C. Public Schools were already scheduled to be closed Monday and Tuesday amid a major effort to test every student and staff member. The mayor announced that because of the storm, students must now test on Wednesday, Jan. 5 and schools will reopen on Thursday, Jan. 6.
A number of school districts already had either no school or virtual learning planned, unrelated to the snowstorm.
Government Office Closures in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia
Federal offices in the D.C. area were closed, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced late Sunday. Emergency employees and telework employees continue to work. Go here for more info.
The D.C. government was in a teleworking posture for non-essential and non-emergency employees.
In Maryland, a number of state offices and facilities were closed. Emergency essential employees were told to report as scheduled. Go here for info.
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In D.C., pickups of trash, recycling and Christmas trees will move to the next day for the remainder of the week. Drivers cannot park on snow emergency routes. Cars packed on these routes may be towed.
D.C. asked property owners to treat their sidewalks before the storm started. You can volunteer with the Serve DC Volunteer Snow Team to clear sidewalks for registered seniors and other residents who need help. Volunteers are especially needed in Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8, a message from the city said. Go here for info.
The District’s Hypothermia Alert system was activated. Residents are encouraged to call 311 or 202-399-7093 if they see someone in need of shelter.
The big change in the weather came as a surprise to many.
“I don’t think anybody is ready for this,” News4’s Adam Tuss said during temperatures in the 60s on Sunday.