Now is the time to plan for prolonged and widespread power outages along and west of the Blue Ridge mountains.
The first major winter storm of the season is getting ready to wallop the Washington Region with sleet and freezing rain beginning overnight Wednesday and continuing beyond the morning rush hour on Thursday. Cold air will be tough to scour out along and west of the Blue Ridge mountains throughout the day on Thursday where Ice Storm Warnings are likely to be issued by the National Weather Service. It is these areas where ice accretion on trees and power lines of up to a half-inch, combined with gusty winds behind the storm, could lead to widespread power outages.
The Western Suburbs and D.C.
Further east between the Blue Ridge and the interstate 95 corridor the heaviest freezing rain and sleet is expected between 3AM and 10AM to include the entirety of the morning rush hour. A glaze of ice is likely on untreated surfaces even across the western suburbs of Washington. Our outer suburbs like Leesburg and Manassas could receive between a tenth and two tenths of an inch of ice before a change over to rain occurs.
Fredericksburg and Southern Maryland
Locations from Fredericksburg to Annapolis and much of southern Maryland will likely start out with a period of sleet and or freezing rain before temperatures warm above freezing when rain quickly takes over as the predominant precipitation type.
Gusty Winds Develop Thursday Night and Friday
As low pressure begins to strengthen off of the Mid-Atlantic coast on Thursday night into the day on Friday winds will begin to gust as high as 35 to 40 mph especially along the ridge tops where heavy icing may lead to widespread power outages.
A Few Inches of Snow Likely Across Western Maryland and Laurel Highlands
Two to four inches of snow may fall in the panhandle of Maryland and across the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania but even these locations will pick up ice accretion from freezing rain.