‘Wild’ Winter Weather Coming To DC, NoVa, Forecasters Warn

Dan Taylor - The Patch Around Town

Via The Patch

By Dan Taylor 

WASHINGTON, DC — The 10 inches of snow we got this past weekend may be just a foreshadowing of what is to come this winter in D.C. and Northern Virginia. Expect a “severe and punishing winter weather pattern” to settle in in about 10 days, one report says.

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang — not one to hype snowstorms — tweeted Tuesday: “GET READY…. The end of this month and especially February may be WILD for winter weather in eastern U.S.”

And a USA Today report noted: “Any hopes we had for a mild end to January appear to be over.”

What’s happening? The polar vortex — the icy winds that swirl above the Arctic thousands of feet up — has split in not two but three pieces, and that means one thing: frigid air headed for the eastern United States.

If you recall the sudden burst of snowstorms we got in the early spring last year after a mild winter, that was also a result of the polar vortex splitting a few weeks prior. This one looks likely to have a more powerful effect, and it’s taking place right in the dead of winter.

In a way, it’s sort of weather karma. We had 28 days of warmer than average temperatures from the holidays into the new year. Now, we are about to pay the price.

The vortex split around the start of the new year, and it takes a few weeks for the effects to settle in. The 10 inches we got may have been an early result of this split.

It is going to be a lot colder than you’ve been used to, with temperatures expected to be about 10 to 25 degrees below average. Depending on the day, it could get more extreme than that.

So buy your snow shovels and warm winter gear now. Old Man Winter is coming, and once he arrives in late January, he’ll be sticking around through February at least.

The National Weather Service notes that the Arctic air typically shoves further south during the winter, so it’s a good time to make sure your car and home are ready.

Prepare for Cold Weather

The way to avoid frostbite and hypothermia is to plan for extreme cold before it arrives. Don’t get caught unprepared.

  • Protect Your Pets, Livestock and other Property: If you have pets or farm animals, make sure they have plenty of food and water, and are not overly exposed to extreme cold. Take precautions to ensure your water pipes do not freeze. Know the temperature thresholds of your plants and crops.
  • Fill up the tank: Make sure your car or vehicle has at least a half a tank of gas during extreme cold situations so that you can stay warm if you become stranded.
    • Update Your Winter Car Survival Kit: Make sure your car survival kit has the following:
      • Jumper cables: flares or reflective triangle are great extras
      • Flashlights: Replace the batteries before the winter season starts and pack some extras
      • First Aid Kit: Also check your purse of bag for essential medications
      • Baby, special needs gear: If you have a baby or family member with special needs, pack diapers and any special formula or food
      • Food: Stock non-perishable food such as canned food and a can opener, dry cereal and protein rich foods like nuts and energy bars
      • Water: Have at least 1 gallon of water per person a day for at least 3 days
      • Basic toolkit: Pliers, wrench, screwdriver
      • Pet supplies: Food and water
      • Radio: Battery or hand cranked
      • Cat litter or sand: For better tire traction
      • Shovel: To dig out snow
      • Ice scraper: Even is you usually park in a garage, have one in the car.
      • Clothes: Make sure you dress for the weather in warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes for the cold
      • Warmers: Pack extra for body, hand, feet
      • Blankets or sleeping bags: If you get stranded in traffic on a lonely road, you’ll be glad to have it.
      • Charged Cell Phone: Keep a spare charger in your car as well

    (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)