Officials in Washington and Baltimore are predicting rush-hour misery and power outages as a winter storm bears down on the Mid-Atlantic region.
District of Columbia officials said Tuesday that the 3 to 7 inches of snow expected in Washington could affect both the morning and evening rush hours Wednesday.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. says it's preparing for power outages from wet snow and powerful winds.
The National Weather Service says Baltimore could get 3 to 6 inches Tuesday night through Wednesday.
Snowfall predictions west of Interstate 95 range up to a possible 16 inches in far western Maryland.
The region's last major snowstorm was in January 2011. It knocked out power to tens of thousands of people and contributed to six deaths.
The nation's capital is bracing for its first major snowstorm since a fast-moving storm in January 2011 that left some people stuck in traffic for 8 hours or more.
Since then, the federal government has changed its bad-weather policies to allow workers to leave their offices sooner or to work from home if major storms are expected.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which sets leave policies for 300,000 federal workers, is monitoring the forecasts for Tuesday and Wednesday but has not indicated when it plans to make an announcement. OPM was criticized after the 2011 storm for waiting too long to tell workers to go home, leading to gridlock.
A spokesman for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says the mayor will make a decision Tuesday night about local government employees.
The Virginia Department of Transportation says it has plenty in its snow-removal budget for the storm heading the state's way.
VDOT said Tuesday it has spent approximately $96.5 million of its snow-removal budget, leaving about one third left for the fiscal year, including a storm that threatens to dump a foot or more of snow on the state within the next 24 hours.
VDOT said its crews across the state will be working in 12-hour shifts to clear roads. In northern Virginia, more than 4,000 salt trucks and plows are ready to be deployed.
Forecasters say northern and western portions of the state will take the brunt of the storm.
Virginia's largest electric utility is sending crews to the western and northwestern parts of the state where a March storm is expected to deliver a foot or more of wet, heavy snow.
A spokesman for Dominion Virginia Power said Tuesday the utility's own meteorologists are forecasting the storm will have a "pretty profound" impact along the Interstate 81 corridor. Karl Neddenien says the utility is shifting crews from parts of the state that are likely to be spared the heaviest snowfall to areas that are expected to be hit hard.
The National Weather Service says snow should begin falling later Tuesday west of the Blue Ridge mountains. Meteorological technician Calvin Meadows says a foot of snow is expected, with up to 21 inches at higher elevations.
ACCUWEATHER - Impacts from a storm targeting millions of people in the Eastern states will range from travel disruptions and power outages caused by heavy snow to coastal flooding from storm surge.
A major storm will bring heavy snow from parts of North Carolina to parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey spanning Tuesday night into Thursday.
The storm will be moving through the central Appalachians toward the mid-Atlantic coast during the middle of the week, after blasting portions of the Plains and Midwest Monday into Tuesday.
Based on the latest information, the area that has a significant chance of immobilizing snow of over a foot lies across the higher elevations of eastern West Virginia into western parts of Virginia and western Maryland.
Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Winchester, Va.; Frederick, Cumberland and Hagerstown, Md.; and Elkins, W.Va.; are in the area that has the greatest snow potential. The weight of heavy snow is likely to bring down many trees and power lines. The weather will be dangerous, disruptive and travel-halting.
However, many other locations in the region ranging from major metropolitan areas to small towns and rural areas in between could receive anywhere from a couple of inches of slush to a foot or more of back-breaking snow and power outages. These include Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Dover, Del., and Vineland, N.J. These areas are likely to receive rain during part of the storm and a larger percentage of the snow that falls is more likely to melt for a time. The potential in these areas is for sudden, intense snowfall, which can overcome marginal temperatures enhanced by the March sun-effect, even in the biggest coastal cities.
As the rate of snow becomes heavy, roads can quickly become clogged with snow, potentially stranding motorists. Deicing time will increase at area airports in the path of the storm. Flight delays and cancellations from heavy snow were hitting Minneapolis and Chicago first, but they will spread to multiple airports in the I-95 mid-Atlantic with the possibility of delayed aircraft and crews elsewhere across the nation. Even in parts of the South, including Atlanta, the storm will have direct impact from downpours and gusty thunderstorms.
Along the coast, the storm will also cause strong winds, as well as water rise issues and beach erosion.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists pointed out that the storm this week may bear some similarities to the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962. The historic storm caused everything from feet of snow to high winds and extensive coastal flooding.
The storm this week will also unleash heavy snow that could threaten to cause power outages from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia. Serious coastal flooding and beach erosion are also concerns.
However, odds are against tremendous impacts of a storm lingering for three or four days like the intensity of the '62 Ash Wednesday Storm. However, there could be minor to moderate coastal flooding and beach erosion occurring through the end of the week with a strong northeasterly wind.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
Didn't find what you were looking for?