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Fairfax County prepares for more snow over MLK Day weekend

Another winter storm is brewing, potentially bringing 3 to 4 inches of snow to Fairfax County on Sunday and Monday (Jan. 16-17).

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County. The alert will take effect at 1 p.m. on Sunday and last through 7 a.m. Monday, when the snow is  expected to turn into a wintry mix with sleet and freezing rain.

The NWS projects total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches as the most likely scenario, though up to 5 inches could be possible. The forecast also includes up to an one-tenth of an inch of ice accumulation and wind gusts that could reach 45 miles per hour.

“Snow may fall at 1 to 3 inches per hour late Sunday afternoon and early Sunday evening, resulting in
nearly impassable roads,” the alert says, warning that slippery and hazardous road conditions could affect Monday’s commute.

Preparations for the coming storm are underway, with the Virginia Department of Transportation treating roads throughout Northern Virginia today.

“Since dry conditions are expected, we are able to brine throughout Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties,” VDOT spokesperson Kathleen Leonard told FFXnow. “Drivers will start to see those white brine lines, which really just gives us a little bit of time at the beginning of the storm, preventing ice from bonding to the pavement.”

Leonard says snow trucks will be staged tomorrow (Saturday) so that plowing operations can begin once the area gets about two inches of snow.

Gov. Ralph Northam, who will be officially succeeded by Glenn Youngkin tomorrow, declared a state of emergency today in anticipation of the storm.

“Declaring a state of emergency now allows our emergency responders to prepare, and to move supplies and equipment where they expect to need them the most,” Northam said. “This also gives Governor-elect Youngkin the ability to respond to any storm needs swiftly. I urge Virginians to take this storm seriously and make preparations now.”

VDOT and the Virginia State Police are both advising people to avoid traveling during the storm, though the police agency says all available troopers will be on patrol to respond to crashes and disabled drivers.

While schools will be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Fairfax County Public Schools says students and staff should bring their computers home today in case a snow day is needed next week.

Any snow days will include virtual learning, because the school system already used its five designated “traditional” snow days after a snowstorm slammed the D.C. region last week, disrupting transportation and power networks.

Dropping up to 3 inches of snow per hour, Winter Storm Frida affected 58,000 miles of roadway across Virginia and took out electricity for approximately 500,000 households, according to VDOT, which is part of a multi-agency review of the state’s response after hundreds of motorists were stranded for hours on I-95.

In Fairfax County, snowfall totals on Jan. 3 ranged from 4.5 inches in Herndon to 11.8 inches in Franconia.

Photo via National Weather Service

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