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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Updated at 12:25 p.m. — Firefighters are warning about dangerous conditions and fire due to downed wires as power company workers respond.

Fairfax Connector has suspended bus service due to the “deteriorating road conditions” caused by the ongoing snowstorm. Buses currently in operation will complete their routes. 

Earlier: Fairfax County’s first snow of the season started falling early this morning (Monday) and has kept up a steady pace ever since, making roads hazardous while closing schools and many office jobs.

Heavy snow is expected with 5 to 10 inches accumulating, according to an updated National Weather Service winter storm warning for Fairfax County and much of the D.C. region that began at 1 a.m. and will continue through 4 p.m.

The heaviest amounts are projected to fall near and south of Route 50, with heavier snow running through the early afternoon, the NWS predicted.

“State plows are now on the roads,” Fairfax County said around 8:50 a.m. on Twitter. “If you’re out driving, please give them space.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation now has a website that allows users to track the progress of its snow plows.

As of 8 a.m. Virginia State Police responded to 82 traffic crashes across the Commonwealth and advised people to stay off roads.

“No injuries, just stuck/damaged vehicles caused by folks going too fast for conditions,” VSP said on Twitter.

The Fairfax County Police Department reported that several roads had been closed due to snow as of 11:30 a.m., including:

A resident reported around 8:40 a.m. that several vehicles were stuck on Richmond Highway in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.

Federal and local government offices have been closed for the day. The Fairfax County government closures include the courts, all Park Authority facilities and programs, and COVID-19 vaccination sites.

After announcing last night (Sunday) that schools would be closed to students with no virtual learning, Fairfax County Public Schools expanded its closure this morning to include all offices and COVID-19 testing sites.

The snow is affecting transit as well as drivers. While trains are currently operating as usual, Metro has now suspended bus service “due to rapidly deteriorating weather and hazardous road conditions throughout the region.”

“All buses currently in operation with customers will operate to the end of the line to complete their routes if safe to do so,” the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said. “All other buses will hold at stops until roads are passable and safe to resume service.”

Metrorail remains in operation. De-icer trains and heaters have been deployed in an effort to keep rail lines free of snow and ice.

“Metro customers should allow additional travel time and use caution on platforms, escalators, parking lots and other areas that may be slippery,” WMATA said in a news release last night. “Metro will have plows and equipment deployed throughout the system to clear and treat parking lots, walkways and platforms.”

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