Rare late April snow coats Mid-Atlantic valleys, pastes mountains

WEATHER NEWS: Rare late April snow coats Mid-Atlantic valleys, pastes mountains

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A developing coastal storm drew down enough cold air for an unusual late April snow event in interior portions of the Mid-Atlantic on Monday afternoon. While rain, mixed with a bit of sleet, soaked the Interstate 95 corridor, one only needed to travel about 45 miles to the west to see snowflakes.

Accumulating snow was observed as close to Washington and Baltimore as western Loudoun, northern Fauquier and northern Frederick (Md.) counties. In the higher terrain of western Maryland, up to half a foot of heavy, wet snow had fallen through Monday late afternoon, with more to come.

The National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, and the high terrain of northeast West Virginia and western Maryland on Sunday ahead of the storm. These advisories were expanded into the Shenandoah Valley and Interstate 81 corridor Monday afternoon for up to 1 to 2 inches of snow.

In western Maryland and a sliver of adjacent West Virginia, the snowfall was heavy enough for the advisory to be upgraded Monday to a winter storm warning, until 8 p.m. Parts of this region also saw freezing rain which left behind an icy coating.

The Weather Service called for as much as 3 to 7 inches of snow and an icy glaze up to a quarter-inch thick in the winter storm warning zone. “Travel may be difficult to nearly impossible,” it wrote.

Snow completely covered sections of Interstate 68 in western Maryland on Monday afternoon. Between roughly Cumberland and Grantsville, webcams showed traffic slowing to a standstill in stretches and vehicles having skidded off the highway.

“I68 is an absolute mess,” tweeted @KnaptonOliver.

“Stuck on I-68E and not moving for some time now,” Capital Weather Gang Facebook follower commented.

Farther south, west of Charlottesville, icy roads caused numerous accidents Monday morning around Afton mountain along the Blue Ridge.

Snowfall amounts were heavily elevation dependent. In valley locations, snow stuck mainly to grassy areas. But accumulation increased with altitude and road conditions deteriorated.

Here were some totals reported through 4 p.m. Monday:

  • Near Frostburg, Md.: 6 inches
  • Big Meadows, Va.: 6 inches
  • Great North Mountain: 5.5 inches (at Va.-W.Va. border, above 3,000 feet)
  • Chester Gap, Va.: 5 inches
  • Near Cumberland, Md.: 4.75 inches
  • Thurmont, Md. and northern Frederick County: 4-4.5 inches
  • Linden, Va.: 4 inches
  • Martinsburg, W.Va.: 3.1 inches
  • Keyser, W.Va.: 2.5 inches
  • Inwood, W.Va.: 2.5 inches
  • Winchester, Va.: 2 inches
  • Round Hill, Va.: 1.8 inches
  • Purcellville, Va.: 1.6 inches
  • Shepherdstown, W.Va.: 1.5 inches
  • Petersburg, W.Va.: 1 inch

Snow was predicted to continue where it was falling into Monday evening, before tapering off at night.

The storm responsible for the snow in the interior Mid-Atlantic was expected to intensify Monday night as it moved up the coastline. Four to 8 inches of snow, and locally up to a foot in the high terrain, was forecast from the Poconos of Pennsylvania into central New York state.

Coastal storm to plaster Northeast with inland snowfall

The snowy weather, with temperatures 20 to 25 degrees below normal, came sandwiched between spurts of summery weather. Late last week, the same areas seeing snow experienced 80-degree warmth. Temperatures that high were set to return over the coming weekend.

Snow is not uncommon in late April in the high terrain of western Maryland and northeast West Virginia, particularly above 3,000 feet. But the snow seen at elevations below 1,000 feet in the Shenandoah Valley and portions of west central Maryland was more unusual at this time of year.

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