The Washington, DC area receives an average 15.4 inches of snow each winter. As with many things in the Washington area, one never knows what to expect with snow in DC! Some years, we’ve gotten that amount and much more in a single storm. Other years, we see far less than this amount over the entire season. Depending on which meteorologist you believe, we are due to get just about or just below this amount.
No matter the amount, snow is a BIG deal in the Washington DC area.
If you are from a region like the Midwest or Northeast that is accustomed to snow, you will likely scoff at the local reaction. Local television stations will hype a storm for several days leading up to it. Snowplows will park and be ready for action a full 24 hours in advance of the first flakes (true story!). And much more. Below we break it down – what you can expect when the white stuff does hit the DC area.
What You Should Do to Prepare
If you don’t have one, be sure to purchase a waterproof floor mat or tray like this one for wet boots and snow-covered clothes to protect your flooring.
Remember to get supplies for inside in the event of a severe storm/power loss:
- Food that doesn’t require heating or refrigeration (cereal, granola bars, crackers, canned soups and stew – be sure you have a manual can opener!);
- Paper products, a supply of bottled water (plan on one gallon per person per day plus extra for any pets);
- flashlights (and batteries!);
- Battery-powered radio and clock;
- First-aid kits
- At least a four day supply of all prescription medications; and
- If you have babies or young children, be sure you have enough diapers, wipes and formula on hand for a few days.
Take a moment to scan the CDC’s winter weather checklist for other excellent tips. Do you have any tips to prepare for snow in DC? We would love to hear them in the comments below.
Snow in DC – What to Expect
Lines (Long Ones!) at the Stores
Long lines everywhere you look. Grocery stores, 7-11, Home Depot, Target, and more. Store shelves will be completely empty of milk, bread, toilet paper, bottled water, and wine. There will be a run on snow shovels, snow pants for kids, and melting salts. Stock up NOW.
Runs on Gas
Again, long lines. Nobody in our area wants to be stuck without gas! We are not sure who is making long drives in bad storms, but it’s best to steer clear of the gas stations unless necessary.
Even with those full tanks of gas, drivers should really stay off the roads in the area when we have snow in DC. Washingtonians are NOT known for their ability to drive in snow – in any amount. Remember in 2016 the nine-hour traffic fiasco in – literally – one inch of unexpected snow/ice? If you do have to travel in your car, be sure to get a car safety kit, you certainly don’t want to be stranded on the road like many folks were on Interstate 95 in early January 2021.
Stay home. If you need to get out, go sledding!
Schools Will Close
And not just for a day. Local schools have been known to shut down for a week or more for blizzards. School districts do not want kids waiting for the bus (often in the dark) when sidewalks are not shoveled, back roads are not accessible, or when students may be blocked by massive mounds of snow.
We even have cancellations with just the mere threat of snow… Keep in mind, if you live in one of the area’s larger jurisdictions such as Fairfax or Montgomery County, schools may be closed for snow at one end of the county while it’s just raining at the other end!
By the way – it’s not just snow. Local schools have closed for forecasts of frigid temperatures. Many buses cannot start their engines in frigid temperatures. Also, school boards do not want kids waiting for the bus or walking to school in such temperatures, especially if kids may not be dressed appropriately.
Yes, the rumors you’ve heard are true–schools here close for everything.
The Federal Government Will Close
Someone has to stay home with the kids! And if it’s not closed, they will offer “liberal leave” — a fancy term for an unplanned vacation day with the kids!
The Bottom Line
Chances are, we will deal with at least a bit of the white stuff this winter. Keep your sense of humor and make the most of it. Stock up on your essentials, be it Oreos or wine, and hunker down for some time with your loved ones this winter. If you’re in the market for a new home in the winter… fear not! We’re always working – snow or not!
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