Here are five sites that provide useful updates and information for tracking Northern Virginia snowstorms and winter weather. These sites will help you monitor conditions and emergencies in your area.
When winter flakes are falling, we are happy to hunker down and stay snowbound for a few days—as long as we don't lose power. Whether the latest snowstorm will be historic—like the record-setting totals achieved during Winter Storm Jonas (aka Snowzilla or the Blizzard of 2016)—or just a dusting, it's good to stay informed.
For an understanding of why the Washington DC area is so often brought to its knees by even a small accumulation, or the dreaded “wintry mix,” take a look at this excellent article confirming that we are not just weather wimps.
Sites for Monitoring Northern Virginia Snowstorms
Grab the computer and head online to these 5 sites that will help you track winter snowstorms in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area.
1. Capital Weather Gang, Washington Post
For excellent, in-depth area weather forecasts and updates, we rely on the Capital Weather Gang. Weather geeks will appreciate the detailed discussion of the forecast models. The gang also provides great updates on local and global weather on their Twitter account.
And we can all appreciate the dose of humor that the gang adds. CWG officially dubbed the January 2016 storm Snowzilla, in honor of its monstrous size and with help from a reader poll. CWG is a great resource for weather updates year-round, not just during Northern Virginia snowstorms.
2. VDOT Plows, VDOT
After two inches of snow have accumulated, this interactive map tracks the progress of Virginia snow plows. It's a great tool for checking out where the plows have been and speculating on when they will reach your neighborhood. Also worth a look before you venture out after the snow stops falling. Unfortunately, the map is not always up to date and it doesn't tell you when your street will be cleared.
3. Virginia 511 Web, VDOT
VDOT's interactive map provides updates on road closures and accidents, and links to traffic cameras throughout the state (when you can get the camera to load). This is a useful site during Northern Virginia snowstorms or any weather emergency. Of course, you really don't need to monitor this site during a major storm because you should stay home and off the road!
4. Dominion Power Outages, Dominion Virginia Power
View known outages in the region on a text grid or an interactive map. If your power is out and you want to report the outage, call 866-366-4357. Use the same number to report downed lines.
5. County Emergency Sites
Fairfax County replaced their very helpful Snow Hub with a mishmash of links on their snow Emergency page. For the most immediate updates on Northern Virginia snowstorm and other weather-related impacts, visit the Fairfax County Emergency blog or follow Fairfax County on Twitter.
Check the Prince William County Emergency Site for the latest on closures and weather-related issues in the county. The site has lots of information and links to other resources.
BONUS: Skyline Drive Updates
Even when the snow is mild near DC, Shenandoah National Park is often hit with icy conditions, forcing full and partial closings of Skyline Drive. If you're planning to visit the park during the winter, check the hotline number first. To check Skyline Drive status dial 1-540-999-3500; select 1, then 1 for park alerts. You can also check Shenandoah National Park on Twitter, but we hear the number updates more quickly.
You can take a look at the snow from afar on the Shenandoah Park Webcams.
Those are some of the websites we use to monitor activity and emergencies throughout major Northern Virginia snowstorms. Here are some suggestions on fun places to go after a Northern Virginia snowstorm is over and it's safe to venture out:
Prefer to stay inside? Check out our guide to Indoor Activities in Northern Virginia to Escape Winter Cold or a Rainy Day. Stay warm, stay safe, and enjoy the snow!
This article was published in 2016 and updated in 2018 and 2019 and 2020.