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“It can snow very well at 33 degrees, but it’s not going to be the horrible impact on the roads if it were 15 degrees out,” Mr. Zubrick said.

Temperatures throughout the rest of the week should stay in the 40s, which means “there’s going to be a lot of melting,” Mr. Zubrick said.

“There could be a small threat of localized flooding,” he added, “just not anything really substantial.”

The 2012-13 winter has been relatively mild and snow-free. Only 1.5 inches of snow had fallen in the D.C. area this winter before this week’s storm, compared to an average 15 inches in one winter. Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday, the storm’s rain-snow line will fall along the Interstate 95.

“Areas to the west will get more snow. They’re looking at 10 to 15 inches,” Mr. Klein said. “The east side, it will take longer for [the rain] to change over to snow. Then it will be a wet snow mix.”

Areas farthest east might not see any snow until Wednesday morning or afternoon.

By early Tuesday afternoon, snow was already falling at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort in eastern West Virginia.

“We’re definitely excited,” spokeswoman Sarah Eilers said. “We average about 180 inches a year, and right now we’re around 140. So we’re hoping this will get us to the end of March.”

Despite the threat of 10 inches of snow, residents of Shenandoah, Va., were less concerned with shovels than propane tanks.

Marsha Downey of Shenandoah Hardware said the store had a run on the gas tanks but little interest in snow removal tools.

“Two years ago, when we had that really bad winter, we must have sold 10,000 shovels. I guess people still have them,” she said with a laugh. “A lot of people here have gas stoves and they want to make sure they’re prepared. I guess if they can’t go anywhere, at least they can eat.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.