- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2016

The first snowflakes of what could be a record-setting snowstorm began to fall across the D.C. region early Friday afternoon.

Reports of initial flurries started first in northern Virginia about 12:45 p.m., with the winter storm moving east across the region.

The National Weather Service has forecast upwards of 2 feet of snow for the region with a blizzard warning taking effect at 3 p.m. Friday.

“The worst of the snow is going to be from midnight tonight to noon tomorrow,” NWS meteorologist Jim Lee said Friday.

During that 12-hour period, there could be strong gusts of wind and zero visibility, Mr. Lee said.

Leaders of D.C., Maryland and Virginia have declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, and on Friday officials put emergency plans into action and urged residents to stay in their homes for the duration of the storm.

“Most people in the District have not experienced a storm like this,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “They need to take the precautions. There is no reason to be outside during this storm.”

Though warnings of this blizzard have prompted comparisons to 2010’s “Snowmageddon” storm, when 17.8 inches of snow was recorded at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, officials expect this weekend’s snowstorm to pack a meaner punch.

“We are going to get the equivalent of three of those storms that happened over that time in one storm,” said Chris Geldart, director of the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. “The difference in this storm compared to that is we are going to get 50 mph wind gusts.”

Power outages are expected to be a problem as a result of both the high winds and heavy, wet snow.

“If we have less than 25,000 customers without power during this storm, it will be a good day,” Mr. Geldart said.

Officials from utility company Pepco cautioned that power outages are possible, but said extra crews are on hand to help with restoration efforts.

“This is an all hands on deck operation for us,” said Pepco Regional President Donna Cooper.

Utility companies and government agencies will be working together to make sure crews can make it to repair downed lines or other damage. But Ms. Cooper warned that in some cases, restoration “could be a multi-day effort” and advised residents to make preparations to have enough food, water, medicine and other necessities for a 72-hour period.

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