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Welcome back to “Is Winter Coming?” which is City Paper‘s effort to keep readers appraised of and appropriately on edge about the impending “major snowstorm” Friday. As of this morning, the winter storm threat is now “high,” per National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington, extending as far west as the Cowpasture River near West Augusta and Harrisonburg, Va. There’s enough here to get nervous about, but not enough for a full-on freak out:

What Does the Forecast Say?

As of 9 a.m. on Tuesday, AccuWeather reported that the storm will most likely hit the D.C. region late Friday night. Even the level-headed Capital Weather Gang folks are beginning to use words like “historic.” Take deep, calming breaths. 

“It appears right now that the area that may have the largest impact with this storm—and what I’m talking about is over a foot of snow—appears to be anywhere from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and your I-81 corridor in western Virginia,” explained AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno. “It’s a little early for snowfall accumulations, but certainly this is a storm, regardless of the snowfall amounts, that you need to be prepared to have major travel delays from Friday and into Saturday.”

Notably, Rayno added that the system containing the precipitation hadn’t even made landfall above the Northwest. Among the meteorologically-minded, it’s a “rule of thumb” that wherever the storm enters the U.S., it will exit at the same latitude on the East Coast. You can watch Rayno’s mesmerizing analysis below:

What Is Twitter Saying?

People seem to be following the snow news closely, and a general sense of anxiety churns just below the surface:

What Should I Do?

Watching weather reports is kind of like gazing into a crystal ball, except this season it’s more like shaking the snow globe you were too lazy to pack up after the holidays. It’s still too early to start disaster planning, but consider knocking out some of your out-of-doors weekend chores today and tomorrow, given that travel conditions will be poor regardless of how many inches of snow accumulate. 

Today’s Snow Panic Index: 3/5

Illustration by Lauren Heneghan