Updated Wednesday, 7:04 a.m.

Winter wants to give us one last mess.

Commuters in the Washington area can expect messy conditions Wednesday as heavy snow is expected following an earlier mix of snow, rain, and sleet.

Early forecasts called for between four and eight inches of snow, but projected totals increased as Wednesday went on. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang said double-digit snow totals were very possible, particularly in areas north of the city, though 3-6 inches was most likely. The website predicted that most schools and the federal government would close. Anyone heading north into Delaware or the Philadelphia area could encounter eight inches or more of snow.

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for the region through Wednesday night.

“Plan on difficult travel conditions,” the National Weather Service said. “Significant reductions in visibility are possible.”

Here are some key adjustments to transit services you should be aware of:

Metrorail - Opening at 5 a.m. with a modified weekday schedule.

Metrobus - Operating under the “Moderate Snow Plan,” representing a 60% reduction in service. [See detailed routes]

Arlington ART Buses - Operating under the “limited” service. [Details here]

MARC Train - Service suspended.

Virginia Railway Express - Service suspended.

Alexandria DASH Bus - Service will follow the snow routes.

Amtrak - Will have an abbreviated schedule Wednesday due to heavy snow throughout the northeast.

Forecasters said the impact of the weather will depend on whether temperatures drop below freezing.

“Lots of uncertainty with the upcoming #storm,” the National Weather Service for the D.C./Baltimore region Tweeted. “Temps from the surface through several thousand feet in the atmosphere (where precipitation forms) will be right around freezing. A one degree shift one way or the other will make a big difference between cold rain or heavy wet snow.”

Here are some thoughts on how you can avoid a commuting nightmare over the next couple days:

  • Stay home if you can. If your employer allows for liberal leave or telecommuting, take advantage.
  • Use rail. Metrorail usually shuts down only during the heaviest snowstorms, and as of Wednesday morning, it was open. Be sure to pay attention to any schedule adjustments.

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