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Posted at 5:45 PM ET, 01/17/2008

Forecast: Precipitation Peters Out

By Dan Stillman

Slick spots could impact morning commute, schools

Latest MidAtlantic radar loop, courtesy National Weather Service. Refresh page to update, or click here to expand.

Precipitation -- now primarily in the form of sleet and rain -- is still on track to end from southwest to northeast between 7 p.m. and midnight. Little or no additional accumulation is expected, and in fact the back edge of the precipitation can be seen approaching from the west on the adjacent radar loop. Generally speaking, 2-4" accumulated in the immediate metro area, with 3-5" in upper Montgomery and Frederick counties. Browse more storm totals here.

Tonight: Early evening temperatures in the low to mid 30s should drop to overnight lows near freezing downtown, and into the upper 20s in the burbs, under mostly cloudy skies. That means some icy issues are likely for the morning commute, especially in the northern and western suburbs where a good amount of snow and sleet fell.

Tomorrow: After some morning slickness with temperatures near or below freezing for at least the early part of the commute, skies should become partly to mostly sunny with highs in the mid 40s.

Tomorrow's Schoolcast:

(Note: This Schoolcast applies mostly to the suburban counties. It's more like 1.5 apples for schools in DC itself.)

Next chance of snow: Not much has changed with a storm that could potentially bring more wintry precipitation to the area late Saturday. It is still unclear whether the storm will track close enough to the coast to be a significant threat. We hope to have a better idea early tomorrow morning.

By Dan Stillman  | January 17, 2008; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Photography: Fun in the Snow


Gold medal? Could it be?
The schoolcast seems a little high, considering the slim chances for below-freezing temps as we head into the night.

Posted by: mcleaNed | January 17, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Let's just hope PWC overestimates the dangerousness (is that even a word?) of the situation and closes us... typical student reaction, eh?

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 17, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

no school tomorrow for moco i hope

Posted by: sam | January 17, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

School will be opened in all jurisdictions tomorrow - just like I said it would RAIN today!

Enjoy the day off kids. :)

Posted by: Greg | January 17, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Better to overestimate the dangerousness than underestimate...

Posted by: missy | January 17, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Give me a break Missy. If they have off from school they will be at the mall or the movies by 11am. This "dangerous" b.s needs to stop. We are raising a whole generation of kids who will expect to be off work when it snows three inches once they reach the work force. The rest of the country laughs at us.

Posted by: Greg | January 17, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Anyone want to give insight on how the storm for Saturday is shaping up?

Posted by: Snowlover | January 17, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that we are raising a whole generation of kids who are used to a life of leisure, being mindlessly entertained by television, computer games, cell phones, etc. and don't know the value of hard work...but I also note that many of us forget that students are immature and exhibit expectedly childish and risky behaviors. Since DC/suburbs students and drivers are less experienced with snow, possiby this warrants more caution from decision makers.

Posted by: missy | January 17, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Yea, it rained, but that didn't do much to lessen accumulations. No one was really expecting 4 inches like I have in my front yard in Bethesda.

Posted by: Peter | January 17, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Snowlover - It's still so our south. Instead of coming up the coast from the Carolina's it goes right out to see. Which is strange since all the other storms this winter have been the opposite and been too close to the coast. Go figure.

Right now it seems to be we are on the Northern edge of the snow. I think we will get some snow. Is it going to be 0.1", 1.0", or 10" is the question.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Not sure if the gang is having any technical difficulties, but the blog froze up on me about 1.5 hours ago. Refreshing didn't work and even closing the browser and starting over from didn't help either. To get to this new post, I had to go to the WaPo homepage and enter the site from there. Maybe I'm the only one having this problem, but I'm guessing that's the reason for so few comments over the past hour.

Posted by: Parker | January 17, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Ok, seriously... why is it every time we have snow, a bunch of people see the need to complain about kids getting off school. The whole "they will get in the workforce and expect to have days off for 3" of snow" argument is pure silliness. Lets examine this:

1. Kids get off school between 2 and 3:30. Should we worry about them expecting to get off then when they enter the workforce?

2. Kids get 3 months off in the summer, a week for spring break, and about 2 weeks for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Are we worried they will expect that when they enter the workforce?

How is the "snow day" thing any different? The answer is, it isn't. And the fact is, school is very different from work.

1. It involves children whose safety is the responsibility of their parents and the school system, not adults who are responsible for themselves.

2. Kids who drive themselves are inexperienced drivers.

3. Kids who walk may have to deal with icy sidewalks.

4. School busses are hardly all terrain vehicles. They may have serious trouble navigating the neighborhood streets and back country roads that many districts contain.

5. School cancellation takes a substantial amount of traffic off of the roads, making road cleanup easier, reducing congestion on ice clogged roads, and reducing the number of accidents as a result.

6. School cancellation gives school officials time to clean up the school grounds to make it safe for children to return.

7. Adults generally have the option, if they genuinely can't get in, of staying home. The boss may be understanding, or they may be required to take a vacation day, but generally, it can be done. If school is in, kids have to be there. Put another way, work is individual.. school is more "collective" / all or nothing.

Sure, some kids may live in a well plowed neighborhood, and hit the mall by 11am. But others may live in rural areas, or in unplowed neighborhoods, and have a genuinely unsafe commute to school.

And, bottom line - the snow days are BUILT IN to the school calendar. Its not like these are free days. The kids go LONGER in the summer, so they have days to use in the winter. Its totally reasonable for an administrator to say "well, we haven't used many days so far, winter is over half over, so lets use one, better safe than sorry."

I apologize for going off topic, but people post these snide comments every year about kids being off school, and it grates on me. Let the school officials do their job. And no, I'm not in school - I'm a working adult.

Posted by: Jim in Blacksburg | January 17, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else see the "Capital Weather Gang" ad in the Washington Post's "weather page?"

The Post needs you more than they think. On the top of that same page, they published a prediction of "little or no accumulation" for today's storm. I think it came from Accuweather.

Perhaps it's time for the CapWx mets to write in-depth stories on upcoming snowstorms for the Metro section?

Posted by: mcleaNed | January 17, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

you go, Jim in Blacksburg

Posted by: missy | January 17, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

To Jim in Blacksburg - Thank you! I am a teacher and of course enjoy the snow days as much as the kids, but the real reason for the snow days is for the safety of the kids. Some of the buses in my district drive on unpaved roads and up hills/mountains with no shoulders, that are not paved. Would you want your child on that bus, with an inexperienced driver and the weather that we had today?

Posted by: vatchr | January 17, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Jim in Blacksburg-

Amen. Coming from an MCPS student of course. ;)

But I've got tomorrow off anyways since my exams are over so it doesn't affect me. But still, amen.

Posted by: Peter | January 17, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Jim in Blacksburg, I like the way you explain it..I think some people are just jealous they have to go to work while the little kiddies get to sleep in :)As far as Saturday goes, the 18z runs pushed the storm farther east this time, more of an out to sea kinda pattern...I have a good feeling about this storm though...not that that really means to much...but I just don't see this storm sliding off the coast...

Posted by: arnoldkh | January 17, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Jim -- Way to go ! When I lived inside the beltway I never understood why the canceled school when it seemed like the streets were clear. But, when I moved to Reston I now understand that not all roads in Fairfax are the same. My neighborhood is full of turns and hills. Hard for my 4-wheel drive to navigate --let alone a school bus. Take a drive down Hunter Mill Road on a normal day -- that road is scare without the snow. :)
I would rather my kids be safe than a chance be taken with them.

Posted by: Jenn in Reston | January 17, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Jim!

Posted by: Snowlover2! | January 17, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Cancelling schools is a no win situation. If they send them & conditions r bad with accidents or numerous late arrivals people complain, if they stay home & conditions aren't bad they complain. I've always felt it was best to side on the side of safety. If a couple of students get seriously hurt or worse lawsuits ensue & everyone is writing letters 2 the editor about sending kids to school under dangerous conditions.
On the subject of 2days weather, this turned out to b a typical DC area storm, some snow, then sleet, & then rain. Seems like we only get all snow storms about 20% of the time or less.

Posted by: VaTechBob. | January 17, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Jim in Blacksburg for explaining why we have snow days.

Which is worse:

Having 72,000 students stay at home where they can be safe


Having a bus load of kids slide off an icy road into a ditch?

Greg, I'm sure if your kids (if you have any) were in a school bus/car accident due to inclement weather and the school system didn't call school off, you'd be fuming and demanding answers...just like everyone else. Just saying.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 17, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Being it's my last year in high school, I speak only for those who will come after myself.

Nothing pissed me off more than the day after a moderately performing snow storm, which didn't dump enough to screw traffic up the next morning, but dumped enough to make me slip, trip, and fall on my walk to school.

It was the worst to get to school and have to go 7 hours soaking wet from my feet up because some lazy homeowner couldn't take 5 minutes out of their oh so busy life to shovel their sidewalk, or one of their neighbors wasn't kind enough to help out oh so busy homeowner and do their sidewalk for them.

Then there's school facilities themselves. The worst case of laziness I've seen was at Rockville High School when a security guard was walking behind the school on sidewalks that had hardly been shoveled after the ice/sleet event that closed schools for five days since the stuff froze harder than re-enforced steel.
He broke his leg, and an ambulance had to be called. Immediately after the slip, every available person was out shoveling and removing snow, which, wasn't the case before he fell. Some concern for the safety of kids.

Overall, this area is terrible when it comes to dealing with snowfall. People don't shovel their walks, people don't know how to drive, and road crews can't get their acts together. That being said, it's no wonder schools are forced to close due to a few inches of snow.

Sitting here in Rockville with my street iced over, one can only guess if trash crews plan on picking up garbage in the already troubled with trash (collection schedule conflicts, come on it's only trash, not world peace, in the lovely City of Rockville) Twinbrook area.

Posted by: Havoc | January 17, 2008 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Hah, I know how your feel Havoc, being one of those "coming after you". At Walter Johnson, the school is being renovated while we still go there so there are 47 portable classrooms and all those elevated wooden walkways. Well, when we got the 2 hr delay in December, no on bothered to shovel the snow on those wooden walkways so everybody was slipping around the school. What a massively frustrating day. Trying to forget it.....

Posted by: Peter | January 17, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

How about this weekends storm is it still up in the air or what?

Posted by: Jonathan | January 17, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

No, no snow days built into my calendar in PG County. If we miss a day, we go an extra day--after the state tests, final exams, etc.

I don't want to battle the weather or the roads, but I would rather have school than not have school.

And today Howard County tried to cancel aftercare (they had a half-day) at 1:30pm! It didn't work--there were lots of kids there when I finally made it at 4pm.

Posted by: dynagirl | January 17, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan, Saturday's storm is still up in the air. About to look at some new data over the next hours that will help provide more clarity (I hope).

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | January 17, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Question: if the mets at CapWX are now the "Capital Weather Gang," who are we? The Capital Weather Groupies? The Capital Weather Posse?

Another question for the Gang: I've been looking at suburban temp forecasts for tonight, and most of the big outlets--Accuweather, the NWS, weatherbug--have McLean staying above 32 degrees for the night. What did you see in the models or the storm that made you predict a subfreezing low?

Posted by: mcleaNed | January 17, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Aren't the vast majority of storms up in the air? ;-) Seriously...isn't the greatest percentage of energy contained in any storm system located high aloft, as opposed to near land or sea surface? Funnel clouds may be an exception - how about microbursts that occur as part of storm systems?

Posted by: ~sg | January 17, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Greg, you are the devil. =D

Now that I have that out of my system... the storm on Saturday looks very interesting dontcha think?

And good post Jim.

Posted by: Period | January 17, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

mcleaNed - agree with you on the post putting a cap wx column in the metro section... ive had it with the accuweather forecast on the back... actually how bout throwing out the entire accuweather forecast on the top of that page and replacing it with cap wx's forecast? its rare to actually see that "accu"rate forecast turn out right. little or no accumulation sure doesn't explain the three inches of snow i got... in a southern suburb of DC, too

Posted by: kenny g | January 17, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I can't speak for Dan, but his rationale may have been partial clearing late tonight may allow near freezing temps to drop a couple degrees. I think DCA stays above freezing, but suburban locations could see temps near 31 or 32 pre-dawn.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | January 17, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Given the winds are from the north throughout the area, why are we not getting more cold air advection with this system?

Posted by: Brian | January 17, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

I am liking the discussion by Jim in B, and Havoc and other commentors. The key, I think, and as was mentioned, is that these districts include many rural areas where snow may accumulate and buses must travel. My daily drive to Bowie/Upper Marlboro was fine, until I got onto a rural road, unplowed, which required 10-15 mph speeds. Traveling at midday, saw pretty much everything; snow, sleet, rain, rain and sleet,snow.
Weird thing today was that all day long temp hovered at 32.7, with some fluctuations to 32.9. Now 33.6.
My dogs were overall very unhappy but finally willing to venture out to bark at someone daring to venture near their turf.

Posted by: gv in cp | January 18, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Im gonna say no accumulating snow saturday looks to be going farthur east with each model sigh*

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 2:23 AM | Report abuse

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