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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 02/26/2008

Forecast: Mild and Wet Then Cold and Dry

By Matt Ross

The winter's prevailing pattern will rear its ugly head again. Ugly, that is, if you like snow. Like the storms before it, yet another will cut to our west steering mild air and rain into the region today. The cold air, so critical for snow here, won't arrive until tonight, after the precipitation has ended. Mild and wet, cold and dry, mild and wet, cold and dry. Wash, rinse, repeat.


Occasional rain, breezy late. Near 50. Rain will move into the area early this morning (possibly starting as freezing rain in spots like Winchester and Hagerstown where a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 9 a.m.). Occasional light to moderate rain will continue through early afternoon. During the remainder of the afternoon and evening, we will see occasional showers, but a strong low pressure system moving north and east of us may leave us in a dry slot. Temperatures will approach 50 degrees in the afternoon, right around normal.

Overnight there remains a slight chance (20%) of a shower early or a flurry late. Winds will freshen out of the west and become gusty. Low temperatures will be in the low to mid 30s.


Mix of sun and clouds. Around 40. Wednesday will be partly cloudy and much colder. Winds out of the northwest will exceed 20 mph with higher gusts. Afternoon highs will only reach the upper 30s to low 40s. The far north and west suburbs (Leesburg, Frederick, etc.) may even see a passing flurry or snow shower. Overnight it will remain breezy and skies will clear. It will be bitterly cold with lows from the upper teens to mid 20s.

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend ...


Clear, cold. Near 40. The sun will be shining, but it will be quite cold as a dome of Arctic air sits over DC. Look for afternoon highs only reaching the mid to upper 30s. It will be breezy, but it still may feel a bit warmer in the late February sun. Overnight, clouds will be on the increase with lows quite cold again in the mid to upper 20s.


On Friday we will see increasing clouds with seasonably cool highs in the mid to upper 40s. A weak storm system approaching from the west may bring us some light rain or snow Friday night, but doesn't look like a big deal. Right now the weekend weather looks decent. Saturday will be partly cloudy and cooler with temperatures in the low 40s. Enough warm air from the southwest should enable Sunday's temperatures to reach the low 50s.

By Matt Ross  | February 26, 2008; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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I've read numerous comments about the GFS forecasting a big snowstorm around the 3/3 - 3/5 time window. Looking at the 06 GFS, it looks more like the set-up for a severe weather outbreak in the SE. A huge low forms in the GOMEX and moves northward through central Alabama to central Kentucky, then NE through PA. DC is on the east (warmer) side of this low and the 10C 850 mb line wraps nearly around the center eastward through southern MD. Even the SPC has taken notice in their 4-8 day outlook.

Posted by: Steve Wasko | February 26, 2008 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, Matt, its just plain ugly. CapWx hasn't commented much on the 3rd/4th thing...I'd guess they think its too far out, and judging from this winter's hateful pattern, no snow as usual (like VTechBob says).

Posted by: missy | February 26, 2008 7:27 AM | Report abuse

How are we re precip totals? Are we safely out of the drought zone?

Posted by: Alexandria | February 26, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't find the discussion on the SPC cite - link, anyone?

Posted by: Dave | February 26, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to have to post this comment, as I am a long-time reader and generally love the site and the service it provides. But at this point, I'm wondering if we should just rename it the "Capital Snowlovers Gang." Since the move to WaPo, the content has been completely geared toward the possibility of the next snow day. Today's post is a good example - highs near 50 this time of year is not "mild" or part of a prevailing pattern "rearing its ugly head." It is actually the normal weather pattern for late February. While I know you qualified it as "ugly for snow lovers," but the fact is that this is not atypical weather for this time of year.

I miss the varied news items and policy pieces, the compilations of data and related discussions of long-term weather trends (such as precip totals, temperatures, etc.), and other content that used to be here. I fear that censorship from the WaPo is what is really "rearing its ugly head."

Posted by: Southside FFX | February 26, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I miss winter...

Posted by: VAStateOfMind | February 26, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

SPC Link:
Also, from the Greenville/Spartanburg Fcst long range discussion:

Omega is a meteorological term for atmospheric spin - one of the key conditions for tornado formation.

Posted by: Steve Wasko | February 26, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Link to SPC products... Scroll to bottom for 4-8 day outlook. Yes..Mar 3-4 is a bit beyond the range we typically discuss.

Alexandria: The wet February we've had has helped. But according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, we're still abnormally dry (although that's the weakest drought category). I imagine we'll have a post on this some time soon.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | February 26, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Southside: We're still going to provide that mix of content (and we've been doing it as much as we can -- see the stories by category menu as proof). We didn't as much last week because there were advisories and warnings out. During winter storms which have major impacts on our area, our coverage will focus on that. That's always been the case and will continue to be. I imagine you'll start to see much more of mix when the weather slows--including this week.

The point Matt was making is not that this is atypical late Feb weather (and he didn't say that)... rather his point was that it's a repeat of the same kind of pattern that has resulted in rain and not snow all winter.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | February 26, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Washington Post oversight, please alert your copy editors:

"Like the storm's before it..."


Posted by: Editrix | February 26, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse


Omega is actually the term for pressure vertical velocity (vertical motion). I think you may be referring to helicity.

If you ever get bored, check out the AMS Meteorological glossary:

Posted by: D | February 26, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Steve....The 3/4 storm is still a week away...we are aware of it....

Southside....I dont mention the weather as anomalous...I simply mention the pattern repeating itself...which it is doing....It will be in the teens tomorrow night which IS anomalous and the intro paragraph is written in that context...I have never been wishy washy about being a snow lover and that hasnt changed and isnt going to.....People who want to read about me being "worried" or "concerned" about snow will have to go elsewhere.....I do agree with you about content to some extent....Hopefully that is something that gets sorted out over time...

Editrix....send me your address...I am going to send you a cookie for catching that... ;)

Posted by: Matt, Capital Weather Gang | February 26, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Southside ... to echo Jason's response. Most of the material you mention has been part of the mix of content before and after the move to Matt has been crunching numbers, Steve has been keeping tabs on drought conditions and other random items, and Andrew has been offering his thoughts related to climate change and related topics.

As Jason said, the weather keeps us quite busy during the winter, so you're likely to see a bit less of this material during the winter than in other seasons. This has always been the case, long before the move to

And in fact, all the items you talk about are now getting wider exposure, appearing in their own posts often at the top of the page, rather than always below the forecast as in our old format. So, I think it's a misconception that our content has changed all that much. If anything it's more varied than before.

As for the bias toward snow. Each forecaster has the latitude to express their personality and even opinions in their forecast write-ups. Some of us happen to love snow, and often it shows. But we are also mindful that a good portion of the public at large could do without the white stuff.

Posted by: Dan, Capital Weather Gang | February 26, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm misremembering, but I recall snow desire/obsession last year. Hundreds of comments in the haloscan boxes and people waiting, wondering if/when...

Personally, I think that there is a lot of content and, on balance, I prefer the new site.

Posted by: SoMoCo | February 26, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the earnest responses - I certainly wasn't intending to flame and can accept that I may be off base here. Just my impression on the content (particularly the afternoon content from Steve).

But as I have also said, it's your blog, you can do anything you want with it. Just wanted to give the perspective of a longtime reader.

I'll still be coming here for the best forecast available!

Posted by: Southside FFX | February 26, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Keep up the good work Cap Wx Gang! It's nice to know others are also frustrated with the lack of snow.

Posted by: Sue R | February 26, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

For those wise folks that are interested in, or concerned about our drought status. D.C. has been very fortunate during Feb., but that is not the case for most areas south of D.C. Reagan Nat. received 4.08", Charlottesville received only 1.65". Here in the Valley, I received 2.45". Even though D.C. has improved short term because of the wet Feb., it is nowhere close to being "out of the woods" longterm. Most areas south of D.C. are in a moderate to severe drought status.

Most of Va. had a dry Feb. But this is nothing new, only a repeat of a dry pattern that has generally persisted for more than a year!

Hopefully we will have a very wet spring and summer, but unfortunately that does not appear likely.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | February 26, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Augusta Jim | February 26, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Your bias toward snow has been ongoing since the site started, not necessarily since you moved to the Post. Before last week's storm, one met said something like "keep your fingers crossed for snow." No other outlet in the city says these kinds of things.

Posted by: steve takoma park md | February 26, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Let's be careful in what we consider "bias."

Bias in skewing forecasts and hyping up events to drum up excitement is bad.

Bias in editorializing ("just another boring February day" vs "really exciting possibility for snow this weekend") is not bad. It's a reflection of those of us who visit this site, who tend to get excited by snow, severe weather, the unusual, etc.

I don't think anyone can accuse CapWx of the first kind of bias, and that's the only kind that I really care about. The second kind of "bias" is just bringing passion to what you do, and that should be encouraged.

Posted by: Dave | February 26, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

SouthsideFFX (or others with similar views),
Please contact me offline via the email link if you'd like to discuss this further.

Posted by: Steve, Capital Weather Gang | February 26, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Tune in at 7:00.

Posted by: Steve, Capital Weather Gang | February 26, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, Jason - extremely informative.

Posted by: Alexandria | February 28, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

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