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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 02/13/2008

Forecast: Stubborn System is Super Soaker

By Dan Stillman

Another difficult commute; rain could end as some snow

**Ice Warning in effect north and west until 1 p.m.**

Area closings & delays | News article

The same weather system that caused yesterday's icy p.m. commute will stick around through much of today. Any remaining areas of freezing rain this morning, mainly north and west of D.C., should change to rain by around 8 a.m. as temperatures climb to and above freezing, except far north and west (Frederick and western Loudoun counties) where freezing rain may linger an hour or two longer. That'll leave us with a plain old rain -- and potentially a lot of it -- during the first half of the day. Total storm rainfall amounts may near or surpass 1 inch in the metro area, and higher amounts to the east toward the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore.


Rainy, becoming breezy, near 40, then chance of snow. Moderate to heavy morning rains, with some freezing rain still mixing in well north and west, will hamper the morning commute. Morning temperatures in the low to mid 30s should rise to near 40 by early afternoon, when steady rain should taper to scattered showers from west to east. Then, temperatures are likely to fall back through the 30s during the late afternoon and evening as an area of low pressure developing off the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia coast causes winds to pick up out of the north (10-20 mph).

Any lingering precipitation could change to snow during the evening as temperatures drop. Accumulation, if any, should be minimal -- probably no more than a dusting to an inch. Overnight, partial clearing with lows in the upper 20s to near 30 downtown, low to mid 20s in the burbs.


Mostly sunny, mid 40s. The morning commute will be breezy and chilly with temperatures in the 20s in the suburbs to near 30 downtown. But mostly sunny skies and a diminishing breeze will make for a decent afternoon with highs in the mid 40s. Overnight, mostly clear and cool with lows near 30 downtown, mid 20s in the burbs.

Keep reading for the forecast through the holiday weekend.


Partly to mostly sunny a.m., increasing clouds p.m., 50s. As the next cold front makes its way across the Midwest, flow from the south will boost temperatures to highs in the 50s. Skies should be partly to mostly sunny during the morning, then increasing clouds in the afternoon with a chance of a shower toward evening. Overnight, partly to mostly cloudy early with a few showers possible as the front comes through, then clearing skies toward morning with lows in the upper 20s to low 30s.


High pressure moving in behind a departing cold front should bring partly to mostly sunny skies on Saturday with highs in the upper 30s to low 40s, and Saturday night lows in the 20s.

Temperatures head for highs in the 40s on Sunday, with increasing clouds and a good chance of rain late Sunday and Sunday night courtesy a storm system coming up from the south. As of now, it looks like the storm track will be too far to the west for any wintry precipitation around here, but we'll keep watching it.

The early outlook for President's Day calls for a chance of lingering showers and breezy conditions with highs in the 40s.

By Dan Stillman  | February 13, 2008; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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LoCo has cancelled bus service for the day to DC...that about seals my deal. We are right at 30 and the rain has just picked up. At this point I hope I dont lose looks nasty here in the Bootheel.

Posted by: Dulles ARC | February 13, 2008 5:52 AM | Report abuse

It's very icy/nasty in Lake Ridge right now. It's eerie in a way. Schools better hope everything melts and people can get into their cars by the time the 2 hour delay is up.

Would it KILL close us every once and a while? Especially when everything is covered in more than 1/4" of ice...LOL

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | February 13, 2008 5:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm definitely pissed but I'll get over it.

Posted by: Period | February 13, 2008 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Latest model data supports Dan for today as well the weekend. "Accumulation if any,should be minimal--probably no more than a dusting to an inch" The NAM and GFS both indicate a period of mostly light snow before this system moves to our northeast later night. The RUC is taking most precip. out to our northeast by late afternoon, perhaps ending as flurries. Current radar trends support the RUC.

The weekend system is now progged by all the models to track again to our west. We all know what this means. The ECMWF and JMA take it from south Texas to the western Lakes. The DGEX has lost the potential,but gives us a period of snow with the frontal passage on Sat. The GFS is up the Ohio Valley and the GGEM now rides the spine of the Apps.

At 7:30 I have 31 degrees with light freezing rain. Trees coated w/ice, highway slushy, schools 2 hrs. late.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | February 13, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

So, my question for the powers that be is this:

When it comes time to critique the forecast for this event, will the cold air damming be addressed?

This is a constant problem in this area and seemingly one that the models and forecasters can't get a hold of. Why?

In the future, I'd like to see something along the lines of a "caveat" which lends the possibility that this damming will blow up the entire forecast. Just a suggestion.

Posted by: Ivan | February 13, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes this site seems to be a "one trick pony". It adds or takes away words at it's whim, when posting!

Posted by: Augusta Jim | February 13, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

What happened to all the snow for tonight???

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

How does every weather outlet and website blow the CAD when it's obviously something to take into consideration east of the Apps. Is it because it's better to underforecast versus overforecast(HYPE) a storm?

Posted by: HEELS | February 13, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Period, I'm ticked off too, but I have to admit, the roads and (some) sidewalks are fine, just the trees, grass, and cars are icy. I was hoping the freezing rain would hold on in the western half of PWC long enough for them to change the delay to a closing, and it has, but they're sticking to their decision. Oh well...

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | February 13, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

HEELS: We factored in cold air damming but didn't get its magnitude/duration exactly right. We were talking about the afternoon/evening ice threat all day -- especially north and west (we advised folks to vote early). But we were thinking by evening temperatures would be around 31-33 inside the beltway, instead they were 28-30. These few degrees made a big difference. Also, we thought temperatures would rise overnight a bit more quickly than they did.

We took into account models sometimes underestimate the cold in these scenarios--evidently just not enough. There will be more of a post mortem on this later.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | February 13, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

All I know is here in Annapolis it was forecast to be all rain from the afternoon on. The bridges all froze and were closed for hours. It took me five and 1/2 hours to get home. My commute is normally 30 minutes. Last year the same mistake was made in our forecast here in Annapolis for the big ice storm. We ended up with major ice accumulation here-- after getting a prediction of plain rain.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Ivan: We did indicate confidence was lower than usual yesterday (here), but maybe could've been more explicit. Good suggestion.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | February 13, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Oops. The above post was mine.

Posted by: science teacher | February 13, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Let's see.....the models say 33/34 and ppl label mets a model hugger....if you go against the model and say 29/30 and it doesn't pan out.....they label you a HYPSTER....would I like to have seen a tad more accuracy? Yes. DO I understand WHY it is challenging to do and the variables at least to a degree? Yes. Therein lies the difference folks.
The Teams not going to get criticism on this one from me.

Posted by: Mike from the Blue Ridge | February 13, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

In eastern Silver Spring rain was falling off and on from at least 3 am (which is when I woke up). Even so, my neighbor is right now scraping ice off his vehicle's windows! I don't want to think about how much ice was coating surfaces such that 6+ hours of intermittent rain and consistent >32 temperatures hadn't wiped it off his car. We didn't lose power, which is cause for rejoicing.

Posted by: Murre | February 13, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Good explanation Jason. Fully understandable and makes sense to me....

Posted by: HEELS | February 13, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

My apologies if it sounded like I was busting on anyone with my post, I wasn't. I think decent constructive questions were asked to which Jason gave a good answer.just wanted to clear that up :)

Posted by: Mike from the Blue Ridge | February 13, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Something must be done about that cold air damming! This freezing rain and the resultant icy streets CANNOT be tolerated in the Most Powerful City on this or any other Planet! Federal funds must be spent to level the Appalachian Mountains so that there is nothing to dam that cold air. Then all this would just be rain.

I will introduce legislation in the Senate this very day (when I dry out) to begin the process of leveling the Appalachians. With any luck and bipartisan support, this task can be completed by next winter and we will never have freezing rain in the National Capital EVAH AGAIN!

Posted by: Sen. T. Kennedy, D-Mass | February 13, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Surprised...Clarendon Ballroom NEVER cancelled my swing dance despite the ice storm warning. Nonetheless, I was able to get down there and back but CRUDDY WEATHER LIKE THIS DOES CUT DOWN ON ATTENDANCE which is why I DESPISE weather like this on a dance night, even when I can "fight" the rain, ice, snow etc.! Reduced attendance cuts down on profitability, and possibly the amount of money the band can make for the evening. All told, we had quite a hazardous evening in South Arlington, and most scheduled evening activities should have been cancelled.

Weather Channel is still threatening us with "mix" for Sunday night's dance despite the NWS forecast which calls for clear weather early and primarily rain Sunday night into Monday. What a bummer a rainy Presidents' Day would be!

Posted by: El Bombo | February 13, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

the weather ch called it monday morning ice storm tuesday great call

Posted by: deve madison va | February 13, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Hovering at around 32 here in Loudoun. Just plain rain, and the roads have goop on them, but the trees were not so lucky. Pretty icicles on my neighbor's house as well. The western-most parts of the county may still have freezing rain at this hour.

Didn't even try to commute this morning, although it does not look that bad. Oh well, I'll just hang out here at home.

CapWx Team: Could you include information about the refreeze tonight in the next post? The slush all over the roads is just asking for it...

Posted by: Anonymous | February 13, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I claim the above comment. Whoops.

Posted by: Model Monkey | February 13, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

31.5 degrees and freezing rain in Darnestown (10:30 am). I usually give school administrators credit, but there is no way MoCo schools should be open. It was dangerous to even stand up on my road this morning, much less drive. I wiped out twice just trying to walk the dog this morning. The bus stop is a sheet of ice, you CANNOT send little kids out into that! How can you pretend there's not an ice storm happening? We have been under a warning for 18 hours now! Very angry about an obviously terrible decision down there in Rockville, this is the worst I have seen my neighborhood in the 7 years I've lived here....

Posted by: Curtis | February 13, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

OH, and weatherbug at my son's school - 30.3 degrees - even now (10:40 am). Unless there are special laws of physics in Gaithersburg where ice doesn't form at that temp, and unless every other adjoining school jurisdiction was totally wrong to close, then this was about the dumbest decision I have ever seen by the public schools IMHO.

Posted by: Curtis | February 13, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

The unexpected magnitude of the ice surprised everyone including myself.

I have noticed a tendency of forecasters to under estimate the difficulty of scouring out a damming situation in my area that goes back to a time long before anyone had heard of "the models".

This smacks us in the face with the reality that we have a lot to learn about the climate, or day to day climatic conditions for any given area.

I noticed several days ago that this appeared to be a very convoluted multi faceted system. This is the reason that I posted last weekend that it may reveal "interesting twists".

The 12Z NAM has beefed up the potential for Sat., now suggesting perhaps 1-3 inches of snow from D.C. to Charlottesville into the central Shenandoah.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | February 13, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Very icy in Potomac. I drove my kids to the bus -- didn't want them slipping on the ice into a car's pathway. Frankly I'm quite surprised MOCO didn't cancel school today.

Posted by: marlee | February 13, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

It's worth canceling for ice on the sidewalks alone. Very dangerous stuff.

Posted by: winchester | February 13, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Ok..this is all nice, but the only thing of real concern is the schoolcast for Thursday. Show me two apples or more!!

Posted by: Expat Teacher | February 13, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

12z GFS brought just a little more precip between 12-24 hour tonight. Far cry from yesterdays hype (which included me...sorry)

Augusta,Dan, What are your thoughts on coastal development tonight? GFS brings temps into the low 40's today. However, current temp is holding at 33 in Spotsylvania. This whole system looks complicated "to me". Does a possible scenerio exist giving us "decent" accumulating snow. Im just wondering what would have to occur. Thanks

Posted by: CfromVA | February 13, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I can attest to the horrible road conditions yesterday into today. Drove from DC to Charlottesville via Rte. 29 yesterday leaving at 3pm and arriving back at 2 am. So many accidents out there, tons of freezing rain covering all of my car and I fishtailed multiple times on 66. Definitely would have not made the trip had I known the roads would be so sketchy.

Posted by: Tronic | February 13, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

My sister just called me- she is without power in Louden.

Posted by: Snowlover2! | February 13, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

MCLEAN HIGH SCHOOL WITHOUT POWER, CLOSED FOR THE DAY. I'm typing this from home thanks to Dominion Electric and the ice storm. This is almost as good as a real cancellation!

Posted by: mcleaNed | February 13, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for very interesting article. btw. I really enjoyed reading all of your posts. It's interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else's point of view... makes you think more.
So please keep up the great work. Greetings.

Posted by: Natural Male Enhancement | March 7, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

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