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Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 12/17/2008

Forecast: Weather Calms Down, But Not for Long

By Dan Stillman

Watching the weekend for next wintry threat

* Later: Snow Lover's Crystal Ball and Weather Gifts *


Today: Stray shower or sprinkle. Mostly cloudy. Mid 40s to near 50. | Tonight: Partly cloudy. Mid 30s. | Tomorrow: Partly sunny. Mid-to-upper 40s. | A Look Ahead


It's only Wednesday and already this week we've seen mid-to-upper 60s (Monday) and low 30s with a non-accumulating wintry mx in the north and west suburbs (last night). The weather calms down today and tomorrow. But Friday brings the next chance for rain, and could the weekend bring the season's first wintry storm of significance for the metro area?

Radar: Latest D.C. area radar loop shows movement of precipitation over past two hours. Powered by HAMweather. Refresh page to update. Click here to see radar bigger. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

Today (Wednesday): Any leftover showers should quickly taper during the morning, though an isolated shower or sprinkle can't be ruled out for the rest of the day. Highs will reach the mid 40s to near 50, and mostly cloudy skies may brighten a bit in the afternoon. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: A lot quieter than last night. Partly cloudy with lows generally in the mid 30s. Confidence: Medium-High

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend...

Tomorrow (Thursday): Phew!... High pressure gives us another calm weather day to get ready for the next round of activity. Partly sunny skies should help highs reach the mid 40s, with upper 40s in reach should skies go mostly sunny for a time. Clouds could be on the increase again late in the day. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: Becoming partly to mostly cloudy with a chance of showers overnight as our next storm system approaches from the west. Lows in the 30s. Confidence: Medium


A storm coming from the west threatens rain on Friday, but there's a chance that much of the precipitation misses us to the north. Highs in the 50s. Confidence: Low

Whether or not we get any rain out of Friday's storm, breezes from the north behind the storm will leave us much colder on Saturday -- highs in the upper 30s to mid 40s. Confidence: Medium-High

The early read on Sunday is that it may be the best chance yet this season for impactful wintry precipitation in the metro area. The situation is a storm approaching from the west running into cold air over the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The usual questions -- what kind of precipitation and will the cold air stay in place -- are far from being answered. But this is one to watch. Confidence: Low

By Dan Stillman  | December 17, 2008; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Storm Has Eyes on Washington for Weekend


(Warning: this may be the longest run-on sentence ever)

This is probably the winter weather cynic coming out in me, and I'm nowhere NEAR a trained meteorologist, and I haven't seen any models, but judging by past experiences we've had, I will venture this guess:

-SLCB will say slight chance, don't get hopes up as it's still far out (as would be expected so far out)
-Friday/Saturday rolls around, forecast goes to rain east of a North/South line through Manassas, snow west of it.
-Sunday rolls around, snow hits mountains and nobody else...we get a nice rain shower to clean off everyone's Lawn Santas.

Sorry for cynicism. I don't feel well right now and I just don't feel like getting hopes up. Please, someone, prove me wrong!

With the way things are looking, this winter is my last realistic chance to see snow for a VERY long time. So trust me, I want it as much as you guys.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | December 17, 2008 6:26 AM | Report abuse

And the long-range models will predict half a dozen big snows 96 hours out, but every one of them will either turn into a "mixed bag" with no accumulating snow inside the beltway or a Miller-B with several inches in the mountains but just flurries in DC. And come March, people will be saying "this just isn't a Mid-Atlantic winter, wait till next year". Lather, rinse, repeat until 2100.

Posted by: HenryFPotter | December 17, 2008 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and we'll get no arctic air to speak of, for the fifth year running.

Posted by: HenryFPotter | December 17, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Okay naysayers, could your comments be construed as another way of saying "good morning"? Like we need more doom and gloom about the snow (or apparent lack thereof)... So lets focus on the upcoming spring storm season for a moment. CWG recommended a weather radio to me last year and I lost the link. Since weather gifts are mentioned above, would you mind re-posting what kind and features might be best for a warning type radio for tornados/severe storms?

Posted by: manassasmissy | December 17, 2008 7:24 AM | Report abuse

I am no meteorologist, but I do see the cold air damming (CAD) for Sunday's storm. If my memory serves me correctly, last December's storm that caught us off guard was due to the meteorolgists underaccounting for the CAD.

I am also very intrigued by the GFS 12/24 storm. It looks promising to me for a little of the white stuff on X-mas. I know it is wishful thinking at this point. Any professional comments?

Posted by: jb41477 | December 17, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

As always more than 5 days out, I'm reserving my hope for snow this weekend until we get a bit closer in. However, the cold air that the GFS is predicting for Sunday and into next week is impressive. Below freezing all the way through South Carolina and off the coast would make it difficult for any storm to displace. I was surprised that the NWS was still holding onto their mid-40's forecast for Sunday as late as yesterday, but see it has now turned the corner as well.

The pattern still isn't quite right for us to get our best storms, but I would take 34 and rain (with snow west of town) than 38 and rain with snow in mid-Pennsylvania somewhere).

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse


Not sure cold air will penetrate that far south... it's a much more marginal situation. Still, a good shot for some frozen precip here b4 any changeover.


Too early to say anything about definitive on the Christmas storm. The models (GFS and ECMWF) would suggest a mostly rain scenario given the track of the low, and as has been the case most of the season, the overall pattern doesn't look ideal for a snowstorm. But lots of time for details to evolve.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

NWS is predicting Rain and 31 as a HIGH for Sunday. Strange...

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | December 17, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

@CapitalWeather gang
Very correct on the temperatures. I was still looking at information from previous days. It looks like the bone chilling southern cold won't be making an appearance until Monday and Tuesday now, not Sunday.

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure what the rest of December will bring temperature and precip.-wise, but it has not been as cold and stormy as predicted, it seems to me. And now folks on the Eastern Weather forecast blog are saying Jan./Feb. could be warmer than first forecast. They are saying this winter could turn out to be anamolous to I believe the winter of 2002-2003, which was predicted to be very cold but turned out the opposite. Here's to another warm winter!

Posted by: steske | December 17, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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