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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 01/14/2009

Forecast: Diving Into Deep Freeze

By Dan Stillman

Cold blast settles in today; near-record cold Friday

* Inauguration Forecast: Much Like Today? | Stop the Scaremongering *


Today: Morning wind chills in the teens. Then decreasing winds. Low 30s. | Tonight: Mostly cloudy. Snow shower/flurry? 20-25. | Tomorrow: Windy. Upper 20s to near 30. | A Look Ahead


As my Canadian-born wife puts it, our friends to the north "rejoice" when daytime highs climb to near freezing, as they will here today. Somehow I bet Washingtonians don't quite feel the same. Though we might once even more frigid temperatures invade the area by Friday -- we're talking near-record cold with Friday highs struggling to reach 20 and some spots seeing single digits for lows Thursday night and Friday night.

Today (Wednesday): I guess we could use the word "invigorating" to put a positive spin on morning wind chills in the teens and daytime highs only briefly touching the low 30s. Fortunately, winds should relent by late morning as a.m. sun is replaced by increasing p.m. clouds. Confidence: High

Tonight: A weak clipper -- yes, one of those quick-moving systems out of Canada -- will bring mostly cloudy skies and could trigger a few show showers or flurries (no accumulation). Lows in the mid 20s downtown, low 20s in the burbs. Confidence: Medium

Keep reading for the frosty forecast through Inauguration weekend...

Tomorrow (Thursday): Winds pick up again out of the northwest, gusting to 20-30 mph during the day. That'll make highs in the upper 20s to near 30 feel closer to 20. Partly sunny skies will do little to take the edge off the cold. Also, can't rule out a few flurries. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: Less windy, but brutally cold with lows in the teens, probably some single digits in the colder outlying suburbs. Confidence: High


The lowest high temperature on record for Jan. 16 is 15 degrees (set in 1893). I think we'll surpass that mark this Jan. 16 -- Friday -- but not by much. With highs only in the upper teens to low 20s, you'll want to spend as little time outdoors as possible. Friday night, lows dive to the upper single digits to low teens. Yowsers! Confidence: Medium-High

Temperatures rebound only slightly on Saturday with highs in the 20s -- generally speaking, for any given location it should be a few degrees warmer than Friday. A flurry or snow shower is possible late in the day or Saturday night, when lows should bottom in the mid teens to near 20. Confidence: Medium-High

We continue cold on Sunday. But highs in the 30s will be more reasonable than the previous two days. A flurry or snow shower remain possible. And a period of light snow is not out of the question Sunday or Sunday night if a coastal storm develops closer and stronger than currently expected. Another chilly one for Sunday night as lows could drop to the upper teens to mid 20s. Confidence: Medium

While we still need to keep an eye on a couple of potential storm systems, as of now precipitation chances look fairly low for Monday and Tuesday with highs in the upper 20s to mid 30s. What happened to the 40s? Confidence: Medium

By Dan Stillman  | January 14, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Inauguration Forecast: Cold in the Cards


14 degrees at 8 am. Snow fell overnight 25 miles to my west. Schools two hrs. late in Highland Co.

The "real deal" arctic express tomorrow - Sat. Temps may fall to zero in some areas.
Some light snow or flurries at times Sat. night through Tue. with temps. remaining below normal.

A brief thaw late next week followed by more COLD.

Posted by: AugustaJim | January 14, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Check on the elderly and your pets during this cold snap. I just talked to a friend in Chicago. Be glad you are not there now.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | January 14, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Once again we see snow on the national radar heading toward DC, but once again we know it will curve to our north and west, giving us a chance for a glancing snow shower, at best. Just once this season I'd love to see an unexpected twist to one of these storms giving us a surprise snow of a few inches. We'll probably have to wait a while on that one...

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | January 14, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I do remember that happening more than once. The most recent episode was about 5 - 7 years ago when a cold front spun off a low and gave us an unexpected six inches in a very short time. Anyone remember that?

Posted by: MKadyman | January 14, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

MKadyman, I remember one instance, probably in Jan 2000, or perhaps in 2001. I was standing in my kitchen and Fox's Sue Palka came on the 10pm weather and said "folks, this is an unexpected and BIG deal!!" No one had forecast snow, but her doppler was showing lots of moisture moving pretty much due north from Richmond. Caught us by surprise, and I believe we got a snow day the next morning.

Posted by: KEBV | January 14, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

It seems its always "surprise! no snow again!", but NEVER "surprise, we're getting snow!!!" I'd like a big snow ambush.

Posted by: manassasmissy | January 14, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

This weather is cold compared to what we are used to lately, but in DC at least it will not even be zone defining. DC and a lot of the surrounding area are in USDA gardening zone 7, meaning temps should fall on average every year to between 0-5F. So cold yes, but not even down to where it should go every winter.

Posted by: steske | January 14, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday evening there were snow flurries in Manassas Gap. I'll be interested if the next snow showers provide any accumulation.

I went on a ski trip to NH last weekend so did get to enjoy some snow this season (about 8 inches on Sunday morning). It was 0F at Bretton Woods on the slopes and -5F at night so it was good training for the cold spell we're about to get here.

Posted by: spgass1 | January 14, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse


You are probably remembering the Surprise Snowstorm of Jan 25-25th 2000.

But, it need not have been a surprise. For the non geeky side of this see slides 30-40 at:

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | January 14, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

(Late rainfall totals...West Springfield/Accotink Lake/Mixing Bowl)

Last week's earlier storm total - 1.93"
Last week's smaller later storm - 0.14"

Just got busy.

Posted by: bikerjohn | January 14, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

this weather forecast does not look good for my pedicabing through the weekend and inauguration day.

Posted by: bjaurelio | January 14, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

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