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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 01/31/2009

Forecast: From Cold to Mild to ... ???

By Jason Samenow

Early week storm a big wild card

* Grading Our Inauguration Forecast | Misguided Medal for Hansen *

Snow Lover's Crystal Ball


Today: Mostly sunny and cold. Low-to-mid-30s. | Tonight: Partly cloudy. 24-28. | Tomorrow: Partly sunny and milder. 48-52 | A Look Ahead


The forecast through the weekend is pretty clear cut. It will be rather chilly today and relatively mild tomorrow, with no precipitation. But the forecast for Monday into Tuesday is anything but a slam dunk as the storm which once looked like a sure bet is now an iffy proposition.

Temperatures: Current area temperatures. Powered by Weather Bonk. Map by Google. Hover over and click icons for more info. Click and hold on map to pan. Refresh page to update. See map bigger on our Weather Wall.

Today (Saturday): Cold high pressure will settle into the area. As Camden said yesterday, with all the sunshine it will look warmer than it actually is outside, as highs struggle into the mid-30s. Wind won't be much of a factor -- blowing out of the west at 5-10 mph. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Everyone will dip below freezing, but a wind from the south will prevent temperatures from descending too far through the 20s. Lows should range from the upper 20s downtown to the low-to-mid 20s in the suburbs. Confidence: Medium-High

Keep reading for the forecast into early next week.

Tomorrow (Sunday): As high pressure moves offshore, winds from the southwest will give temperatures a big boost compared to previous days. Temperatures will make a run at 50 -- with 55 a possibility in spots to the south like Fredericksburg and Charlottesville. Some high clouds may increase, but no precipitation is expected. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: Partly cloudy skies and continuing breezes from the south will hold low temperatures just above freezing in the District and close-in suburbs. The normally colder spots outside the beltway should dip down to around 30. Confidence: Medium-High


Partial sunshine Monday morning will likely give way to increasing clouds during the afternoon. Highs should be in the mid-40s. By evening, there's a 40% chance of rain or snow showers as a cold front pushes through the region. Snow and/or rain may increase in coverage and intensity if an area of low pressure along this front well to our south redevelops and tracks close enough to the region. Some of the latest information suggests the storm may develop and stay too far out to sea to be a major weather-maker for our area but details remain very fuzzy and accumulating snow (or rain, for that matter) cannot yet be ruled out. Monday night lows should be near 30. Confidence: Low-Medium

Tuesday looks to be mostly cloudy and windy, with a 40% chance of snow or rain as the potential storm moves northeast. Highs will probably be in the 30s. Confidence: Low-Medium

An updated Snow Lover's Crystal Ball will be issued mid-day for the Monday-Tuesday storm if we determine there remains a legitimate possibility of accumulating snow.

By Jason Samenow  | January 31, 2009; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: A Few Snow Showers, Then Cold
Next: Possible Early Week Storm Still Bears Watching


Wow - the weather models are almost pointless more than a couple of days out! First this thing is way too far west for snow then on the "perfect" track and now way too far east!?! Hopefully the damn thing shifts back to the west a bit!

Posted by: snowlover | January 31, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

It looks like the 06Z GFS has shifted about 50 miles or so back to the west with a fairly sizable area of precip in northern/central VA. However, it seems that forecasters put more credence in the 12Z and 00Z runs than the 06 or 18, so when the 12Z comes out in another 4 hours or so, we'll see whether the GFS is on to something or just doing the usual pre-storm model ballet.

Posted by: Pianokey | January 31, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

im confused... r the model predicting the storm will go to far east for alot of precip or are they predicting it will go to far west for mostly rain?

Posted by: samdman95 | January 31, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse


Henry sees it like you. It be acomin' west now. We still in the game here...!

Sandman, welcome to the club. Confusion with this storm has predominatd for some time.

Posted by: gdennie | January 31, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse


Too far east...

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for that uplifting link! Can Henry be our guy right now? I so want him to be right on target---even if he has a bit of a bad rep...

Posted by: lilymama | January 31, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse


Henry's pretty flakey, but I grab onto anything I can. 12z NAM is beginning to be encouraging as well, but I believe die will be cast withnext Euro run.

Someone over here gave us a 20% chance of a big event. That's probably no too far off...

Posted by: gdennie | January 31, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

if it goes too far east does that mean snow?

Posted by: hoyafan516 | January 31, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Well now that I see west means snow, east means no!. ANy chance of the storm shifting back west? And how far east are you talking? Like WV or like Cumberland, MD?

Posted by: hoyafan516 | January 31, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Well too far WEST means we get more rain right? Too far east means it misses us? It needs to be juuuuusssstttt right... like that story with the bears.

Posted by: PoorTeacher | January 31, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

hoyafan: Lows rotate counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere. We snowlovers want it to be to the east of us since the storm will pull in cold air from the north. Conversely, if it goes west of us (like the storm earlier this week), it pulls in warm air from the south and gives us rain. A fine balance must be established, since we won't get anything if it goes too far in either direction.

Right now, the GFS looks interesting. The NAM on the other hand is kind of sucky. Such model disagreement means it will be difficult to forecast this storm. Hopefully a consensus will start to be reached by late Sunday.

Posted by: JTF- | January 31, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

ok. SO there's a chance of a shift bringing snow? But what are the odds of that?

Posted by: hoyafan516 | January 31, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: gdennie | January 31, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

This is the first winter in the past three that I have deliberately stayed away from Henry Margusity. I LOVE his wishcasting, and he always says exactly what I want to hear, but in the end it's always heartbreak. I much prefer the commonsense approach of the CWG, and the fact that they leave the wishcasting to us. Sure, they may rain on our parade with their reality checks, but I prefer to be disappointed with the truth than to have my hopes dashed by hype.

Having said that: BRING ON THE SNOW!!!

Posted by: chrissie413 | January 31, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

The runs I see this morning show a storm that's not that tightly wound up. This is in contrast to the models which have been showing a VERY NASTY STORM [but unfortunately, mainly rain for us!] all this week.

It's rather strange that we can get a model shift of such magnitude...from extremely tightly-wound up "monster" passing almost right over us to "ordinary" coastal storm too far out to sea...within 3 or 4 days! I smell something a bit "fishy" in the model runs. Is it possible that perhaps one or two of the weather "weenies" over at Eastern U.S. Weather Portal "commandeered" one or more of the models for a while??? [If so, they could have set up a perfect system for D.C. and not a "rain monster". Maybe it was someone up in Philly or New York...this sounds like typical behavior for Giants or Eagles fans...]

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 31, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The "Mount Redoubt theory" also piques my curiosity. Maybe I ought to check on my volcanic alert web site for clarification.

Usually active volcanoes tend to favor a colder, snowier situation than would otherwise be the case, due to the cooling effect of upper-atmosphere ash. However, this effect is more pronounced with volcanoes in tropical latitudes.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 31, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The 12Z GFS and NAM runs are both showing the low too far east and moving too fast to be a major snowmaker for DC. It seems unlikely now that the storm will track too far west and bring DC only rain/mix. The two remaining options now are, will it stay too far east, as it is currently modeled, and bring us a minor snow event (

Posted by: bdeco | January 31, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Ok, I caved. I went and checked out Margusity's theory on the model changes. It sounds great, but does it hold any water (or snow)?

Posted by: chrissie413 | January 31, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

less than 4") or pull in closer to the coast and bring us something more moderate (6" - 10").

Posted by: bdeco | January 31, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Hate to say it. . .but there's no joy in Snowville. At least for now.

Posted by: Pianokey | January 31, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Maybe NOAA should request some "bailout" $$$ to upgrade their computers for more accurate model runs.

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | January 31, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse


Now THAT would be change that we all could believe in!

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I still like DC's location in relation to the modeled storm tracks given that we are still 72 hours away from the storm. I've seen enough situations where we were in the snow bullseye 72 hours away and we ended up with rain or a mix as the storm trended west of forecast. Of course, it could still trend more east, giving us nothing, but I'd rather have nothing than another cold rain storm.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand how it is that computer chips and storage have fallen through the floor in terms of cost, but ability to forecast the weather has not changed in 20 years.

Posted by: blasmaic | January 31, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

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