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Posted at 9:50 AM ET, 01/12/2009

Forecast: Temperatures to Tumble Then Tank

By Jason Samenow

Will flakes fly?

* Microclimate Ice Storm | Later: InaugurationCast, & 2008 Local Records *


Today: Partly sunny. Near 40. | Tonight: Mostly clear. 22-27. | Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy. Slight chance of p.m. rain or snow. 35-40. | A Look Ahead


The cold coming this week will emerge in two waves. It will first make itself known Tuesday night and Wednesday to be followed by a more significant blast Thursday night and Friday. As the cold air descends upon us, snow chances are kind of iffy. Late Tuesday, temperatures may or may not be cold enough (yet) for snow and most of the action may miss us anyways -- to the northwest and/or east. On Thursday, it will be plenty cold enough, but moisture will be in short supply. Maybe the snow gods are angry?

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 (Monday): It should be the least eventful day of the week weatherwise. Seasonably cool high pressure gives partly to mostly sunny skies, with high temperatures around 40. Winds will be light, from the north at 5-10 mph. Confidence: High

Tonight: High pressure holds through much of the night, providing us with mostly clear skies although some high clouds will probably move in around dawn. Lows drop from the low 20s in the colder suburbs to the mid-to-upper 20s downtown. Confidence: High

Keep reading for the detailed forecast through the week.

Tomorrow (Tuesday): Clouds increase in the morning as one low-pressure area approaches from the west while a second develops to the southeast. Current indications are the first low will pass to our north and west, and the second low will pass to our east -- leaving us in the middle with just a slight chance (30%) of rain or snow, mainly in the afternoon and evening. However, both lows need to be watched closely, especially the one to the southeast. A slight shift to the west could result in more substantial precipitation. With temperatures well into the 30s Tuesday, we'll be near the rain/snow line again -- further complicating the forecast. Confidence: Low-Medium

Tomorrow Night: Let's call for a 20% chance of snow showers early, before gradually clearing overnight. It will become windy and very cold, with lows 17-21 (suburbs-city) with single digit wind chills. Confidence: Medium


Consider Wednesday as the first day of the cold spell. We'll have plenty of sunshine, but temperatures will most likely not rise above freezing. A breeze from the northwest at 10-20 mph will produce wind chills in the teens and 20s. The blanketing effect of some increasing clouds will probably prevent temperatures from really tanking Wednesday night, with lows from the high teens to the low 20s (suburbs to city). Confidence: Medium-High

A weak area of low pressure will swing through the area or just to our north Thursday, dragging an Arctic cold front through the region. The bulk of this system's limited moisture will probably end up to our north, but may come close enough to give us a few snow showers or flurries. It will be cold, with highs 27-31. Thursday night is when temperatures really plummet, likely dropping down to the high single digits in the colder suburbs to the low-to-mid teens downtown. Wind chills will very likely drop below zero, with strong winds from the northwest. Confidence: Medium

Friday has the potential to be the coldest day we've had in some time, with highs struggling to reach 20. And a biting wind from the northwest will probably make it feel like the single digits even in the heart of the afternoon with the sun shining. Winds probably calm down Friday night, but temperatures may drop like a rock, with lows from the single digits to around 10 downtown. Confidence: Medium

The Arctic air mass will probably lose some of its bite over Inauguration weekend, but it will still probably be really cold. Both days should be dry with highs in the 20s Saturday and 30s Sunday. Overnight lows will probably drop into the teens. Confidence: Medium

By Jason Samenow  | January 12, 2009; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: InaugurationCast: Will Cold Stay or Will it Go?


It's not the snow gods. It's us and our global warming. Since moving here from CA in 2000 we've watched the snow line creep north. For many years our family in Williamsburg had more school snow days than we did - mostly due to ice. They haven't had a school snow day in years now and haven't seen snow in many more years. Our first few years in Fairfax County we had a little bit of snow every Christmas for three years in a row. Now our first major snow, if we get one, is mostly ice or sleet. For heavens sake, our bushes and trees were budding on December 31, not even January. There is definitely something up with the weather and it's not snow gods. :(

Posted by: angua1 | January 12, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

Took a little peek at the long range and the prospects for a significant snow are not looking promising. After this cold spell we will see a significant warm-up with........RAIN! Bring on Spring! I have had it with wishcasting.

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | January 12, 2009 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Current temperature in Burke: 30.6 with a few clouds in the sky

I see there's a chance of snow on Thursday.

Posted by: Yellowboy | January 12, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

For the last time, it is NOT global warming.

On a side note, the Capital Weather Gang is the best thing that ever happened to weather forecasting in DC. You guys rock.

Posted by: runningrat11 | January 12, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks runningrat11! ... But don't tell us -- tell your friends! :) ... just send them to (ok, you can tell us too).

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | January 12, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I think I'm giving up hope on seeing some snow this winter. I'm ready for summer. At least then we'll see some thunder storms.

Posted by: Havoc737 | January 12, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Instead of global warming could it be that in that time period this area saw ridiculous growth and construction? I don't know the details about weather patterns, I just dabble and whine about the lack of snow ;-) but developed areas tend to get less snow then the not developed areas with the same weather conditions- because the temps stay higher near the ground. This area has become more and more developed.

Posted by: kallieh | January 12, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad I got to see snow briefly on Thursday here in Manassas, and then on my drive through PA...otherwise, I think this might be a snowless winter. Booooooo.

Whomever pissed the snow gods off, please apologize. NOW.


Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | January 12, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

We still have February-it's DC's snowiest month on avg.

Posted by: jws3 | January 12, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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