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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 01/29/2009

Forecast: The Calm After The Storm?

By Josh Larson

Chilly & dry weather expected through Monday

Use caution walking and driving this morning | Closings/delays

Big storm early next week? See our look ahead.

* Later: Freedman on NASA's James Hansen and his big award *

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Mostly sunny. Upper 30s. | Tonight: Clear. 25-30. | Tomorrow: Partly sunny; flurry? Near 40. | Tomorrow Night: Cold & blustery. Near 20. | A Look Ahead

FORECAST IN DETAIL

After the past 48 hours' weather excitement, conditions over the next several days may seem downright boring (a relief?) to some. I don't expect anything in the way of noteworthy precipitation through at least the first part of Monday (though there's a slight chance of a stray flurry -- no accumulation! -- tomorrow). Also, temperatures will remain on the cold side, especially today through Saturday. They'll moderate a bit on Sunday and Monday, but likely still stay under 50 for highs.

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 (Thursday): Please exercise extreme caution this morning when walking or driving, as any lingering moisture on surfaces from last night will likely have frozen overnight. Good news, though, is that the sun will be out in full force today as high pressure briefly builds into the area, so slick surfaces should gradually start melting as the day wears on. Temperatures, however, will still remain below normal -- mostly in the upper 30s for highs. Confidence: High

Tonight: Mostly clear skies tonight, with overnight lows dropping to the mid-20s (perhaps some isolated lower 20s) across the suburbs to the upper 20s downtown. Confidence: High

Keep reading for the forecast through the beginning of next week.


Great sledding weather in Oakton yesterday. By Capital Weather Gang photographer Kevin Ambrose.

Tomorrow (Friday): A cold front will scoot through the area tomorrow, bringing with it mostly cloudy skies and northwesterly winds around 10 mph at times. While a few flurries cannot be ruled out, especially west of D.C., most of the area will probably remain flake-free, and accumulation? Not gonna happen! High temperatures will struggle to hit 40 degrees. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: We'll have partly cloudy skies Friday night, but the big story will be the cold temperatures and blustery northwesterly winds 10-15 mph at times. Overnight lows will settle into the upper teens across the coolest suburbs to the low 20s downtown -- with wind chills lower than that. Bundle up if you're heading out! Confidence: High

A LOOK AHEAD

Cold is most definitely the name of the game on Saturday; a good day to stay inside and snuggle up with a book, I'd say. Despite ample sunshine, highs will really struggle to make it above freezing. Clear and cold once again Saturday night, with overnight lows ranging from 20-25. Confidence: High

Flow from the southwest on Sunday will push temperatures to noticeably higher levels -- though still only "average" for this time of year. I'd plan on plenty of sun and afternoon highs in the mid-40s; some upper 40s, especially south of D.C., are certainly possible. Clear and seasonably cool on Sunday night, with overnight lows dropping into the upper 20s. Confidence: Medium-High

The forecast for back-to-work Monday is a bit less clear. Generally, look for increasing clouds and highs in the low 40s. However, we'll have to keep an eye on a major developing storm system to our southwest which may push precipitation into the area during the second half of the day.

AccuWeather is already hyping this potential early-week storm, and we agree it bears watching since there's strong consensus among forecast models that this storm will form and become quite powerful. But there are strong indicators cold air will be somewhere between very marginal and lacking for our area (nearby mountains may be a different story) -- so significant snowfall (here) appears to be a long shot at this point. Having said that, it's too early to speculate about exactly what the dominant precipitation type will be and to rule anything out, so we'll keep you posted as new information comes in. Confidence: Low-Medium

By Josh Larson  | January 29, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Science Group Erred Giving Hansen Top Honor

Comments

Hopefully the temps can rise and melt off some of the ice quickly this morning. 2 hours should be enough for the crews to treat IMO. However, that said my street is awful this morning.

I don't remember the last time MoCo upgraded from a delay...usually once it's a delay it's set.

Posted by: Kmlwx | January 29, 2009 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Sidewalks around here are covered THICK in ice and the side roads have a sizable amount of black ice on them. I'm almost afraid to walk to my bus stop, haha. I'm going to see if I can make a few calls and use my massive amount of political capital to get these sidewalks sanded and salted like they should have been yesterday.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 29, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Latest Sterling AFD appeared to side with the GFS on next Monday/Tuesday storm system, which would favor more cold and snow. Probably start as rain because Monday is forecast to be relatively mild (mid 40s) but changing over to snow Monday night as upper trough and NW flow moves in and all snow Tuesday. How much--way too soon to tell but this one could be more significant event than Tues/yesterday's system.

Posted by: Pianokey | January 29, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

***We finallt have the chance at a "REAL" storm and I have a four day business trip to New York next week. My poor kids will never be able to see their dad go absolutely nuts during a blizzard.***

SNOWFLAKE (RAINMAN) GREG

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | January 29, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Weatherdude instead of sitting on your rear end all day you could have been out chopping the ice of some of the sidewalks. You and that Hoyfan are the biggest crybabies on this site.

Posted by: MKadyman | January 29, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

It's only gonna snow because RAINMAN GREG is leaving. Tony Perkins mentioned the storm this morning and said "the weather blogs are going wild over it." I wonder if he reads the comments here? Oh, uh, hi Mr. Perkins!

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 29, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

MKadyman: Why thank you -- but I didn't comment a thousand times about how icy it is. I just made one comment on how icy it is and how people should take care of their sidewalks like responsible property owners. And you know, you're kind of being a crybaby about others being crybabies, so stop. And you brought up a good idea, actually. So, since I have neither the equipment nor the means, would you so kindly buy me the shovel to chop the ice with and bring it to me, please? Or you could do a wonderful community service and come and chop up the ice for me and the rest of the students that walk the same route. (Sorry CWG for responding to that and for the triple post this morning)

Tying this comment to a relevant topic, Margusity said that this storm of this magnitude would "reset the pattern." What exactly does that mean?

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 29, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Temps are looking way too warm for the "storm" next week. Margusity is a good guy, but some of the things he says are inexplainable and very, very bullish.

Posted by: wecndo | January 29, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

noaa says 70% chance of snow monday nite. how is that even possible so far in advance??

Posted by: samdman95 | January 29, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Okay I have one question. If the storm develops the way the computer models are indicating and takes a "near perfect" track to bring in the cold air from the North, is the cold air strong enough to support an all or mostly snow event? Answer from anyone is welcome. Thanks!

Posted by: snowlover | January 29, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

i'm excited about the possibility of a snow next week. i was looking at http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?w0=t&w1=td&w2=wc&w3=sfcwind&w4=sky&w5=pop&w6=rh&w7=thunder&w8=rain&w9=snow&w10=fzg&w11=sleet&AheadHour=48&FcstType=graphical&textField1=38.89500&textField2=-77.03730&site=all&unit=0&AheadDay.x=49&AheadDay.y=10
and saw that the temperature was higher than the dew point for the entire time. how can that be? i'm sure it's more complicated than this, but i thought precip happens when the temp goes below the dew point.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Cautiously optomistic about the *potential* big snow... maybe if I say *potential* enough it will actually happen? ;)
We've been so overdue for a big one...

Posted by: MKoehl | January 29, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

OK, I leave town Wednesday night, so I'm putting my order in early. Huge, 2 day, over the top blizzard with all the sides to be delivered sometime Monday. Airports need to be cleared and ready to go by Wednesday.
Thank you.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 29, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

The sun is out! I am excited. Anyone else happy to see the melting underway??

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

@walter-in-fallschurch
The temperature is always (with small error bars) higher than the dew point. When the temp falls and/or the dew point rises to about the same value, water vapor condenses to form water droplets that leads to clouds, fog, and possibly rain or drizzle


@samdman95

See my comments in yesterdays PM updates about snow possibilities. 70% is higher than I envisioned then, but I've not yet caught up with the latest model runs. I trust the odds have justifiably gone up (more confidence) if NOAA is moving in that direction. Stay tuned!!

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

@camden:
i'm excited about the "melting" - but for entirely different reasons than you are. i need above freezing temps to make a snow sculpture, then i'd like it to go back below freezing once i'm done. this snow, with the crust of ice will be extremely difficult to work with, but we'll see... any ideas on when this afternoon/evening the temps will go back below freezing?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I'm only happy to see it melting if it will be replaced by about 1-2 feet in a few days. :)

However, I AM happy to see that, in the battle of good vs. evil, Snowflake Greg has destroyed his evil twin Rainman Greg! That must bode well for next week...... right?

Posted by: JTF- | January 29, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

@steveT:
i guess i knew temps don't go below the dew point because once those lines intersect (approximately) precip begins.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

So I decided to take the bus to work instead of driving today just in case the roads were icy. Turns out my commute would have been far less slippery if I had driven!

The bus commute includes a 1/4 mile walk from the nearest bus stop to my place of work. All the roads on the way were perfectly dry. The sidewalks, on the other hand, were sheets of ice. I had to walk on the (ice-covered) grass to keep from slipping.

I did so appreciate the homeowners who shoveled and salted/sanded their sidewalks. I waved and said thank you to every house with a shoveled walk. I hope someone saw me!

All in all though, putzing around on the ice was a fun and unusual way to start the same boring old work day, so I'm glad I didn't drive.

Posted by: LaurainNWDC | January 29, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Also, MKadyman, I feel the need to step in and defend weatherdude. He has been around here for as long as I can remember, and while he hopes for snow days like any kid would, he also contributes some of the best weather-related discussion we have in here. He's like Camden - he appreciates analysis but isn't afraid to add some color commentary here and there.

I don't know if you were expecting him to go out and chip his way through every sidewalk and street in his neighborhood last night, but what you said was unreasonable and snappy. Maybe you're having a bad day. But don't mess with weatherdude. He doesn't complain unless complaining is warranted (unlike many), and his voice is critical to the good discussion that goes on here.

Posted by: LaurainNWDC | January 29, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

CWG - Dudes, I need some help. Sure, I enjoy a snowstorm as much as the next guy but what is the deal with the Tuesday pattern that is going on? I don't get alot of leave at work and I need you all to email mother nature and try to get her to break these things down on the weekends. Or, if she is not willing to cooperate, have her forward me some vacation time.

Posted by: authorofpoetry | January 29, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I believe the current thinking is that the storm has a better chance of producing snow in the Ohio Valley while we get a lot of rain. However, there is an old saying that it's good NOT to be in the bullseye 5 days out because the storm track will change. There's no scientific basis for that, it's just that the models don't often nail storm tracks 5 days out. We still have some time to wait before the storm track is really certain.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@Camden

I for one am happy to see the sun out. Tried to take out the trash this morning and my back gate was stuck shut behind 4 inches of ice on the other side. And that trash is getting stinky....

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Btw, Kevin. Cutest dog in the picture ever

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

samdman95 -- you're right, a 70% chance of snow more than 4 days out would not be a prudent forecast. but i just checked a couple NOAA/NWS sources, and that's not what they said. They said a "chance of rain or snow" ... "chance of precipitation 70%"

On a general note for the potential upcoming storm. Despite what some of the models are showing, I don't buy that with a perfect track (just off the coast) that there wouldn't be enough cold air in available (even with no high pressure to the north) this time of year to give us significant snowfall. Of course the odds at getting a perfect track are always a longshot.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

The problem with next week's storm: There's no big Arctic high in Canada/New England to supply the cold air at the outset. Hence the charts tend to favor the type of 40-degree soaker that "Rainman Greg" loves but I DISLIKE...during the heavy Monday/Tuesday dance schedule, to make things worse! The only hope is for copious wraparound snow on the tail end. [This rarely happens down here on the I-95 corridor.]

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 29, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Bombo47jea

I agree but you truly would not need a artic high if the storm were to take the "perfact" track. IMO its unlikey to take that track but anything is possible. Right now this may be our once and 15 year storm and were on the wrong side of it! what a SHAME! I believe the GFS is putting out a 968mb storm! That would be a monster. There is also word out there that this storm may set up the Mid-atlantic down the road with a POTENTAIL mecs or secs. Time will tell. Where as AugustaJim been? Havent heard from him lately!

Posted by: clintonportis17 | January 29, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey Dan,
I see your point with putting the "pop" at 70% but LWX does have me at 70% chance of snow for the monday night portion (though Im sure it is in error)
VAZ030-292315-
WARREN-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...FRONT ROYAL
1027 AM EST THU JAN 29 2009
MONDAY NIGHT...SNOW LIKELY. LOWS IN THE UPPER 20S. CHANCE OF SNOW 70 PERCENT.

Posted by: MikefromtheBlueRIdge | January 29, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Should mention the above is from the "zone" forecast as opposed to the "point and click" variety.

Posted by: MikefromtheBlueRIdge | January 29, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

MikefromtheBlueRidge -- I assume that the poster I was responding to was claiming that NWS has the DC metro area as 70% chance of snow Monday night, whereas that's not true -- they have a 70% chance of precip (rain *or* snow) ... out your way, though, I can understand having the confidence to go 70% chance of snow at this point (though still seems like a high number).

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Gotcha, thanks Dan!

Posted by: MikefromtheBlueRIdge | January 29, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The NWS changed my forecast for Culpeper to now add rain and snow monday night/tuesday.

Posted by: clintonportis17 | January 29, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

any idea approx. what time temps will go below freezing this afternoon/evening?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon everyone!

Serious melting here in Lake Ridge. Wish it were this morning though, just what I didn't want to happen happened. Slipped four times and caught myself the first three times, but the fourth time I went face first into the sidewalk and hurt my hand. I'm a-okay now, but I was MAD as heck when it happened. Same spot is still icy, but I walked in the street this time to avoid it (whereas this morning that section of street was icy as well).

Everyone is buzzing about the possibility of snow next week -- most of whom already have their hopes sky high (poor snowlovers). Hopefully it'll be a nice snowfall and not a 33 degree rainstorm.

BTW - Thank you very much Laura -- definitely put a smile on my face. :^)

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | January 29, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

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