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Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 02/12/2009

Forecast: Fierce Winds Bring About Cooling Trend

By Josh Larson

Some power outages; light wintry mix possible Saturday

High Wind Warning until midnight for Montgomery, Loudoun, Frederick and Howard counties and Blue Ridge; Wind Advisory elsewhere (map)

* Warmer Winters Shift Birds | Darwin and the Weather *


Today: Sunny & very windy with gusts to 60 mph possible. Upper 50s. | Tonight: Windy. Mid-30s. | Tomorrow: Sunny & breezy. Low 50s. | Tomorrow Night: Mostly clear. Low 30s. | A Look Ahead


With highs over 70 yesterday, winds gusting at times to near 60 mph today, and a wintry mix possible this weekend, the weather certainly cannot be called boring! The major story today is very high -- potentially damaging -- winds, with temperatures dropping back some. Winds die down somewhat on Friday (though it'll still be breezy) as highs cool to the low 50s. And the weekend? Not short of excitement, either. The cooling trend continues with the potential for rain and/or snow on Saturday, and more wintry excitement is possible by the middle of next week. Hold onto your hats!

A mild evening in Washington yesterday, taken at Union Station. By Capital Weather Gang photographer Kevin Ambrose.

Today (Thursday): Though you'll no doubt notice the mostly sunny skies and somewhat cooler temperatures -- highs in the upper 50s -- the big story is very windy conditions as a result of a strong jet stream almost directly overhead. This will allow for sustained northwesterly winds of 25-35 mph through much of the day, with occasional gusts near 60 mph not out of the question; no doubt we'll have lots of sticks and branches (hopefully not trees!) on the ground by day's end. Confidence: High

Tonight: If you're hoping for winds to die down tonight, you're going to be disappointed. Though they may not be quite as strong as during the day, we'll still probably see sustained winds at 15-25 mph with occasional gusts to over 40 mph, especially during the evening (rather than overnight hours). Clear skies will allow temperatures to drop into the mid 30s for overnight lows. Confidence: High

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

Tomorrow (Friday): Unfortunately, we still can't put the winds entirely to rest on Friday, though they won't be quite as strong (or potentially destructive) as today and tonight. We'll see mostly sunny skies again, with continued gusty northwesterly winds of 10-20 mph and occasional gusts over 25 mph. It will be a bit cooler, though, with afternoon highs in the low 50s. Confidence: High

Tomorrow Night: By Friday night, finally the winds become a non-issue. Expect clear skies if you decide to head out. Temperatures in the 40s during the evening hours will eventually drop to the low 30s by Saturday morning (upper 20s in the colder suburbs). Confidence: Medium-High


As we've been alluding to for a couple of days now, an area of low pressure will approach from the south and west on Saturday, fostering mostly cloudy skies and temperatures probably not making it out of the upper 30s. More important is the chance of some light precipitation, especially during the second half of the day. It appears there may be just barely enough cold air around that a mix of rain and wet snow is possible. Little or no accumulation is anticipated. Expect a drying trend Saturday night with overnight lows near 30. Confidence: Medium

Weak high pressure will build back into the area on Sunday, with dry conditions expected. Much of the day may be mostly cloudy, though there may be some peeks of sun at times. Afternoon highs will probably reach the low 40s in most areas. Confidence: Medium

Continued partly to mostly cloudy Sunday night, with overnight lows in the upper 20s in the northwest suburbs to near freezing downtown. We'll have to keep an eye on another disturbance passing to our south that, should it track a bit further north, might produce some light snow over the area Sunday night into early Monday. Confidence: Low-Medium

The outlook for the rest of Monday -- President's Day is for clearing skies, but with chilly (a bit cooler than normal) temperatures continuing. That probably means afternoon highs within a few degrees of 40 for the area. Monday night lows are likely to be in the 20s across the region. Confidence: Medium

There are some indications that colder than normal weather may continue into the mid and latter part of next week, with a possible storm system bringing the potential for some frozen precipitation to the area by Wednesday or Thursday.

Updated Feb. 12 at 4 p.m.

By Josh Larson  | February 12, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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what is the alphabet soup of models etc...saying now about a big snow next week? i understand it's all "potential" and "possibility" and so on, but how good is the best case (more snow) scenerio?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 12, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

A friend just forwarded this alert:

6:51 a.m.


What the heck is "FIRE WEATHER"?????

Posted by: gettingdizzy1 | February 12, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Best case scenario for snow this week: We get an unexpected 1-2 inches of snow this Sat (mainly on grassy areas), we get a solid 8-10 inches of snow from the potential mid-week storm, and finally we get a good dumping of ~20+ inches with the late week storm. Worst case scenario - the obvious.. but let's not go there, perhaps it's all about positive thinking ;)

Posted by: ZmanVA | February 12, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

@gettingdizzy: It apparently means conditions that are ripe for wildfires: high winds and dry air.

Posted by: spyderjerusalem | February 12, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

National Airport gusted to 46 mph last hour. Dulles to 36 mph. It always seems to be trash day when it's windy...

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 12, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Can someone please tell me how to housetrain/walk a two-month puppy in wind and then snow? I confess the spring weather has been a tease. I long for March. Just weeks away from dayling savings ...

Posted by: esmerelda123 | February 12, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

omg ZmanVA! there's potential for that much!? really?! i know i asked for "best case scenerio", but are you basing that on models and data etc...(or just hope, like me)?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 12, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

walter-in-fallchurch, unfortunately all on hope - but one can dream ;-)

Posted by: ZmanVA | February 12, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Or, dayLIGHT savings, of course.

Posted by: esmerelda123 | February 12, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse


Conditions are favorable for wild fires. Very low humiditys and high winds really dry things out. They issue red flag warnings quite a bit this time of year!

Posted by: clintonportis17 | February 12, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

DOH! you had me for a second there...i was already imagining walking through 30" of snow...

best case scenerio for next week?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 12, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

so windy today in capitol hill...

Posted by: madisondc | February 12, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse


GFS is showing a terrible set up next week. ECM threaded the needle for us last night.

Posted by: clintonportis17 | February 12, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

while i appreciate, i choose to ignore clintonportis17's analysis.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 12, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse


Its the way looks right now :) were still a long ways out so.

Posted by: clintonportis17 | February 12, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Good news in one area. I found a discarded umbrella in very good shape on my way to the Giant this morning.

Otherwise, this continual scheme to cut back Metro service as early as 10 PM and on weekends poses a bigger threat to my weekend activity than any rain or other weather. I'm on a fixed income and cannot afford the high taxi fares around here.

These darned wind monsters are nastier than the rain events. They cause power [hence home heating] interruptions, and the last one resulted in two fatalities on New Years Eve. I hope it isn't global warming causing an extended spell of the normal March winds. Fortunately no one has been injured or killed yet, but there have been a number of power outages.

Next week's storm systems show some winter promise, but the prevalence of southeasterly flow in advance of the storms is arguing for mix or cold rain rather than for snow. We just aren't getting the "cold-air-in-place" high pressure systems we need for good snowstorms here. The blame probably lies with this extension of the La Nina ENSO pattern. It's also possible that variations in the tropical MJO are factoring into the situation.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 12, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

What are the record wind gusts for the D.C. area? I felt like a cartoon this morning, walking and walking but not feeling like I was going anywhere because of one particularly strong wind gust.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | February 12, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

am i correct to say we want a "weak el nino" for good snowstorms?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 12, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

UMDTerpsGirl -- I believe the highest wind gust ever recorded at Reagan National was 98 mph in 1954 (associated with Hurricane Hazel).

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | February 12, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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