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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/28/2009

Forecast: Potential Winter Storm Sunday to Monday

By Jason Samenow

Turning colder, some light precipitation tonight

* Winter Storm Watch Sunday afternoon through Monday morning *

Moderate risk of significant snow accumulation Sunday night/Monday, but a near miss or mixed precipitation also possibe | See our Snow Lover's Crystal Ball for an in-depth look

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Cloudy and colder. Low 40s. | Tonight: Chance of light mixed precipitation. 30-33. | Tomorrow: Snow likely developing late. Mid-30s | A Look Ahead

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Current indicators suggest ingredients may come together for a significant winter storm Sunday afternoon through Monday morning. First, cold air gradually bleeds into the region today, with a light wintry mix of precipitation overnight. But the main event appears to be Sunday afternoon through early Monday morning, when the potential exists for the largest snow event of the winter (we've only had 2" total so far).

However, minor changes in the storm's track and/or intensity could make the difference between a high-impact snowstorm and another big disappointment for snow lovers.

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): The approach of the first in a series of two areas of low pressure will bring considerable cloud cover, but precipitation should hold off until tonight. As a wind from the north at 10-15 mph blows in cold air, temperatures will not rise much. Highs will likely be in the low 40s -- not much above morning lows. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: The first and likely weaker wave of low pressure will pass to our south and then our east. It should send up enough moisture to produce some precipitation but it will likely be light and spotty. The precip may begin as light rain, but with cold air continuing to funnel southward, should turn to light sleet and light snow after midnight. As the heaviest precipitation will pass to our east with this first wave, sleet and snow accumulation will probably be less than an inch. Lows will be around freezing. Confidence: Medium

Keep reading for the forecast into early next week.

Tomorrow (Sunday): A little light snow is possible in the morning as the first storms exits off to our northeast. A break in the action may occur from mid-morning to mid-afternoon when high temperatures reach the mid-30s. Then, during the mid-to-late afternoon, the more important second storm will be developing and approaching from the south. There's a 60% chance of snow, with a light accumulation possible by dark. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow Night: As the storm intensifies and charges up the coast, snow is likely (60% chance). Temperatures should drop into the low 20s with winds becoming gusty out of the north/northeast at 10-20 mph. Significant accumulations are possible although there may be a sharp cutoff to the snow either in or not far from the metro area. Confidence: Medium

IMPORTANT NOTE: As with most winter storm threats for this region, minor changes in the storm's evolution could result in major changes to the forecast. See our latest post for our current thinking on accumulation potential.

A LOOK AHEAD

Any lingering snow (40% chance) should gradually end by noon Monday, but it will be quite cold. Highs should only be 25-30, with winds from the north-northwest at 15-25 mph. Confidence: Medium

It looks to remain breezy and cold Tuesday, with highs near freezing. Confidence: Medium

Updated Feb. 28 @ 8 p.m.

By Jason Samenow  | February 28, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Sunday-Monday Storm: Significant Snow Possible

Comments

Hi Jason.

Interesting forecast for so late in the winter season. I can deal with one snowfall, then I will be ready for spring to arrive.

Posted by: david_in_stafford | February 28, 2009 5:14 AM | Report abuse

Jason,

Are you guys favoring one model over the others in your forecast or is it a blend?

I don't believe we have had one model outperform the others all winter long.

Jamie in Silver Spring

Posted by: Jamie66 | February 28, 2009 6:12 AM | Report abuse

Issued by The National Weather Service
Baltimore/Washington, MD
3:58 am EST, Sat., Feb. 28, 2009

... WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH MONDAY MORNING...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WATCH FOR SNOW... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH MONDAY MORNING.

LOW PRESSURE ALONG THE GULF COAST WILL MOVE EAST TONIGHT... EMERGING IN THE WESTERN ALTANTIC NEAR GEORGIA AND SOUTH CAROLINA BY SUNDAY MORNING. THE LOW WILL THEN STRENGTHEN AS IT MOVES NORTH ALONG THE COAST SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND NIGHT.

SOME COLD AIR WILL BE IN PLACE DUE TO PRECIPITATION TONIGHT. THE STORM WILL REINFORCE THAT COLD AIR. PLENTY OF MOISTURE WILL BE IN PLACE TOO. THEREFORE... THERE WILL BE THE POSSIBILITY OF 5 OR MORE INCHES OF SNOW.

A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT SNOW... SLEET... OR ICE ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | February 28, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Cap Wx -

Hearing that 6Z NAM & GFS trending east with the Sun storm.

A) Any truth to that?
B) How much stock do you guys put in off-cycle model runs?

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 28, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't happen too often, but both the Charlotte NC area (where I am right now) and DC face the possibility of a significant snowfall from the same system. Indian Land, SC is looking at 5+ inches from this system beginning Sunday PM. And stuff is starting to bloom down here: forsythia, quince, daffodils, Carolina jasmine, camellias - snow won't hurt them too much but the cold that follows probably will.

Posted by: Pianokey | February 28, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

ThinkSpring, the 12Z runs in a few hours and tonight's 0Z runs will be very important to define the forecast. The various weather guidance models are still not agreeing on how far west the precipitation occurs. The one thing that does seem likely is there will be a sharp western cutoff to the snowfall. Where that cutoff occurs is not certain now.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | February 28, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Having spent most of my life in NY State, I am accustomed to winter having one last hurrah: it seems there is always a big storm right before the springy weather finally settles in. Anyone who's lived down here for many years noticed that phenomenon? The big storm is usually in March in NY, but I'm wondering if this could be it here.

Posted by: christiansonm | February 28, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

The Today show just forecast 6-9 inches for us. YIKES~! I have a 7am flight out of Dulles Monday. Looks like 1: I am going to have to shovel to get there and 2: my flight might not be on time anyway. LOL.

Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | February 28, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

The Today Show forecast? You might as well ask your neighbor.

Posted by: MKadyman | February 28, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

To christiansonm:

There was the blizzard in March of 1993. And we've had dustings of snow as late as April. Late snows around here are not common, but not outside the realm of possibility either.

Posted by: zmrzlina_35 | February 28, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Now that I have checked in I am sure the storm will be a bust!

RAINMAN GREG

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | February 28, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

One additional comment - If this thing tracks east I am going to hop in my car and drive to see the snow!

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | February 28, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

i expected to check in here this morning and find you guys all talking about how the models are trending away from snow, it'll just miss us, it'll be too warm..blah blah blah. but it seems like you're NOT! is this thing still coming together?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 28, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

inside 24 hours and they are predicting snow that never happend in this winter , but i dont know these models has been incosistent this year >>> ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN !!!!!!!!

Posted by: redskinsfan01 | February 28, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know how much snow it takes to shut down metro?

Posted by: bhfairfax | February 28, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

While there is potential here, we have to keep the possibility of the storm missing wide right on the table. The NAM model has consistently shown a miss for us even as other models show a nice hit. For the model fans out there, last night I went with a blend of the GFS and Euro... If the GFS backs off at 12z (it did on the 6z), I would not get too excited if you like snow. There are some aspects of the set up here which look good, but this is not a textbook case.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 28, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Hi Jason:

I'm wondering why on virtually all CapitalWeatherGang posts, snow is universally regarded as something "great" that everyone is rooting for. Since I'm an emergency manager in the District and I'm from Florida, I root against all snowstorms! :-P If you throw in the fact that the majority of winter events here are not "pretty" snow events, but rather mixes of wet/slushy snow, ice, or refrozen melted snow .. it gets even more unappealing!

I bet that there are lots and lots of other people out there who don't mind if we go for years without a single winter precipitation event, and almost always root for snowstorms to miss us! On behalf of all of them, I'd like you to urge you all to consider your singificant anti-snow readership in the future when you put pen to paper :)

Best, Kevin K

Posted by: kevink3 | February 28, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

@kevink3

Really good point. We actually do try to keep this in mind and have had internal discussions about it. No matter, most people in the weather business really like snow (not to mention a lot of our long-time readers), so it's hard to keep that bias from shining through. But we will try harder. Thanks for your input.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 28, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

kevin, if i may, i know your comment was addressed to jason, but i'm one of those always "rooting for" snow.

i completely understand your distaste for forcasters "editorializing" about the weather. every OTHER weather report i listen to, read or watch treats snow like a bad thing. i get enough of "the BAD news is we may see snow tomorrow" or "the GOOD news is it will be 50 degrees after the storm so it will all melt" on tv. i think the weather people here like snow just because it's "interesting" weather, and so rare.

so, i guess it's not the editorializing i don't like, it's editorializing with opinions with which i disagree...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 28, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I think the news people have the storm downsides pretty well covered
"It will be a messy commute"
"If you need to travel--don't"
"Stock up on toilet paper and milk like everyone else"

Weather guys like interesting weather
News guys like interesting stories.

Pretty much everyone is covered between the two.

Posted by: ah___ | February 28, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know where a US map of total snowfall for winter 2008-2009 can be found? If this storm misses us to the south (as some models are showing), bringing a swath of snow from central Georgia through southeastern Virginia and Maryland, I am certain that such a map would show a snow void over the DC area, while all around us in every direction, higher totals would be found. It would be the perfect symbol for disappointed DC snow fans this winter.

Posted by: bdeco | February 28, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

On the News at 6:00pm Tonight and 11:00pm Guaranteed:

1) Lead story with a cool WINTER STORM graphic.

2) A News Person at at Salt Dome with trucks in the background loading salt.

3) You know it may be a big deal if Bob Ryan is on tonight. If he is sweating it will be an even bigger deal.

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | February 28, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

don't forget sue palka's panic-stricken expression as she warns of great calamity.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 28, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

The 12z GFS shifts WEST, increasing the Sunday night threat.

The NAM still says : NO WAY

Posted by: AugustaJim | February 28, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Some current temp/pressure figures:

Menomonie, WI: 0F, 30.50

Verkhoyansk, Siberia: -15F, 29.88

Yellowknife, NWT: -20F, 30.60.

Currently, Canada trumps Siberia both on temperature and pressure. Great cold air source!!!

So, what does this mean?

I suspect that this settles into a run-of-the-mill "winter weather advisory" setup, as so often happens when a winter storm WATCH is posted. Please remember: it's only a WATCH, not a warning. Even so, it's a Bonus Snow by my definition--unless it busts out altogether. [This could still happen if the models push it east! Let's hope it drifts back westward, but not too far westward. I don't want a WAA boring ol' cold RAIN MONSTER out of this one!]

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 28, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The NAM is the only outlier here - makes me feel like something is actually going to happen here. But I always ask - what does this look like in comparison to before past storms? That is to say - before other big storms, did the models all agree beforehand? I'm new to weather tech stuff - so I have nothing to compare this disappointing winter to --

Posted by: dotyt | February 28, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Note to kevink3:

The main reason we like snow around here is because of its potential to give folks extra days off [provided 8+ inches shut Metro].

If I were back home in Menomonie or Eau Claire, I'd probably be quite tired of the winter weather by now and pulling for the spring thunder. Up in Wisconsin and Minnesota, snow-free winters are a rare treat, very rare indeed. My brother in Rochester and sister in LaCrosse are tired of the snow by now

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 28, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Bombo -

The only problem is, the feds closing (8+ inches shutting down Metro) rarely happens. So, what you're left with is trying to get to work in less than ideal, and even dangerous conditions.

I'm with Kevin here. I root against winter weather with all of my might, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Serious question: When was last time Feds closed for snow? I honestly can't recall. Last closing I remember at all was for Isabelle.

On that note, I'll say "Go NAM!"

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 28, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

CapWX gang: any thoughts on the high sun angle? Most of the (heavy) precip going to be at night?

Posted by: JTF- | February 28, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

So is it "safe" to say that the model runs this evening will be accurate? I'm just trying to temper my expectations until this time. Compared to the previous storm busts this winter, I really like the fact that the cold air should already be in place.
With a storm, March will indeed be coming in like a Lion!

Posted by: bodyiq | February 28, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, this snow event is in the cards for us because I wore my "I live for snow days" t-shirt to school yesterday and everyone acted as if I was crazy for holding out for a great snow day this late in the game.

Forget the models, everyone do the snow dance!

Posted by: HistoryTchr | February 28, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Can someone provide me a good link to the weather models?

Posted by: snowlover | February 28, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

On a completely different note, I've been fascinated with weather since I was in elementary school. I was too busy taking humanities classes in college (and too scared of ruining my GPA with something that involves a significant amount of math) to ever take anything related to meteorology. I wish there was a group (I'm looking at you, NOAA) who offered a weather geeks class that I could take so I could better understand all of the models and trends.

Posted by: HistoryTchr | February 28, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Good weather models? Well, that's a problem.

Since 1994, RAM has decreased in cost. Clockspeed has dramatically increased from about 166 Mhz to 4 Ghz, and storage has shifted from megabytes to terabytes. The ability to predict weather has remained static. We can't even say with any better precision if a Katrina storm will hit New Orleans or Yucatan. And Monday morning, children of Washington will awaken early and to learn if school will close, just as I did as a elementary school child 40 years ago.

We now return you to your regular programming.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 28, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with Kevin. There are only a few places where people who actually like snow can find folks of the same mindset. All the news outlets put a negative twist on the cold and snow as if it were universally hated. Here at CWG, they are fair and both sides comment. I personally love the snow and cold, regardless of whether it means a "day off" or not.

Posted by: manassasmissy | February 28, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

8:31PM 1 March 2009 -- Potomac Village -- not a flake in sight

Posted by: hughbetcha1 | March 1, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

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