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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 02/ 1/2009

Tuesday Snow Chances Living on the Edge

By Jason Samenow

* Super Sunday Weather: Forecast | Misguided Medal for Hansen *

Next Chance of Accumulating Snow: Late Monday-Tuesday
Probability of Accumulating Snow: 35%
Most Likely Potential Impact:

An analysis of last night's model data suggested increasing chances of accumulating snow and possibly large amounts (exceeding 4 inches). The latest data has gone in the opposite direction, indicating little or no snow is more likely.

Projections from the Global Forecast System (GFS) model for Tuesday morning. GFS is one of the primary computer models meteorologists use to help predict U.S. weather. The X denotes our location. Green shades represent predicted precipitation amounts during the previous six hours, with darker shades indicating higher amounts.

So what to make of all this?

Keep reading for our latest assessment of snow possibilities...

The key for us getting substantial snow will be rapid development of a coastal low-pressure area close enough to the shore to throw back snow over the region (as shown in last night's model run). The problem is that the storm may intensify too late and too far to the northeast for this to happen (as shown in this morning's model run).


Generally speaking, the closer you get to a storm, the better the models get. So the fact that almost all the models I've analyzed this morning keep the storm developing too late and too far offshore makes me think a big snowstorm isn't very likely. However, we're still more than 36 hours away from the storm's approach, so there is still time for this assessment to change.

The general pattern we'll be in through Wednesday does contain some features generally favorable for a snowstorm to develop -- the issue is that one of them falling out of place can be the difference between a winter wonderland and bare ground...

The Snow Lover's Crystal Ball appears when the potential exists for accumulating snow beyond 24 to 36 hours.

By Jason Samenow  | February 1, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Snow Lover's Crystal Ball  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Super Weather for Super Sunday
Next: Trending Away From Big Snow. Any at All?



Posted by: nymomma | February 1, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Even the latest (disappointing) model runs show a couple of inches, so a 50% chance of bare ground seems too high IMO. Obviously there is still plenty of time for things to change, being 36 hours out, so we'll just have to stay tuned...

Posted by: bdeco | February 1, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

i must be insane, by einstein's definition. everytime someone hypes the latest model predicting lots of snow, i believe it.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 1, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse


Unfortunately, my confidence that we'll get accumulating snow is no higher than it was this time yesterday, so I couldn't justify increasing chances of accumulating snow. This may be one of those events where we won't have a lot of confidence until we're within the time frame during which we can watch radar and satellite -- i.e. within about 12 hours.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 1, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

jason - is 12 hours typical for big storms or is that wishful thinking?

Posted by: jenniel73 | February 1, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Things have been boucing all over the place with this event. Interesting to note, though I'm not sure it means much, the 12z GFS ensemble members still largely point to some snow in the area. HR: 36 | 48 | 60.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 1, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, for once, it doesn't look like it's going to be a rain event. Someone tell Greg! :-)

Posted by: KBurchfiel | February 1, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Current temp. in Burke: 54.1 with clear skies and plenty of sunshine!

Various rituals to induce snow:
Where your pajamas inside out.
Stick a spoon in the fridge.
Flush ice cubes down the toilet.
Where socks on your hands in bed.

These are just a few of the many procedures to please the snow gods.

Posted by: Yellowboy | February 1, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

So no snow at all? IS there any chance of 3-6 inches like I saw?

Posted by: hoyafan516 | February 1, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse


If you read my post and look at the bar graph, it suggests about a 25% chance of a 3-6" type of snow.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 1, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Hoya, you crack me up.

Anyway, I'll be wearing my pjs inside out and doing my snowdance tonight.

Posted by: mbalexandra | February 1, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse


Hello All,

It is RAINMAN Greg reporting from New York City where I am on business. The one thing going for this storm is that I am not in town. This should increase the chances for significant snow by at least another 10%. Take that ** (two snowflaker) and make it *** (a three snowflaker).

This is going to be what I call a NOW cast storm. You all may wake up in the morning to a WSWarning for a significant dumping. This still has the potential to anger a boatload of snow lovers but you all will have to see. there a better chance for SNOW here in NYC CWG?

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | February 1, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Well...nowcast, wishcast, hypecast and forecast all y'all want, but I'm really enjoying this 62 degrees! Excellent weather for April!

Oh, it's not April? It's FEBRUARY!? Oh. Well, I'm still enjoying the 62 degrees. Bring on the snow, too. :)

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | February 1, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

9z ETA operational looks promising however.

Posted by: hobbes9 | February 1, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

you know, people talk about the fortitude of Red Sox fans or Cubs or the like, but what about the wistful hope of snow lovers in DC? i've been watching snow miss our area my whole life.

but i still love it here, and i will never lose hope...


Posted by: dinergirl | February 1, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

This model indecision is driving over 800 of us nuts--those of us who have to be at polling places in Fairfax County at 5am to open things up for Tuesday's election!

Posted by: jkuchen | February 1, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

forget about tuesday! What about today? It's a gorgeous day! It's 66 degrees out here!

Posted by: weathergrrl | February 1, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Current temp. in Burke: 61 with clear skies.

The NWS has increased our chances of snow on Tuesday to 70%! :D

Posted by: Yellowboy | February 1, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Have the Nice Day Stamp and the Snow Lover's Crystal Ball ever appeared in the same post?

Posted by: lioninzion | February 1, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

as someone who has no clue how to read those models, anyone know if the outlook has changed in favor of snow/no snow?or are we still completely unsure?

Posted by: strangldangel | February 1, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The picture should be a bit clearer after the game tonight. However, as Jason mentioned earlier, judgding where exactly the low will be on the coast isn't an exact science. We might not know the forecast until its 12 hours out or so.

Posted by: PoorTeacher | February 1, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Two factors working against snow...(1) we "blowtorched" up past 60 degrees today (2) the amount of forecast precipitable water seems to be rather low for a big snow.

Remember, we were only supposed to hit the fifties today. That extra heat can make the rain drag on and on after the cold frontal passage. The way this is going, we could wake up Tuesday morning still waiting for the changeover. By the time it gets cold enough to snow, the low is well north of us--and nowhere near as intense as originally progged.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 1, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Yep, that's only a 1004 HPa low up there by New England on one model chart...If memory serves me right, the original charts had 980 hectopascals or lower passing us just off Delmarva. We would still be agonizing over a snow "bust" since the intense monster storm would be sucking in far too much warm air advection right off the Gulf Stream, just like the Mar., 1993 Superstorm, which disappointed us with a big rain as it passed closest to Washington.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 1, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I love the "heat" we got today.

Here's hoping for a nice dumping of snow and no school!

Posted by: bastings | February 1, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

my wife said now that you got your snowmoble started and running it wont snow you think she might be on to something??

Posted by: deveinmadisonva | February 1, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Even if we don't get a blizzard, getting at least 4 inches of snow would be nice. I'm a huge fan of snow (not ice), so 4 inches of snow wouldn't be so bad. The driving in the area though will be horrific.

Posted by: Rafael3 | February 1, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

What are the local mets saying? I am out of town.

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | February 1, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I think the 50% chance of NO snow is more right then wrong. T-1nch is my new prediction.

Posted by: clintonportis17 | February 1, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow....all of that weekend hype and drama for T-1"!

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | February 1, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

What a horrible day. Models shift east and the Steal-ers win.

Posted by: bdeco | February 1, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

models shifting east = severely decreased chance for snow?

Posted by: strangldangel | February 1, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

LOL. I agree. A Steelers win and a shift of the system to the East is not good.

I might just call in sick on Tuesday regardless. Have plenty of personal leave to use up :-)

Posted by: PoorTeacher | February 1, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse


yeah pretty much lol! maybe next time but todays warmth was nice. I'm ready for summer!

Posted by: clintonportis17 | February 1, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Lol "ClintonPortis17", you're ready for Warmth and even Summer already!? I was just beginning to get into my Cold Groove. I love a really Cold Winter, and this past December 2008 through January 2009 was a Very good Period for such. I'm the kind of fellow that is looking forward to visiting Alaska in the Winter time, so you know what my Weather Preferences are!

BTW, for anyone who has not realized it yet, we have had a Winter so far with Temperatures WELL Below Average. So let us say for instance that February tends more towards our Average Temperatures, it will actually feel Warm this year in Comparison.

Today was not all that abnormal though, as we always get a few days every Winter with Warmer Temperatures. The same is true for our Summers, especially June, when some Nights we can hit Lows in the Mid-40's. THAT is the Mid-Atlantic for ya!

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 2, 2009 2:45 AM | Report abuse

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