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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 12/18/2009

Big-time snowstorm takes aim on Washington

By Dan Stillman

Entire area on track for major accumulations

* Winter Storm Warning midnight tonight to 6 a.m. Sunday *
* CWG on Facebook & Twitter | E-mail this forecast to a friend *
* Outside now? Radar, temps & more: Weather Wall *

Jump to: Accumulation Map & Timeline | Impact Forecasts | Storm FAQ

Today's Daily Digit
 
A somewhat subjective rating of the day's weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
 
5Cold and clouds are no fun for a Friday. At least there's the smell of snow in the air.
 
Get tomorrow's 'Digit' on Twitter tonight

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Mostly cloudy. Upper 30s. | Tonight: Snow developing. Mid-to-upper 20s. | Tomorrow: Snowy, windy and cold. Mid-20s to near 30. Tomorrow Night: Snow tapers. Low-to-mid 20s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail

SETTING THE SCENE

The biggest Washington-area snowstorm in years is coming closer to being a reality. The Friday night start time couldn't be worse for kids looking to get out of school. But confidence is growing that, by the time the storm ends early Sunday, accumulations may be high enough to cause cancellations and delays on Monday, if not beyond. Get ready to bundle up and hunker down. More likely than not, a major snowstorm is on the way.

ACCUMULATION MAP AND TIMELINE

7 PM FRI to 2 AM SAT
Snow develops from south to north. Upper 20s to low 30s.
2 AM to 7 AM SAT
Accumulating snow with increasing winds. Mid-to-upper 20s.
7 AM to 10 PM SAT
Snow continues, moderate to heavy at times. Windy. Mid-20s to near 30.
10 PM SAT to 7 AM SUN
Snow tapers from southwest to northeast. 20s.

IMPACT FORECASTS

SchoolCast (Mon.)

STORM FAQ

How confident are you in your forecast? Thanks to fairly consistent agreement among the computer models we use to guide our forecasts, confidence in at least several inches of snow is higher that for most storms. Confidence that parts of the metro area will see some of the higher amounts, such as a foot or more, is not as high.

Keep reading for more storm FAQs. Just found us? We're here 24/7/365 -- rain, snow or shine. Visit us at washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang.View image

Will the snow stick? Yes. Have you not noticed how freakin' cold it's been out there lately?

Why do you have plus signs in your accumulation map? The plus signs indicate the potential for more snow than the interval shown. With many storms, and especially large ones like this, hard-to-predict bands of intense precipitation can develop and result in localized amounts a few to several inches higher than surrounding areas.

Could the storm somehow totally miss us? Doubtful. Models are in good enough agreement on the track of the storm that it's very unlikely it could completely miss the metro area. Threre is, however, still time for the storm track to shift. And if it were to make a significant shift to the south or east, then we would probably see lower totals than on our accumulation map. But even the chances of this are decreasing.

Will we see any of the dreaded wintry mix? With cold air in place both at the surface and higher up in the atmosphere, this looks like an all snow or mostly snow event for all or most of the metro area. However, with storms as strong as this one, there is always a chance that its circulation will pull in enough slightly milder air off the ocean to cause some sleet to mix in with the snow and, as a result, cut down on accumulation totals. The best chance for this would be east of I-95.

What's the forecast for after the storm? The snow should stick around for a while, as below-average temperatures are expected into next week. Sunday should be breezy with a chance of snow showers and highs only in the low-to-mid 30s, despite skies that may gradually brighten. Temperatures may inch upward for Monday and Tuesday with highs in the mid-to-upper 30s under partly sunny skies. The expected snow cover should lead to bitter nighttime lows through the period -- teens in the suburbs and low-to-mid 20s downtown.

FAQs updated Friday Dec. 18 @ 5:30 p.m.

By Dan Stillman  | December 18, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts, Winter Storms  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Major snowstorm increasingly likely
Next: Update: Storm could affect Friday evening plans

Comments

I was quite discouraged to hear that Steve, a meteorologist from the site I trust either the most or the second-most for Washington weather (the NWS is also close), would write something like:

"The purpose of Accuweather cannot be anything but knowingly misleading unwary readers/subscribers by means not much different from the cover of rag publications."

I just thought Steve would be above immature remarks towards a national weather site. Accuweather is a team of professional meteorologists whose purpose is to create weather forecasts to the best of their ability. Those who have some knowledge of the weather know that any long-range forecast, whether Accuweather's or Intellicast's (they go out 10 days, I believe) or WUnderground's, will have lots of divergence and little accuracy near the far end. Perhaps it is a little unreasonable to forecast 15 days in advance (and the hourly forecasts up to that point can't be trusted, of course), but I don't see them as trying to mislead their audience.

To be honest, I don't even mind that Accuweather often reports the higher end of precipitation possibilities. If I'm a coastal resident of Georgia, and one site forecasts a major hurricane going my way, and another one reports a small chance of a small hurricane moving up, which forecast is going to give me more incentive to plan my evacuation? Accuweather's early call on the storm likely got some people thinking about changing their travel plans or heading out earlier. The latest model reports show that, indeed, travel will be disrupted (perhaps to extreme levels) for those in Virginia. If a weather site sees a strong chance of a storm causing widespread travel difficulties and even life-threatening conditions, I think they have an obligation to make people aware of the possibility, which is exactly what they did.

I have Accuweather's forecast booked right next to CapitalWeather on my bookmarks toolbar. They're both run by intelligent, seasoned meteorologists who know their way around weather in the United States. One site does tend to "hype" storms more, but that site, along with the other, still provides accurate forecasts--and seems to have done a great job with the weekend storm.

Posted by: KBurchfiel | December 17, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I'd complain about FFX missing the heaviest band, but the + after the 14" will do nicely!

Posted by: jkuchen | December 17, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

i'll believe this tomfoolery when i see it!

Posted by: fashionputitallonme | December 17, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Holy hella sweet with some awesomeness too.

Posted by: santanaf | December 17, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Bring it on....

Posted by: SkywalkerSS | December 17, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

It would seem like if it goes to sea it will be closer to the 7, and that the 14+ is to cover if it comes all the way up the coast and becomes the "historic" storm that some have suggested is possible.

Posted by: patmanbnl | December 17, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to start the predictions in Herndon, Va at 17 inches

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 17, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, so I'm assuming that I should probably be ready to cancel my Saturday flight out of BWI at 1pm.

Oh well, I'll just have to make snow-angels on the mall instead!

Posted by: segatony | December 17, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Is this going to be heavy wet snow or nice, light fluffy snow? Just trying to figure out how hard it's going to be to dig out.

Posted by: ana_b | December 17, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

KBurchfiel: If you don't like it, don't read it.

Now, lets get the blizzard watches up, LWX!

Posted by: jpl1019 | December 17, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

ana_b, given the origins of this storm -- Gulf of Mexico -- I would definitely expect this to be more of the heavy, wet variety than the light, fluffy variety...

Posted by: Josh-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Thoughts on flights? Delays? Cancellations? What time might planes get out? Not til Sunday? I have a 6 AM flight Saturday that looks 125% unlikely, but trying to decide whether I should try to move to tomorrow or hope for a seat Sunday.

Posted by: gtownj | December 17, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Does this look like a fast-moving storm? And is it technically a noreaster?

Posted by: weathergrrl | December 17, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

did anyone else realize that Bob Ryan started the 11 p.m. news talking like a huge storm was coming, even showed a graphic saying 60 percent chance of 10 inches or more.

But when he came back for regular weather, he seemed to be severely hedging -- he did not show the 10 inch plus graphic and made it seem like he thought 12 inches "was possible" but not likely.

what happened in that 15 minute span? did a new model just come out that suggests less snow than at 11 p.m.??

Posted by: realclear | December 17, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, we're certainly due for a big one. It's been a while since the last one.

Posted by: bendan2000 | December 17, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Bittersweet I guess. My wife and I were looking forward to celebrating our Anniversary with seeing Young Frankenstein at the Kennedy Center and dinner in G-Town on Saturday. I guess we better rent some movies and break out the recipe book instead. But we love snow, so this will be quite interesting to see.

Posted by: schrute | December 17, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Do you think we'll move into the Warning instead of watch? what are the qualifications for a winter storm warning?

Posted by: jrodfoo | December 17, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

My guesses:


La Plata MD - 15 inches
Fredericksburg VA- 13 inches
Dumfries VA - 11 inches
Woodbridge VA (Me!) - 10 inches
BWI - 9 inches
Manassas VA - 8 inches
Dulles - 8 inches
Warrenton VA - 8 inches
DCA - 7 inches
Richmond VA - 5 inches


And just for fun...I think the highest amount we'll see is 22 inches of snow somewhere in the mountains of WV or SW'ern VA

Can't wait to see on Sunday. I have it written down on my whiteboard, and it's here in plain sight so you all can hold me to it!

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | December 17, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

I know that AccuWeather is staffed with professionals, but the biggest beef that I have with them is that their president made contributions to Senator Santorum as he introduced the National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005. Check out Wikipedia for the whole scoop, or start Googling on the name of the bill. It's not an excuse for some of the language used, but this bill has influenced how I feel about AccuWeather, and I'm sure that it influenced others too.

Posted by: jkuchen | December 17, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Can the moderators of this website please try to stop the posts by people who just want to fight? All this Accuweather crap is getting in the way of what is important which is the people who run this site and the service they provide FOR ALL OF US! I, for one, am thankful to have a team of professionals giving us their time, resources and the time they are probably away from their kids and families trying to make sure we have the latest and greatest idea of what may or may not happen.
I am a huge snow lover and nothing is more exciting than the night before the "big event". We should be concentrating on the storm instead of the bickering of people who could care less about the storm and just want to start trouble on the forums.

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 17, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories are issued by local National Weather Service Forecast offices.

Winter weather advisory -- When a significant winter storm or hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent, and is an inconvenience.

Winter storm watch -- A significant winter weather (i.e., heavy snow, heavy sleet, significant freezing rain, or a combination of events) is expected, but not imminent, for the watch area; provides 12 to 36 hours notice of the possibility of severe winter weather.

Winter storm warning -- A significant winter storm or hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent, or likely, and is a threat to life and property.

Blizzard warning -- Winds that are at least 35 mph or greater, blowing snow that will frequently reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less for at least three hours, and dangerous wind chills are expected in the warning area.

Wind chill index -- The calculation of temperature that takes into consideration the effects of wind and temperature on the human body. This is not the actual air temperature, but what it feels like to the average person. This wind chill chart shows the difference between actual air temperature and perceived temperature, and the amount of time until frostbite occurs.

Posted by: timeagle | December 17, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I feel like I should share this satellite shot again since it's so awesome.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I think Bob was just hedging a little.

I think the TV guys wanted to get across that there is a big storm coming. They can always adjust up- they'd rather adjust up than adjust down.

Posted by: markinva | December 17, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

jrod: 5" of snow in 12 hrs or 7" in 24 hrs for warning. We will easily meet that. Warnings will be up within 12 hours I'd think.

Posted by: jpl1019 | December 17, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

@timeagle, thanks for the definitions!

@ jpl1019, Thanks! This is going to be fun to watch!

Posted by: jrodfoo | December 17, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Huh, looks like it could be a fun weekend(as long as you aren't trying to travel). My cat loves the snow and she hasn't seen much for years so that will be fun :-) maybe she'll sink into a kitty shaped snow pothole.

Just too bad this isn't Sunday night- would be nice to extend some of our Christmas breaks at work. Beggers can't be choosers though.

Thanks for the update! Can finally go to bed.

Posted by: kallieh | December 17, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

@Ian -- can you please stop cross-posting? You're confusing me as to which thread I'm reading (I'm also following the thread @ easternuswx)...

Glad I registered over there for the March snowstorm. Forgot I had when I tried to visit earlier tonight and got the error message. Clicked the login screen and, what do you know, my username and password were right there!

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 17, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

@Ian

Structurally, this storm looks a little like the March 93 superstorm though not nearly as deep.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Weatherdude -- I'm holding you to that 11" in Dumfries... ;-D We didn't get squat on Dec 5th - barely covered the grass at my house. It surely is shaping up to be quite an interesting weekend weatherwise, to be sure. Will be in touch with the gang often for sure!

Posted by: southbridgemom | December 17, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Not sure about Blizzard warnings. But it remains to be seen. But from what I see above, all those who are concerned about travel between sunrise Saturday and sunrise on Sunday.. should prepare for other plans for cancellations. :-(

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Look: I don't want to fight, and I'm not trying to bicker; if there's anything in my first post that came across as inflammatory, please pointed it out, so I don't write that sort of thing again. I also haven't had a problem with anything Steve wrote up to that quoted message. My point is that both Accuweather and CapitalWeather are valuable sources of weather information, and those who say that either intentionally misleads people are discrediting the solid work that gets put into both sites.

Of COURSE I'm excited about the snow! I dreamt that snow was falling last night (though back up in college, in Vermont), and I excitedly read through all the comments about major snowfalls. If anything, I'm almost disappointed in the 7-14 inch range. (By the way, Accuweather's forecast for DC is more conservative, at 6-12 inches.)

And Jpl1019: I like reading what CapWX's experienced forecasters have to say about the weather, especially because they get it right so much of the time--so no, I'm not going to stop reading their comments. But if you don't like my long and boring posts, you certainly don't have to read them. :-)

Posted by: KBurchfiel | December 17, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

@ Jason

I think I remember that 93 storm. I was 10 years old and living in PA. My Dad told me I had to shovel the driveway and I opened the garage door and all I could see was snow. Craziness!

Posted by: PoorTeacher | December 18, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Weather Gang! For giving us weather geeks a place to go :)

Posted by: ThinkGreen | December 18, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

I have a question that I keep forgetting to ask, but now that it's on my mind...

How do they measure official snow totals in a blizzard or when the snow is blowing/drifting around? Do they take measurements in a few different places then average it out, or is there a special device/technique involved?

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | December 18, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

PoorTeacher - I remember that storm - I was a junior in college. My brave mother drove me from Arlington to Harrisonburg, VA (JMU) after that storm on I66 and then on I88. (And she did very well! With all the snow, I think we only spun out once.)It was very strange, coming back after spring break and having to deal with snow...

Posted by: MKoehl | December 18, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Edit: on I81, (not I88.)
Need to preview!

Posted by: MKoehl | December 18, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

My post wasn't directed at any one individual but when this whole Accuweather thing got carried over to this forum from the last update at 6:45, I just wanted to see if we could stop this thingin it's tracks (whatever the he** it's about) and concentrate on the storm.So KBurchfiel, keep posting because I think we all sort of "own" these forums and I for one am still up past midnight posting but pleeaasssee no more Accu stuff.

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

I think Southern Maryland is going to be the bride this time!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | December 18, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

@weatherdudeVA they will have an area that is protected from the wind so as not to be affected by the blowing/drifting. Typically it will involve a piece of wood w/ a yardstick on it. Every several hours they go out, take the measurement, and sweep away the accumulation to get the "new" accumulation.

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 18, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

I just heard that Flordia could be getting some water spouts within the next couple of hours, this is one nasty storm

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Regional radar over the northern GOM states showing lots of moisture. Sure to be some storms across FL as noted above.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 18, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Question? What do you think the chances are that when I wake in the morning (@6-7 a.m.)
that my worst nightmare comes true and all these models have changed and the storm fizzles?
I can't tell you how many times as a kid that happened to me (being 41, I still remember those feelings as though they were yesterday) especially growing up in Annandale and living in NOVA my entire life. I'm sure the D.C. metro people will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

MITCH: Its almost impossible we won't get any snow on Saturday. Now there is a small likelihood of only getting a few inches, but that is *small*.

Posted by: jpl1019 | December 18, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reassurance jpl, but I think the only thing that can make me a believer is to have as much as the models are predicting tonight and building a snowman with my 6 year old boy, who I pray will experience his first really big storm that he should remember even when he's my age. So here's to praying for 15" - 20" for all the kids, even the 40 year old kids :}

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

MITCHRAPP, I have not seen this good model agreement, for this much snow ever...

Posted by: Josh-CapitalWeatherGang | December 18, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Coming from you Josh, that carries some serious friggin weight!!!

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Euro looking in agreement with the majority solution on this one (!!!!!!!!)

Posted by: jpl1019 | December 18, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Let me add to Josh's comment - I have been forecasting for the Navy for the last 20 years, and I agree, to see this much alignment at this point is a rare, and as a meteorologist, good thing. Allows for a committment much earlier than you normally would.

That said, I know the WRF is saying 15-20kt, so although I was trained to go G25-30KT, it most likely won't meet the blizzard criteria.

I'm willing to bet the media folks will call it one with all the snow... ;)

Posted by: wxsquid | December 18, 2009 1:14 AM | Report abuse

I'll try to introduce something new to this discussion by way of a prediction I have yet to see anyone else make. Based on the radar progression, despite the time it will take to saturate the cold/dry air we have in place, I expect to see flakes by noon to 2pm tomorrow with some accumulation starting by the rush hour - say 5 to 7 pm. Commence gridlock to the always hip '80's Laban tune "Caught by Surprise."

"Caught by surprise
How was I to believe my emotion would leave me?
Caught by surprise
Am I right when I say you will never deceive me (deceive me)?"


http://mr-kwaki.wrzuta.pl/aud/file/yV6GEYdQjX/laban_-_caught_by_surprise_extended.mp3

Posted by: manatt | December 18, 2009 1:39 AM | Report abuse

I can't wait! One question though: when do you think it's likely to start? I'm planning on heading up to Baltimore around 6pm Friday and coming back to DC later that same night. Rather not get stuck in Baltimore for the weekend!

Posted by: nlcaldwell | December 18, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

manatt, I've learned the hard way (especially when one is all jazzed up about a major snow and in subconscious wishcasting mode) that it always takes WAAAAY longer than one wants and thinks for the atmosphere to moisten up and precip to reach the area.

If anything, models have slowed down the system a bit over the past run or two. I honestly think the absolute earliest possible we see flakes in the immediate DC metro area is about 7pm and I think in reality it will be much closer to midnight (if not later).

If your prediction, for snow starting nearly half a day before mine turns out to be true, I would think your forecasting skills are incredible and be exceptionally humbled.

Posted by: Josh-CapitalWeatherGang | December 18, 2009 1:58 AM | Report abuse

nlcaldwell, I think you should be okay. IMO it may not even have started snowing in DC if you get back at a "reasonable" hour -- say, 11pm...

Posted by: Josh-CapitalWeatherGang | December 18, 2009 2:02 AM | Report abuse

Josh, with the latest run you just mentioned, with the slowing of the storm, is it possible that will generate more accumulations or does it just start later and leave sooner?

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Not implying any higher accums than I've/we've previously advertised based on that timing observation...also, I'm not sure I understand your "version" of time. If the whole system is slower it would arrive a bit later and also end a bit later (keep in mind we're talking only a few hours difference)...but I'm unclear how it could "start later and leave sooner." Isn't that a bit like someone being both shorter and taller than another person? (Maybe I misunderstood.) ;)

Posted by: Josh-CapitalWeatherGang | December 18, 2009 2:16 AM | Report abuse

lol, it's called still being awake at 2:15 a.m. after working since 7 a.m. yesterday morning. In other words, I'm tired. Delete that last post of mine would ya? lol

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 2:20 AM | Report abuse

@MITCHRAPP, I *totally* understand the feeling. :)

Posted by: Josh-CapitalWeatherGang | December 18, 2009 2:24 AM | Report abuse

O.K. my friend (Josh), you have a good night/morning, I am signing off. Thanks again for all the work you guys do to make this storm watching/chasing so much better. God only knows how many typo's and mis-spelled words my last 2 or 3 posts have been considering I can almost make out my keyboard. Sleep. Then SNOW! Thanks again

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 2:33 AM | Report abuse

Josh, have you read the NWS model discussion posted at 02L? They said that this storm is a strong analog for the Feb 10-12 1983 storm...

Posted by: wxsquid | December 18, 2009 3:11 AM | Report abuse

The 06z NAM is looking weak, about 1/2 the precip we saw in previous runs. That said, I am not sur if it is common or not that the 06 run tends to be on the light side???

Posted by: snowlover | December 18, 2009 3:31 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: MAYFREE34 | December 18, 2009 3:38 AM | Report abuse

Hello from Copenhagen. Enjoy the snow folks, I am extremely jealous. The storm could even prevent President Obama from getting back into DC, no?

Enjoy!!!

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | December 18, 2009 3:45 AM | Report abuse

Winter Storm Warning just issued for the area!

Posted by: snowlover | December 18, 2009 4:09 AM | Report abuse

My weatherbug "chirping" alarm just woke me up. Winter Storm Warning for FFX and Loudoun & just about everywhere else. After reviewing NOAA's maps, it looks like the jackpot will be Lake Anna. West of 95 and south of Fredricksburg by @ 40 miles. They are predicting upto 13 inches in Herndon/Reston and 17 inches @ Lake Anna. The only problem that I saw after reading the forcast discussion from NOAA is that none of them have a firm handle on Sat night. All warnings and discussions have said upto sunset Sat night and then they say additional accumulations are expected. Usually, in the past, the warnings will say;"total snow accumulations of 10 inches is expected" but NONE of the NOAA people will say that this time. Only upto Sat night and one last point, in the discussion part of NOAA's forcast/warning, it was made clear that this heavy snow band could be larger in area and much more snow than they are predicting. NOAA said the amounts given were on the "lower" models forecast and the snow amounts were expected to rise over Sat night. It sure looks like NOAA read your snow amount map and copied it into their forcast. Good job guys, I think you hit it on the head with the first shot!

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 18, 2009 5:03 AM | Report abuse

Regarding heavy and wet versus light and fluffy, it looks we are definitely on the cold side of the storm so light and fluffy.

Posted by: eric654 | December 18, 2009 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Ugh. I don't like this. 2003's big snowfall is too fresh in my mind. I'll settle for 10 inches tops. And hopefully it will not be wet or heavy.

Posted by: Murre | December 18, 2009 5:53 AM | Report abuse

Gooooooooood morning everyone, and welcome to day 2 of Snowstorm '09 Anticipation Fest... hehehehe. Watches now are warnings, yippie. The "Snow-mania" we have reached, here, is part of the actual storm for me. Wife thinks I'm a little nutty for being on several weather boards last night, just reading and saying "Wow!", having a good 'ol time. Cannot believe how many folks were up last night posting as well. Now off to the grocery store before anyone else finds out a storm is coming. ;-)

Can't wait for the discussion today, won't be working too hard if you know what I mean... Snow-mania!

Posted by: dprats21 | December 18, 2009 6:50 AM | Report abuse

My herding dogs love the snow. they will be out in the snow doing "Snow Satans".

Historic snowfall potential? Are we talking about possiblely breaking the records from the Knickerbocker Storm or what?

Merchants will be crying? Sales at Nordstrom's at Tyson's are down significantly according to the store manager and they were hoping this weekend would make up for it.

I have walked through drifts up to my waste
in previous snow storms in this area. So figure 3 foot drifts+.

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | December 18, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

This is the most fun I've had anticipating a snow storm.

It feels like snow outside, and it's great to know this is as close to a sure thing as it gets.

We'll wake up to snow on the ground on Saturday morning, that is for those who can sleep :-)

Posted by: jaybird926 | December 18, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Could you guys who are fighting about AccuWeather take it elsewhere? I need to figure out if I can go shopping on Saturday, then pick my relatives up from BWI or Dulles so they can attend my son's 6th birthday party. We have clowns driving in from Manassas - should we cancel them?

Posted by: ennepe68 | December 18, 2009 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Of course having the official weather station at National always seems to dampen the snow totals and warm the temperatures, when compared to the rest of the DC area. I remember '93, '96 and '03 -- there was easily 2' of snow on the ground in parts of NW Washington, Arlington and Fairfax, although the official reports at National only listed 17". National Airport's totals always bum me out.

Posted by: tsqnova | December 18, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

I completely second the precipitation totals at National. I think they are completely unrepresentative of the area. There is a major heat island effect or bubble or something at that airport and snow totals there always bum me out too because that is always what is reported on television.

Posted by: rocotten | December 18, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Wow- Anyone look at the radar this morning? I was worried about a battle with dry air, but after seeing what is coming from the south... just wow!

Get all preparations done early today!!!!! This will be an "all weekend" event.

Posted by: Tom8 | December 18, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Very interesting to see the low temps for the state all in this area. Culpeper had 19, along with Stafford and Manassas. Winchester came in at 20. The usual cold spot of the state, Hot Springs, checked in at a balmy 28. Glad we have plenty of cold air in place for this.

Posted by: JW21 | December 18, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

In response to the merchant concerns:
People will have to buy presents no matter if it is Sat/Sun or Mon/Tues. I was a merchant for years and foul weather usually just increased the crush at the end. Most sales came in in the final few days, and the later I stayed open on X-mas eve, the more $$$ I'd make because people naturally procrastinate. People are going to buy presents, they'll just be in a more aggressive mood in the final days (And probably more loose with their $$), so watch out for the parking space stalkers. My prediction is that there will be a lot of people taking Mon/Tues off (Or taking long "lunches") to get to the stores, and in the end the merchants will be ok.

With that being said, let's have a happy snowstorm and worry about the economics later. We can adjust our attitudes, but we just cannot change the weather. Snow never stopped Santa...

Posted by: dprats21 | December 18, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

@Jason CWG - thanks for the validation about the similarities with the '93 Superstorm. I felt like a lone voice in the wilderness in making that comparison the past few days on this blog. As I said Wednesday, the synoptic situation was very close, right down to the formation of the storm over Brownsville TX. Except for the lack of full three-jet phasing, it was eerily similar to March 12, 1993's weather map. Wanted to re-ask my question from yesterday; what about a dechero situation setting up again in the Southeast as in '93. This storm is explosive. The more quickly it strengthens, the more cold air will get pulled into it here. I think the high temps for tomorrow will be much lower than predicted as this thing really cranks up.

Posted by: curtmccormick | December 18, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm quite pleased with the snow total amounts I've seen this morning. Last night before I went to bed, I silently convinced myself that all the totals would be bumped down to below a foot, but I'm glad I woke up to see the positive weather forecast (weather radio woke me up actually).

Here's a summary from the various weather sources:

NBC 4: 8-12 for the Metro area
CBS (WUSA 9): 10-15 inches for most, heavier between Dumfries and Fredericksburg, east and west.
ABC 7 (WJLA): 8-11 inches, 12+ in places
FOX 5: No idea, I've had it on half an hour and they won't put a total on it other than saying "big."
Weather Channel: Map shows 12"+ for the area
Accuweather: No idea, probably 7 or 8 feet.

I have another question (because I like asking questions). Take the weather.com weather forecast for Woodbridge. They say 2-4" tonight, 8-12" tomorrow, and "some accumulation" tomorrow night. Is that cumulative, or is that accumulation for the time period? Are they predicting 10-16" plus some, or will it be 8-12 with some change?

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | December 18, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

@Weatherdude "I have another question (because I like asking questions)."

I believe that is 10-16 inches plus some.

Posted by: Murre | December 18, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

i am soooooooooo excited i hope we get 20' in arlington!!!!! ')

Posted by: MAYFREE34 | December 18, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

The snow from March 93 melted quickly. Longer days and higher sun angle and temps helped. Problem with December snow storms is the sun angle, amount of daylight and the temps keep the dirty gray old snow around for weeks.

Best weather person is Domenica Davis of Fox News. She is hot and knows how to show off her bod. Almost as good as Fox Business's Go Go Double D Gomez.

I have lived in the DC area since 1959 and I don't believe any storm predictions ever.
Have never known one to be within in 10% in all these years.

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | December 18, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I can't wait!!!!

Posted by: rockotodd | December 18, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

This certainly feels like the anticipation ahead of the 1993 superstorm. I was a junior in college in Rochester, NY and I remember leaving home early at the end of spring break to arrive ahead of the storm. I remember driving on the NY thruway, mostly clear skies, and when I arrived a took a mental picture of my car parked in a dry parking lot. Then I imagined it being covered in snow. After the storm it was completely buried- just a bump under the snow blanket. Last night I brought some firewood into the garage to keep it dry and am looking forward to this weekend! I especially enjoyed seeing the sun glow hazily through the high thin clouds this morning and realizing part of the storm was already here....

Posted by: CM_in_Fairfax | December 18, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

There are some comparisons to the '93 superstorm, but this one is not nearly as wide-spread or powerful. In '93, snow was spread from Alabama and Georgia to Ohio and all along the east coast. Low pressure in '93 was 960, sustained hurricane force winds, 12 foot storm surge in FL...

Posted by: GD1975 | December 18, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

the '93 superstorm also wasn't an exceptional snowmaker. I think DCA got less than 10" in fact. Storms in '96, '03 and '06 dwarfed the 1993 storm in terms of smowfall amounts in the DC area. The 93 storm was fierce though, with high winds and thundersnows.

Posted by: markinva | December 18, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Capital weather,
Good map I agree with it overall. It is obvious there is still alot of uncertainty as to how high totals will be. I do think that your 10-16 band should be extended further up to compensate for areas southeast of dc.

Posted by: marylandwx | December 18, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Why are so many people commenting on this story??!! Don't you know that you're supposed to be ravaging store shelves for bread, milk, and toilet paper (as if you'll have nothing to eat for several days but very spicy chicken curry?!)...

Posted by: bigolpoofter | December 18, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I am so excited. I was a teenager in the 1990s and had a blast walking around my neighborhood with friends pushing people's cars out of snowbanks. Now I have kids of my own who have never seen DMV get really socked with snow. We don't do it gracefully here, but that is all part of the area's weird charm. Bring on the snow persons!!!!!!

Posted by: Alexandria2009 | December 18, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"Will the snow stick? Yes. Have you not noticed how freakin' cold it's been out there lately?"

Dan Stillman needs to remember that he's writing for a national newspaper, not Facebook. Why would Stillman want to sound like a snide teenager instead of a professional meterologist? Just stick to the weather and leave your lame attempts at sounding hip to your Twitter account.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 18, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

what effect will this storm have on Metro service?

Posted by: bmp246 | December 18, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"Dan Stillman needs to remember that he's writing for a national newspaper, not Facebook. Why would Stillman want to sound like a snide teenager instead of a professional meterologist? Just stick to the weather and leave your lame attempts at sounding hip to your Twitter account."

This person should shut their freaking trap, I thought it was freaking hilarious and I am not even snide, a teenager or hip. Great work Capital Weather Gang!

Posted by: jnhusker | December 18, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Abandon your cars early!

Posted by: slim2 | December 18, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Abandon your cars early!

Posted by: slim2 | December 18, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Be sure to prepare an emergency kit for your car in case you get stuck while driving.

One blanket for each person in the car.

Three gallons of vodka in the form of six half-gallon plastic jugs. This can be used to help prevent dehydration and melt the ice from your windshield.

Five pounds of peanut brittle or other snack to stave off starvation.

Lastly, fill your car trunk with 400 pounds (20 20-pound bags) of clay kitty litter. The added weight improves tractions and the litter can be thrown under your wheels for traction if they start spinning in a rut. Be sure to get the old-fashioned clay litter. It works better for this than the newer clumping litter.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | December 18, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

My brother plans to take the 10pm bus from NYC tonight scheduled to arrive in DC at 2:15pm. Will he make it before the snow hits? Will the buses be wise about this and cancel the trip if conditions get dangerous? Any advice greatly appreciated!

Posted by: caroline271 | December 18, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, one more thing.

WHERE'S THE SNOWCAM?

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | December 18, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame, please lighten up. This is a local blog in a national paper. We are focusing on a local issue -- in this case the weather. And I concur -- it's been freaking cold lately!

Dan -- you're the man! :)

Posted by: southbridgemom | December 18, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Just saw that on the NWS site that DC is now included in the blizzard warning. Is this a precautionary warning, or are we really going to have a blizzard? I have never experienced one.

Posted by: paperball | December 19, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: MikeLicht | December 19, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

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