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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 12/24/2009

Forecast: Gearing up for a slick, rainy Christmas

By Josh Larson

Dry today; some light icing possible early tomorrow

* Winter Storm Watch for ice in western Va., western Md. (map) *
* Snowstorm forecast critique | Creative sledding videos *
* Outside now? Radar, temps & more: Weather Wall *

Today's Daily Digit
A somewhat subjective rating of the day's weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
6Only one (sunny & dry) day before Christmas! Get tomorrow's 'Digit' on Twitter tonight


Today: A.M. sun; P.M. clouds. 32-36. | Tonight: Mostly cloudy. 26-30. | Tomorrow: Chance of a.m. ice, then mostly cloudy & rainy. 38-42 | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


We've got one more day of dry weather -- today -- before two days of messy weather from a complex storm system. This system may bring a brief period of freezing rain during the morning hours on Christmas -- and, yes, we'll have an ostensible "White Christmas". But warm air will win out over the cold, and most of Christmas day will be soggy and wet, with snow melting as opposed to accumulating. Rain should last into the day Saturday, before things clear out on Sunday and Monday.

Webcam: Latest view of D.C. from the Netherlands Carillon at Arlington National Cemetery. Courtesy National Park Service. Refresh page to update. See this image bigger on our Weather Wall.

Today:We'll start the day with mostly sunny skies. But watch out for some slick spots during the morning hours due to temperatures well below-freezing during this period. As the day wears on, high clouds will stream into the region ahead of our approaching storm system. It will be chilly, with highs only in the low-to-mid 30s. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Skies become mostly cloudy tonight as temperatures drop from the low 30s during the evening hours into the upper 20s during the overnight hours. Light freezing rain or drizzle may (40% chance) develop sometime between midnight and dawn -- likely closer to the latter. Confidence: Medium

Keep reading for the entire Holiday weekend forecast...

Tomorrow (Christmas): Not the finest Christmas weather, I might opine. The morning features a risk of light freezing rain or drizzle, especially over the typically cooler north and west suburbs. Little or no accumulation is expected, though I can't rule out a light glaze or coating on some surfaces, so be careful. By mid-morning I would expect that mostof the immediate metro area will just be seeing plain rain as temperatures rise into the mid-to-upper 30s. The remainder of the day features overcast skies with snow-melting rain likely, a east wind of 5-10 mph, and highs around 40. Yuck. Confidence: Low-Medium

Tomorrow Night: We hold onto overcast skies and periods of rain Christmas night with temperatures rising from near 40 to perhaps around 50. This temperature rise, coupled with moderate rain, will lead to significant snowfall melt and the potential for localized river or street flooding. Not the Christmas gift I asked for, mind you. Confidence: Medium


If you're running off to after-Christmas sales, I can't promise a much better day on Saturday. I think we'll still have periods of rain during the first half of the day (with a lot of melting snow and the continued chance for localized flooding), though by afternoon the rain should taper off from southwest to northeast. I would expect that most places would be dry by late-afternoon. Temperatures should hold steady in the upper 40s. Don't worry about a refreeze overnight: temperatures will remain well above freezing. Confidence: Medium

We clear things up nicely on Sunday -- figures, no? -- with mostly sunny skies returning and highs the low-to-mid 40s. By the end of the day, only piles of snow may remain, with the uniform snow cover history. It will be dry, however. Overnight lows will drop to near freezing, or slightly below in the cooler suburbs. Confidence: Medium

If you're heading back to work on Monday, you can expect a mostly sunny day with chilly afternoon highs in the low 40s and overnight lows in the upper 20s to low 30s. Confidence: Medium

By Josh Larson  | December 24, 2009; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: The sun before the Christmas storm
Next: White Christmas dream becomes reality


Posted by: --sg | December 24, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Just curious about the daily digit (yesterday's 4 vs today's 6) for what seems like the same weather except a colder start. Is it just the differing opinions of who does it each day?

Overnight low 13.8, up to 17.1 now...

Posted by: spgass1 | December 24, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

We're driving tomorrow from Washington to Reading, Pa. It looks like the rain and freezing rain will start here first and move north. Should we try to leave early to get ahead of the system or should we wait until it turns to all rain? If we should leave early, how early should we plan to miss the freezing rain here?

Posted by: lhaller | December 24, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I forgot to say thanks! and wish you a great holiday. I really appreciate being able to ask a meteorologist when I need to!

Posted by: lhaller | December 24, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

No worries about driving back to NoVa from Richmond tomorrow afternoon? Looks like it'll be just plain ol' rain by that time.

Merry Christmas CWG and readers!

Posted by: natsncats | December 24, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

As luck would have it, my Christmas plans with family exist in the Shenandoah Valley. I really have a hard time believing that this extremely warm slug of moist air won't be able to overtake the cold out there in the Valley until evening, but I have to make a decision now, so we've had to postpone our trip. Going out tonight isn't an option either.

Thanks again to winter for messing up my plans. This time it ruined Christmas.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | December 24, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse


Would leave as early as you can...and use caution. Precip will be light, but untreated roads may be icy. Main roads should be careful on bridges, overpasses and ramps.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 24, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse


The digit is subjective, and the anticipation of Christmas helped bump today up...

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 24, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to be obtuse here but I'm trying to figure out what the morning will be like. I will be driving from Beltsville to Ashburn around 8am. Will everything be icy or just things like tree limbs and untreated sidewalks? Trying to figure out what the road conditions will be like.

Posted by: ana_b | December 24, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Appears that the light, possibly freezing rain will be treacherous on the side roads that already have icy snow pack on them due to poor plowing . . . And the poor pedestrians . . . if the ice doesn't get 'em, the slush will. Bah, humbug.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 24, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse


Primary concern is untreated sidewalks, roads. Per earlier comment, main (treated) roads should be ok.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 24, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse


Not only subjective, but the digit is intended to also be fun! ... and prompt discussion. You and others are encouraged to comment with what digit you would assign to the day, and why.


Since we're talking light precip, and not even sure exactly how early in the morning it will arrive, nothing is set in stone. But there is a chance that as you get west of town around that time, you may run into light precip that will be enough to make roads slick. You'll want to grab a weather and traffic report just before you go to get an idea of where things stand.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | December 24, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Guys!! Happy Holidays to all!

Posted by: ana_b | December 24, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

12/13 brought a bad accident on I-81 due to icy conditions. I didn't take any records that day. I haven't immediately been able to find the CWG archive on that forecast day. I was curious about similarities/differences of the two events.

Regarding the daily digit, I'm excited about Christmas but also a bit anxious today about a UPS order arriving. It showed delayed for external reasons this morning (presumably the weather)... but still scheduled for delivery today.

Posted by: spgass1 | December 24, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Frankly I'd prefer more snow for Christmas rather than this MUCH-UNNEEDED switch to plain rain. I just hope it doesn't wash everything away and flood us out.

Just checked out the NWS presentation on the current El Nino. It seems to be running "moderate" at an index of +1. The three-month forecast seems to show that we could have a few winter storms tending to pass to our SOUTH as meteorological winter progresses.

The driest area will be centered near KY/OH/IN, and areas to the west of this area will tend to have a mild winter. We may be on the north fringe of the cooler-than normal stormy area through February.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 24, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Can WaPo please introduce an "ignore" feature?

@ThinkSpring, we know you hate winter. We don't need to hear it every thread. It's your choice not to leave this afternoon and to completely cancel your trip.

My family was supposed to be coming to Richmond FROM the Valley tomorrow. Do you hear me whining about how we might miss out? No, because that's what happens.

It's the weather. We can't control it, we just deal with it. Sometimes things fall our way and sometimes they don't. Toughen up, man!

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 24, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: manassasmissy | December 25, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

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