Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 6:30 PM ET, 12/17/2009

Major snowstorm increasingly likely

By Ian Livingston

Snow begins late Fri. continuing through Sat.

* Winter Storm Watch late Friday through late Saturday *
* Last week's historic weather | CWG on Facebook & Twitter *
* Outside now? Radar, temps & more: Weather Wall | Traffic *

* 6:30 p.m. update: Current satellite imagery from the Gulf of Mexico shows this storm firing up. All of the latest data coming in continues to support the potential for 6" of snow or more this weekend as the storm moves northeastward up the coast. Totals exceeding a foot are possible in some locations. Between 11:00 and 11:30 p.m. tonight, we will post the next update, including our first attempt at an accumulation map. *

Highs in the mid-to-upper 30s today are significantly below normal and set the stage for what could be a substantial weekend snowstorm, probably beginning Friday night and possibly lasting for some places into early Sunday. How much snow are we talking?...

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.

Through Tonight: We'll see increasing clouds during the evening and overnight with temperatures dropping to lows in the lower 20s for the cold spots and upper 20s downtown. After a couple days of consistent breezes, winds finally become light.

Tomorrow (Friday): There may be a few breaks in the clouds tomorrow, but it's looking mostly cloudy overall. We stay cold as highs struggle for the upper 30s most spots. Continued cloudy tomorrow night with snow likely to develop during the evening or overnight. Temperatures fall into the mid-and-upper 20s.

Weekend: Snow is likely to be moderate to heavy at times on Saturday. While there is plenty of cold air around -- weekend highs probably only make the upper 20s to mid-30s at best -- some mixing with sleet is possible, especially south and east of I-95 if the storm is strong enough to pull in slightly warmer air off the ocean. Snow may continue into Sunday morning before things tend to taper off.

Accumulation Totals: Uncertainty about snow totals still exists, but the potential is growing for a major event. Here's our current thinking on accumulation chances (though as any D.C. area veteran knows, with more than 24 hours until the storm's arrival, there's still time for these numbers to shift in either direction)...

15%: Less than 1"
15%: 1-3"
20%: 3-6"
30%: 6-12" (most likely as of now)
20%: 12"-24"

Tell a friend about CWG: E-mail this forecast

By Ian Livingston  | December 17, 2009; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Reading material: Pattern favorable for snow
Next: Big-time snowstorm takes aim on Washington


I have a flight at 6 AM out of Reagan to JFK. How likely is it that I will be significantly delayed? I have an 11:45 AM connection for an international flight.

Posted by: jofij | December 17, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Sweet -- lets go snow!!!!!

Posted by: snowlover | December 17, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

omg! pinch me.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 17, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse


I can't wait to see some of your snow sculptures after the storm. Always something to look forward to.
Bring on the snow!

Posted by: pjdunn1 | December 17, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

@jofj - Assuming you mean 6am on Saturday, I would expect BIG delays. The storm is supposed to be in full swing by then and is expected to crawl up the east coast during the day.

Even if the flight from Reagan is close to on time I would bet JFK to FUBAR'd by noon.

Posted by: wildwolf45 | December 17, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Interesting to note that all the temperatures today have been cooler than predicted.

Posted by: rocotten | December 17, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Wheeeee ..... guess I need to get to the store to finish up my xmas shopping. Oh yeah, and lay in supplies for food, drink, xmas wrapping and card-writing .....

Posted by: weathergrrl | December 17, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

How is it that with snow coming in just over 24 hours, we still can't say for sure how many inches we will get?

Posted by: Dadat39 | December 17, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

French Toast Alert Warning System to High!

Posted by: wiredog | December 17, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

18Z NAM is coming out now.

Posted by: DullesARC | December 17, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Find it quite interesting that Sterling & Blacksburg have both issued WSWatch, but Wakefield continues to wait.

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 17, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

@wildwolf45 I'm not so worried about my international flight out of JFK -- the weather forecasts I have seen only show light snow showers for NYC on Saturday and international flights are much more durable than short hop domestic flights. I just need to get out of DC.

Posted by: jofij | December 17, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Sorry CapWeather peeps, but you need to address this issue - I repost here...

You guys going to apologize to AccuWeather for lambasting them about their 120 hr forecast, just askin. I understand your forecasting philosophy is to be conservative and not to induce rushes on the grocery store. And I understand that there is a perception that AccuWeather, to use your words, "hypes" storms to drive viewers to their website.

But AccuWeather looks like they nailed this one. And they are also talking about a storm next week. And like I said in an earlier post, as a skier, I find these early warnings valuable whether or not they verify.

Posted by: johnnyd2 | December 17, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse


Welcome to the not-so-perfect science of meteorology.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

My daughter is coming in from Hartford to BWI sometime around 5 pm Saturday night. How likely it will be delayed/diverted? If diverted, would it go to Richmond? Anyone can assist me with coherent ideas? I'm petrified.


Posted by: garyolney | December 17, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@johnnyd2 No apology is needed. The critique was not that Accuweather discussed, created graphics for, etc. the storm this weekend.

The critique was that, at the time the blaring started, the likelihood of this storm coming together as it has was small. The threat level and the volume with which Accuweather pushed this storm did not match up.

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 17, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether I'll be able to fly out of Dulles at 6 am on Saturday? I have a 2.25 hour layover in Houston, catching an int'l flight...

Is it worth looking into trying to fly out Friday night if the airline will let me change my tix without giving up my first born? I hate to jump the gun since I know how snow storms in the DC area can be...but I don't want to miss like half my vacation either!!

Posted by: mtropp | December 17, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

@garyolney Delayed is probably likely. Diverted unlikely and certainly not to Richmond as we are expecting a healthy coating of snow ourselves.


Posted by: Registration1982 | December 17, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Garyolney -- speaking for myself (not CWG), if the forecast verifies, your best bet would be to have her take Amtrak instead, and try to get her on a train tomorrow instead of Saturday. With the forecast track, Richmond might not be much better than BWI -- they might divert west if they don't cancel. Good luck.

--Jamie Y (aka Weather Checker)

Posted by: JamieYPotomac | December 17, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

NAM looks to be just as robust as the last have to give some credence to it since it nailed the last storm's higher qpf. It could might be...a blockbuster before winter!

Posted by: DullesARC | December 17, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse


AccuWX might have hit a home run this time around, but you seem not to be aware the many more times it struck out. But I gather from your remarks you are not concerned about false alarms. Which, by the way, reflects the rational for some to actually pay for AccuWX's no-skill hour by hour forecasts of every meteorological parameter imaginable out to 15 days.

Additional this wasn't AcuWx even getting it right for the wrong reason, but rather getting it right for NO reason. As often said, even a blind squirrel will by chance find some nuts.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

All of the area grocery stores are now being emptied of milk, bread and toilet paper.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 17, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse


The models I am watching consistently show Baltimore as being on the lower end of the snow totals. Getting to the airport to pick your daughter up might be tricky depending on where you are coming from. Delay sounds more plausible than divert. Oh, and Richmond looks like they will get hit harder than us.

Posted by: Alexandria2009 | December 17, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse


You got it exactly right.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Further interesting that Blacksburg has issued a winter storm warning and Wakefield still hasn't issued a winter storm watch... we're going to have snow/sleet within 36 hours... isn't that the definition of a winter storm watch?

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 17, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

18z NAM seems even MORE bullish with this system.

Will be curious to see what the 18z/00z GFS runs look like (the 12z GFS was a bit of an outlier compared to other global guidance for this system).

Posted by: dtkwx | December 17, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse


thanks for the reply. Shes at school in Connecticut and has an exam on Saturday morning. We're going to see about getting her on an earlier flight. I haven't taken the train in snow but it may be worse than flying. O the joys of having an out-of-state student.

Posted by: garyolney | December 17, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

What are the chances that the system will pull in dry air and decrease the amount of snow in the DC area? Seems like that's been the pattern when big winter storms have been forecasted the past few years.

Posted by: GD1975 | December 17, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse


I totaly disagree. What ever your or CapWeather's interpretation of the threat level was is your perogative. We all look at the same models and have to use some judgement. And AccuWeather for whatever reason, hype or not, saw the threat and nailed it.

CapWeather was very strong in their critique and accused AccuWeather management of encouraging hyping storms to drive ratings. This may or may not be true. But what is true they went out on a limb and got this one right (so far anyways, we know how fickle coastal storms can be and this could still bust)

Posted by: johnnyd2 | December 17, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The 18z NAM continues to look freaking awesome!!!!!!!!Although, the snow/rain line is getting a little close for comfort!

Posted by: snowlover | December 17, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse


I'm going to BWI from Olney. I can take mostly major roads and then get on 95. At least if I can pick her up, I'd at least have her with me when we started to head home.

Posted by: garyolney | December 17, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

New NAM is ridiculous! Over 30 inches of snow at DCA by late Saturday night and still coming down! Now tracking the storm straight up the coast.

Posted by: AwkWord1 | December 17, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

The 18z NAM is looking historic. Not much else to say...the Euro is bombing out even more. And the low end GFS was off on Dec 5. I think its time to start thinking about a multiple day event and to prepare accordingly. I'd pull the plug by this evening for any Christmas-type parties around DC; Sat night is going to be a show. Lets see if any of the outlets has the guts to call it by this evenings' news cycle. It sure smells like more than a foot of snow.

Posted by: DullesARC | December 17, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Can you post a map link of the 18z NAM?

Posted by: shirlingtonvillage | December 17, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Holy crap... if anything, the 18z NAM is more bullish for Richmond north of DC along 95... is that really 3" + of QPF?!?!?!?! Surely some of that has to be sleet, etc. We're not talking 30"+ of snow are we?

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 17, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow - AccuWeather got it right for no reason? You seriously believe that? How about they looked at the models, looked at the trends over the last week and used some input on what happens in El Nino years.

You guys really dispise AccuWeather. No sense in arguing with people who have a vendetta. Do I sense a hint of jealousy that AccuWeather is making the dough?

Posted by: johnnyd2 | December 17, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 17, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

gee thanks! in case you missed some others:

the sculpture will come a day or two after the storm - when the temp is just right.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 17, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Johnnyd, your insistence on trying to stir bad blood between two weather reporting agencies is truly hilarious.

Posted by: zim94 | December 17, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Steve is exactly right, although I can imagine that this occured in an Accuwx team meeting back in Oct., ", with a moderate El Nino winter looking likely, let's stick with the over-hyping of any East Coast storm. Our odds of finding a nut are exponentially better with that strong southern stream jet this year. Henry - you play up the 95 corridor every time we see something 192 hours out on the GFS. Do what you need to do - cry, laugh, blame the gods..."

Posted by: DullesARC | December 17, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I have a stupid question about reading the models. Is the precip amount indicated in a single frame what is expected for that amount of time?

In other words if I see 1" at 48 hours and .75" at 54 hours do I interpret that as 1.75" (or 17.5" of snow... roughly) cumulatively?

Posted by: Alexandria2009 | December 17, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse


I rebooked my Saturday afternoon flight from IAD to California for tomorrow, and my friends scheduled to leave DCA at 6 am Sat. for the Caribbean are in the process of doing the same. For us, given the current predictions and the possibilities of cancellations/missed connections/trying to rebook next week on full holiday flights, the peace of mind is worth the hassle and minimal expense of leaving a day earlier than expected, but YMMV.

Posted by: hlg22 | December 17, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse


I think the point is that if you look at accuweather regularly, you will find that they are often "hyping" medium range events. Some pan out (like perhaps this weekends), but many (most?) do not.

I don't think there really is any "despising" or resentment, but CWG was just trying to highlight their difference in philosophy when it comes to things like this. I don't see how an apology is necessary (or even relevant).

Posted by: dtkwx | December 17, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I could care less about why Accuweather does what it does. I visit their site and read/watch their bloggers frequently (as in daily during the winter. In fact, I have 4 of their bloggers bookmarked.

They have good forecasters over there. I want to know what and why they forecast what they do. However, I NEVER visit their front page. Why? It's a hype machine.

Posted by: Registration1982 | December 17, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

zim94 - you don't know what you are talking about, go back and read this thread started on Tuesday

CapWeather folks picked this fight. I'm just holding them accountable for it. And when I do I get a response from Steve like "Additional this wasn't AcuWx even getting it right for the wrong reason, but rather getting it right for NO reason. As often said, even a blind squirrel will by chance find some nuts". Whatever...

Posted by: johnnyd2 | December 17, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else besides me having trouble accessing the Easternuswx site?

What was the latest run of the Euro painting for our area?

Posted by: pjdunn1 | December 17, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Johnnyd, you're now encouraging me to go back and read previous days' weather reports. Perhaps next you'll invite me to DVR the weather channel. The belly laughs are much appreciated.

Posted by: zim94 | December 17, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

pjdunn1- Yup, I've been having that problem every snow storm this season. I guess their servers can't handle the increased traffic.

Posted by: PeterBethesda | December 17, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I have Greyhound ticket to TN leaving DC on Sunday morning. Is this storm expected to impact my route (DC-Charlottesville-Knoxville-Nashville-Memphis) by that time or will it have mostly passed?

Posted by: Argiope | December 17, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

*A* ticket. Can I buy a vowel please?

Posted by: Argiope | December 17, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

You guys call what AccuWeather does is hyping, but I don't think putting up mid-range forecasts is exaggerated publicity or hoopla. It is what it is, a probability or potential storm. And if the public can't desiminate what probability or potential means then this country is dumber than I thought. A group of people started discussing this storm on a ski weather site on Tuesday morning.

Posted by: johnnyd2 | December 17, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse


The 12z Euro painted 1.5-2" (QPF) -- which is over 1 foot of snow. The 18z NAM, if it verified, would be historic(around 3" QPF).

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

You're taking this quite personal johnnyd.

I think you need to re-read CWG's entry on accuweather. They admit that Accuweather hits homeruns, but they also strikeout much more often. It looks like they hit their homerun here, but there are still going to be many more chances for them to strikeout this winter.

Posted by: maxhat4 | December 17, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

zim94: since you are obviously not busy, go and read the thread. It was not a "weather report", but rather CapWeather folks ripping AccuWeather a new one for going public with a possible snow storm this weekend.

In case you are too lazy, here is one bomb that Steve threw "The purpose of Accuweather cannot be anything but knowingly misleading unwary readers/subscribers by means not much different from the cover of rag publications depicting the inevitable doom and gloom resulting from, for example, an iminent collision with a rouge asteroid. But, what else is new?? I know that almost all AccuWeather lead forecasters recognize this, but are forced into this nonsense by management".

Posted by: johnnyd2 | December 17, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

CWG, other weather experts:

you guys are sying things like "historic" and "NAM looks freakin' awesome" and 12", 18", 30" so forth.

how often does something look this good 48 hours out?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 17, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse


Accuweather is the Rafeal Belliard of forecasting (2 home runs for 384 K's in 2,301 AB's). So many hundreds of models are forecasted and early on they can be bullish then sputter out, or have nothing at all and turn into block busters. I'm glad they're right for once, I'm excited, but CWG is way more reliable then In-accuweather 99.9% of the time.

For those asking every 4 posts about flights and parties, CWG will post a time line in the next 24 so have some patience please.

Posted by: TheMot | December 17, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: snowlover3 | December 17, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

maxhat4: I'm not taking this personally at all. I used to be a forecaster for the government, so I come to these sites to be around like minded people, not for forecasts. I think on the contrary CapWeather takes it very personally that AccuWeather does what it does. So they strike out on most of their mid-range forecasts (makes since because they are low probability). But that is how they roll, and CapWeather doesn't like to be so aggressive. So I get it, two different forecasting philosphies. I'm just not sure why CapWeather wanted to be so vocal and public about chastising another organization. I know it is a very competitive business, like I said, I used to do it.

Posted by: johnnyd2 | December 17, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

walter-in-fallschurch, I think it's fairly rare to be at this range and see agreement like this for a big event. It could still "go wrong" but it would have to go way wrong for us to get little snow.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

TheMot: how can CapWx be right 99% of the time when they don't even do mid-range forecasts? I'd like to see the data on how each verifies on short-range forecasting (

Posted by: johnnyd2 | December 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I think I may be a good luck charm for the area. I'm working this weekend, if the 18z NAM verifies, I may be spending the weekend here. But the last weekend I worked, Dec. 5th. Could be batting 1.000 for meteorological winter so far.

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I just hope sleet/freezing rain doesn't creep into this forecast. That always seems to happen!!

Posted by: PeterBethesda | December 17, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

For those of you wishing for a historic event, do you have any idea how crippling this will be for the area well into next week if that were to come to fruition? And that is Christmas week when people are trying to get to their loved ones. I know that's my plans. But those plans may be in deep trouble now. I've given up on the retailers. They're screwed now. Gonna be a disastrous Xmas season for the local economy. You watch.

I just don't understand the rationale behind cheering for something that can cause that many problems.

Guess I should probably check out from this site for winter.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | December 17, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

i'm SO excited for snow!!!

Posted by: madisondc | December 17, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

WJZ (Baltimore) is forecasting 4-6" in our general area. Doesn't that seem rather conservative?

Posted by: edwardappleby | December 17, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

OK, it's official... I'm excited.

Posted by: SkywalkerSS | December 17, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse


Yes. You should. Are you freakin' kidding me? People like snow because it's FUN and pretty. Stop being such a ninny and give us a break.

Posted by: MarylanDChris | December 17, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse


The thing with the Accuweather piece was while they may have seen the makings of a big storm coming (and believe me, a LOT of people did), there was hardly the backing to justify the level of hype that is often portrayed a week before an event from Accuweather.

And if you give them credit for getting it, do you take that away when Midday Tuesday one of their lead mets came out and said "I'm not sure if it will happen." with respect to the storm reaching the north east?

When you throw enough statements and comments out, it's easy to go back and say "See, we had it right!"

But again, with the hype, the question was is it responsible or fair to depict a multiple option snow chance as "Major East Coast Storm brewing?" I relate it to those 11pm news pieces that always start "Is your mattress killing your children? Is your sofa giving your ca cancer?" Yes, some sofa somewhere gave some cat cancer, but is it responsible to imply that your sofa is giving your cat cancer? hopefully, not my cat!

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

OK...timing....I have tixs to Young Frankenstein tomorrow night...Please tell me this will start late...

Posted by: SPS1 | December 17, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

ThinkSpring- I think everyone is cheering so much because of having so many completely bust winters lately. Lots of snow to this area is exciting because it's so rare.

Yes, logically it will be a huge pain and bad for retailers and I'm guessing that if we really did get 2 feet of snow (which I really don't think most people believe) many would sit around midweek going hey wait! why did I want this?

But the fact is that normally we get less snow then thought, and then it warms up and melts. That's our default thinking so everything that indicates more is exciting because it's different.

Personally, I think the DC metro area will get 6 inches or so which will get cleared for planes relatively quickly for travel, and from what I'm hearing because they put out the winter storm warnings already, many people are just doing their shopping tonight and tomorrow instead of waiting for the weekend. Everything will be okay.

Posted by: kallieh | December 17, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

This will be only the first of many storms this season. I have a very high confidence that this winters snow total will equal or surpass that of '96 -- gonna be a 2+ sigma winter in terms of both cold temps and snow. Maybe globally we are warming; but this region will be colder than "normal" before "global warming" makes us warmer rather than cooler.

Posted by: SprucemanWV | December 17, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Jim in NOVA here -

I assume the numbers put out here are generally accurate for most of the Metro, including Fairfax county? How far west is the "cutoff" setting up?

Posted by: jahutch | December 17, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Don't think this will verify,

Posted by: -swb | December 17, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

It's not looking good for seeing the family Saturday. One person is paying for all of us to see "Scrooge" at the dinner theater in Fredericksburg that night. The theater allows you to change performances up to 5 hours in advance. But still, of all the times our snowstorms have fizzled into flurries, this would be the one time that it doesn't.

Posted by: magicdomino | December 17, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Omg! that would be so amazing!!! DC under 3.33 feet of snow. That will bring everything to a grinding halt! (Yes I think that is a good thing.)

Posted by: Alexandria2009 | December 17, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse


And after taking time to re-read through everything, I would also agree that I follow, respect, and like many of accuweather's forecasters. I think the editorial decision on what to put on the home page and what headlines to give stories is not of the same quality.

I will also pull back the curtain a little with what we do here (but shhh, don't tell anyone else, ok?). We make it a point to have consistent forecasts. That last thing you need from a trusted weather source is to tell you 1 thing 1 day, something else the next, and a completely different forecast on the third day. If we have to err to providing less details or making a safer call 3 days away because it isn't locked down yet, then we will. If you had followed some of our mets on twitter, such as Josh Larson, you would see that way back on Tuesday and before he was thinking that we would get 3+ inches of snow, but we just don't whiplash forecasts like that.

I give AccuWx all the credit in the world for being the first to go on the record with this storm. But we sure as heck will also call them out when they go on the record and recieve an inch of 39 deg rain...

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

ok, so I'm stupid. When I go to this link: , what should I be clicking on?...

Posted by: shirlingtonvillage | December 17, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

While I do think it's funny that CWG posted a critique of AccuWX just when the latter proved to be correct, I also think it's ludicrous to say AccuWX was going out on a limb with its forecast.

Going out on a limb implies some kind of noble principle; it's courageous to go out on a limb. What AccuWX did was not going out on a limb. It was pure hype with the intention not of journalistic integrity but of simple eyeball numbers.

Ironically for CWG, the critique was posted at a time when AccuWX's forecast proved correct. Of course, this goes to prove another DC snow truism: Anything you do or plan thinking there'd be no snow increases the likelihood of snow. God enjoys messing with DC, and if it weren't for CWG's critique, AccuWX would be wrong yet again.

So here's hoping not only for more critiques of AccuWX this winter, but also for more global warming conferences (which have also proven to increase the likelihood of snow!).

Posted by: nlcaldwell | December 17, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

NOOOO. I am meeting a friend I have not seen in almost 4 years on the Mall on Monday. This storm and the attendant traffic tie ups must be out of here by Sunday night (but the pretty snow on lawns and such can stay).

All set for Saturday, got my chocolate. Will finish last minute Christmas shopping next week.

Posted by: epjd | December 17, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse


11 columns in 12 rows down 60hr Total Precip

Posted by: Alexandria2009 | December 17, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

epjd: Monday will be clear but yes cold. And besides the annoying walk through some snow & slush, I really hope you still go down to meet your friend at the Mall! :-)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Thank you!!!

Posted by: shirlingtonvillage | December 17, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

ThinkSpring: Perhaps you're a transplant from a place where snowstorms are a frequent occurrence, and the locals are accustomed to dealing with them?

I am, and I'll never understand why the local population pines for snowstorms, while simultaneously being utterly unable to treat the roads, or even drive on roads that haven't been cleared (look at all the accidents caused by people who think they can go 60MPH on ice, and all the schools that close when a half inch of snow falls.) It's like some kind of local pathology...

Posted by: stuckman | December 17, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Question: Will my travel plans be affected Saturday or Sunday morning?

Answer: Highly likely

Posted by: GD1975 | December 17, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Went to the library for a stack of fun to read books: check

Listed what I'm going to instant download from my Netflix queue: check

Stack of thank you notes from my October wedding that still need to be written: check

Pile of leftover alcohol from said wedding: check!

Okay snow, bring it on! I'm ready!

Posted by: kallieh | December 17, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I am going to go ahead and ask:

CWG- do you all think there is a chance for schools to be closed next week?

It's ridiculous that we have school the week of Christmas anyway.


Posted by: icecubedowntoilet | December 17, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Fine. I move out of DC back to Indiana and say "at least it will snow here" and it has hardly snowed here once so far.

Enjoy your friggin' snow. I miss you DC!

Posted by: LaurainNWDC | December 17, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Is there another storm following for x-mas?

Posted by: gfp76 | December 17, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

people need to finish their dinner. i miss all the chatter! let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Posted by: shirlingtonvillage | December 17, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

100% snow on the NWS graphics for Sat.

I'm all aquiver.

Still containing myself and avoiding the caps and exclamation points in my emails to friends about the possible impending event- but most likely not for long. (BTW, most of the don't care a bit, which is why it is so nice to coe hear and read the chatter of my fellow snow lovers).

Posted by: Snowlover2 | December 17, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm beginning to worry whether all the excitement of an impending major snowstorm could be the kiss of death of it becoming a reality. Hey folks, it's not yet in the bag!

Objectively, which is counter to my virtually uncontainable bias of (wishful) thinking this will be a BIG ONE, please note that CWG's latest forecast still calls for a 15% chance of less than an inch and only a 50/50 chance for more than 6"! There's still a ways to go before being a 100% certainty. Even being only a day or so out, it's just not possible to be totally certain (the "butterflies" are still out there flapping their wings)

Having said that, bring it on, yeah, yeah, yeah ...!

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

will you guys put out a new post tonight or not until tomorrow morning?

Posted by: shirlingtonvillage | December 17, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

@ Steve-T- I hear you! I'm trying very hard to get a grip, and not count my chickens. It isn't a certainty. I should know better- we have been disappointed so often before!
(oh, and sorry for the typos in my above comment- sometimes they get submitted before I have a chance to check it over!)

Posted by: Snowlover2 | December 17, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse


Yes-- There is some potential for more winter storminess around Christmas-time.


We'll update again in the 11 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. time frame for sure (with accumulation map). We may also provide an intermediate update.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

thank you! you guys are great.

Posted by: shirlingtonvillage | December 17, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Accuweather's forecast have gone to hell. Their accuracy in the Mid Atlantic has tanked over the last 18mos. They used to be pretty decent with their mid range predictions and even out 72 hrs. Now forget it. Dougie and Bobbie are more accurate.

Cap Weather Gang is pretty good, NOAA is good and so is Intellicast. Acuuweather's paid forecasts are only slightly better. Its more than obvious Accuweather sold out for the almighty dollar rather than being accurate.

I need accurate foreasts for my business and my hobbies. Accuweather has let me down way too many times in last 18mos. Joe Bastardi say it ain't so.

My favorite weather person is Domenica Davis on Fox New. Wow, she is hot and rival Go Go Gomez on Fox Business.

My herding dogs and my friends herding dogs have been predicting a colder than average winter since the end of Oct. They have been putting on coat. Biggest coats and roughs in years.

Posted by: vaherder | December 17, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

@Steve T -- if this comes to pass, I think I'LL be in the bag by Saturday night. Got tickets to see the Hershey Bears and it looks like they are only going to get an inch or two up there, so I doubt they will look kindly on "tickets to a future home game..."

Posted by: ValleyCaps | December 17, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't this storm hitting the NYC tri-state area?

Posted by: pwolly | December 17, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Mets over on the forums are starting to think out loud about BLIZZARD WATCHES being posted by this time tomorrow. What think ye, CWG mets? It's alright - I can wait 'til your 11 p.m. update!

Posted by: VAStateOfMind | December 17, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

latest NAM beautiful enough said

Posted by: jmc732msstate | December 17, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

jmc732, whats the latest NAM say? how much, how much!

Posted by: shirlingtonvillage | December 17, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

SteveT, while you are certainly right, this would go down as one of the most epic model busts ever if it does not come together. The main question in my mind right now is "big" or "historic".

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

VAStateOfMind, if the system can get as wound up as the NAM and EURO are showing it's possible it could be a blizzard at some locations. Official blizzard criteria is somewhat difficult to reach though.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

shirlingtonvillage, the last NAM run from a few hours ago was easily 2'+ across most or all of the area. A little hard to believe for sure... The NAM has a history of going a little nuts on precipitation, but even cutting it in half is a very big event.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

11th Annual NE.Wx Snowfall Forecast Contest

Forecast storm-total snowfall for the weekend storm. No cost...or fee...or annoying requests for personal information to enter. Just a fun game among wx enthusiasts to see who can make the best forecast.

Deadline: 10:30 PM EST FRI...18-DEC-09
Forecast element: storm-total snowfall

Verification begins: 12:01 AM EST SAT...19-DEC-09
Verification ends: 11:59 PM EST SUN...20-DEC-09

Enter your forecast @

Follow the link from 'Enter Storm Forecast.'

Web log:

Posted by: toweringqs | December 17, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Not to get off topic, but why must everybody now use @ to talk to somebody? It's sad to see something as lame as Twitter making it a staple of how to reply to somebody.

Posted by: TheMot | December 17, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Please dont take this as a fact or even a possibility but 18Z NAM gives IAD (Dulles) 71.4 inches of accumulated snowfall by sunday night.... GFS gives ~14 inches. Really what this shows is the range in modeled solutions and real historic possibility of this storm.

Likely somewhere between 10 and 25. I am a MET major at PSU (Senior) my forecast is:

99% >2 in

85% >5

65% >8

45% >12

25% >15

13% >20

5% >30

A lot will be known by 00z tonight, EASTERNUSWX and this site (for an update) will be great to watch tonight... I will be issuing a forecast on if anyone is interested around 12:15 pm or so.

Posted by: METEO-PSU | December 17, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for your forecast. Seems pretty reasonable.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Curtmccormick here, signing in under my wife's nom de plume...

This storm did form over Brownsville TX just like the '93 Superstorm, and I see that it produced record rain there today. I love that storm path for us, the farther west in the Gulf they get going, the more time they have to mature. And the cold is not in doubt. The sky's the limit on this one, but of course it takes everything coming together just right for DC to land in the sweet spot. NAM seems impossible, but halfway between it and the GFS would still be epic.

One other vital thing I noticed: Camden is in the house! I suggest he should convene a late Friday meeting of Camden's Crazies on-line, like the good old days. I already know that lots of us won't be sleeping tomorrow night, we'll be watching an amazing storm.

I'll be happy to report in from Darnestown (and I found the yardstick for this one, just in case.)

Posted by: megster671 | December 17, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

The normal hype or almost hysteria before a potential sig. event exists.

The models look great. The GFS enhances with the 18z compared to 12z. The NAM continues to plaster, but we are still 24 hrs. away from inception. A lot can happen in 24 hrs.

If the current model consensus verifies, I advise against travel tomorrow night through Sunday.

Posted by: AugustaJim | December 17, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Ok - I'm officially excited. I (finally) believe Charlottesville will get > 12", and we'll have a white Christmas. I started hyping it up to my 6 year-old at 6:30 a.m. this morning and even if it's a bust I plan to enjoy the anticipation as much as possible.

Enjoying the posts, CWG.

Posted by: cvilleSnowMan | December 17, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

To go back a little earlier about snow excitement -- before the CWG came over to the Post, they catered to a lot of snow lovers, and it's natural to have some excitement over it, anyway. So the Snow Lovers Crystal Ball is fun.

But once we start talking about more than a pretty six-inch snowfall, I think the audience in here naturally shifts from "Hey, cool, we might get some snow" to "Oh geez -- am I going to have to cancel all my holiday plans?"

Hey, some of us have places to be. We're starting to worry about getting there.

Posted by: BDVienna | December 17, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

If the NAM has a history of "going nuts," as you say, with the precip, then why aren't the results tempered somewhat by applying multiplier? Are the NAM numbers used as some kind of outside-possibility guidance? Seems like a model that throws those kind of numbers needs a little work.

Posted by: ennepe68 | December 17, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Satellite shots are just beautiful tonight, moisture feed through the Yucatan. Started saving up images for this one...

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

At some point, we'll likely have to start talking about school cancellations for Monday.
It looks like Sunday will be clean up day, but if we get dumped on (12"+) they will likely not have roads cleared well enough for school by Monday.
Just one mans opinion....

Posted by: bodyiq | December 17, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I am a little worried about the dry slot appearing in the Gulf of Mexico. This could really reduce snowfall!

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | December 17, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

@Ian - WOW! So what's the risk of another derecho forming in the Gulf and slamming someone in the Gulf Coast like in '93? The warm sector looks impressive too. Any thoughts on this? It will be interesting to follow that aspect, which will occur about 12 hours before it gets here. Not worried at all about the dry slot, in fact that's just an indicator of how strong this in; the comma cloud jackpot area will fill around it to the west.

Posted by: megster671 | December 17, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

The 00z NAM continues to look impressive.

Posted by: druffk | December 17, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

the 00Z Nam is still running and once again already has about 2.5 inches of liquid so the run to run changes are minimal. This means over 24 inches of snow is likely is many areas.

Posted by: barryg2 | December 17, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow! This is looking more and more like a Historic Snowstorm! Could this rival some of our biggest storms to date?

Posted by: CMan62 | December 17, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

will it stay cold throughout next week? we might have a white christmas!

Posted by: samdman95 | December 17, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

and to think... just yesterday you were only calling for 2 flakes and now 2 feet! lol!

Posted by: samdman95 | December 17, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

This storm seems to have an erie setup somewhat resmbeling the 1996 midatlantic blockbuster storm.

It seems there is another storm brewing after this monster. I remember in 1996 when back back to back storms a week apart.. I had to shovel over 3 feet of snow off my deck in Spotsylvania after the double ducers hit.

Posted by: StormChaserMan | December 17, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

StormChaserMan said "This storm seems to have an erie setup somewhat resmbeling the 1996 midatlantic blockbuster storm."

No, don't say that!!

Posted by: Murre | December 17, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

10:00 PM EST. OOZ WRF-NMM (NAM) Model Run has backed off from the 18Z total dumping over DC - Baltimore. Farther east and deeping occurs more slowly as it treks from Hatters to DE Bay.

Posted by: pseaby | December 17, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Just out of much snow does it take to effectively shut the DC metro area down and make travel nearly impossible? New to the area.

Posted by: banweiler | December 17, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

banweiler: A dusting, usually.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | December 17, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

What do you mean the NAM has backed off? It still shows 2 inches of liquid throughout the DC area which COULD equal two feet of snow? Even, if you take that down 1/4 it is still 18 inches?

Posted by: CMan62 | December 17, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

banweiler, back in 2003 we had 18-25 inches over the area. It took days for them to get all the lanes on the beltway open. At least one lane was partially snow covered and unusable. Anything under 6 inches usually doesn't affect much past 24 hours but 6 inches can seriously impact life for 2 or more days.

Posted by: ana_b | December 17, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

@CMan62 i know right! i would not be complaining if we got 20 inches!

Posted by: samdman95 | December 17, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Banweiler, 6 inches should more than do it.

Posted by: Murre | December 17, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

can someone give me a good link to the models? Just curious to check them out.. Thanks!

Posted by: jrodfoo | December 17, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Gearing up:

Look for reports all weekend!

Posted by: stinkerflat1 | December 17, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Normally, I'd be extremely excited at the possibilities being bandied about here. But we have a 6am flight out of National sunday morning, and I've never had a departure coming so soon after a snow event like this could be shaping up to be. Anyone got any history on how National handles digging out?

Posted by: Cmkodama | December 17, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse
CMAN62- NAM still has 15-18 in of Accumlated Snowcover over the DC Area despite what looks to be slightly weaker,easterly run. I want to see the 00Z. 12Z Runs of the Canadian ,JMA European and GFS. If the European , JMA hold onto their 12Z solution from today & we see otherz trend that way.. watch out..

Posted by: pseaby | December 17, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: jrodfoo | December 17, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse


A dusting. :-)

Posted by: markf40 | December 17, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse


Seriously, I think the Metro stops running its outdoor rail service when we reach 8 inches of snow.


Posted by: markf40 | December 17, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Sue Palka just did her forecast on Fox... she played it safe and said it could be a record setting storm or justs a decent snow fall. I have a couple problems with this:
1) the lay person has no idea what record setting means
2) It's the night before the storm, you need to make a call. Qualify the call and say it's a preliminary that may change... but still, make a call and throw out a map there. Use bigger ranges if you have to. Sue never even mentioned any snowfall amount other than the Winter Storm threshold of 5".

Anyway, not to bash Sue, I actually like her... but I think there is ann increasing tendency to cop out and not provide snowfall estimates. I think there is value add there, even if the numbers are still changing.

Posted by: markinva | December 17, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

More TV weatherman critiques... at 11pm:

Doug Hill just did the same thing... he said could be 5-7"... perhaps "much more" perhaps less...

Come on... this is the day before the storm, take a risk here...

Topper Shutt basically said nothing.

Bob Ryan- excellent job laying out bullets 60% 10"+ 30% of a historic event...

Kudos to Bob Ryan and Capital Weather so far in my book.

Posted by: markinva | December 17, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

cmkodama-The airport is pretty good about getting things cleared. Problem is getting there, both for you by car or metro and for the planes if they're stuck in bad weather elsewhere.

Posted by: ah___ | December 17, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Cmkodama- Also keep in mind that the National Airport metro stop is above ground, meaning that it may get closed if the weather is bad enough.

Posted by: kallieh | December 17, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Glad you all are still awake for our upcoming team forecast update...! just a few minutes away

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | December 17, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

cmkodama-- I had to leave town for a work related trip to Huntsville, AL just after the 8" snow we had in early Mar 09. It was ugly. I got to the airport about 5:00 for an evening flight. I got cancelled and re-booked on at least 3 flights, and they finally admitted about 11pm all flights that night were cancelled. Hubby came back to pick me up and I got home around midnight. Got back to DCA about 11am the next day for a 12:15 flight, and we left about 1:30. I think DCA is pretty good about clearing runways, but I'd be plenty worried about airplanes (equipment) delays/cancellations across the eastern US. That could be the fly in the ointment. Good luck!

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

Topper showed 6"-12".

Posted by: FusilliJerry1 | December 17, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting Camden! Ready to go to bed...

Posted by: someonelikeyou | December 17, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Topper just said; "Thunder Snow"!! with lightning. His estimate is 6-12" for NOVA including FFX and Loudoun Counties. He also said he could be "way light" in his snowfall predictions. He said it very well could be "The Historic Snow we have been waiting for"!!

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | December 17, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Yeah topper did a decent job on the full forecast. His preview was lame-o though.

Posted by: markinva | December 17, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey CWG: you need to talk with Shlonn. First, all of his quotes are from Accuweather (with none from you guys), and second, the headline is calling for 4-8". And this article is the lead-in for the local news page from the national page. What gives?

Posted by: jkuchen | December 17, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Oops, make that Sholnn. Sorry about that.

Posted by: jkuchen | December 17, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Channel 9 posted a "thunderstorm" icon in the midst of Saturday's snow...any chances for thundersnow with hourly accumulation rates from 1 to as much as 6 inches???

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 17, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Topper also said snow should start @ 8 p.m.- 10 p.m. tomorrow and could produce upto 2 -3 inches an hour with the thunder snows. Long range also showed snow for Tuesday night and Weds as well as another possible "Big Storm" starting Thursday

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

All the angst and speculation about a weather event that has yet to occur is truly entertaining. I am a rare native of the Washington DC area ( I grew up here), and I can attest to the difficulty of snow prediction for the middle atlantic region. AccuWeather, CWG and the the National Weather service can all or separately be correct or incorrect in terms of precipitation type, snow accumulation, or no precipitation at all.

This is a particularly difficult region to forecast since we are typically caught between land based high pressure systems which may or may not move since cold air is relatively stable, while geographical proximity to the coast ( and its relatively warm ocean air) have a significant affect on the track of low pressure systems, resulting in uncertainty regarding the type of precipitation. Sometimes the result of all these dynamics means that the metro area gets nothing at all, gets a annoying mix, or else gets nailed with heavy snow. Precipitation type in the middle atlantic region can vary significantly in very narrow bands.

In my opinion, all the computer models possessed by meteorologists, along with their doppler radar doesn't change the inexorable uncertainty one iota.

When in doubt in this region, err on the side of caution, take your time, and don't slam yourself if you guessed wrong. If you reside in this area long enough, It won't be the first or last time you face winter uncertainty. Besides, your guess is as good as anyone else's, including the gurus at the weather services.

Posted by: MillPond2 | December 17, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Thunder snow?!?! Wow, it's been YEARS since I've seen that! If we get thunder snow, then all bets are off for accumulation estimates. Oh, dear. Did Topper have the bread-o-meter out yet? Inquiring minds want to know...

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

He did. 7.5 on the meter.

Posted by: FusilliJerry1 | December 17, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow. That's something. We haven't seen the bread-o-meter in a long time. He must be pretty confident in the forecast to put it that high. We shall see...

Posted by: southbridgemom | December 17, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I used to live in the DC area.Now I'm in Georgia..So to all you guys I say ENJOY THE SNOW!!!!

Posted by: lovemycowboys | December 18, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

How to name the storm? I suggest "Winter". Happens every year. Why the the hysteria every time we get a bit of frozen precipitation?

Posted by: wmicawber | December 19, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company