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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/16/2010

Forecast: Slow snow meltdown

By Matt Rogers

But some light snow showers possible tomorrow

* Blizzards and climate change | Must-see photos/videos *
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Today's Daily Digit
A somewhat subjective rating of the day's weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
5Better than Monday, but still mostly cloudy and colder than normal.
Get tomorrow's 'Digit' on Twitter tonight


Today: Mostly cloudy, breezy and cold. Possible a.m. flurries. 34-39. | Tonight: More clouds. 17-25. | Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy with a chance of scattered snow showers. 35-40. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


We learned in January 1996 that rapid meltdowns are not good around here, particularly if they include rain. So the current forecast for a very gradual melt and slowly rising temperatures is the best prescription for our exceptional amount of winter leftovers. We expect temperatures to slowly build into the 40s for highs by late this week rather than any dramatic major warm-ups.

Radar: Latest regional radar shows movement of precipitation over past three hours. Powered by HAMweather. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

Today (Tuesday): After a slight chance of morning snow flurries (mainly north and west of the beltway), lingering cloud cover today will keep temperatures in check with 30s for highs along with breezes from the west and northwest. They could reach up to as high as 15-20 mph hour at times, making the wind chill feel like the 20s. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Partly to mostly cloudy skies with lows in the upper teens (colder suburbs) to the mid-20s downtown. Winds will settle down to light breezes. Confidence: Medium-High

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend...

Sunrise at the Capitol yesterday morning. By CWG photographer Kevin Ambrose.

Tomorrow (Wednesday): An upper-level disturbance is forecast to swing through the area so expect clouds to cling to the region along with the chance (30%) for scattered snow showers. Temperatures should inch up just a little into the mid-to-upper 30s or maybe even touching 40. These are still below-normal temperatures though for the second half of February. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow Night: Cloudy skies in the evening edge toward partly cloudy and then mostly clear by late at night. As a result, temperatures could reach down into the teens for lows in the outer suburbs with low-to-mid 20s in the city. Confidence: Medium


Thursday and Friday are similar days right now with partly to mostly sunny skies and warmer daytime highs in the low-to-mid 40s range. This should continue our gradual melting process, and the sun should feel nice too! Lows Thursday night should be in the 20s throughout the area, but we can't rule out some upper teens out toward Dulles or in upper Montgomery county again. Confidence: Medium

The weekend should start with near-normal temperatures with Saturday highs in the 40s under partly sunny skies and Saturday night lows in the 20s. Sunday looks colder again with upper 30s to around 40 for a high and a slight chance for some winter precipitation -- the current guidance is NOT clustering around any significant threats, but there is some energy we'll be watching closely from the west and south. My thinking right now is that we'll have little to worry about this weekend. But we'll watch it as we always do. Confidence: Low

By Matt Rogers  | February 16, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Snoverkill forecast: Good overview, details messy


Hm.m.m. wonder if we'll have a snowy Sunday.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 16, 2010 6:01 AM | Report abuse

More recent modeling is delaying the next storm chance toward Monday and Tuesday of next week.

Posted by: MattRogers | February 16, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

I do hope you are right about the slow melt. We have flooded before, and OH MY, there is a lot more snow this time!

Posted by: NoJunk | February 16, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

This is out of your job description CWG (though I love you all), but is there any rough estimate of how long the snow will be here at the going rate of temperatures, presuming we do not get anymore? I am barely holding onto my sanity, and the best thing at the moment is my calendar marking off days until daylight savings time begins. The snow is also killing my husband's business, as he has a work truck that cannot handle these poorly plowed roads or park anywhere in the neighborhoods where he works. Stress is at an all time high due to weather! Is the end in sight?

Posted by: esmerelda123 | February 16, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

With several days in the 40s expected over the balance of this week into the weekend, I believe the roads will only get better all the time. Now, all the snow everywhere else will probably take a few more weeks to completely kill as we are not seeing any major warming patterns anytime soon. And unfortunately, this potential system early next week could be a setback. If you can hang in there, March isn't that far away...

Posted by: MattRogers | February 16, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

33 days to Spring! 87 days until the rentals in Ocean City open for the Beach Season!

Posted by: wiredog | February 16, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

For the statistical nerds among us (me included), Baltimore official hit 80 inches of snow for the season yesterday.

That's more snow than snow belt cities such as Grand Rapids and South Bend or New England cities such as Portland, Me, or Burlington, Vt. receive on average. IAD is pretty close to the South Bend/Grand Rapids average. DCA is more in Lansing's league.

Matt, thanks for the info re: next week's possible winter event.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 16, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Matt. The roads will at least help with the business. March IS very soon, thank heaven, but didn't we have our major snow last season in March? Another event next week ... here's hoping it is minimal in DC! CWG is the greatest!

Posted by: esmerelda123 | February 16, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

@wiredog: 12 days to meteorological Spring. I prefer to go with that one!

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 16, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

What do the long range models show for Monday next week?

Posted by: linda_521 | February 16, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for all of your hard work. Do you have any idea how big this next snow might be for next week?

Posted by: thecavs1 | February 16, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse


If it stays in the upper 30's and low 40's the roads will get better everyday. Each day the cars on the roads are helping the sun to melt the snow and ice.

I know there are still huge snow packs out there, but they are melting and will soon get down to a "manageable size".

Good luck until then.

Posted by: celestun100 | February 16, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I had to park on the street the other night (flips the bird at greedy neighbors) and my car is now trapped in an ice prison. Is it a bad idea to pour boiling H2O on the ice mounds?

CWG: any longer-term crystal ball predictions? I want a real spring this year, not the usual DC winter to automatic summer deal.

Posted by: chunche | February 16, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse


I think it depends how far you have to carry the water to get to the car and over what kind of terrain. (like- ice and snow would be pretty risky)

The water will melt the snow and then it sort of freezes harder.

Your biggest risk is slipping or causing someone else to slip on the ice that you create. Also, you will be carrying the hot water as you walk along the slippery snow/ice and you could get burned.

The water will slop around as you try not to slip and you will get wet.

If you can wait until the sun is up higher, it would be easier to get out as the sun melts the snow.

Be careful.

I have done this when my door freezes shut in Michigan and I just poured water on the side of the door.

I think you could try the water since the sun is already out,but, if the snow is really deep it is going to take a lot of water which will turn to ice underfoot, unless it has someplace to go.

Posted by: celestun100 | February 16, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Ugh, this morning was exceptionally cold, and it really made me yearn for the early days of spring...but this snow (looking uglier each day) is going to be hanging around for a while, it seems.

Posted by: SWester2010 | February 16, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Being from the beach, I had no idea what I was doing when I poured hot water across my windshield every morning while attending college in Rochester, NY. I was pretty proud of myself for being rather ingenious (especially since none of my fellow Rochesterians were doing this).

Eep. What a mistake that was. When glass is involved, you just DON'T want to play with temperatures too much.

Posted by: JSTF | February 16, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

@esmerelda123, last year's biggest snow, about 5.5" came on Feb 28-March 1, I believe. But this year, 5.5" inches would rate as #5.

I'm willing to bet after this winter, we won't see that much snow again in a single snowstorm until 3-4 winters hence. (After the very snowy winter of 1995-96, which set a then-record of 46" at DCA, DCA had 0.1" for the entire winter of 1996-97.)

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 16, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

chunche: How is your car trapped in an "ice prison"? I always park my car on the street and have never had this kind of degradation.

Do you mean to say that you parked your car in an unshoveled space, didn't clear the snow around your car, and the compressed snow turned into ice? It's time to start hacking away at that ice with garden tools (and now you know not to do that again!)

Posted by: stuckman | February 16, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I thought you meant the wheels were stuck in ice.
Don't pour hot water on top of the windows- they might crack. Also the car doors could freeze shut.

Posted by: celestun100 | February 16, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Nice shot Kevin!

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 16, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

chunche, I would not expect too much sign of spring for another few weeks at least. The long-term blocking over Greenland continues and appears to want to do so.. That's generally a chilly/stormy pattern here even into March. Looks like more "big" storm chances starting in about a week... though we'll eventually start battling climo around I95.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 16, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

i'd sure like to see the one month record broken. do i remember someone saying we are about 4" away?

hypothetically, for you snow i'm-fed-up-with-it-ers, would you be less upset/inconvenienced/etc...w/ 4 storms of one inch each or one 4" storm?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 16, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Hey guys, let's go big picture here. I can already see the allusions to more snow next week, but based on the tea leaves (and models etc .. .) what's your current thinking on the liklihood of more significant snow (6+ inches) before spring?

Posted by: Etch | February 16, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Snow flurries and snow showers [a SNOW SHOWER leaves a VISIBLE accumulation, as opposed to a SNOW FLURRY, which does not!] in the cold air stream following passage of a disturbance provide a good sign that spring is beginning to overtake winter...we are now two weeks from the beginning of meteorological spring.

This winter the transition to spring conditions is likely to be somewhat delayed due to our large snowpack. We may see one or two "bonus" snowfalls between Mar. 1 and Mar. 15.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 16, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

walter-in-fallschurch, after picking up .1" at DCA yesterday they are sitting at 32" for February. The DC record for Feb (and all-time monthly) is 35.2" in 1899. Right now, I'd guess we have a pretty good shot to get there.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 16, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

That stubborn blocking can stay over Greenland all it wants, but the facts are that every day the average high temperatures go up, and every day we have more sunlight. So old man stubborn winter will be on his way whether he likes it or not. That blocking is keeping our temps about 10 degrees below average. So come March 1 when the average temp is 50 degrees we will be 40 degrees, a little too warm for snow (unless we get hit at night). And if the blocking stays there thru summer I don't think anyone will complain if we are 80 degrees instead of 90 degrees in July!

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 16, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I think we have our own snow olympics (Snowlympics?) going on here with talk of breaking the next record.

We're going for the gold if we pass 35.2"!

Posted by: Frida7 | February 16, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

@rwalker66 -

Right you are. Sooner or later, climatology starts to win out against this annoying blocking in Greenland. The sun starts to do its work more and more each day.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 16, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Call me crazy but I'm looking forward to next week's potential storm. I've been snow starved for years so I'll take what I can get.

Posted by: Rcmorgan | February 16, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

March offers me no solace, some of our biggest snow storms came in March (I believe it was either the blizzard of 93 or 96). I'm bittersweet though, part of me wants it to snow more, another part of me says that all of this snow is going to affect my sales numbers in a bad way...

Posted by: SteveinAtown | February 16, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse


What do you call it when it begins to snow lightly at the beginning of a big storm?

I saw that people were saying "flurries" for that, but I think of flurries as a like a flutter of snow that has no chance of accumulating.

I thought the correct term for light, steady snow was not flurries, but light snow...

You mentioned you lived in Eau Claire and posted about the flurries above so maybe you know.

Posted by: celestun100 | February 16, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Hi CWG! Thanks so much for the amazing job you all do. I am obsessed with your site although I don't post much. Just had a quick question: what did you mean by "though we'll eventually start battling climo around I95." in your post above? Thanks again!

Posted by: cassann981 | February 16, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

A WaPo editor did some research on being "flinty" in Chicago v. DC...

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 16, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the comment and question ... "climo" is short for "climatology" and "I95" refers to "Interstate 95" ... the point being that, as average temperatures rise as we get later into February and then March, historically it becomes harder to get big-time snows along I-95 and to the south and east. That said, some of our biggest storms have come in March, on both sides of I-95. So with the right overall pattern and storm track, big snows are still possible deep into March.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 16, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

cassann981, "battling climo" (climatology) meant, as others have since alluded, that temperature averages on the rise steadily now. By the end of next week the average high in DC is 50 and nearer 55 in the middle of March. 50 is about equal to the start of December averages and 55 is about equal to mid-November. Though we do get snow in those periods it is more difficult to get "big" snow. It is however a bit easier to tap into good cold air in the spring than fall.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 16, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I remember the rapid snowmelt in 1996. Was nice to get it out of the way so quickly, but the C&O Canal is still messed up from it. Yet, I would like to see grass before March!

Posted by: nlcaldwell | February 16, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I am also secretly enjoying our snowy weather. February is usually a very ugly month here in Washington but our snowy landscape is a thing of beauty. Washington has never looked better and in a way, nature has provided us with a much needed break. I'm sure many of those who comment on the CWG will disagree and cite the many inconveniences (and even some of the tragedies) resulting from these snow storms. However Nature sometimes needs to remind us that there is absolutely nothing we can do. Man seeks to control but often can only sit back and watch.

Posted by: ntrlsol | February 16, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks CWG for the explanation - I had a feeling that was the general idea, but wasn't totally sure. I am also enjoying this winter and have a totally non-scientific hunch that we're not out of the (snow) woods yet.

Posted by: cassann981 | February 16, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

YES YES YES!!! Bring more snow! :) I agree with Rcmorgan...I, too, have been snow starved and deprived for years. I want my fill finally =D

Posted by: sigmagrrl | February 16, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Any idea how many inches of rain we would have received if the snow of the past two storms had been liquid?

Posted by: lhaller | February 16, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

@Ian-CWG, thanks. I will look to Greenland. (Trivia: do you all know that "North America" refers to the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Greenland?)

celestun: My wheels aren't stuck and my car is clean (I dug out after each storm and have been out and about.) The space on the street I had to use (because my private, cleared lot was full)--an SUV had been there, and they did the minimum to get out. So I could get in but the snow is now hard ice, and my poor Acura is very low to the ground, and I can't back out without damaging the car.

And I'm from Pa, so I know very well that it's dumb to pour hot water on a car's paint or windshield. (I learned that as a teenager, the hard way!)

Posted by: chunche | February 16, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

@SWester2010, where are you originally from? It has been relatively warm out the past few nights, and I don't even need a jacket outside (Only a sweatshirt). Then again, I guess it depends upon just what exactly you were wearing. Sorry that you had to freeze yourself.

@JerryFloyd, we received 12" of the stuff last February/March (2009), and we had two storms within weeks of eachother that suddenly placed us at or above our average seasonal accumulation. We basically made up for our dry season with two sudden late-season snowstorms.

@Rcmorgan, @Sigmagrrl, @Ntrisol, right on! I completely agree with you.

Also, for anyone curious about late season snowfall, I remember my grandmother telling me about one of the biggest snowstorms she ever witnessed in VA, and it occurred right around Easter. Being in the Mid-Atlantic is like existing upon a diluted version of Mt. Washington, as our seasonal climate/storm system patterns can really go either way (In terms of temperatures, and subsequently precipitation type & frequency), especially in the cooler months.

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 17, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

@Camden, that link is MUCH appreciated. I can't believe I missed that piece in the paper! Well done on Mr. Tobin's part ;-)

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 17, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

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