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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 02/24/2010

Forecast: Blizzard-like winds coming; Snow, too?

By Dan Stillman

Metro area on the edge of significant accumulations

* Winter Weather Advisory tonight through early Thurs. (map) *
* New hurricane-climate change study | Feb. facts and near feats *
* Clouds & more: Weather Wall | Later this a.m.: Accumulation map *

Today's Daily Digit
A somewhat subjective rating of the day's weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
5Mostly cloudy & cool. Enjoy the relatively light winds. They'll be blizzard-like Thurs. into Fri.
Get tomorrow's 'Digit' on Twitter tonight


Today: Mostly cloudy. Chance of rain or snow late. Low-to-mid 40s. | Tonight: Increasing chance of snow. Near 30. | Tomorrow: Snow possible, especially early and late. Accumulations uncertain. Winds becoming strong & gusty. Mid-to-upper 30s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


Against all odds, the word "blizzard" is in the D.C. area forecast yet again this winter. The high winds needed for blizzard conditions are likely by Thursday afternoon into Friday as low pressure moving up the coast (to a position near New York City by around midday Thursday) goes through explosive intensification. What's in question is whether we'll get the snow to go with the winds. It appears we'll be near a border of what could be several inches or more to the east and north, and little to no snow to the west. The timing for any snow would be tonight through early Friday.

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 (Wednesday): Maybe a few morning breaks in the clouds. Otherwise, it's a mostly cloudy day with highs in the low-to-mid 40s and a 30% chance of rain or snow developing in the late afternoon. Winds won't be too much of a factor -- around 10 mph from the northwest. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: A 40% chance of rain or snow in the evening, then a 50% chance of snow overnight and toward morning. Lows around 30. Confidence: Low-Medium

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend....

Tomorrow (Thursday): Some snow is possible, especially early and late in the day. But we're not yet able to confidently say whether it will be steady accumulating snow, or intermittent snow showers and flurries, and there may be an extended lull during the middle part of the day, which could allow highs to reach the upper 30s. Otherwise, mid-30s should do it. What we're quite confident of is that winds from the northwest will increase during the day, to near 30 mph during the afternoon and evening with gusts to near or over 50 mph, keeping wind chills in the 20s. Confidence: Low

Tomorrow Night: Snow showers may increase as the storm center stalls to the north and drifts inland. Winds remain strong and gusty through the night with lows in the 20s. Confidence: Low-Medium

Total accumulations: Frustrating as it may be, the accumulation forecast for Wednesday night through Thursday night remains uncertain. Generally speaking, accumulation potential increases the farther east and north you go from D.C. The way it looks now, the metro area could see as little as 1-3" (maybe less than 1" heading west of the Beltway), or as much as around 3-6" (especially east toward the Bay and northeast toward Baltimore).

In and around Baltimore, 3-6" becomes a better bet, with 4-8" not out of reach (especially for Baltimore's northern/eastern suburbs). Northern parts of the Eastern Shore could see 4-8" or even 5-10".

Stay tuned for an accumulation map later this morning after we review new model information. [Accumulation map posted as of 11:20 a.m.]


Snow showers or flurries remain possible Friday as the low sits and spins along the New England coast. Winds continue to blow, from the west around 20-30 mph with gusts of 40-50 mph at times, before weakening a bit in the afternoon. Peeks of sun could help highs toward 40, but obviously the winds will make it feel much colder. Confidence: Medium

Much less windy over the weekend, though still breezy at around 10-20 mph from the west/northwest. Under partly cloudy skies, temperatures finish out the month the way they've pretty much been from the beginning -- below average, with highs in the low-to-mid 40s. Confidence: Medium-High

By Dan Stillman  | February 24, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Still on the edge of significant snow potential
Next: Update: Maybe some snow; Definitely strong winds


Bring it!

Posted by: snowlover | February 24, 2010 5:12 AM | Report abuse

is a schoolcast coming with the morning update?

Posted by: samdman95 | February 24, 2010 5:15 AM | Report abuse

"tomorrow night through Thursday night"
Tomorrow is Thursday, isn't it?
If not, then maybe I've gone crazy from snowverload.

Posted by: Havoc737 | February 24, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

For Thursday, you say some snow is likely, but confidence level is low.

Am I being too nit-picky to say that is contradicting?

Close call, I know it's not easy on this one.

Posted by: jaybird926 | February 24, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

From what direction can we expect Thursday's winds?

Posted by: hawknt | February 24, 2010 5:29 AM | Report abuse

@jaybird926 What they mean is that snow is likely, but they aren't sure how much it will be.

Posted by: samdman95 | February 24, 2010 5:43 AM | Report abuse

Is there going to be an accumulation map?

Posted by: snowlover | February 24, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

To all of the snow lovers,

If you live by these weather models you will die by them. I even predicted to a friend last night that the 0z GFS would move the storm further out and guess what, it has. (I wish I had posted) But don't worry because the 06z NAM has been a little more consistent in it's runs and we still could very well get an sig snowfall E of I 95. (As a matter of fact, I still think we will.) but if you are waiting for each model run to give you snow, you are going to have a very up and down day.

Posted by: ntrlsol | February 24, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

how typical....i had convinced myself that this winter's different and that this would "blow up" over us...oh well...

if you step back and look at it it's kind of funny - in a horrible sadistic sort of way.... (laughs, then cries....)

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 24, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

@ntrlsol, I'm with you. Wait and see what happens.

This storm is an unusally difficult call but I'll again hearken back to the Feb 6, 1978 snow where we got a couple of inches of snow and high winds in DC but to the NE of here folks were buried (Baltimore had 9" and then accumulations skyrocketed in NE Maryland).

I took a train to Trenton two days after this storm and couldn't believe the accumulations NE of Baltimore. In central Jersey I saw 25 foot drifts against buildings.

One big difference is this storm is supposed to move inland around NYC, whereas the 1978 storm wiped out Boston and Providence had 39"!

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 24, 2010 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Just curious, the latest GFS is showing upwards of 8"+ in the Baltimore area, is this expected, or is confidence low that this is going to happen?

Posted by: snowlover | February 24, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Man I've had about a belly full of the gulf of mexico shenanigans in this area for the past year. Storm develops there and rides right in that tunnel to the DC area saturating us with rain and snow. When is this pattern going to end? I'm sick of rain and snow! I pray for 3 months of no precipitation at all. Even then we will still have too much.

Posted by: j0nx | February 24, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Wow, my wife and daughter are supposed to be lifting off from BWI at 6:00 pm on Thursday. It sounds like this might not happen?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | February 24, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Spring lovers and anti-snow folks alike, I have some potential good news.

If this storm sits and spins to the north of us, it may keep next week's storm south of us. And, some are indicating that next week's storm may be the last one.

Looking to next weekend, the first weekend in March, early indications are that we could see temps in the upper 50's!!!!!!!!

So, hang on, it's coming. Old Man Winter may be taking his last gasps this weekend.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 24, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and Howard Bernstein indicated this morning that he says we may see Winter Storm Watches reduced to advisories in some areas, particularly for DC metro area.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 24, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

High wind power outage question:

If I normally use tap water, why would I need bottled water during a snowstorm or power outage?

(This is a serious question)

Posted by: celestun100 | February 24, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm curious to see if we'll get any snow out here in Ashburn/Leesburg. *please* *please* *please*

Posted by: skbm1 | February 24, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm tempted to say this one will miss us, but last time I said that we actually did get a blizzard. And these global warming skeptics who emerge from under their rocks whenever it snows - it really hasn't been that cold this winter compared to the kind of cold we used to get. As a kid, I remember the Chesapeake Bay frozen over so thick you could drive a tractor across it.

Posted by: fleeciewool | February 24, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

I've never been so excited for Spring to come...

Posted by: lnoz | February 24, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I am mushing out to the backyard with my bowsaw to cut off the broken hemlock branches before the wind makes it worse. Drek

Posted by: tbva | February 24, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

celestun100 - you probably wouldn't. But in the unlikely event that it is very cold and you lose power, and you lose heat, and that situation persists for 24 hours or more, your pipes may freeze up.

Posted by: fleeciewool | February 24, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I just wonder how many people in the DC area who began winter as snow lovers have since become (temporary) snow haters. I know I'm one. Enough already!
...unless it means I don't have to go to work/school.

Posted by: spyderjerusalem | February 24, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

If another big winter storm hits (which is likely before the winter season is over) the theme name for the storm should be "Snowtivus, Airing of the Snow Grievances".

Posted by: LPitch5 | February 24, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh, the irony. We booked a weekend escape to Mexico after snow/winter fatigue (this is a condition that truly should be added to the DSMR) ... departing Friday morning at 6 from BWI!! I. Could. Just. Cry. Hopefully the snow won't be too bad, but I have no idea how wind factors into flight delays. I must be in Atlanta by 8:30! Sigh.

Posted by: esmerelda123 | February 24, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Devil's advocacy: on this comment board, where do all the amateur meteorologists come from, and why would I be inclined to put stock in any predictions they make? It seems I could log on, say something unequivocal about the weather forecast, and "blend in". Thoughts?

Posted by: wrytous | February 24, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Can't wait to see the models today. I still think the NAM is the one to watch, as with all the other big storms this year.

Posted by: curtmccormick | February 24, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: celestun100 | February 24, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I am scheduled to fly south out of National at noon tomorrow, will the winds be high by then?

Posted by: markfd | February 24, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

@celestun100: Per your question about why you would need bottled water during a wind storm, when just the power would go out:

During Hurricane Isabel I never lost power, but I lost water. All of Fairfax County did. I had to go stay in a hotel in Arlington County for 2 days because no water would come out of the taps period, because the water plant which provides Fairfax County with it's water lost power.

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 24, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I am and have been a SNOW lover my entire life...Once a fan always a fan!! It has been SOO long sice this area has seen this kind of snow, I am looking forward (and predicting) one more big one before the season is over...COME THREW FOR ME OL MAN WINTER! if not this week next!!!

Posted by: akamrspris | February 24, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Also celestsun100, I know that our water pump is run by electricity, no electricity, no water or very limited water.

Posted by: wadejg | February 24, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for all the advice. I am going out now to stock up on bottled water.

Posted by: celestun100 | February 24, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Update with accumulation map around 11 am

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 24, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

wrytous - you should certainly give it a shot; that's what the comments section is for, at least as I understand it. If you want to get an authoritative discussion of the weather, read the CWG forecast.


"It seems I could log on, say something unequivocal about the weather forecast, and "blend in". Thoughts?"

Posted by: fleeciewool | February 24, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

What are your feelings on the local TV weather people? I think some of them are pretty good and a couple of them are absolutely terrible. It can be very frustrating trying to get an "honest" forecast when big rain/snow events are imminent. For example, Fox 5's number 2, Gary McGrady, is the absolute worst. He will not tell you anything. I was watching him last night and all he did was kept saying" we'll keep an eye on it". Doug Hill at Channel 7 does the same thing. He will not commit to anything. Personally, I would rather a weatherperson have some balls and just give an honest opinion, instead of always worrying about possibly being wrong. That's why I enjoy this website. The CWG is not afraid to give their opinions and admit that they may not always be correct. For my money, here are my DC area TV weatherperson rankings, from best to worst. Channel 7's group is absolutely terrible. I can't believe WTOP uses them for forecasts.

1) Topper Shutt-9
2) Sue Palka-5

3) Bob Ryan-4
4) Howard Bernstein-9

5) Tom Kuererin-4

not very good
6) Brain Van De Graf-7

7) Doug Hill-7
8) Gary McGrady-5

Posted by: danog224 | February 24, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

you hit the nail on the head there. Palka, Shutt and Ryan will caveat but give a forecast.

Posted by: agunn3 | February 24, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

All of the big storms this winter have seemed to overperform in comparison to what the models were suggesting.... With this storm, there seems to be even bigger unknowns than before. Here's hoping to one last big storm for the DC area in this historic winter!

Posted by: skbm1 | February 24, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

@fleeciewool and @celestun100: You don't need to worry about frozen pipes now, though, because it's not going to get very far below freezing and not going to stay there very long. For pipes to freeze, it really takes temps in the teens or maybe lower 20s, sustained for a day or two, and with pipes exposed to the outdoor temps.

However, I think part of the concern is that water treatment plants need electricity to make the water safe, and the water distribution system uses some pumps that will fail in a power loss, so your pressure might drop to nil or the water you get might not be fully disinfected.

Posted by: mhardy1 | February 24, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I know the NWS had a reason, at the time, to suggest a winter storm watch...but I've been watching this thing since Fri and I still don't completely understand where the confidence came from to issue a WSW for Fairfax...I mean, we're likely in the 0-2" range...2" being at best. BUST FOR DC! Calling it now!

Posted by: parksndc | February 24, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Time to start looking ahead to next week's storm....

Kim in Manassas

Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | February 24, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Thanks again for the info on the water.

I guess I should have been stocking up all along. Two years ago there was a huge water main break in Montogomery county and we lost all water pressure and it was really yucky not to have any water. Not only was it gross, but I was shocked to see that instead of buying 2 or 3 gallons to last for awhile people were hoarding, buying huge quantities as if they would be without water for weeks.

The stores were out of water and I just thought that they should limit the amounts that people were buying given the emergency situation.

Anyway- that was a long rant I wrote about the water, but, thanks, mhardy1, your explanation makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: celestun100 | February 24, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

@CWG - What is causing the storm NOT to take a turn inland until it gets to eastern PA, and is there any possibility of it making that turn in further south? Thanks!

Posted by: snowlover | February 24, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

"Devil's advocacy: on this comment board, where do all the amateur meteorologists come from, and why would I be inclined to put stock in any predictions they make?

Excellent point. Personally, I'm more inclined to place faith in someone's forecast if they provide backup data, like referencing a map. But it's fun to hear opinion and conjecture as well.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | February 24, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse


Maybe we're the ones who have gone crazy ... thanks for noticing the typo.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 24, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

This just in....

The National Weather Service reports a Winter Storm Watch for Northern Virginia:



Affected Areas:


Posted by: skbm1 | February 24, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

The NWS is on crack this week :)

Posted by: parksndc | February 24, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I have a funny feeling this thing is just not going to give us more than an inch or so even out in B-more -- hope I am wrong!

Posted by: snowlover | February 24, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Less than 10"?

Who cares at this point.

I am numb to the snow at this point.

Posted by: keithrjackson | February 24, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

According to the season's trends,
the storm would turn south if the following conditions are met:

1. more people returned their shovels/boots/snow blowers to area stores

2. people who loved snow "wanted it to snow more" (causing crippling calamities for people who don't want to see anymore of the stuff, EVER)

3. area schools come out and say they will STAY OPEN NO MATTER WHAT on Thursday and Friday (expect to be in the bulls eye if DC does this)

4. The "snow hurricane" is downgraded to a "dusting" by all forecasters

5. I buy bottled water

Posted by: celestun100 | February 24, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

i think that watch will be an advisory later this afternoon.

Posted by: jrodfoo | February 24, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Yes! More snow!!! (Full Disclosure: I'm originally from Minneapolis. I've missed snow over my years in Washington.)

I really hope we get snow instead of rain, if we're going to get something...I hate "winter rain", it seems a perverse concept in and of itself, that it even COULD rain in the winter...

Posted by: Eleiana | February 24, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I agree, "winter rain" sounds absolutely perverse. the whole concept of it-good point!

Posted by: celestun100 | February 24, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Oh, boo. You guys got me all wound up and now this is looking like an almost certain stinker. I've gotten so spoiled.

Posted by: MarylanDChris | February 24, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

SOOO Bummed this storm has not gotten Stafford in the warning :o(

Posted by: akamrspris | February 24, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Figures. The ice finally melted off my roof (and presumably out from under my ice-dammed shingles), so I guess it's time for another snowstorm. Also, my shovel broke at the tail end of the last one, so that should just about seal the deal.

Posted by: zippyspeed | February 24, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

If you're a true snow lover, you're ALWAYS a snow lover. We don't want no stinkin' fair weather (pun intended!) snow lovers! :P

Posted by: sigmagrrl | February 24, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

6z NAM suggests more snow for DC than earlier runs. Next NAM run is the one to watch. Gut instinct says this does a loop, backfills, and we get some decent snow in DC and point north and east.

Posted by: curtmccormick | February 24, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

What could be expected.. if anything out around Winchester VA????

Posted by: kylef1 | February 24, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Remember all the pre-storm angst before the two big February storms and how people were carrying on during the first few hours that the storm was going to be a bust?

While this may not be a big storm in terms of total accumulation in the immediate D.C. area, there is apt to be some snow, very high winds and it could get gnarly by tomorrow afternoon.

In the Feb. 1978 mini-blizzard I've cited, DCA had about 2" of snow, BWI 9", Annapolis 14". And even that two inches was amazing once it started blowing around. I walked home work and it was all I could do to keep my balance against the wind.

Re: the Bay freezing over, yes, it used to happen. In the late '60s when Coast Guard ice breakers were needed to ships stranded in the ice in the bay.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 24, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

@Zippyspeed: My ice dams seem to have finally melted too, and I'm optimistic that the temperatures are going to be too warm for them to reform even if we do get a few inches of snow.

Of course, it doesn't matter how much damage our houses take, as long as we get more pretty snow, right folks?

Posted by: mhardy1 | February 24, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone noticed that each time the politicians get serious about healthcare reform a blizzard smacks DC?
Mother Nature knows a snow job when she sees one.

Posted by: mtpeaks | February 24, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I just heard from my work that we need to prepare for a much, much bigger storm next week. Can anyone confirm? The temps don't look to be that cold for next week.

Posted by: tsqnova | February 24, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@mhardy1 -

My house sustained damage in the last storm. But I still love snow.

Bottom line - no matter what anyone's opinion is about the snow - we have no control over whether it happens or not.

Posted by: nolagirl67 | February 24, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Anti-snow forcefield... ACTIVATE!

Posted by: nocando | February 24, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

CWG~ If you look at radar at for example it appears this storm is drawing up more gulf moisture than the models are showing. Is there a chance these storm phase early before it get too far out to sea and the storm hugs the coast more. I know this is not a DC storm but I have feeling there will be so much wrap around moisture and high snow ratios that DC could easily come out of this with more than a few inches. Nevertheless I think we are in for blizzard #4 or at 3.5 :)

Posted by: ajmupitt | February 24, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Sigmagrrl. True snow lovers are never sometimesy. All snow is accepted, appreciated and loved!

Posted by: Rcmorgan | February 24, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I think we will have to see what the 12z GFS reveals but I think if you are a snow lover he lives in PG, you got a shot at some sig snow.

Posted by: ntrlsol | February 24, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

@nolagirl67 -

You are correct that we have no control over the weather. What mhardy1 is referring to however is the cheering for snow while failing to take into account the damage that some of us have incurred due to this very harsh winter. So, forgive us if we don't cheer for any further damage.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 24, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for more snow and wind! Might I suggest we call this one the BRRRRRicane? ;-)


Posted by: detectedbeats | February 24, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm confused...everyone keeps talking about the 12Z GFS. Isn't it about 4:30pm in the UK right now? I thought the Z signalled Greenwich Time...(?)

Posted by: BH99 | February 24, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

An inch or two of snow - YES!

50 MPH winds - WOOHOO!

Power outages, grocery store mayhem, more school closings, people killing themselves with unsafe indoor heating methods, more b*tching about local gov snow removal, horrid commutes - SWEET!!!!

Get a life, snow perverts.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 24, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

An inch or two wouldn't be so nice. I'm hoping we reach WSW criteria!!

Posted by: BH99 | February 24, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

what we are cheering for is 10" (or whatever amt) of snow with NO "side effects" for anyone. in fact, whenever i cheer/root/pray for this stuff i say to my snowgod "...except at thinkspring's, mhardy1's, nocando's and southsideFFX's houses". but the gods aren't so discerning....

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 24, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

OK, here is my prediction of the afternoon NWS forecast,

Snow Thursday, windy, with snow accumulations of 3 to 4 inches primarily East of I 95.

Posted by: ntrlsol | February 24, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Sick of snow, sick of the cold!

Posted by: ceefer66 | February 24, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

You actually headlined the b-word on this thing? Does the metro area now include Poughkeepsie? Here's a b-word for you:


Posted by: CapitalClimate | February 25, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

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