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Posted at 5:05 PM ET, 02/ 3/2010

PM Update: Big snow becoming likely

By Ian Livingston

Winter Storm Watches already up for late-week storm

* Winter Storm Watch Friday morning through Saturday evening *
* Last weekend's forecast: Subpar | Snowy National Mall photos *
* Submit your snow totals | View CWG submissions | NWS totals *
* Outside now? Temps, clouds, webcam & more: Weather Wall *

After this morning's snowy scene, the area warmed nicely today (to around 40 and into the low 40s during partial midday sun), which caused a good bit of melting. That's a good thing, seeing as we might need the space for what's coming Friday into Saturday. In the meantime, quiet weather tomorrow should give everyone a good chance to get prepared for the inches -- possibly feet -- of snow that may very well be on the way.

Wet snow clings to everything in sight this morning in Fairfax County. By CWG photographer Kevin Ambrose.

Through tonight: Partly to mostly cloudy skies this evening clear out overnight. Any wetness from today's melting will refreeze overnight, so be prepared for the random slick spot. We should see a fairly big range in lows, from the lower 20s in the cold spots to the upper 20s downtown.

Tomorrow (Thursday): Mostly sunny skies lead to more melting of the snow. Highs rise to the upper 30s to near 40. Winds will be light from the northwest.

The Storm: Precipitation, probably mostly or all snow, is scheduled to arrive between late morning and mid-afternoon on Friday and continue through Friday night into Saturday. There's still a chance the snow could mix with some sleet or rain at times, especially south and east of the District, thus reducing accumulations. Nonetheless, major snow accumulations are becoming increasingly likely. In fact, while by no means a guarantee just yet, 12 or more inches is a realistic possibility for at least parts of the metro area.

Here's the CWG team's metro area accumulation probabilities as of now:

10% chance: Less than 2"
20% chance: 2-6"
35% chance: 6-12"
35% chance: 12"+
(Probability of 12 inches or more increases around 5 to 10 percent north and west of the Beltway.)

We'll have a preliminary accumulation forecast map early tomorrow morning.

Historic D.C. snows: This might be a handy page to bookmark for the weekend, just note that the Dec. 19 snowstorm (measuring in at 16.4") has not been added yet! The upcoming event has been noted by the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center to have similarities to that which occurred in February of 1983. Interestingly enough, that same storm was a primary analog for the Dec. 19 event as well.

Tell a friend about CWG: E-mail this forecast

What do you think about all this snow? Love it? Tired of it? Let us know, or start a different conversation, with a comment below. And if you haven't already, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

By Ian Livingston  | February 3, 2010; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  Forecasts, Snowmageddon  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: One cold and snowy day on the National Mall
Next: Help CWG name the potential storm



Posted by: suntan | February 3, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: JDK4 | February 3, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely ecstatic. My guess is 17-23 inches for Bethesda.

Posted by: the_local | February 3, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Mostly sunny midday? I haven't seen one ray of sunlight. Not much melting either, except on the roads. I just hope this whole storm manages to stay snow. Fortunately, as a snow lover, I live to the west of the Capital Beltway.

Posted by: rocotten | February 3, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

You guys didn't see the drizzle in your crystal ball - its been drizzling for over an hour in the District. And for all of the whinning weather guys on the radio and tv (DC finest - yeah right) quit saying - I'm starting to agree with the snow haters...enough already..." It's snowed like 7 times since December 1st - and it melts within days - only DC could have 22 inches melt in 6 days - last night's snow is practically gone - how come no one complains about endless heat and humidity during the summer months...I'd like it to snow and stay cold for 8 months each year. Let's see if you guys get this weekend's storm prediction right - my prediction - way less than the 15+ inches - will mix with and/or change over for extended period from DC/Baltimore area - 8 inches downtown - ofcourse we know what that means at National 6 inches. Can't you guys get the NWS to create an official weather station - say in meridian hill park (the center of the city) so we can haved our own weather data (no offense, but DC is not VA and the weather in such a short distance can be completely different). With all the stimulus money and support for DC rights by Obama - we could surely have our own official downtown weather station (like every other city that has the downtown and airport reporting stations)....please help with the cause!!!

Posted by: Metropolized | February 3, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

My wife's office has ALREADY announced--TODAY--that they are closing at noon on Friday.
I expect that the TV and Radio weather bunnies will be advising people to abandon their cars on the roads starting tomorrow at sundown, so as to get all the "good " spots. Come on people, suck it up !

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

rocotten, it was short but there was definitely a window of a good amount of hazy sunshine across much of the area... a closer look at satellite for the day does show "mostly sunny midday" might be pushing it a bit.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

CWG. So is footsforecast still reckless forecasting? their prediciton looks pretty good to me! and thy had the predition out more then 2 days beore you

Posted by: snowlover3 | February 3, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Metropolized -- Please join me in this space starting in June (or, worse, May) for plenty of complaints about hot, humid weather.

Posted by: ah___ | February 3, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I have looked at the models and the NWS site and it looks like the Fri-Sat snow event will leave at least 10 inches at least for much of the DC area. This means 5.8 inches at DCA, of course.

Posted by: BidsKids | February 3, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

inches -- possibly feet -- of snow
Oh please oh please oh please I promise I'll be good oh please oh please oh please...

Posted by: wiredog | February 3, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

United Airlines has posted the travel waivers. Changed my Saturday evening flight to London to Friday morning. Meetings don't start till Monday, but I'll take a weekend in the UK on the company!

Posted by: johnnyd2 | February 3, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

CWG - what do you think the chances are for MOCO students to go in on time tomorrow am (Thursday)? Will there be much re-freezing tonight???

Posted by: someonelikeyou | February 3, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Is the record for snowiest DC winter in jeopardy? (1898-99, 54.4")?

Posted by: GD1975 | February 3, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

@jmsbh: where, generally speaking, is your wife's office located?

Posted by: spyderjerusalem | February 3, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

From the other thread:

My Dream Scenario: That it snows so much this weekend, the Federal Government closes on Monday and Tuesday...just in time for the next snowstorm where it snows so much again that we are off for the rest of the week through Valentine's Day and the President's Day holiday. Yes, one can certainly dream....

Posted by: Rcmorgan

My husband would approve of this scenario too!!

As long as he can drive ME in to work, I have no problem with that scenario either!

Posted by: wadejg | February 3, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

My guess is, and this is unofficial as I am not the one making the decision, MOco will be on time tomorrow (if parking lots have been plowed) and then I speculate that Friday they will get an early release. pure speculation of course.

Hey, should I shovel or hope it will melt?

Posted by: celestun100 | February 3, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Despite being in Virginia, National Airport is as close to downtown as half of the residential areas within the District, so the problem is not that DC's totals are being taken on the Virginia side of the river (heaven forbid!) but that the people taking measurements at National measure snow and rain differently from every other weather station in the country, apparently.

Posted by: rocotten | February 3, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

its worth noting that before the dec 19th storm, CWG was saying a 20% chance of 6+ inches and most of us got 2 feet.( ) I wonder if this storm will break records?

Posted by: samdman95 | February 3, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The suspense is making me sick

Posted by: fleeciewool | February 3, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse


I'm glad EMS was able to help out your neighbor but I don't see a problem with dcbuck's hypothetical about heart attack or other injury in the snow. First of all, last night's snow happened when it was barely at the freezing mark making the snow a little easier to drive through. Second of all, it was only 3-4 inches not 12-20 inches. Third of all, if snow plows can get stuck (and I've seen it happen) firetrucks can too.

Posted by: snowedin85 | February 3, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@GD1975 I was thinking the same thing -- I say possibly. If DC got 2 yesterday they are at 26" if they get 12 this weekend and another 8" on Tues that puts up to 48" with the rest of winter to go, so I would say if these next two storms pan out then yes

Posted by: snowlover | February 3, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

how many flakes for the storm? 4?!? and after this winter you should make 5 flakes possible- means: Historic Snowfall (14+ inches)

Posted by: samdman95 | February 3, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: samdman95 | February 3, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Take an early look at the monster:

Posted by: GD1975 | February 3, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I basically loathe summer but let the Shiny, Happy People rave about it. I've learned to roll with their elation... why can't summer fans join in the winter fun? It seems that people who LOVE winter are simply more fun loving and easy going than summer fanatics! Why is that??

Posted by: sigmagrrl | February 3, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Accumulation potential update appearing in this post around 5 p.m.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jochpo | February 3, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Can I ask that when you get around to closer snowcasting on Thursday that you not only address when the storm will start, but what the initial rate of snow will be? Basically I want to metro to work, but don't want to get stranded if it starts early and comes down fast on Friday.

Posted by: DrMeglet | February 3, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse


Trust me there is PLENTY of whining in the summer on this board about the heat, usually when it's not even hot.

There was a LOT last summer in what was a fairly cool summer when compared to recent years. There were far fewer days in the 90's last summer for certain.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 3, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse


Still think forecasting "conservatively 2 feet" (if that's what that site really said) is overdoing it. Having said that, if BWI records 24" or more of snow, we'll give them props. Getting this event right won't change the fact they've overdone some snow forecasts in the past. It does look like FootsForecast has expanded its team and is doing some cool stuff...

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Time for forward thinking folks to stock up on beer, bourbon and cheez-its, I say.

Posted by: curtmccormick | February 3, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

samdman95, I think one difference is that a storm of this magnitude is less common in December than February, so in some ways an initial probability of lower numbers then might be equal to higher numbers now.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't care how much it snows Friday or Saturday, but those plows better get the roads clear in time for Super Bowl parties.

Posted by: epjd | February 3, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse


It's safe to say that the hype is off the charts for this storm. So, from a scientific standpoint, what can go wrong (right from my standpoint) for this to either not exceed a foot or for rain/mix/snow to become an issue. I realize snow is a certainty, but I'm obviously hoping against a crippling storm. What clues could we look for in the models in the next 36-48 hrs?

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 3, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

@GD1975 and Snowlover,

A short time ago Veronica Johnson said the YTD snowfall at DCA was 28 inches. I thought it was 26.1" but Veronica has access to better data.

Can we surpass the all-time DC record? I doubt it. DCA's record of 46", maybe, but the all-time of 54" is a long way out there.

Re: the 1983 storm: it was quite cold, roughly low-mid 20s and there was a stinging wind, so it felt like a blizzard.

Accumulations included 38" in western Loudon County, 34.9" in Braddock Heights, Md. and 30" in Germantown and Frederick. (My source for this data is "Washington Weather", co-authored by CWG's Kevin Ambrose. Somehow I managed to get ahold of a copy of the book autographed by Ambrose and his coauthors, Dan Henry and Andy Weiss...)

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 3, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

CWG: When do you expect things to start on Friday? I've got someone flying into BWI at 3:30, but considering changing it to an 11:30 AM arrival.

Posted by: djb2 | February 3, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Good grief! You guys are getting 5 years worth of snow in 2 months. All we have is mid 50s/low 60s and flooding rains. If any of you tired of snow want to abandon ship, our forecast is 63 with heavy rain on Friday, and 54 and partly sunny on Saturday. I'd be happy to kick my roommate out to host any of you :P (Kidding, but Mobile (and the whole coast for that matter) is full of hotels if you want to evacuate for Snowpocalypse Part Deux).

Hopefully the Lake Ridge crew is ready for the next batch to report snow totals. Lord knows my mom will tell me "it's just a dusting" even when the building is encased in a 90 foot drift. ;)

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | February 3, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Time for forward thinking folks to stock up on beer, bourbon and cheez-its, I say.

Posted by: curtmccormick | February 3, 2010 4:46 PM

Breakfast of champions!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 3, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Season-to-date snowfall at DCA is actually 27.3"

Posted by: Rangwx1 | February 3, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

NOAA is already, HAS already called for a huge snow dropping on this area at noon'ish today.

We are expecting in some areas around 2 feet of snow. If this pans out, it'll be bigger than the Dec. frosting we just had.

I wished for snow and here it is! Woo-hoo!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: cbmuzik | February 3, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I am originally from southern Georgia and am just loving all of the snow !

Posted by: letitsnow | February 3, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

CWG, how much do you think we'll be getting in Charlottesville? The models seem to have been progressively taking the bulk of the precipitation away from us and to the north and east, and as a NoVa native I would hate to miss this storm by not being in NoVa. :(

Posted by: cleombrota | February 3, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I predict this becomes the FLOP of the season.

Posted by: upland_bill | February 3, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse


LEAVE! Just kidding :)

Posted by: snowedin85 | February 3, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

upland_bill: Nominated for the esteemed role of being the 2nd poopinator of the day :P

Posted by: sigmagrrl | February 3, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Someone asked about the risks that this storm may mix with rain/sleet and cut down on snowfall amounts. That's a good question, and is part of the reason why we're saying there is more likelihood for a 12 inch plus snowstorm to the N and W of the Beltway. There will be a lot of warm air at the mid levels moving into the area, and DC has a lot of experience with mixing at the height of major storms, such as in 2003, for example. But, most of the guidance keeps DC snowing throughout most of the storm, and there is likely to be a lot of vertical motion that can help 'manufacture' cold air through a process known as dynamical cooling. But stay tuned to the latest forecasts here as we try to pin things down.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record, that 16.4" garbage number from December was about as accurate as the 4 million people who attended the million man march and that little Doofus, Adrian Fenty's estimate that 8 million people would show up for the Inaugeration.

It was officially measured in "Arlington" at 20.5" but it was 4" less a mile away?

It will always be 20" in our book.

Posted by: SwellLevel5 | February 3, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

@upland_bill why do you predict this will be a flop? this has all the makings of a superstorm

Posted by: samdman95 | February 3, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I've gotten quite a cardiovascular workout since December 19th. I share a long pipestem with two other families just west of Vienna, and fortunately, one of the neighbors has a snow blower, which has kept the workout bearable. I think we'll be fine - unless his blower fails or he runs out of gas.

My unofficial snowfall total for my micro clime, starting with a heavy wet snow back in early December, is about 38". That 54" record might be in reach here, if this projected storm pans out.

Posted by: MillPond2 | February 3, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, the average snow amounts from the 0-18z runs today of the GFS and NAM (excluding last night's 0z NAM because the whole storm didn't fit on it) assuming a 10:1 ratio are 16.8-19.6". The 12z NAM run is bringing it up a little, but those numbers are still pretty impressive.

Posted by: Dylan0513 | February 3, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

To 1: You're new around here, ain't you? You can accumulate snow on the ground, even at above-freezing temperatures, if it is snowing hard enough. It happened last night.

To 2: 3-4" is exactly the same as 9" to a truck with 10.5" of ground clearance, with the exception of greatly increased rolling resistance, and greater shunting action.

If it snows at 1.5"/hr for six hours, you'll have 9" on the ground. During the 12/19/10 storm, plows came down my side-street every five hours or so. Additionally, the snow levels in the street were knocked down by anybody who was out driving, so we rarely had more than six inches of snow in the street.

To 3: Are we talking pickups with plows or municipals? I've seen both types get stuck here, with much more of the former. Almost every time I've seen it, however, it had nothing to do with the size of the truck or snow-cover and everything to do with failing to keep the wheels spinning at the speed you are traveling. Once the wheels begin to spin faster or slower than that, the vehicle is out of control and will begin to slide down the fall line of the road. As most of our roads are crowned around here, that means sliding into a ditch. That's operator error, and can happen as easily in 3" as in 10".

Posted by: mason08 | February 3, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying hard not to get my hopes up but the dancing (*snow dancing, now vigorously) is getting in the way!!!

Posted by: manassasmissy | February 3, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

In fact... It's easier to slide off the road in 3" than 10". There's less stuff in the way.

Posted by: mason08 | February 3, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

weatherdudeva: "Snowpocalypse Part Deux" - YES!! This will work if the Saints win!

Posted by: --sg | February 3, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm supposed to fly out of BWI at 12:30 on Saturday - I'm guessing that's going to be a total mess, am I right? Do you think things will be clear enough to make it out on Sunday?

Posted by: thecleve29 | February 3, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

For those of you not wanting more snow, here's my name proposal for the storm: Snordeal 2010 :)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

thecleve29: Runways could be clear and airports open at noon on Saturday, but your flight will be victimized by cascading delays and cancellations. Airlines are already giving people vouchers and changing passengers' flights at the passengers' request. Call your airline now and see what they will do for you.

Posted by: --sg | February 3, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love those percentage forecasts - a 30% chance of 6" or less, a 35% chance of 6-12", and a 35% chance of 12" or more - throw in a 1% chance of sunshine and I think you've got it all covered. Rain / snow line - who wants to call it - heads or tails?

Posted by: manatt | February 3, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

My back hurts from shoveling snow. I'm tired of wearing ugly shoes to work and getting cold and wet trying to stretch my 62 inch body to clear the roof of my car. People who leave snow on their cars then get behind the wheel ought to be arrested. I'm tired of worrying about falling on ice and not having enough sick leave to cover broken bones. I have customers calling me all day with cracked windshields and fender bender damage. At least last night the snow looked pretty and this morning the main roads were clear. Another thundersnow monster like 1983? Remember it well. No thank you. Now I get why us old people move to Florida. Grrr. Sick of this.

Posted by: greyK | February 3, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

SnoPocalypse II: The Revenge!!

Posted by: TheBorg | February 3, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

wow, NOAA HPC forecast gives us a 70% chance of over a foot of snow

Posted by: samdman95 | February 3, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

if there really is a storm tues... it would be ... TWIN SUPERBOWL SUPERSTORMS OF 2010!!

Posted by: samdman95 | February 3, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Can someone from CWG please take a look at the comment's kinda unnecessary.

Posted by: natsncats | February 3, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that comment should be removed

Posted by: celestun100 | February 3, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I appear to be way out on a limb here, but the 18Z GFS thickness is way too high through about 60 hrs, as is the NAM, which also has the 850mb 0 line pretty much on top of DC for several periods. How many times does it snow under those conditions? I've seen this happen before--people ignoring these at their peril-- and I am very concerned that we are going to lose a lot of this storm to sleet or even rain in DC.

18 inch snowstorms are RARE in Washington, for good reason! I can cite many false alarms under these exact same conditions that were mainly sleet.

I would like someone to explain how we can disregard these metrics in them models?

Pat Michaels

Pat Michaels

Posted by: pmichaels1 | February 3, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow, spooky to see Pat Michaels on here. I interviewed him 3-4 days before we got slammed by a blizzard in 1993. Think I better get more bread and milk....

Posted by: ValleyCaps | February 3, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Just to make this clear, he predicted that we were going to get slammed by the blizzard....

Posted by: ValleyCaps | February 3, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

@ursofakingdumb1- you have no business on this site. Please go away...

Posted by: Ebbi88 | February 3, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, 93 had better numbers and STILL switched to sleet/rain in DC, which dropped the total to 13 inches (it pushed 50 in places where it was pure snow!) This storm has worse metrics and isn't inherently as strong, although it is further east (which is good).

I think analogizing this to 1983 is also risky--that one was colder, too.

And this is nothing like 1996, which had perfect everything in the models, and produced the perfect storm. That's how you get two feet in DC.


Posted by: pmichaels1 | February 3, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I think the reason many are so stressed out about the snow, while some are just enjoying, has to do with two factors. First, this area is frankly not set up to deal with snow (nor has it been budgeted for). That means that if warm temps are forecast in the day or two following a storm, there is little perceived benefit (to municipalities) to starting to plow/treat at the earliest possible time and continue as needed. What I see around here is one or two plow passes at most.
Second, we don't expect weather to interfere on any regular basis with our activities, and those activities are many and tightly scheduled. Thus, when it snows hard, we have no wiggle room.
Finally, particularly with these weekend storms, we have no time to just unwind and go with the flow. It was actually easier for my family as I was growing up in Upstate NY to work with a combination of "school not cancelled for less than a foot in a single dump, right before bus departure time" and the idea that about once a winter, we (in the country) would get completely snowbound for about a week, until the local rent-a-plow could get to us and take away the 8-16 ft tall drifts from our driveway and garage entrance.
Weather is, and the CWG does a great job of presenting the info behind the forecasts (as well as answering individual questions). Let's just relax and stop sniping!

Posted by: fsd50 | February 3, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

1) I feel this is going to be a little bit of a bust (only 12"-15" or so).

2) I'm more worried about ice and freezing rain than I am snow. Give me 2' of snow as opposed to even a half inch of freezing rain.

I'd like to keep my power on for the Super Bowl.

Posted by: Vingold | February 3, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Dear PJM,

the December 19 storm gave 22 inches in parts of DC despite the models not being "perfect" before the event. and that was December, winter hadn't officially even started yet, this is the beginning of February, the 1993 storm was in the middle of March. Take a chill pill.


Posted by: samdman95 | February 3, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

@greyK, You don't want to move to Florida. I grew up there and visited it a half dozen times from 2000-2006 and it's way over-rated. Sandy soil, steaming heat, palmetto bugs, scorpions, hurricanes, no fall color, no cherry blossoms, etc. Oh, and no snow. ; ((

Even though I don't drive, I share your annoyance at people who don't clean the snow off the roofs of their vehicles. At 8:00 a.m. bozos with snow still on the roofs were speeding up and down Wisc. Ave., clumps of snow falling onto other vehicles, etc.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 3, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Snow has already scrubbed two trips to see the Hershey Bears this year, in December and last weekend. Was not supposed to see them this weekend (which is why this could be a bust, lol). It's going to do whatever it wants to, so I don't see a reason to stress out. Wow, is this me typing this??

Posted by: ValleyCaps | February 3, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Whoops 1993 Dulles 14+ Reagan only 6.6!


Posted by: pmichaels1 | February 3, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes but in December the thx was right as well as the 850 temp!

Posted by: pmichaels1 | February 3, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I can't think of a better place to hang out when I'm retired than Florida. I was born and grew up there (20 years).

If you're a weather fanatic, nothing beats those daily, powerful tropical thunderstorms in the summer and the periodic thrill of an impending hurricane. It's far, far more exciting than any snowstorm (probably since the danger level is so much higher). And "winter" down there is perfection.

That being said, the change of seasons up here is rewarding in itself. And this year of actual measurable snowfall is sure to leave a memorable imprint.

Posted by: SWester | February 3, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Since when is 12-15" a bust??

I'm kind of mixed on this one. Part of me likes the snow, but part is tired of driving in it.

Posted by: uconnflyer | February 3, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse


"Since when is 12-15" a bust??"

Since December 2009. Welcome to the new snow capital of the USA.

Posted by: SWester | February 3, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse


We definitely see the possibility of mixing in DC south and east, although if you look at the GFS Model skew T, the profile is below freezing throughout the entire column at all time steps -- even at DCA. The NAM model soundings at 12z also were subfreezing, but uncomfortably close. Haven't seen the 18zs.

Interestingly, there was mixing at DCA in both 2003 and 1996 -- even with surface temps much colder. But the issue is how much warm air advection there is aloft before the coastal low takes over. Model soundings don't suggest a lot, but experience suggests DC S & E has a good chance to mix. - Jason

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Whatever we get its awesome...Snow is great and you gotta love it

Posted by: fortheglory05 | February 3, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

HELP! We have a long weekend trip planned to the VA mountains (Hot Springs) for the weekend to ski, skate, and watch the Superbowl. The plan WAS to leave Saturday AM, but that's obviously changed. Is it crazy to leave Friday morning or should we be super-safe and shoot for tomorrow evening after rush hour? I hate to be selfish, but I trust the mighty CWG crew to give sound advice, thanks in advance!

Posted by: kscot3 | February 3, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

CWG, or anyone for that matter, am I really, look a a significantly higher chance of mixing in NW AA county than say northern Montgomery count. I understand tha my risk is greater, but aren't we talking a minor shift to the east of 30 miles at most?

Posted by: snowlover | February 3, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

@CWG or anyone, Is the senarios of mixing greater to the south or the east? For instance, if you have suburb of MD that is slightly east but NE of DC, is there more likely of a mixing there or Prince William County?

Posted by: snowlover | February 3, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

As this gets closer, a travel update for everyone in the area attempting to get to College Park for the 2pm MD vs. UNC basketball game on Sunday would be appreciated!

Posted by: FeartheNoodle | February 3, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

BTW - sorry for the typos but i was typing fast!

Posted by: snowlover | February 3, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

We can get snow with "warm" thickness readings, it just cuts down on ratios usually. The setup for this storm is not at all like 1993 at the very least, so I would not use it as a comparative. Also, as the coastal gets kicking thickness levels should crash so the second half of the event won't even be dealing with that "issue".

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

OK, CWG...or someone... please answer a question for me that I've been wondering about for some time. I know how to read a map, but...

I live in Prince William County, a few miles west of 95. I never know if I should consider myself in the "south and east" region whenever the meteoroligists refer to it (which is often).

I'm about 30 miles southwest of D.C. When we say "south and east," are we talking Fredericksburg and Annapolis?

I'm just sayin...

Posted by: teezee210 | February 3, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

The key here, the "X Factor," if you will, is clearly the Jet Stream. With the stream, so goes the team, as they used to say in meteorology school.

Posted by: WeatherMachine | February 3, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

@ Fear The Noodle

Travel Updates probably will be/should be on the WaPoCom "Get There" blog. I think that game will be postponed, unless UNC decides to come up Friday. If they plan to arrive the day before, which is SOP, they won't get here.

Posted by: Timinator | February 3, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse the CWG crew

I live in Manassas and I also wonder does Manassas fall in the "South & East" area you have referred to as having a larger shot at getting sleet that will cut down on snow totals? I hope we are in the all snow area for this weekend.

Posted by: RWRose | February 3, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse


If you are going to hot springs in the weekend, call tomorrow, ask them for their snow special. They will give you a bare bones room rate (no dinner/breakfast or other tricks) for Friday night, and then you can go a night early (or even a day early... I wouldn't wait for Friday PM to leave).

I did this last weekend, and enjoyed a wonderful 2 nights instead of 1. And the fresh powder almost makes the skiing reasonable.

Posted by: JJones-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Topper shutt called for heavy snow with Mixing "east of Dulles"

Posted by: SJ43560 | February 3, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I feel like this storm is too good to be true. I'm really praying for this system to hit us hard and the one on Mon. Tuesday to smack with a few more inches to get my kids out of school for the week.

Any insight to early next week's storm?

BTW, I love the blog. I'm new here, but have been hooked since Dec.

Posted by: dustinmfox1 | February 3, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I think a lot of this "north and west" and "south and east" nomenclature predated the growth of suburbs/exurbs in the southwest. Granted, I'm out here in the "real" northern Virginia (look at a map, why don't you) so I'm pretty sure I'm north AND west of D.C.

Posted by: ValleyCaps | February 3, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Pat Michaels:

It must be global warming, don't you think?

Posted by: squirrelgirl1 | February 3, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The initial warm temperatures last night kept the total snow down I think because there is a melting rate in addition to the accumulation rate. Could this also cut down on this weekends totals?

Posted by: rocotten | February 3, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse


I certainly wouldn't consider Manassas "South and East." Depending upon where you are, you are about even within the Southern edge of the beltway and certainly fairly far west. Just my 2 cents. Very excited for more snow!

Posted by: CliftonJohn | February 3, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

CWG - is it better to be 20 miles NE of the beltway or 20 miles SW for higer snow totals?

Posted by: snowlover | February 3, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Love all the comments today encouraging people to go out and "learn to drive in the snow." Like that is a skill we really need in this area most winters.

I hope this sudden desire of people to prove their mettle doesn't end up with headlines like "One Dead, Two Injured in Crash."

Posted by: SouthsideFFX | February 3, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Tomorrows lines at Whole Foods, Wegmans, etc. may be of historic proportions as well.
Storm panic combined with superbowl party shoppers will make for some long lines along with congested parking lots.
Let's see how crowded Total Beverage is. :-)

Posted by: bodyiq | February 3, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

What happened to the Snowcam? I haven't seen it this season.

Posted by: BaracksTeleprompter | February 3, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

@ bodyiq - That's why I'm going in about an hour, so I don't have to wait in those lines tomorrow!

Posted by: kridgely | February 3, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I love it! Not tired of the snow yet. Just hope the models hold true! Happy forecasting!

Posted by: Bworl | February 3, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Pat: You are correct that there are model indications of mixing for DC, and that past events have really disappointed snow fans because the precip has mixed with sleet right at the height of the storm. I think the reasoning is that there will be sufficient lift generated during this event that the air aloft will stay cool enough to support snow throughout most of it. That is what NWS has been thinking, and what we've been pointing to as a key factor in addition to the storm track. I agree this is something to watch closely. It's one of the reasons we haven't yet committed to a foot plus in downtown DC, which other outlets have done.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to ask this and I mean no offense, but who is Pat Michaels and why is the CWG justifying their forecast to him? Is he a weather guru or something?

Posted by: GD1975 | February 3, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

ThinkSpring...still trying to "rain" on the Bombo Snow Parade!

greyK risks addition to the Rogues' Gallery.

One thing for sure...I'll be monitoring Vaisala & other lighning sites...we could be in for some thundersnow. Funny but I missed the 1983 thundersnow, though we got it twice in 1987; in January and again on Veterans' Day and also in the snowy tail-end of the 1993 Superstorm.

Latest weatherboard estimates: 12-24 inches. Sleet advection a possible issue...Fox 5 mentions a possible Friday morning start...and still going strong at 5 PM Saturday.

Remember...Presidents' Day is still 12 days away...we still have plenty of winter left to go!

Current high world barometric pressure right now: Kharaganda, Siberia @ 31.21 in. The Asiatic High is still struttin' its stuff!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 3, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

@GD1975: Check out Wikipedia. It's not everyday that we have someone on this blog who has his own article!

Posted by: jkuchen | February 3, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Or, is Bombo trying to "snow" on the ThinkSpring Rain parade?

It's all a matter of perspective, my friend!

Goin' to bed and making my own wish for less than a foot. Peace all.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 3, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse


"Real" Northern Virginia is now called Eastern West Virginia.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | February 3, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

May have to buy a snowblower this summer...shoveling ain't gettin' it!

Posted by: rickyroge | February 3, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Latest GFS/NAM blend gives DC 12 - 14"

An historic winter, perhaps going back to 1899 before over.

How about all the folks who thought that heavy snowfall winters were a thing of the past because of Global Warming?

Posted by: AugustaJim | February 3, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

hi i have a party at my house with 20 girls coming over on saturday night. do you think i should cancel it? i live in bethesda, md

Posted by: jjsoccer1125 | February 3, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Well, somewhat of a guru. I taught Jason Samenow in my weather forecasting class at UVa, where I was for 30 years.

That's 30 years of being burned by Mid-Atlantic snowstorms and having a sense for when things aren't going to work out. I can't remember how many times--but the number is large--where one or another variable was out of line and people still got carried away in snow euphoria (noting I like snow too), only to get burned. This time the thickness just too darned high in the GFS and both the thickness and the 850mb temp are out of line (for DC) for long enough in the storm to preclude a foot.

And I can give you several occasions when the argument about "dynamic cooling" because of vigorous upward motion was brought forward, and how many times it sleeted.

Maybe. I WANT to be wrong here.

That's the nice thing about the weather forecasting art.

Having said that, I called for 15 in DC 24 hours before the beginning of the December storm because things just looked better. I'm hardly a snow grinch!

Posted by: pmichaels1 | February 3, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

JJsoccer... A party with 20 girls coming over? Am I invited? I'll drive through the foot of snow.

Posted by: PoorTeacher | February 3, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Pat Michaels, you've explained that you have doubts about the NWS and CWG forecasts, but what is your forecast? What do you see happening? Will we still get significant snow, even with the mixing and rain? Is this whole thing a bust?

Posted by: GD1975 | February 3, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse


Whereas NOAA's HPC is giving 70% odds of at least a foot in D.C., note we're just putting odds at 35% (though we'd put it at closer to 50% N&W of the beltway). We'll look at the 0z runs and decide how to adjust. Share you concerns about sleet, but as I said before, the forecast soundings look mostly below freezing for most of the storm throughout the column -- even at DCA. Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Excellent q/a's guys. Draw a bullseye on Westminster, Frederick, Northern Balt. Co., if the sleet line builds in.

FYI to the weary. Do yourselves a favor and shovel in shifts during the storm. Do not wait until it ends, you will make a major mistake, this is going to be wet snow, not powdery like December's.

In O3, I was living in Catonsville and shovelled every two hours, driveway and walks. Made it much easier and I was out immediately for the old people in the neighborhood.

Gentlemen: Any chance those on the bay side will see thunder snow? I saw it in 83 in eastern howard county, in 2000 in catonsville. Maybe the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in weather. Snows like all get out during that, too.

Thanks for all the high quality work.

Posted by: drc231 | February 3, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I think the trend today has been south with the models oddly enough. The latest SREF (possibly still too far at range to be awesome) continued that trend. The great blocking over Greenland (and what it does with other features) is key here in my opinion... We'll see what 0z has to say soon, but there has been remarkable consistency through this point for some time (disregarding the normal small shifts).

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

00z NAM coming in colder at 30

Posted by: AugustaJim | February 3, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

So Mr. Michaels,

What's your offical prediction?

Posted by: dustinmfox1 | February 3, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

What about Southern Maryland? We never hear ourselves mentioned in the forecast. Thanks!

Posted by: emiloch | February 3, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

@drc231, second your comment about shovelling. The only way to make shovelling bearable is to never have to shovel more than about 4 inches at a time. The other half of the deal is whatever time the plow comes through, get out there immediately to dispose of the plow ridge at the end of the drive. Inconvenient, but worth even going out at night to shovel, if it saves you from having to deal with it once it settles and freezes!

Posted by: fsd50 | February 3, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse


20 miles northeast or 20 miles southwest for more snow? Probably a wash.


re: southern maryland? depending on where you are exactly, some snow accumulation is possible, but you'll probably get a lot of mixing with sleet and rain

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

NAM midlevel features are all south for the most part, and the energy is more impressive than recent runs.. colder for sure.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

surface temps seem to be trending up...will this be a problem? I mean if Friday has a high of 38, the first flakes will melt. I would feel better if it were below freezing right now.

Posted by: rocotten | February 3, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

0z NAM is a huge hit for this area, probably one of the better runs we've seen if you like snow and are worried about mix etc.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Awesome to have the venerable Pat Michaels adding his excellent analysis to CWG. For those who don't know, Dr. Michaels is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Professor of Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia. He earned his Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1979.

His writing has been published in the major scientific journals, including Climate Research, Climatic Change, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Climate, Nature, and Science, as well as the Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, and Journal of Commerce.

Posted by: Hoyas4Ever | February 3, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

yes, fsd, I remember living in the suburbs and having to use a pick and wishing for dynamite when I wasn't at home and the plow came by.

A great winter to remember. They don't come around very often. Now I have a tractor and a snow blade that I am becoming very fond of...

Posted by: drc231 | February 3, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I've got to tell you...I'm jonesing for a snowfall map. When you going to take your first shot at this?

Posted by: crozet | February 3, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

The latest NAM looks absolutely incredible for this area!!!

Posted by: snowedin85 | February 3, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I have to say I am extremely jealous now of the incredible winter you are having in the DC area. I moved away from DC about 3 years ago to Colorado and we have had only 1/4 of one inch of snow so far in 2010 although we had a nice storm last October. Best of luck to you guys...

Posted by: dan1975 | February 3, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Have you seen the size of this storm on radar? It's gigantic!

Posted by: snowedin85 | February 3, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

snowedin85: No kidding. Check out the satellite image:

This thing stretches from Mexico City to Denver!

Posted by: HillcrestDC | February 3, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse


When you write things like:
"0z NAM is a huge hit for this area, probably one of the better runs we've seen if you like snow and are worried about mix etc." ...

Can you include a link for the rest of us? Thanks!

Posted by: truyle | February 3, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Any estimates on when the snowfall will arrive D.C. on Friday? And when is the heaviest snowfall?

I am flying back from Chicago at 9pm this Friday-- I am crossing my fingers that BWI will let airplanes landing regardless of the snowstorm.

Posted by: SanDieganLostinDC | February 3, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-

Question about the timing and start of the storm.

I am traveling back from Philly via Amtrak Friday afternoon - getting back in around 6 pm. Do you think I will be able to drive home from U. Station to N. Arlington before the storm prevents it?

Posted by: guild370 | February 3, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Alright folks, I need some help here for real. I was originally planning to go skiing this weekend at Massanutten (Which is located near Harrisonburg, VA). Between the ideal temperatures this week, and the fresh snow, I figured it would be as good a time as any to hit-up the slopes.

I was planning to go on Friday, because they have college student discounts on that day (50% off). I was hoping to leave here around 12 Noon, and I would be heading back from the mountain (To South Riding, VA, then onto Reston, VA) sometime before Midnight (We'll be catching something to eat after the slopes close).

I have a 4Runner available to me, fully equipped, and I'm an excellent winter weather driver. My question however, to anyone who has an idea of the precip. time-frame and levels, and to anyone who knows the roads well enough in and around Massanutten (Including I-81), and their Winter weather conditions, should I proceed forth with this trip, or should I chance a visit to the slopes next Friday (12FEB10) instead? Thanks ahead of time, I appreciate it ;-)

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 3, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

The Analyst--likely you will have no problem getting there, but... getting back could be an advernture. There were 2 20+ car/semit pileups on 81 last weekend during the storm. If you're not planning on staying down there for the weekend, I would pass and go next weekend.

Posted by: drmammal | February 3, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

@The Analyst -- I second that. It's the getting back to South Riding that would be a big issue. For those of you familiar with Interstate 81, there seem to be a LOT of crashes in Shenandoah County when the weather gets bad. During the 2003 storm, the hill that goes toward the I-66 split was littered with tractor-trailers, so bad that VDOT could not get up there to plow, and the traffic was stuck all the way back to Toms Brook. Channel 9 even dispatched a crew that reported live from the highway and one of the truck stops in the aftermath.

Posted by: ValleyCaps | February 4, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

9 inches.

Oh, you meant the upcoming snow storm? No clue about that, sorry. Thought you meant something else.

Posted by: JimGoldbloom1 | February 4, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

@ "DrMammal", and "ValleyCaps", thank you for the advice. I will definitely heed your words, and despite my love for adventure, I think you have put some wisdom back into my mind. Besides, it looks as though next week we'll be experiencing favorable temperatures overall (Not too warm), and that by next Friday most of this fresh snow should still be around here, and especially so out in the mountains. Thanks again, and have a great weekend folks!

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 4, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

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