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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 03/11/2010

Forecast: Some clouds now, big rains Fri. into Sat.

By David Streit

River flood risk looms

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Today's Daily Digit
A somewhat subjective rating of the day's weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
6Sure it's cloudy, but with only a few sprinkles and mild temperatures, how can you complain?
Get tomorrow's 'Digit' on Twitter tonight


Today: Partly to mostly cloudy. 61-65. | Tonight: Showers late. 47-51. | Tomorrow: Occasional showers, especially early. 60-64. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


By David Streit, CWG Meteorologist

This forecast is a wet one! The models over the past 24 hours have all been simulating 2 to 4 inches of rain to impact the area Friday through Sunday. This is a real "megastorm" with a circulation extending from the Plains to the East Coast. The main rains are not expected until Saturday when the system's primary energy will crank up winds from the east. We'll be closely monitoring the possibility of flooding on the Potomac, though the risk would have been worse if we hadn't managed to melt much of the snow downstream of the river's north branch.

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 (Thursday): Nevermind the onslaught of rain to come, today will be a pretty fine day. It will be mostly cloudy with occasional periods of sun but also the chance of a sprinkle. Highs will be in the low-to-mid 60s with light winds from the southeast. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: The evening will remain cloudy with a few sprinkles possible and mild temperatures. Only late at night will steady showers approach and move into the area. This band of showers is being generated by a low-pressure system still in Iowa! Winds from the east remain light. Confidence: Medium-High

Keep reading for the forecast through Monday....

Tomorrow (Friday): Morning showers are likely to taper off fairly quickly with the storm still too far away to sustain steady rains. Skies should remain mostly cloudy the rest of the day with more intermittent showers. Winds will be light in the morning but increase from the east to 10 to 15 mph during the afternoon. Highs should be mainly in the low 60s. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow Night: Rain increases in coverage and intensity as the night progresses and winds hold from the east at 10 to 15 mph. Lows will still be mild with most areas in the low 50s. Confidence: Medium


Rainfall potential through Sunday. The red shades indicate 2-3". Source: NOAA Hydrometeorological Prediction Center.

Saturday will see the storm at its most intense with the potential for as much as 1 to 2 inches of rain during the day (with even some locally higher amounts and embedded thunder). Winds from the east will be brisk, blowing at 10 to 20 mph with an occasional gust to 30 mph. Despite the rain, highs should reach the low 60s. There's some question as to when the worst of the rains will taper. The most likely time is early evening, but it could extend later. Lighter, more intermittent rain is expected during the night with lows in the mid-to-upper 40s. Confidence: Medium

Sunday will be a little cooler but highs should still rise into the 50s. Winds shift from the northeast to coming out of the west later in the day at 5 to 15 mph. Lingering showers will be light and there's a chance clouds will break by afternoon. Confidence: Medium

Monday will start out mostly cloudy with a few sprinkles followed by a possible slow decrease in cloudiness. Temperatures will rise from the low-to-mid 40s in the morning to highs around the low-to-mid 50s by afternoon. Winds will be from the north at 5 to 15 mph. Confidence: Low-Medium

By David Streit  | March 11, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: February recap: Once in a lifetime snows


If it were snow...(sigh) much would it be?

Posted by: --sg | March 11, 2010 5:13 AM | Report abuse

Well, at a 10:1 ratio, that'd be 20 to 30 inches... Could have set a record that would stand for centuries.

Posted by: crashinghero | March 11, 2010 6:14 AM | Report abuse

At least we still have some brown snow piles to look at.

Posted by: eric654 | March 11, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang, when will the Thursday night/Friday morning rains taper off on Friday morning? When will it crank back up again Friday evening? I guess what I want to know is, what are the chances I'll be able to bike to and from work tomorrow (7-8 am and 5-6 pm) without getting completely nailed by the heaviest rains?

Posted by: mmurphy70 | March 11, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

The last seven days have seen the official Washington, DC high temperature increase each day -- from 42 on the 3rd to 48 on the 4th, to 52 on the 5th, to 54 on the 6th, to 59 on the 7th, to 62 on the 8th, to 64 on the 9th, and to 65 on the 10th. Today could make it eight in a row. Does anyone know the DC record for the most consecutive days where the high temperature increased?

Posted by: rodneysmall | March 11, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not usually one to cheer for rain, but hopefully this rain will at least get some of the pollen out of the air. I don't think I remember the pollen being this bad, this early, before. I don't seen green yet, but my sinuses are telling me it's spring.

Posted by: bachaney | March 11, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Much of this would not be snow even in the heart of winter... not sure that helps. ;)

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 11, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse


Right now the thinking is that the Friday morning commute will be rainy. But hard to say whether we're talking light-to-moderate rain, or moderate-to-heavy. Once the rain tapers (assuming it tapers), maybe by late morning or midday, it may not pick up again until late evening or later (after the evening rush). Though I realize that won't do you much good if the morning is too rainy to bike in. Caveat is that models are not in agreement about the timing of rain Friday/Friday night, so I'd call this a medium-confidence forecast at best. -Dan, CWG

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | March 11, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

It really SMELLED like rain when I went running in Arlington at 7am this morning. By 8 it was sunny and looking like a nice spring day.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 11, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

At least this will wash out all the remaining salt from the roads so I can get my classic car out of storage for the winter.

Posted by: RosslynVA | March 11, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@ bachaney - I'm with you. Despite daily allergy meds, I've had itchy eyes, a drippy nose and more frequent sneezing for the better part of a week. It's gonna get worse before it gets better this spring. A good cleansing rain is always a welcome relief.

@CWG - For those who have boats in the water, can you keep an eye on high tides plus flooding?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | March 11, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Ian - could you elaborate on your comment? Are you saying that this moisture is simply too tropical for any amount of cold air that this area could see to turn it to snow? Or something else?

Posted by: ah___ | March 11, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

This would be a "friendly" mild-weather rain were it not for the huge amounts and duration expected--it just about washes out yet another weekend!

It's also NOT much-needed due to ground saturation from snowmelt. In fact we shouldn't need to fear a drought this summer due to ample groundwater which should keep water tables relatively high. Summer can get rather dry around here as the frontal boundaries and jet stream move north and the subtropical [Bermuda] high sets up shop.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 11, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse


I think Ian may be trying to say that even in midwinter a storm of this nature is likely to feature precipitation which changes to cold rain as mild air advects with the moisture on southeasterly winds.

In addition, this system may lack a stong Arctic high-pressure source of cold air which would keep the precipitation freezing or frozen. That's why a number of promising "snow events" around here end up as rain east of the Blue Ridge. Others, of course track to the south, leaving us high and dry. round here you need ample cold air, but not too much [a dry bust] nor too little [a cold rain event]. That's also why it can be sooo...difficult to issue an accurate snow forecast for this area. Five or ten miles can spell the difference between a dusting and a foot.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 11, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

In re: What if it were snow?

It's funny -- I was pondering the same thing: What would happen if it were colder, and a system just sits out there in the Midwest churning away for days on end.

But I came to similar conclusions. You can say, "What if this happened and there was cold air in place?" But the point is the cold air wouldn't be, or wouldn't stay, in place. Because this kind of pattern would bring in warm air along with the moisture.

Apparently, if I can't have real snow I'll settle for hypothetical snow. But wouldn't you know it, I end up with a hypothetical fizzle. Tough times for a snowlover.

Posted by: Groff | March 11, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Is the overall pattern going to be dreary and gray until the big warm up to summer temperatures sometime in May? I remember pretty decent springs in DC when I moved here 10 years ago. For the past 2 years it seems like it's been so gray and miserable for most of April.

Posted by: dcazar | March 11, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

ah____, Bombo: Yes, that was the general jist.. the pattern would probably not support an all snow event (or maybe even much snow) I don't believe. Generally a good rule of thumb is east and southeast winds leading into and during an event are bad for snow around here. It might be the type of thing that gets bookended by some wintry precip in the heart of the cold season, but even that's hard to say because the overall setup right now is more springlike than mid-winterlike... so we may not even get something similar in January.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 11, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, well...we're having a St. Urho's Day party Saturday night. At least the cars will look like we washed them.

Posted by: mensan98th | March 11, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Okay, posted this in the wrong spot. This is going to be the weirdest thing I have ever put on a blog, but isn't this a valid argument to get my husband to put away the humidifier? He loves that thing. Swears by it. I'm fine through the cold winter, but aren't we kind of into moist air again? What's a semi-scientific explanation I can give him as to why this is overkill at this point? Argh. Bring on the rain (but please go away Sunday).

Posted by: esmerelda123 | March 11, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

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