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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 03/ 1/2010

PM Update: Calm before the near-miss storm?

By Ian Livingston

Brunt of midweek storm still looks to stay south and east

* Midweek storm? SLCB | New England "bomb" | CWG T-Shirts! *
* Bob Ryan's farewell at 4 | Winter by the numbers | Md. snow record *

Meteorological spring began today with temperatures right around average as highs climb within a few degrees of 50 across the area. Despite the "warmth," a gusty breeze has kept wind chills down about 10 degrees lower, reminding us that astronomical winter still has a few weeks left. Generally quiet weather continues tonight and most of tomorrow before our next shot at snow arrives.

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.

Through Tonight: Winds should subside a good deal as the sun sets. Partly clear skies early trend cloudier as the night wears on. Clouds should help keep temperatures from falling too far with lows mainly around 30 in the colder suburbs to the low-to-mid 30s toward downtown.

Tomorrow (Tuesday): There will be plenty of clouds on Tuesday along with a rain and snow threat late. Light precipitation, potentially initially in the form of rain, could reach the area by afternoon. Most of the activity should hold off till the evening and overnight when light rain or snow is possible depending on location (Snow Lover's Crystal Ball has more). Highs rise into the low-and-mid 40s.

See Jason Samenow's full forecast through the week . And if you haven't already, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

What's in a name? In what has been the winter of the giant snowstorm, names like "Snowicane," "Snowmageddon" and "Snowpocalypse" have become everyday terms. Prior to last week's snowstorm that slammed places to our north, AccuWeather called it a "snowicane", conjuring up images of Katrina-like fury mixed with plenty of white stuff. In response, the National Weather Service claimed AccuWeather was being irresponsible for comparing the system to a tropical event, which it was not, and for potentially inciting panic. While CWG has helped coin -- through viewer help and suggestions -- names like Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse, we have not implied their names are meaningful like AccuWeather did. Then again, it's all in fun anyway... right?

By Ian Livingston  | March 1, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Forecast: A mix of wet & white from ocean storm


Seems like they were right on the ball with a hurricane comparison...Cat 3 wind gusts, pressures easily in the hurricane realm, and 8(!) inches of rain on the coast and multiple feet of snow elsewhere.
Aside from not actually being a tropical system, they seem pretty similar in their results to the layman, if not to meteorologists.

Posted by: bouncinggorilla | March 1, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

bouncinggorilla - you sound like an informed individual! However not everyone hearing the coined nomenclature may react with your level head :-)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse


I would not throw in the towel yet on this storm until 0Z runs tonight or 12z runs tomorrow.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 1, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

ajmupitt - are you suspecting an accumulation for the Beltway of more than a dusting?

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I think it is definitely still a possibility. I think you guys have a great analysis where it stands now. However, this storm certainly isnt backing down on the model runs. I really think the further away the storm up in New England gets the better the models will be able to track this storm going up the coast.

There has been constant trending NW with the storm for Tues/Wed. The 18Z NAM continues to bring the low closer to coast and increase QPF into DC. The NAM project a 980-978 MB storm off VA coast.

The latest NAM gives DC 1-3 inches and southest toward coast 2-4 and maybe 3-6 in Delaware.

In addition, this storm seems to be speeding up a little so most of precip would fall overnight Tues into Wed so it would accumulate better.

This storm needs to be monitored since it still could deliver one last wintry suprise to our area overnight Tuesday into Wed.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 1, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

@ajmupitt, I hope you're right but just now, it's sounding like a snowgo.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | March 1, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I would love just a few more inches of snow before springs starts! Please give us one last storm!!!

Posted by: justin-N-sterlingVa | March 1, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Spring is definitely making headway. Thanks to the ever higher sun, when I got in my black car this afternoon it was pretty warm inside... warm enough for me to roll down my windows for a few seconds. Then I did the unthinkable... I drove my sunroof open!

I'd love to see one last blast of snow, but if we don't get it then I want the temperature to immediately rise to the mid 60's for the highs and get no warmer that 80 during the summer :) Can anybody make that happen?

Posted by: B-Kraemer | March 1, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes ajmupitt, I am not giving in on this storm until at least two more model runs.

Posted by: ntrlsol | March 1, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

You just don't ignore a 980MB low of the coast of VA. Not during this winter you don't.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 1, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The storm certainly does look impressive on water vapor loop,infared and the doppler.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 1, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"Then again, It's all in fun anyway... right?"

I thought it was silly that all of those weather nerds got so upset about that.

I mean the Weather Channel was even getting into it with the "Snowpocolypse" stuff until baldy Jim Cantore got all upset about it.

Tell him to go spraypaint his head with hair paint like a did before he decided to shave it. :P

"That's just irresponsible!"

Yeah whatever.

Weather dorks have no sense of humor.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | March 1, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse


We haven't thrown in the towel yet... but we're betting against accumulation 40/60. Will watch future models runs and track satellite/radar with interest...

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks CWG! You guys are always great.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 1, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

@Ian, according to the Urban Dictionary (the last word in authoritative research!), snowpocalypse may have originated in Seattle in 2008. Snowmaggedon defintely seems to have originated in Washington, D.C. in 2010, w/ CWG?

Snowicane was hyperbole and the NWS was justified in rapping Accuweather on the knuckles.

As for Accuweather, their revamped site is awful. It used to be a one-stop shop, i.e., you could access your local forecast and Accuweaather news and blogs on the same page. Now you have to go to several different places.

Another instance of turkey see, turkey do, i.e., design turkeys see a model they like and adopt it regardless of the impact on usability. Forget Accuweather; it's not worth the trouble to navigate through so many screens to get information.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | March 1, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Snow haters, don't forget that with your spectacular springs come bloodthirsty tiger mosquitos and nasty gnats....Don't forget, DC was built around a SWAMP!

Posted by: kolya02 | March 1, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Total QPF for latest 18Z GFS runs bring 0.25-0.50 precip into DC. That is at least 1-3 inches if it falls overnight.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 1, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I would not be surprised if we get more snow from this on Tues/Wed then DC got from Snowicane for whatever heck it was called. I think all these names this year for winter storms are funny. Since when did we start naming winter storms. I guess when you have so many you are resigned to doing just that.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 1, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm fondly remembering exactly one year ago, when 4-8 inches of the wonderful white stuff fell on the D.C. area during a most welcome late winter blast. C'mon 2010, is this the best you got? The snowiest winter in D.C. history cannot end without any, well, snow!

Posted by: teezee210 | March 1, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Our last chance really does seem to be this Tues/Wed storm for any snow.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 1, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

bouncinggorilla, for the vast majority of the public it was not even close. Winds on Mt Washington, while interesting, are often big and not representative of anywhere that people live. There were indeed a few reported gusts to right around hurricane force, but they were not widespread. That said, I don't really have a big problem with AccuWeather calling it what they did (other than not completely understanding the need to name a winter storm in the first place!). It was a very intense and deep storm.. not unheard of, but in any typical year it would probably be the winter storm of the season.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse


I agree the models have been trending somewhat north and west with this next event. How much precipitation falls and how heavy it will be will go a long way in determining how much is snow, rain and accumulations. The surface temps are not going to be as cold as they have been in most of our decent snows this winter. If the precipitation is light we may see more rain/mix than pure snow, thus keeping those QPF totals (as far as snow accumulations go) way down. In other words, a QPF of .2 to .4 would produce much less than the 10 to 1 ratio we sometimes refer to for most of our systems. I hope it comes down hard and we get one last 2 to 4 inch snow fall, although with climatology, and the lack of cold air right now, it won't stay for long.

Posted by: pjdunn1 | March 1, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I believe in the first paragraph of this afternoon's post Ian should have written that we still have a few more weeks of "astronomical winter" left. Climatological winter ended last night at midnight.

Posted by: jeffdutton | March 1, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

jeffdutton, you are correct, fixed. :)

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

The Doppler loop looks to pushing a little more moisture further north into Tenn than recent models have indicated it would. That in itself may not mean much except that it is a sign that the storm may not be following the GFS plot.

Posted by: ntrlsol | March 1, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Both NAM and GFS trended west and north, and Radar currently showing moderate precip nearly 100 miles further north than forecast- all the way into southern Tennessee. Ugh, are things taking a turn for the worse? CWG, we need your input. This is why this site/blog are so awesome---REAL TIME weather forecast and discussion.

Posted by: 4seamed | March 1, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse


You hit on the key problem with getting accumulation from this storm. With surface temperatures on the warmish side ahead of the storm, we'll need precip that's heavy enough bring down some colder air from above if we are to see much in the way of accumulation. The latest models give D.C. .25" or a little less of precip. Cold temps and all snow that could easily translate into a few inches. But if it's light and intermittent over many hours (which is how it looks to be at the moment), you won't bring down cold enough air to either maintain precip as snow all the way to ground (as opposed to changing to rain) and/or the ground won't be cold enough to accumulate much if anything even if precip does reach the ground as snow. -Dan, CWG

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I think there's reason to keep watching the storm since it's scheduled to come so close, but guidance has been pretty steady in it not coming together quite right. The leftovers from "Snowicane" are a problem but as big a problem is the northern stream energy does not line up right with the southern for a joining of the streams in the right place. It is sort of an oddball in that the initial track is quite good, generally, for this area to receive precipitation. I think overall the upper levels leave some to be desired and the disorganized look to it keeps the northwest side of the surface low from being as powerful as you'd typicall see in a coastal storm.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

For those longing for warmth, check out this model run for next Tuesday (60s and 70s)! Of course, this is not a very good model but I think there is a pretty decent signal for at least some warmth in that timeframe.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Three straight comments from CWG.

Just thought I would step in and break the streak.

Posted by: bdeco | March 1, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Now Ian, I though CWG did not speculate on 56 hours model forecasts or is that just for snowstorms (LOL) and (LOL)

Posted by: ntrlsol | March 1, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Veronica Johnson said 1" possible by Wednesday morning and then some more "conversational" snow possible during the day. I wonder what Bob Ryan thinks?:)

Posted by: BH99 | March 1, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

And 18z GFS brings us back to snow Tuesday nigth/Wed? Interesting day so far.

Posted by: ntrlsol | March 1, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

CWG-so is it true what they're saying here, that this is pretty much our last shot at good snow for this winter?

Posted by: manassasmissy | March 1, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

@BH99, If more than 1" falls on Wed. chances are there will be a lot conversations hereabouts. ; ))

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | March 1, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Why are hurricanes named? To keep confusion down when discussing which hurricane, especially when more than one storm is occurring at the same time.

In a 'normal' year, there is only one BIG storm in just about any region of the US, and usually only one BIG storm at a time throughout the US. Or the BIG storms (in a specific region) are separated by several weeks (occurring in different months). This winter, there were multiple storms in many areas separated by days, not weeks or months, so it means something should be done to keep the confusion down when discussing which storm.

Some thought, though, should be put into naming schemes, if such a system is used. Some people don't understand the concept of hyperbole, and get upset when hyperbole is used. (And the same with sarcasm.)

Just my opinion. You can take it or leave it.


Posted by: critter69 | March 1, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Re: What's in a name?
I wonder what NWS would say about the post immediately proceeding this one titled "Meteorological bomb explodes over New England" Which is closer to the reality of the storm, a hurricane or an exploding bomb? I suppose we only got a trace of shrapnel.

Posted by: jmgg1 | March 1, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I heard the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia tried naming snowstorms several years ago and most people thought that was pretty dumb. Then again, this was the same TV station whose weatherman was run out of town for hyping (for ratings) a crippling blizzard that never materialized.

Posted by: misterbeauregard | March 1, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

If the models keep drifting further north and west, this may end up being one of Bastardi's best calls of the winter. He's stood firm on 4-8 inches + for our area and still thinks there's plenty of potential. I guess we'll just wait and see what the models late tonight and tomorrow morning show. Either way we've had some great storms this just seems so anti-climatic to have this type of winter go down without a fight!

Posted by: DLO1975 | March 1, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

jmgg1, "bomb" is an accepted and widely used term for storms that deepen rapidly, so in this case I think the NWS would probably agree.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

First a CWG post on Accuweather hyping a storm, now the NWS chiming in... what's next? Maybe the White House saying they're not a "real" weather forecasting source?

Posted by: spgass1 | March 1, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

That's why I like Bastardi. Takes guts to go against the gain and stand alone. It's easy and temping to go with the status quo in weather forecasting since if the forecast is wrong, then everybody is wrong. However nobody ever distinguishes themselves by going along with the "group"

Posted by: ntrlsol | March 1, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Lake effect snows from Lakes Erie and Ontario have been named (in 2008-09 the NWS used the names of snakes, see

I wonder if in the future big snowstorms will be named. One problem: sometimes we don't know it's a big snowstorm until it's practically sitting on top of us.

But I wouldn't be surprised if the NWS starts naming winter storms, based on certain criteria (barometric pressure, etc.).

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | March 1, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Amen to the comment about AccuWeather's new website. Ugh!

Posted by: landlaw | March 2, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

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