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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 12/20/2010

Forecast: Cold week with Christmas snow risk

By Jason Samenow

(originally posted at 5 a.m., updated at 7:15 a.m.)

Today's Daily Digit
A somewhat subjective rating of the
day's weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.


Growing really tired of wind & cold.
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Becoming partly sunny. Breezy & cold. 29-33 | Tonight: A few clouds. Cold and breezy. 17-23. | Tomorrow: Partly cloudy and chilly. Mid-30s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


It's another cold and windy week ahead but we're getting pretty used to it. We're averaging seven degrees colder than normal this month, and only two days have been warmer than average. Cold and mainly dry weather persists through Thursday before a potential winter storm Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.

Snow Potential Index: 5 (↑) - Little chance of snow Tuesday now, but *chance* of snow in the 12/24 to 12/26 time frame is real even if details fuzzy.

The SPI is a daily assessment of snow potential for the next week on a 0-10 scale. Get the 'SPI' on Twitter

Today (Monday): The last two Mondays have been windy and cold, so why break the streak? Winds from the north blow in at 10-20 mph (with gusts over 20, especially this afternoon) and temperatures struggle to reach freezing despite emerging sunshine (after considerable morning clouds). Confidence: High

Tonight: As a storm winds up off the coast of Maine, cold air continues blowing into our region from the north at 15-20 mph. Despite the cold and wind, mostly clear skies (any cloud over should be broken and scattered) should make for fine lunar eclipse viewing. Just bundle up as temperatures will be in the 20s at the time of the eclipse with wind chills in the teens. By early morning, lows range from the upper teens in the colder suburbs to low 20s downtown with wind chills as cold as the single digits (in the suburbs). Confidence: Medium-High

Keep reading for the forecast through next weekend...

Tomorrow (Tuesday): We have a cold morning, but probably a fair amount of sunshine. During the afternoon, some high clouds may increase as a weak disturbance to the north draws closer. Highs are in the mid-30s. Winds add to the chill, blowing from the northwest at around 10-20 mph. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: The disturbance that once looked like it might spread some light snow over the region Tuesday night probably passes far enough north to just provide some scattered clouds. It's another cold, breezy night, with lows in the low 20s in the colder suburbs to the mid-to-upper 20s downtown. Confidence: Medium


Guess what? Wednesday and Thursday remain breezy and cold. Under partly sunny skies, both days see highs in the mid-to-upper 30s with a continuation of chilly winds from the north and northwest at 10-15 mph. Overnight periods are cold, mainly from the upper teens in the colder suburbs to the mid-20s downtown. Confidence: Medium

As low pressure approaches from the southwest, clouds increase during the day Christmas Eve with a 20-30% chance of snow late in the day and 30-40% chance overnight. Highs are in the mid-30s, with overnight lows in 25-30. Confidence: Medium

There's a 50% chance of snow Christmas Day with highs in the low 30s. Snow could (40-50% chance) linger into Christmas night with lows in the 20s. Confidence: Low-Medium

We will have an in-depth analysis of the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day snow threat midday...

For Sunday, Boxing Day, there's a chance of lingering snow (20-30%) followed by slow clearing. It is windy again and likely quite cold, with highs in the upper 20s to low 30s. Confidence: Medium

By Jason Samenow  | December 20, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rare Christmas snow potential emerging
Next: Freak pattern brings Europe record cold & snow


Thanks for the heads up on the Eclipse, Jason! Now I know I'd rather deal with 20 degrees of bone-chilling cold than sit and watch on a live-feed. :)

Posted by: SpeedLimit186000 | December 20, 2010 6:37 AM | Report abuse


Just saw your momma and baby birds on the morning news. You did a nice job especially given the fact that there wasn't a lot to work with!!

Did you "borrow"/abscond with your neighbors' snow? ;0)

Posted by: worldtraveler83 | December 20, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

As usual I will be in Cedar City Utah over Christmas. Where we're pretty much guaranteed to have snow on the ground.

Posted by: wiredog | December 20, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

thanks. this was my most efficient use of snow ever. i did take snow from neighbors' sidewalks. with such low accumulations i could only harvest from hard surfaces (driveways, sidewalks) since i would have picked up leaves, grass, junk from my yard. it was quite a change from last year's situation where there was so much snow i could not possibly use it all.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 20, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

btw, worldtraveler83,
i would have preferred if they had just shown the pics i took friday night (and posted on flickr) when the sculpture was "fresh". i sent those pics to fellow snow-lover and channel 7 met adam caskey, whom i met last year. while the weekend was pretty cold and mostly cloudy on saturday, sunday's sun did quite a number on the poor birds. i guess they wanted to go with their own video or something.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 20, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: LOONYBIN2000 | December 20, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: LOONYBIN2000

Ah, yeah sure. If you want important news go look on the front page, the metro section, or, maybe, even the business section. But, if you look in the weather report section you're, shockingly, going to find a weather report.

Posted by: BigBubba1 | December 20, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Walter, you rock! Here's hoping that you get plenty of working material this Christmas!

Posted by: BadMommy1 | December 20, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Henry HypeMan Margusity believes that we may be in the "sweet spot" for the Christmas Snow with a general 3-6" inch amounts for Christmas Eve/Day with possibly localized 8-10" inch amounts should things verify this far out. Looks like the storm may fire-up along the DELMARVA but this is now looking to be a Mid-Atlantic storm as he sees it. (He has been known as well to be wrong but I will take it!)

Posted by: greg2010 | December 20, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"Henry HypeMan Margusity"

those tools also have us getting hit tomorrow, and had us getting hit at least seven times already this month

all I need to hear is Joe B talking about "a foot or more possible in the I-95 corridor" to know for sure that it will be sunny

Posted by: TGT11 | December 20, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Random update from the Reston Town's cloudy and we just got a burst of snow flurries...still coming down, wasn't expecting that. Nothing all that impressive though.

Posted by: parksndc | December 20, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

A couple of questions about records:

1. Is there data as to the longest stretch of continuous temperatures below 40F? If so, what is it?

2. Does someone keep track of freezing of the Potomac? For the first time this winter, no open water was visible this morning looking downstream from the Roosevelt Bridge.

Posted by: roac | December 20, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse


We don't have the hourly data to do the analysis of most hours below 40, but National Weather Service probably would. We have daily data and could analyze the most number of days with highs below 40 if that was of interest. I don't think this year would set any record so far, as we were at 40 as recently as Dec 13 (a week below 40 is impressive, but I'm confident we've had much longer streaks). Having said that, we may stay below 40 for a while so this could become more interesting.

Not sure about Potomac ice data. Not aware of long term records.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 20, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse


We have a little upper level wave moving through-- which probably squeezed out some flurries - though nothing on radar. Should become mostly sunny a bit later.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 20, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Out of curiousity, when was the last time the temperature was below zero in DC? I bet it was many many years ago. I remember Christmas 1980 when it was -26 where I was in upstate NY. My Dad had to borrow a ladder from a neighbor to get our stubborn cat out of a tree. She snuck out and we weren't about to let her stay out there until she came down on her own.

Posted by: CM_in_Fairfax | December 20, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Jason; that makes sense...will enjoy the sun b/c it's awefully cold right now, or at least feels like it.

Posted by: parksndc | December 20, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the response, Jason. I concur that we can't be anywhere near that record yet, but every day I dip into the future as far as human eye can see (meaning the 10-day forecast on without seeing a number in the 40s, and I wonder.

Posted by: roac | December 20, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

@CM_in_Fairfax...I think it was in 1985 during the cancelled second Reagan Inaugural...we also had subzero readings at Reagan National in the wake of the Air Florida disaster [1982?].

There was also a bitter cold wave in 1991 or 1992 when the high temperature never got above the teens on one day...the low that morning may have been subzero.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 20, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

CM_in_Fairfax- Not so many years ago that temperatures were below zero. They definitely hit those lows no longer ago than the last inauguration day. And I can remember a few others in the 7 years that I have lived here.

Posted by: McCarthy911 | December 20, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

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