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Posted at 8:20 AM ET, 12/10/2010

Forecast: Cold eases as storm approaches

By Camden Walker

(updated at 8:20 a.m., originally published at 5 a.m.)

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


A treat is in store despite variable clouds. Lighter wind, "milder" temps near or past 40, and some p.m. clearing.
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Mostly cloudy with a few flurries or snow showers, clearing p.m. Around 40 to low 40s. | Tonight: Mostly clear. 20s. | Tomorrow: Increasing clouds. Mid-to-upper 40s. | Sunday: Rain, then blustery and colder. A snowflake? 40s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


Despite rain chances Saturday night and Sunday, the southerly flow ahead of the storm will help ease the Arctic air mass currently overhead, if only briefly. Today features a fair amount of clouds as a clipper system passes well to the north. Saturday is salvageable with even slightly milder readings into the 40s before the next storm system and Arctic front begin to arrive. Mixed precipitation should be light and spotty, if any at all, as the storm starts during the overnight Saturday. Then it's rain on Sunday with a quick return to colder conditions and perhaps a snowflake to herald it in. Just know now, it will be darn cold on Monday and Tuesday.

Snow Potential Index: 2 (→) - Saturday night & Sunday are stormy but mainly rain. However, some chance still exists for flakes at the end of the storm.

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

Radar & lightning: Latest D.C. area radar shows movement of precipitation and lightning strikes over past two hours. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

Today (Friday): Lesser of recent evils? By that I mean the cold wind will be less than we have experienced recently, clouds and perhaps some snow flurries or snow showers slowwwly dissipate to reveal some sun in the afternoon. Highs have a shot to get above 40! Perhaps lower 40s in some spots. Combined with a light 5-10 mph wind out of a favorable, warming direction (south), our acclimated bodies may feel like they're on holiday. Confidence: Medium

Tonight: Mostly clear after sunset and winds die down almost fully as temperatures dip through the 30s. Calm winds and clear skies mean that readings bottom out once again. 20 degrees is possible in a few of the coldest spots, while even downtown dips into the upper 20s. Confidence: Medium-High

I mentioned snowflakes already but what are the odds? Keep reading...

Tomorrow (Saturday): Finally, a day with nearer average temperatures heading into the mid-to-upper 40s. We may have some sunshine in the morning, but clouds increase as the storm system heading out of the Ohio River Valley edges closer. One highlight is that a breeze will be almost imperceptible -- generally light and variable throughout the day. Much less of a wind chill! Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow night: starts to get interesting. Temperatures slowly head down into the 30s, as clouds thicken. Perhaps as early as midnight we see a few rain showers and maybe a pellet of sleet. Pockets of freezing rain well north and west can't be ruled out either. Precipitation chances start around 30% but slowly increase toward dawn. Lows in the very coldest spots may near freezing for a time. Most of us only hit the mid-to-upper 30s, with rising temperatures by sunrise. Confidence: Medium

Sunday: looks to be somewhat wet and wild. There is at least a 70% chance of morning precipitation. By midday into afternoon, chance of rain rises to near certain and it could be briefly heavy. Temperatures briefly rising through the 40s are boosted by an increasing wind from the south. But, by mid-afternoon, we have a new weather regime moving in. A major cold front ushers in strong winds from the northwest, drying us out, but perhaps not before showing a few flakes to the area. Generally, though, precipitation ends before the cold air fully enters the area. Winds head back to gusty, so get out those stocking caps and ear muffs! Confidence: Low-Medium


Sunday night there could be a lingering snowflake early but overall we're partly cloudy or clearer. Winds remain high, and it's very cold. Low temperatures may be fairly uniform throughout the metro area compared to some cold nights, mainly mid-to-upper 20s. Confidence: Medium

Monday may be the coldest we've yet seen ('til Tuesday?). Even with a fair amount of sun, temperatures could struggle to budge much off lows, with highs near 30 and into the lower 30s probable. Very blustery with northwest winds as high as 20-25 mph sustained, with gusts up to 35 or 40 mph. Very, very cold. A flurry could blow over the mountains from the lakes, but nothing more than a conversational one. Confidence: Medium-High

Tuesday could see a continued, serious freeze. Despite mostly sunny skies, it is a weak December sun. Temperatures move up from the teens and 20s in the morning, to upper 20s to around 30 in the afternoon. Hopefully we can hit the freezing mark, if the air mass "warms" quicker than expected? But I am not optimistic. BRRRRRR! Confidence: Low-Medium

By Camden Walker  | December 10, 2010; 8:20 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Season's first flakes fall in many spots


This weather pattern stinks.

I swore that after last winter's heavy snowfall, I would be satisfied with much less this winter. No need to be greedy. As I tell the children "You get what you get and you don't get upset".

This very cold, then warm up in time for rain, than very cold situation is just soooooo frustrating.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | December 10, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Supposedly once the strongly negative NAO breaks (January?) we'll be warmer and dry with the same occasional rain moving through. On this Sunday's storm, what are the odds of a freak inch at National (3.1 at Walter's house)?

Posted by: eric654 | December 10, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse

We've all seen this before, a chance of flurries as the system exits.

I'd guess it only happens 1/4 of the time, and is widely scattered.


Posted by: jaybird926 | December 10, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

It looks like some frozen precip to the west. Is that just virga?

Posted by: mcj59 | December 10, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

'preciate the thoughts eric, but i'm pretty sure i've NEVER had more snow than other places...even national. during last year's storms i measured a good 2" more ACROSS THE STREET than at my house. probably something about the location of the trees and the direction these storms travel - or an ancient algonquian curse or something...

CWG, other weather experts,
this pattern is setting up to be pretty darn exasperating: cold and dry, then warm and wet, then cold and dry etc... seems to me like had this expected moisture arrived a few days earlier or later, we'd have had snow. is there some connection or cause/effect relationship or is it just bad timing? i mean, is this really a pattern we're going to be seeing over and over this winter?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 10, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

eric654 , haha - maybe 15% chance or so.

jaybird926 - I am not putting much stock in it either. I look for upper level energy well behind a cold front of this nature to give us any snow showers... it does remain to be seen.

mcj59 - yes, virga is what the majority of what you are seeing. Your gut was correct! I am seeing a report of snow showers near Charlottesville VA and to the west of Winchester VA. Dusting at best, for accumulation, I suspect.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | December 10, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Looks like virga because I only saw snow reported at Charleston WV and now that has ended.

Walter, I think the way La Nina works is the storm track goes through the great lakes and when coastal lows develop, they are too far north. The big catch this year is negative NAO (similar to last year). This year that means the storm moves up to Quebec and sits there forever pumping down cold air. Bottom line is we will need a lot of luck and if we do get a big one, the next rain a week later will wash it away in a giant flood.

Posted by: eric654 | December 10, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

walter-in-fallschurch, hey there. Yes it could repeat for most of December. Negative NAO and La Nina really are working in tandem, I believe, to give us this weather pattern you describe (and call frustrating!)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | December 10, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Re western precip, NWS says this:


Posted by: tinkerbelle | December 10, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Just got a phone report from Strasburg, snowing "like crazy" with snow on the ground.

Posted by: eric654 | December 10, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm sitting at work (Reston) with co-workers coming in from the west telling me it's snowing, light snow only, but it's sticking as it's in the low 20's around here right now so that isn't surprising(doubting the 40 degree high right now). It will only be brief but I think you can bump the 2 up a bit.

Posted by: parksndc | December 10, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Current conditions Blue Ridge Mtns east of Front Royal: 23F and light snow

Posted by: spgass1 | December 10, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

well, you all forcast that this would be a colder-than-normal Dec, and you've certainly been right.

Now, bring on that "warmer-than-normal" Jan!

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | December 10, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Silencedogoodreturns. If it can't snow, well then heck, let it be 72 degrees. I've never been a fan of tons of cold and no snow. What good is the cold without snow?

Posted by: Rcmorgan | December 10, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

A little more than virga. Light snow in southwestern Loudoun now. Accidents due to slick roadways (I66 West mm 5 thru 7) have been reported in Warren and Fauquier Counties. Radar indicates that this will be a short term event but long enough to be dangerous.

Posted by: ntrlsol | December 10, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Just to add to the snow reports, it's snowing in Lincoln, Virginia, currently.

Posted by: seahawkdad | December 10, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

WINC-FM just reported that I-81 around Winchester has had a bunch of accidents and is slippery due to untreated roads from the unanticipated snow.

Posted by: alrob8 | December 10, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Does not look like any snow will reach the Beltway however it appears headed for Northern MOCO and I270.

Posted by: ntrlsol | December 10, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Snow stopped, although there is a bit on radar that could come through. Accumulation 7/16ths of an inch. Video here. Kind of a mild surprise as forecasts generally called for just clouds from the clipper this far south...

Posted by: spgass1 | December 10, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

My sister-in-law is saying it's currently snowing in Manassas.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | December 10, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Snowing in Gaithersburg Airpark area.

Posted by: wadejg | December 10, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Snowing very lightly (tiny flakes) in SW DC right now. Not even enough to create a dusting, but it's definitely out there.

Posted by: mrwrinkle | December 10, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

snowing quite briskly in University Park

Posted by: jhwpro | December 10, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Brief flurries in Falls Church around 11 a.m., long gone now.

Posted by: mhardy1 | December 10, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

First snowflakes of the season...five days late!!!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 10, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Boss called from 70 & said they'd closed the road down, Medivac showed up, part of it was closed.

He was on his way to Hagerstown & it took him 2 hours to go from 270 in Gaithersburg to 70 & he was barely on it before he decided to turn around & head back home. Not worth the trip.

Posted by: wadejg | December 10, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Is this bitter cold here , and 70 degrees in Denver caused by "Global Warming"? Because it is horrible for my business, and causing widespread depression. This area has awful weather.

Posted by: rlmayville | December 10, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

From Reston; never saw sun today, it's 5pm and still cloudy, still cold (35), we didn't get above 40 (38). We are cotinuously cold and we're expecting more cold on Sun night? Yet, we're going to hit almost 50 on Sun? That's a very quick and brief period of decent warm. I am starting to think we're getting a very cold rain instead (38-42).

Posted by: parksndc | December 10, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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