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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Forecast: When will the cold winds stop?

By Matt Rogers

updated at 11:15 a.m.

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


The wind and cold is gettin' old.
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Windy, cold, partly sunny. 35-40. | Tonight: Clearing and colder. 18-24. | Tomorrow: Breezy, cold, partly sunny. 34-39. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


This windy cold weather shocks our systems, particularly following a hot summer and a warm autumn. The high temperature at Reagan National Airport was only 39 degrees yesterday - 11 degrees below normal. And when we add in this blustery wind, the discomfort is magnified. Unfortunately, today sees no improvement over yesterday. And tomorrow is only slightly nicer thanks to a little less wind. Warmer, but not warm, and less windy weather returns late in the week and into the weekend along with precipitation chances.

Snow Potential Index: 1 (↓) - Rain is becoming a better bet for Sunday, maybe briefly mixing with/changing to snow before ending.

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

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 (Tuesday): Canada is the culprit for our misery. A massive low pressure in eastern Canada and big high pressure in central Canada join forces to feed bitter chill into our region. Winds from the west stay up at 15-25 mph, with gusts to near 35 mph and cold highs around 35-40. Look for partly sunny skies along with the chance of a flurry. Yet again, wind chills can't climb out of the 20s. Confidence: High

Tonight: Partly to mostly clear skies and slightly lighter winds (10-15 mph) allow temperatures to drop a few degrees lower than we've seen in recent nights. Lows near 20 in the suburbs to the low-to-mid 20s downtown. Confidence: Medium-High

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend...

Tomorrow (Wednesday): Cold continues, but the winds wane just a enough (10-15 mph with gusts to near 25 mph) for a slightly less irritating wind chill even though highs are still chilly - in the mid-to-upper 30s. The other sort of good news is that skies should be at least partly sunny for a good part of the day. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow Night: Less wind and the potential for partly to mostly clear skies make for a pretty chilly night. Lows sink to the upper teens to near 20 across the suburbs, but the heat island of D.C. could hold in the low-to-mid 20s instead. Confidence: Medium


Thursday is on track to be mostly sunny, but still cold. At least winds will finally be light. Highs only reach the upper 30s, followed by Thursday night lows in the 20s under partly cloudy skies. Confidence: Medium

Friday brings a welcome, though minimal, warm-up with highs aiming for the low 40s (that's still below normal), partly sunny skies and light breezes. Maybe a passing sprinkle or flurry. Confidence: Medium

The weekend is a weather house divided. Saturday shapes up as partly to mostly sunny with highs struggling closer to normal, probably in the mid-to-upper 40s. Sunday sees the potential for rain (60% chance as of now, maybe starting Saturday night) and highs could make a run at 50, assuming we stay on the warm side of a developing Midwest winter storm powerhouse, which is looking more and more likely than a colder and more wintry scenario. A powerful cold front should sweep the area late Sunday, possibly changing our rain to snow briefly before ending. Confidence: Low-Medium

I hate to tell you this, but early next week looks windier and colder than how this week has started, as our Sunday storm explodes over New England.

By Matt Rogers  | December 7, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: Cold winds keep on blowing
Next: Stink bug weather & tips for keeping them out


When are we going to get some snow? I don't mean a giant blizzard, but it would be fun to have a light dusting before Xmas.

Posted by: AxelDC | December 7, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

@AxelDC- says 60% for snow showers on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. So, who knows?

Posted by: cubscapsfan | December 7, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

"Canada is the culprit for our misery."

Come on guys, I'm a RUSH fan, and we're trying to get them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! :-)

Posted by: jaybird926 | December 7, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

With this Greenland blocking pattern, we should see more opportunities for snow in mid to late December. So we will keep watching!

Posted by: MattRogers1 | December 7, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

will the SPI ever be 0?

i'm not a fan of cold, per se, only to the extent it's required for snow. so this idea that it's gonna get even colder 'round here next week, as the storm blows up in new england is galling...

winter cold w/o precipitation is a waste of cold. winter precipitation w/o cold is a waste of cold.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 7, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

I agree 110%, Walter.

This SPI index is stressing me out.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | December 7, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Day after day of wind.... It wears a person down. I don't mind cold temps per se.

Posted by: tinkerbelle | December 7, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

I saw that forecast for next Wednesday, too. Fingers crossed as the chances for the first big one slip away.

Posted by: HappyArmyWife | December 7, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse says 60% for snow showers on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. So, who knows?

Posted by: cubscapsfan | December 7, 2010 6:47 AM

60% chance! OMG! let's all get to the grocery store...

this is exactly why i appreciate CWG. they could be playing up next week's snow possibilities, but their professional and personal integrity won't let them. they could have the SPI higher (presumably, it now includes next tuesday), but don't.


is theis "blocking pattern" the NAO? or something else entirely. i just read some sad, i thought, news on wes' thread about how the NOA isn't really as negative or well-placed as we might think it is. i may be in over my head here...?

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

Blame Canada!!

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

Yes, the Greenland block is the NAO and yes its position shifts a bit, which occasionally is less favorable for us to get snow (like this weekend!).

Next week's snow shower chances are basically behind-the-storm lake-enhanced stuff. No actual storm or heavy situation. I'd guess flurries.

Posted by: MattRogers1 | December 7, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Gooing to be in Frostburg, MD this weekend should I plan for a mostly rain or snow event? I know we are far out and things could change, but trying to plan ahead.

Posted by: snowlover | December 7, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

thanks matt.
i guess to be fair cubscapsfan did report that was calling for snow "showers" - which i generally interpret as flurries.

so, with this NAO shift, is that it for the season? or will it shift back to a "good" (for snow) position?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 7, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Walter in Falls Church,

I totally agree with you about the integrity of CWG.

But I will make this observation that suggests the local TV meteorologists are also maintaining their integrity.

First of all, this is a small sample size, I admit that. But over the past several days, while CWG was making posts about the possibility of snow for Sunday, the times I listened to Doug and Doug, they did not mention snow, or lead with things like - Will it snow this weekend?

Now just to clarify, this is not a criticism of CWG, because they always said the chances for snow were very low. CWG is still the best!

Posted by: jaybird926 | December 7, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I understand that the windy cold weather has everyone down. You have to find the silver lining though - this weather is SUPERB for sipping a hot mug of tea with honey, at home or in front of your computer at work! I find I can't drink coffee in the winter b/c tea is by far the superior cold-weather pick-me-up.

Posted by: kolya02 | December 7, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

The only forecast I know of is this which doesn't give a position of the Greenland high and corresponding east coast trough. For sure though, the more negative, the more likely any storm will get to the maritimes and stop thus leaving us to twist in the cold NW winds.

Posted by: eric654 | December 7, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Walter, all it really takes are slight wobbles in that ridge, which are difficult to forecast far in advance as I'm sure Mr. Tracton will be quick to tell you. This weekend's storm could track as far west as Pittsburgh or even directly over us...a slight shift right/east was all that was needed to significantly change the story around here.

Posted by: MattRogers1 | December 7, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

The winter weather watching is starting early this year (well, earlier than some years). I have my fingers crossed to get at least a few inches of snow before 2011.

Posted by: Alexandria2009 | December 7, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

The winter weather watching is starting early this year (well, earlier than some years). I have my fingers crossed to get at least a few inches of snow before 2011.

Posted by: Alexandria2009 | December 7, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

thanks eric. it seems to be staying negative anyway. hopefully it behaves and shift back into the right position...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 7, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Everytime I feel like complaining about the wind/cold, I just think back to the REAL misery that was this past summer.

Now, bring on the snow! :-)

Posted by: dinergirl1 | December 7, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

The reporter who did the weather story in the Metro section used Accuweather for its source. I thought that you guys had that straightened out?

Posted by: MKadyman | December 7, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

There are two problems with the pattern right now. One is in the Pacific. The evolving position of the vortex over the Gulf of Alaska with low heights pushing into the Pacific Northwest on the longer ranges makes it hard to get a southern stream system going so most of surface lows are coming across the country far enough north that it is hard to hold the cold air over our region. Also, we don't really have a nice vortex in the Atlantic in the proper position. Note in the the 500h forecasts for the Dec and Feb storms last year. Note the difference in the re areas over the Atlantic, the blocking is farther east and the vortex near nova scotia is weaker this year

and compare them with the same type of chart this year.

Blocking often tries to build back west and that is what the models are trying to do on the longer ranges. However, they have been too aggressive bringing the blocking high westward this winter and during westerly QBO years, the tendency is for a more eastward based negative NAO. Combine that with the LA Nina tendency towards a negative PNA pattern and getting a big snowstorm becomes tougher, not impossible, but tougher than a year like last year.

Posted by: wjunker | December 7, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

thanks, wes. i'm gonna have to do some studying to absorb all that.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 7, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse


Are you referring to this story? ... take another look and you'll see that CWG is in there, too.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | December 7, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Very cold windy winter weather with no snow.
Hate it.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | December 7, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

The 06Z GFS has shown a small SHIFT eastward, indicating a bit of a better chance of mixed precip as the storm cranks and heads toward New England SUN PM... Let's see what the 12Z's all about trends!

Posted by: HomantheSnowman | December 7, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse


the 12Z GFS has shifted well west of the 06Z solution and it would suggest little or no chance of mixed precipitation. It really made a pretty significant swing.

Posted by: wjunker | December 7, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

A lot of rain falling on our flash-frozen ground should prove to be ... interesting.

Posted by: tinkerbelle | December 7, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The real insult with this multi-day cold windy spell is that we get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in return, except for "milder" temperatures and a shot of MUCH UNNEEDED boring-forties, bone-chilling RAIN. Frankly, I find the one-day cold shots far more tolerable. The only silver lining is that my dances tonight and Friday night appear to be free of inclement weather.

Not sure if this killed the last crickets; generally you need a full day below freezing, preferably with at least some snow cover. That kills all except the juvenile crickets which hibernate until spring and the worthless humpback crickets that don't chirp because they have no wings.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 7, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

wjunker: That's the big problem--I'd rather have some mixed-precip. excitement than a day or two of gloomy, boring, bone-chilling, wind-driven rain.

The ensemble solutions do seem to offer a little bit of hope. Solutions are still spread a bit with some hope the rain/snow line could move east as the system progresses.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 7, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Went to VA Beach and saw a bit of snow and freezing rain from the clipper last weekend. There was still some nice fall color down there. Pics here

Posted by: spgass1 | December 7, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

With plans to travel to New England this weekend, I guess my question is whether this storm's "explosion" means generally either a rain/snow/ or mixed event for New England? And by what order of magnitude?

Posted by: hrc2211 | December 7, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Now it looks like no snow, but it looks like Monday morning will be icy.

Posted by: cubscapsfan | December 7, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Well, if we're seriously talking about ice on Monday, maybe I can count on Pepco to ensure that my place of employment is dark on Monday morning.

Posted by: HappyArmyWife | December 7, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Snow would be MUCH more welcome than rain on Sunday--I'm running as a volunteer in a 5k race with several hundred children. Those poor kids are going to freeze if it's a cold least snow doesn't soak you.

Posted by: lmd217 | December 7, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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