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Posted at 8:55 AM ET, 12/14/2010

Forecast: Woeful wind through Wednesday

By Matt Rogers

Wind Advisory through 10 p.m., snow Sunday?

(originally posted at 5 a.m., updated at 8:55 a.m.)

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


Colder than yesterday and worse wind.
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Very windy, cold with scattered snow flurries. 27-31. | Tonight: Clearing, cold, windy. 16-22. | Tomorrow: Partly to mostly sunny. 29-33. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


So here we are with yet more very cold and very windy conditions. Why is this happening to us? Just like last year, we are stuck with a very powerful block in the jet stream over the North Atlantic, known as the Greenland Block. You can think of it as a gigantic wrinkle in the pattern that forces lots of cold air down through eastern North America. It's also stalling that powerhouse storm over New England, which will keep this wind and cold around longer than I think most of us probably want.

Snow Potential Index: 3 (→) - We still have two chances for snow over the next week (Thu and Sun), but for now, both are low chances.

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

Temperatures: Latest D.C. area temperature map powered by iMapWeather (base map by Google). Click and hold on map to pan. Double-click to zoom. Refresh page to update. See larger map on our Weather Wall.

Today (Tuesday): Scattered snow showers and flurries, especially this morning, could make for some tricky driving conditions. Also annoyingly strong winds persist today at 15-30 mph sustained with gusts as high as 30-45 mph. This compounds the cold weather misery as high temperatures struggle into the upper 20s and low 30s and wind chills are in the single digits and teens. Variable sky conditions as fast-moving clouds zip across our skies from the north and west (rotating around a powerful storm system up around New England). Confidence: High

Tonight: The skies clear, but unfortunately, the winds persist in the 10-20 mph range with some higher gusts. And those temperatures will be quite cold again with teens to low 20s ("warmest" in the city). Wind chills dip into the single digits to near zero in the colder suburbs. Confidence: Medium-High

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend...

Tomorrow (Wednesday): Mostly sunny skies, ever-so-slightly warmer temps, and less wind (still 10-15 mph) make the day slightly better. Highs should range from the upper 20s to potentially the mid-30s. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: Clouds roll back in after midnight. Lows should drop into the teens and low 20s again. Finally, finally, we see lighter winds at only 5-10 mph. Confidence: Medium


Thursday's deal is this: a weak storm system is supposed to pass to the south of our area. We continue to see a chance (around 30% right now) that precipitation could reach up into the region to offer some light snow. Otherwise, the day is slated to be mostly cloudy and cold with highs in the low-to-mid 30s. Light winds. Cloudy skies should dominate Thursday night with lows in the 20s. Confidence: Low-Medium

Friday could find a stalled front to our south yet again with partly or even mostly cloudy skies over the area during the day. We will need to watch for possible precipitation to our south. Partly cloudy skies Friday night are accompanied by widespread 20s for lows and some teens in the outer suburbs. Confidence: Low-Medium

The weekend should start OK with partial sunshine on Saturday and while still colder-than-normal, temperatures are more bearable than earlier in the week. Highs in the upper 30s to low 40s are preferred. Lows in the 20s Saturday night under increasing clouds. Confidence: Medium

Sunday is the tricky spot again as we run the risk (30%) of snow from a possible winter storm. Highs should be in the 30s with probable cloudy skies. As you can imagine we are watching this closely- it is Dec 19th again, after all! Confidence: Low

By Matt Rogers  | December 14, 2010; 8:55 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Scoop on wind & winter weather advisories
Next: Recap: Lake enhanced snow streamers dust D.C.


I don't want to seem nasty, but as late as yesterday afternoon, there were no snow warnings anywhere on this Blog. Now, there's an 80% of that posted on the "At A Glance" section. I understand that weather forecasting isn't an exact science, but give me a break. It does me no good to follow a weather column that can't at least provide a reliable short term forecast. Currently, I can't rely on you guys for a forecast beyond the time it takes me to walk from my house to my garage. So, in the words of the Donald, You're Fired!!!

Posted by: Tom-Fairfax | December 14, 2010 5:49 AM | Report abuse

They said there was a probability of snow. If you want guaranteed weather forecasts - go somewhere else.
If you want smart, science based forecasts that are honest and explained for the non-meteorologist crowd - keep returning to CWG.

Posted by: Bainbridge | December 14, 2010 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Snow covered roads with a good flurry underway in Laytonsville. Be careful if you are up this way. Main roads have not been treated yet.

Posted by: dprats21 | December 14, 2010 6:01 AM | Report abuse

Dear Tom:

Have you ever screwed up once or twice at your job?

Posted by: greg2010 | December 14, 2010 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Hi Tom, thanks for your comments. Yes, last night's snow showers offered wind-swept dustings that were not expected (although Ian wrote about them yesterday evening on our blog). But unfortunately, part of the confusion is with the 80% that you mentioned which comes automatically from the National Weather Service and not our team. We are not expecting lots of snow today. We could see a few more snow showers, especially this morning, and the folks north and west of DC would see more than the rest of us. Otherwise, the big story is going to be the annoying wind, cold, and combined wind chills today. Stay warm on that walk to your garage!

Posted by: MattRogers1 | December 14, 2010 6:23 AM | Report abuse

Flurries have ended in Laytonsville. Ruts on main roads, passable if you take it easy. Ended up with a respectable dusting.

Keep up the good work CWG. Your forecasts are much more accurate than the NWS.

Posted by: dprats21 | December 14, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

*something* happened last night in downtown DC. Snow covered cars, blown snow on the roads and sidewalks and whatnot. Wouldn't be surprised if there were some patches of ice here and there before the sun melts it all.

Posted by: AdmiralX | December 14, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tom Fairfax, don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Posted by: hawknt | December 14, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

I think the blown forecast on Friday was worse. In the northern Shenandoah Valley up through Hagerstown there was about 1/2 inch to an inch which caused numerous accidents and some severe injuries. There was no indication by any weather forecaster that this would happen before it happened.

Posted by: eric654 | December 14, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

To help feel a little better about the cold, it's currently -3F with 30 mph winds at Dolly Sods, WV...

Posted by: spgass1 | December 14, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Eric's comment--but being as far out of the metro region as I am, I'm blaming the NWS for that screw up, not the CWG. NWS said no accumulation--in fact, I posted their statement here when someone asked about virga to the west. Then I trundled off on my merry little day--and found myself in a blinding snow squall with some of the worst road conditions I've seen in a while. (Which I also bored everyone here about.) That was a pretty big mess-up by NWS.

Posted by: tinkerbelle | December 14, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Anyone see meteors from Gemini in the wee hours? (Maybe --sg at the bus stop?) I was awake but between mostly overcast skies and wind tears in my eyes, I couldn't see anything interesting.

Posted by: tinkerbelle | December 14, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

tinkerbelle, you can also blame me. When someone posted about virga on Friday, I looked at the station reports and saw nothing hitting the ground except Charleston WV. So I posted that it was virga. Then I went about my usual busywork here in Rosslyn until a friend from Strasburg called and mentioned that it was snowing "like crazy".

Posted by: eric654 | December 14, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I had a light dusting of snow on my car and driveway when I looked out around midnight, but by this morning it was gone. I know it could not have melted, so I'm guessing it blew away.

Posted by: mhardy1 | December 14, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I actually enjoyed the surprise this a.m. of a seeing snow that I wasn't expecting (and the kids loved it). I also appreciate the accurate forecasting of the wind/cold, which is more important to me as it dictates how I dress the kiddos in the a.m. Keep up the good work CWG!

Posted by: cwgfan76 | December 14, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

It's been such a long time since we've had a cold December. It feels like January. I hate it!

Posted by: nuzuw | December 14, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

If Meteorology were easy, everyone would majored in it in college. Snow showers such as the ones over the last few days are very difficult to predict for any one location and especially in the DC area. At a certain point, people need to take some responsibility, realize the weather is changing, and adjust their driving habits or pull off the road til it blows through. I would understand if CWG or NWS said it was going to be 50 and sunny with no wind, but they offered the chance of snow showers with blowing winds and cold. Pretty good to me....

Posted by: wb1313 | December 14, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Just FYI, the latest run of the GFS looks good for snowlovers this wknd!

Posted by: snowedin85 | December 14, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Last year I spent two days socked in at National airport, with a two-year-old who was dying to get to Grandma's for Christmas. Given the unusual nature of last winter, I figured I was safe trying again this year.

If it snows this Sunday, next year Grandma's getting a new computer and a Skype call for Christmas.

Posted by: JCR7 | December 14, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey, snowedin85!

Where do you look at GFS runs? My google-fu is failing me!

Posted by: megamuphen | December 14, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Here is one source: Click on hour 120 and look at the map in the lower left corner. The GFS has been bouncing around on this storm, which means low confidence and low skill. If the European model picks the storm back up this afternoon, then we may have a story again here.

Posted by: MattRogers1 | December 14, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Grr... Nobody better be picking on my CWG.

Posted by: HappyArmyWife | December 14, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, thanks!

Posted by: megamuphen | December 14, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I've looked at the 120-hr. forecasts & ensembles...looks as though the projected storm off the Carolinas is still rather uncertain for I'm dropping the Bombo snow indicator index from 0.5 to 0.4 for the next seven days. The Navy [NOGAPS] is being particularly pessimistic.

Speaking of the ensembles, it seems to be rather easy to get the GFS and most of the others, but the Euro is particularly hard to find...seems to be dsue their policy--they seem to make you PAY for anything other than their most basic services. I don't care for this policy as I never reveal my credit card nos. etc. over the Internet--too many nasty hackers out there! Just wondering why the EC thinks they need to act like a private weather concern...even a few of those like Accuweather provide more free info than ECMWF.

At least I can get some of the Euro forecast material from Tom Skilling on WGN--he must be a "subscriber".

Posted by: Bombo47jea | December 14, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

nuzuw - +1 here.

CWG - If December continues on this pattern, temperature-wise, where will 2010 rank in terms of coldest Decembers in DC history? I can't recall a single day where the high made it to the "normal" so far...

Posted by: vtavgjoe | December 14, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

That is a good question vtavgjoe. Strangely, some of our coldest Decembers include 2005, 2000, 1995, and 1989. In 2000 and 1989, we ran the entire monthly average about 8 or more degrees colder than normal. Through yesterday, we are running Dec 2010 at about 5.3F colder than normal.

Posted by: MattRogers1 | December 14, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Happy Army Wife -- concur. GRRRR...

Posted by: southbridgemom | December 14, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

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