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Posted at 8:26 AM ET, 01/10/2011

About the Winter Storm Watch east of D.C.

By Jason Samenow

Monday evening update: The Winter Storm Watch was dropped for Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties but remains in effect for the other counties listed below...

From Monday morning: The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Tuesday afternoon and night for our eastern suburbs, which includes Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Howard, Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary's counties.

The watch was issued for the potential for 5 or more inches of snow (and snow mixed with sleet in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's county) in these areas but is not a guarantee. The latest model data do not indicate these areas will get that much snow and I think the NWS is erring on the side of caution with these watches.

If data later on suggest these criteria will be met, the NWS would upgrade these watches to warnings. However, in order for winter storm warning criteria snows to be met in these regions, the coastal low would have to intensify more quickly than shown in the current models.

Capital Weather Gang's forecast, for the moment, is not for a winter storm warning criteria event in the metro region although it is more likely from Baltimore and to the northeast. We'll have another update mid-to-late morning.

By Jason Samenow  | January 10, 2011; 8:26 AM ET
Categories:  Latest, Winter Storms  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Cold week with snow Tuesday
Next: Update: Snow chance Tuesday night steady


I hope anyone/everyone who is in the NWS watch area feels well informed? We don't want anyone caught off-guard. This explanation hopefully helped

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 10, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

CWG - Will you be doing a timeline today?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | January 10, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Any thoughts on how much we might get in Baltimore?

Posted by: weatherwatcher1 | January 10, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse


Yes- We'll roll out with the whole map, timeline, impact scales, etc this afternoon.


I'd say 2-4", maybe a little more if the coastal gets going sooner. You're in a better spot than D.C. for this one for snow.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 10, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

So my 18-year-old son, who has had his license for about a year and a half but has never driven in snow, needs to get from our house in Aspen Hill to the UMBC campus for a 4:30-7:30 pm class on Tuesday, and then home again. Does this sound like a good idea? I suppose I could drive him and hang out there for 3 hours, but I don't have all that much snow driving experience myself... and missing the class wouldn't be wonderful since it's a winter term course where they cram a semester's worth of material into 3 weeks. (Sigh... maybe no good options here...)

Posted by: skidge | January 10, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

If anyone keeps tracks of the coefficient between snow amounts and the number of related posts/comments, the flakes that may fall tomorrow in the immediate DC area could set a new CWG record for the comments/least amount of snow.

I hope we get a big snow this winter because the comments can reach the several hundreds for each new blog entry, c.f., Feb 5, 2010, w/ more than 1,000 comments beneath three successive Snowmageddon entries:

That WAS fun!

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 10, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

*sigh* Is DC going to get any storms this year? I feel like every potential one is missing us, and I'm starting to get frustrated!

Posted by: nblakejones | January 10, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I mean, my hometown of Florence, AL, just got 8 inches. Come on!

Posted by: nblakejones | January 10, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

anyone know any simple drawing software? I kind of want to make my own accum. forecast map on the comp and send it to my friends to compare with the mets.

Posted by: bbirnbau | January 10, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

New NAM model is like last night's. Keeps hopes alive for 2-4" for snow lovers. Will have a bigger update in a bit.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 10, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, complete link for 9:21 a.m. comment, above, is

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 10, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

To snow or not to snow, that is the question. Whether tis nobler of us to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fluctuating models or arm ourselves with snow shovels.
(My apologies to Shakespeare!)

Looking forward to the mid-morning update. Cheers.

Posted by: kygurl94 | January 10, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

NWS snow accumulation map is up:

Here in northern AA County we're just within the 4" line, but that seems too optimistic to me. I'd be surprised if we get anything more than a coating.

Posted by: allagar | January 10, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

im in the watch area of PG County in Hyattsville area. Which is about a mile out of DC. So im not sure if ill be getting the higher end snow of PG or the lower end of snow in DC. Seems like it could go either way I guess but still we are so close to DC.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 10, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

In my household, we play a little game after the first time we hear there is snow in the forecast. Whoever guesses closest to the amount of final accumulation doesn't have to pick up a shovel. We all guessed friday of last week. My pick was 3.4 inches in Frederick, So i'm keeping my fingers crossed, but it's not looking good. At least if I'm wrong I won't have much to shovel haha.

Posted by: rudy1481 | January 10, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Jason - I see the forecast maps with generalized amounts for the IAD area of around .10 - .25, however, I am wondering if you have any links to more specific model qpf forecasts (data) which would show the exact forecast amount for IAD. Does this come in raw format?

Thanks and keep up the great work CWG!

Posted by: snowfan23 | January 10, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

It looks to me like the latest NAM would put DC closer to the 4" range of the forecasts; if I'm reading it correctly

Posted by: SteveinAtown | January 10, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Please help me understand something- I'm confused as to how one storm that's moving in from the Mid-West/ Ohio and another that's moving up from NC/SC won't affect NW Virgina and mid-PA, but interestingly, there are no weather alerts for these PA and VA counties- see's severe weather alerts map, by county:

Posted by: mrudinsky | January 10, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Well this is a kick in the head: cities down South getting more snow this year than DC!

What a DISAPPOINTING, boring winter thus far. And very, very dry, too. Only 0.25" of precipitation at National Airport in the last month.

Not good. Not good at all.

Posted by: TominMichiganParkDC | January 10, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse


Thanks so much for posting that link. I had been living overseas for past 8 years (was in Christchurch, NZ and was lucky to see half an inch once in a winter there) and I was planning to move back to the states in Feb 2010. When I missed the Dec storm, I was SOOO bummed as I figured I missed my chance for a good storm that season. I landed at Dulles on Feb,3 in a little light snow and was happy about that even, but boy was I happy when I heard the forecast for the 5th. Anyway, reading the posts brought back some good memories of the first good snow i'd seen in 8 years, and now I'm just looking forward to our next biggie, even if it is not this year we will luck out again at some point!

Posted by: rudy1481 | January 10, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Well this is a kick in the head: cities down South getting more snow this year than DC!

What a DISAPPOINTING, boring winter thus far. And very, very dry, too. Only 0.25" of precipitation at National Airport in the last month.

Not good. Not good at all.

Posted by: TominMichiganParkDC | January 10, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

DC and Arlington (where I work and live, respectively) almost always seem to get missed by these storms. As a snow lover, it's very disappointing.

Posted by: rj2835a | January 10, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse


And the CWG servers kept crashing from the commenters and page refreshers (that was true of all three storms). I felt bad for the guy who raises sheep, though, after he posted about the serious problems that occur when there's a big snow during lambing.

Posted by: mensan98th | January 10, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

allagar, how do you get to snow accum maps for our area?

The map is interesting. It seems to take little north south differential into account, it's pretty much purely east west. I actually agree with this in terms of how the storm will track across our area, but I thought there would at least be some preferential treatment to north vs. south since the storm will intensify as it moves northward. Even Jason had mentioned how those north would benefit.

Posted by: bbirnbau | January 10, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

GFS has been quite consistent with a general 2-3 inches since at least Friday, and it looks as if this has a good chance to verify. Models have been much better with this than over the past few weeks...and there are no surprises whatsoever with this forecast. Way to stand your ground CWG.

Posted by: DullesARC | January 10, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The latest GFS is looking like the last NAM. Now what?

Posted by: MVPlaya8120 | January 10, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Talked to a friend in Central Pa. last night & they've had less snow than us, only a few snow showers all winter.
On radar snow seems 2 b moving ENE, definetly not the right track for much snow. Onless the track of the snow changes, 1-2" will b a stretch.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 10, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree about the northeasterly motion to the radar returns down in GA and SC. That is NOT good for us; looks just like the setup from 12/26. Our moderate to big snows that originate from the south need to have a south to north motion up the coast. It is going to swing around us again and hit southern New England.

And any energy from the Ohio Valley low will fall apart as it crosses the mountains and transfers its juice to the coastal low.

Another miss for us, maybe an inch in DC metro.

Posted by: HurricaneSpud | January 10, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse


There's a link to the map at the top of the Balt/Wash homepage:

Posted by: allagar | January 10, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The latest GFS run takes a more favorable track for snow in the area, but is still not strengthening fast enough to really put down large amounts of snow for our are. The gradient, as we've seen before this winter is very tight. From possibly 6 plus on the shore and Delaware, to and inch or so, or less, in NOVA. DC once again is in the marginal zone, 1-4".

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | January 10, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse


Getting to class probably fine. Getting home maybe not so much, as that's right around when we get into our best chance of significantly accumulating snow. There's always a chance that the school will, based on the forecast and assuming the forecast remains similar to the way it looks now, call off the class ahead of time as a precaution. -Dan, CWG

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | January 10, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I live in Howard County but work in Silver Spring MD and catch a commuter bus....wondering if I need to work from home just to make sure I get home.

Posted by: LadyTee53 | January 10, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

So sad that we're holding out hope of 2-4 inches from a coastal storm. What a bizzare winter...coastal storms used to give our area at least 6-12 inches. With an NAO tilting positive we should have even better chances of this hugging the coast. Bizarre. Of course the NWS does have the Winter Storm Watch posted as far west as Carroll County for 5 or more inches. As long as that is up, there is hope.

Posted by: DLO1975 | January 10, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Dan! I guess we'll stay tuned for updates and make some sort of decision tomorrow afternoon...

Posted by: skidge | January 10, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

To be frank, I hope it "BUSTS"'s timed for tomorrow night's swing dance!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 10, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Just a question. I read the article and wonder, what about Virginia?? Seems like most everything in the Post is about DC or MD. VA is almost like an afterthought. Oh, and VA might get some weather too. . .

Posted by: ysoldman | January 10, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Northern Virginia should probably have a couple of inches or so; its totals are likely to be on the lighter side of snowfall. Same goes for the western part of the state (they are calling for less in the mountains than in the DC suburbs).

Southeast VA, which got snow on Dec. 25/26, seems likely to get an (ugh) wintry mix, probably without actual accumulation but with ice and rain.

Posted by: mkarns | January 10, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

which "frank" are you being? zappa? sinatra? other? :-)

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 10, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Skidge, let your 18 year old son drive himself to class. If he knows nothing about snow driving then I hope he's listened to you or goggled for tips on driving in the snow. He'll be fine.

I moved from Florida to Syracuse at 18 and my first drive in the snow was to an early class after the first big snow fall. At least he doesn't have to drive up hills covered in snow and pray he doesn't skid back down. The driving was not unlike driving on the beach in Fla. Slow and steady and able to stop without much breaking. Good luck.

Posted by: JuliaMac1 | January 10, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks JuliaMac1! That's also one of the options we've been considering...

Posted by: skidge | January 10, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

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