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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 01/24/2011

Forecast: Cold, but warming before Wed. storm

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


Downright cold, but sun & lack of wind help matters a bit.
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Mostly sunny and cold. 27-31. | Tonight: Partly cloudy, not as cold. 18-26. | Tomorrow: Partly sunny and milder. 41-46. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


Temperatures have now remained sub-freezing for more than 60 hours. We stay in the deep freeze for one more day before a pretty significant warm-up Tuesday. Then we contend with a storm early Wednesday through Wednesday night which, depending on where you live, has a good chance to produce appreciable rain and/or snow.

Snow Potential Index: 5 (→) - We're still on the rain/snow line for Wed.'s storm with best snow chance perhaps Wed. night.

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

Today (Monday): This is the last day we deal with the Arctic air mass that set up shop here Friday. Most spots probably fail to reach freezing despite considerable sunshine. Highs range from the upper 20s to the lower 30s. Winds are light and variable. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: As the Arctic high moves offshore, winds start to come from the south (at 5-10 mph). So overnight lows are a good 10-12 degrees warmer than Sunday night, with lows ranging from the upper teens in the colder suburbs to the mid-20s downtown. Confidence: Medium-High

Keep reading for the forecast through next weekend...

Tomorrow (Tuesday): The combination of (at least) partial sunshine and winds from the south (at 10 mph) help temperatures stage a major recovery. Highs climb all the way up into the low-to-mid 40s. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: Clouds increase as low pressure approaches from the south. There's a 30% of rain, sleet or snow after midnight with the best chance of sleet and/or snow west of eastern Loudoun and western Montgomery counties. Lows are in the low-to-mid 30s. Confidence: Medium


For the immediate metro region, rain is the most likely scenario Wednesday, although snow and/or sleet cannot be ruled out due to uncertainty in the exact track of the storm. The chance of snow and/or sleet is highest north and west of eastern Loudoun and western Montgomery county with a chance of heavy snow in the mountains. (There's also the outside possibility the storm misses the region to the east.) We'll have a full storm update midday. Highs range from 33 (northwest) - 38 (southeast). Wednesday night, any rain may change to snow from northwest to southeast as the storm pulls away with lows from the upper 20s to lower 30s. Confidence: Low-Medium

Thursday through Sunday should be dry and on the cold side with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens and 20s. Confidence: Medium

By Jason Samenow  | January 24, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: D.C. Decembers: Trending colder?


Did you guys see the NAM? it shows us getting mostly snow....colder weather being provided by a new hight..why the forecast for just rain?

Posted by: lll1424 | January 24, 2011 5:07 AM | Report abuse

If you are doing a critique on the news and weather agencies, today is the day to cast the critical eye.

Are their come-ons commensurate with the forecast?

Are they misleading us by priming the “possibility of snow” pump too much, even though now it is likely a rain or mostly rain event?

Which ones overplay their hand and which ones are more open and honest?

Posted by: jaybird926 | January 24, 2011 5:18 AM | Report abuse

A bit of New England weather trivia, dewpoint of -62 on Mount Washington this morning (-29 air temp and windy of course).

Posted by: eric654 | January 24, 2011 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Fingers crossed we don't get all rain and THEN a sleety, icy mess Wednesday evening. I'll be on the road then, if my evening class isn't cancelled (which wouldn't be if it's mostly rain come 4:30PM). That'd be my worst case scenario.

But... que sera, sera. I can't control the weather, so here's hoping for the best, and being prepared for the worst!

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 24, 2011 5:46 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 24, 2011 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Channel 4 makes it sound like nothing but a little rain and possibly a teensy bit of wet snow late Wednesday night- Basically in keeping with CWG's forecast.

Pretty underwhelming.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 24, 2011 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Huh? No guidance in how much precip.- even if it is wet?

Posted by: moo1 | January 24, 2011 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Bernstein saying rain. Looks like a non-event with little disruption to travel.

7 cold degrees this morning. Please tell me this is the coldest morning we'll have this year.

Only 55 days til spring!

Posted by: ThinkSpring | January 24, 2011 7:21 AM | Report abuse

WTOP calling for rain Wednesday...

Posted by: wiredog | January 24, 2011 8:02 AM | Report abuse

imagine if we were right in the "bulls-eye" of this storm with predictions of 10, 12, 20" of snow. then all that could happen btwn now and wednesday is the storm would fall apart, the accumulation predictions would diminish and we'd all be incredibly disappointed in the storm's paltry performance.

so, given all the current gloom-and-doom rain predictions and so forth, we've got nowhere to go but up! or, maybe the mets are just trying to prevent the pre-storm provision-purchasing panic that follows predictions of 6, 8, 10" of snow...

so does bastardi have a new forecast and/or map (thus rendering his previous 3 or 4 "big daddy" type predictions wrong by his own definition) for this storm?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 24, 2011 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I want to hear more about the NAM run...

I like that positive thinking Walter - "no where to go but up". Come on - we have to have one decent snow storm this year!!

Posted by: nolagirl67 | January 24, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

All right Jason - NAM is clearly on one end and the GFS on another with the Euro seemningly somewhere in between. I believe none of them verbatim right now. Does the new NAM change CWGs thoughts at all? Im starting to think that this may be an old school Rain-Snow line right about Fairfax City; West gets 6+ heavy, wet snow...east gets rain and ducks. Dynamics are fantastic with this event - someone is going to write a thesis on the Winter of 2010-11.

Posted by: DullesARC | January 24, 2011 8:13 AM | Report abuse

This is nothing more than a hunch, but I think some cold air will wrap back into the storm. There are no upper air measurements over the Atlantic AFAIK. The surface measurements (buoys) will show the usual warmth from the water, but the arctic air that is currently heading out to sea will still be up above a few thousand feet and the models won't know about it. That will get pulled back toward us by the big storm to our south and produce wet snow on Wednesday rather than rain. It will be warm enough at the surface to have trouble sticking, but that won't be a problem once it gets heavy enough.

Posted by: eric654 | January 24, 2011 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I hate to bring up the National Airport issue again, but I hate seeing all these national weather maps that show our area has temperatures around 20 degrees when the vast majority of the area is below 10.

Posted by: rocotten | January 24, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

As I mentioned a few days ago, we are just beginning to come into the window when the models will start focusing on the likely senario for this weeks main event. However, since the event has switched to Wednesday, Tuesday's 12z runs will give us the first good idea of what's really in store.

So keep your powder dry and no wishcasting!!!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | January 24, 2011 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Safe to say that the next runs of GFS and NAM may be the most watched model runs of the winter. Servers may crash. If the NAM holds tight and the GFS budges just a bit, then the trend is back a bit colder. Lets get that new 1024 High in place up north just in time.

Posted by: DullesARC | January 24, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Brrr. It's cold outside... Am I seeing this correct in Chevy Chase it is 10 degrees...

What's up with these model?... I'm reading or hearing that NAM shows a decent snowstorm, but I'm assuming the GFS/Euro saying something else...

Most everyone saying rain but changing to snow by Wednesday Evening... Well if it does rain then I guess I will get a FREE CAR WASH ;)

Need to know what in tap for the forcast so I can know if I need to changed my plans or not...

Posted by: Michael_Nguyen | January 24, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Just "enjoyed" a walk to work in the bitter, tear-inducing cold. What stinks about winter in DC is that she over preforms when it doesn't count, like now, and under performs when it does, like this Wednesday...She's like an athlete who plays like a superstar in practice put can't score on game day!

Posted by: kolya02 | January 24, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

btw, 14.9 degrees, with an overnight low of 13.1 - the lowest do far this season.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 24, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Centreville VA Nine bitter cold & dry degrees measured this morning.
At least there's no wind. That would have killed me.
Now we will warm up for Wed. rain/snow mess. How very typical.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 24, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Six Degrees (no separation or Kevin Bacon) this morning in the LoCo bootheel. And it didnt even come close to feeling as cold as any morning in December when it was 20 with 35 mph winds in my face. It was calm, cold and actually beautiful this morning.

Posted by: DullesARC | January 24, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Hi FIREDRAGON47 - I am seeing just north of you in Centerville, a 7 degree reading. wow bone-chilling cold!

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 24, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The anticipation is killing me. One second snow (yeah), one second rain (noooo). I may have to stop watching and reading cause I am actually getting stressed out. This winter sucks so far. Last year spoiled me. CWG I really enjoy your blog. I keep finding myself comming back. I actually have started to learn some things by reading the posts as well. My prediction is for a DC classic, rain to snow and a couple inches of accumulation on grassy areas.

Posted by: slim8109 | January 24, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Rain is fine, I hate snow.

Posted by: rmcazz | January 24, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

So it's a 7 degree reading in places this morning and the weather channel says high of 50 tomorrow? I am no weather man but that high seems a little far fetched to me.

Posted by: jbernard703 | January 24, 2011 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Happy to see normal temps return tomorrow.

Posted by: SouthsideFFX | January 24, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

And here we go. NAM running now.

Posted by: DullesARC | January 24, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: samdman95 | January 24, 2011 9:05 AM | Report abuse

6.4 degrees this morning just west of warrenton.

Posted by: mudbucket | January 24, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

4070% wow... is that even possible?

actually, don't know where you are, but that map shows dc in the 10% chance zone...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 24, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

doin my all rain dance!

Doug Hill along with cwg says it could end as snow. any idea (or guesstimation) how much?.... T-1 or 3-6?

Posted by: KRUZ | January 24, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

is it me or has this storm slowwwwed down some, like at least 1/2 a day

Posted by: jiji1 | January 24, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Latest NAM is east with the low (so not much precip) and on the warm side (so not much snow). It's not like the cold, snowy overnight run. I think the low will be further west. Our forecast above is based on that assumption. Nothing about either the overnight NAM run or this morning's NAM run alters our thinking. We'll have a full update in a bit (late morning).

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 24, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

CWG, wxperts,
is it just a coincidence that the cold air goes away when the storm shows up, or does the storm push the cold out and/or bring warm air with it?

also, this storm is sure taking it's sweet time getting here. i remember originally it was a tuesday storm, then a tuesday night storm and now it's a wednesday storm. part of the reason snow is getting less likely because it's getting here in the middle of the day instead of overnight.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 24, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse


The day or night timing doesn't impact whether we get rain or snow. Snow - if it falls - would stick better at night... but night doesn't significantly impact precip type forecast.

The later arrival decreases the likelihood of snow at the onset because the cold air has moved off. But some folks (esp west of DC) could still get snow on the onset if the low tracks far enough east to keep us in a north wind.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 24, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

@kolya02 - You give a great description of this winter's missed snow opportunities in the DC area. I'm going the superstitious route, and go against the grain. Since all of the TV/radio media mets are now going with rain on Wednesday, I'm still predicting the 'perfect storm path' and a 'shut 'em down' snowstorm here on Wednesday. Ya' heard it here first.

Posted by: johnnierat | January 24, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Liking this NAM run better. Howard B. said this morning that you'd probably have to go west of Rt. 15 to see problems with this event. For those of you who don't know where Rt. 15 is, he basically means west of Leesburg, Point of Rocks, Fredrick, MD. Most likely rain elsewhere with maybe a little wet snow at the end.

Seems like most of the TV mets are in the same vicinity with their own forecasts right now.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | January 24, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Hope everyone is managing ok.. to stay warm enough.. in these spots with single digits. Wow. Thanks for the reports!

jbernard703 - I think 50 is a little out of reach for us tomorrow, though not 100% out of the realm of possible. I think upper 40s, at most, is achievable. Our high temperatures in the last few days have not had much to any surprise to the upside.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 24, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Oy. What a mess. Last year was too easy. Models are playing like slot machines this season.

Posted by: DullesARC | January 24, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I've often wondered - does Gainesville, VA count as south or west of the District when I read your forecasts?

Posted by: luggagenut | January 24, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I need to commute from Baltimore to DC on Wednesday, so I really need this storm to decide what it's going to do. Also, as much as enjoy this cold weather, my dog is tired of wearing his sweater when he goes outside.

Posted by: weatherwatcher1 | January 24, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

cant believe how many ppl were model hugging 1 nam run last night. that things never seems to be right until its within 24-48 hours of the storm. really hoping this is a rain event, hope we can get some answers on how much accumulating snow (if any) we may get wed night. wondering if this will be an event worthy of salting.

hope you include accumulating snow amounts/chances in your mid day updates.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 24, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

My dog doesn't wear a sweater nor am I worried about my commute on Wednesday. (Why do I feel these two points are not entirely unrelated?)


Posted by: AsymptoticUnlimited | January 24, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

luggagenut - I would say west.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 24, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

6 in NW Spotsy this am.
Still don't see anything that would indicate a big snow, looking like mostly rain. Might get a little wrap around Wed. night, but we usually don't get much accum. from as the storm moves away.
4 those who don't like the way or what I post, just ignore them & problem solved.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 24, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I think Western Northers and Western MoCo will get some nice snow. No school or early dismissal Wednesday.

Posted by: RJ16 | January 24, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse


Basic question. Is the NAM the most significant model at this point in your forecast???? Or is it just how much allignment all the models show. Also, while Tuesday is warmer the trend is still for below normal for the rest of the week. What are the chances of pulling in some colder air a wee bit earlier to get more of a snow event?

Posted by: moo1 | January 24, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@VaTechBob -

You happen to be one of the few commenters whose insight I appreciate on here. You don't exhibit a bias either for or against snow and tend to tell it like it is.

Ignore the "haters" and keep on posting!

Posted by: ThinkSpring | January 24, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I don't consider it seriously cold 'til we have HIGH temperatures in the single digits. Alas, I think the last time this happened was in 1994 on that sparkling day when the actual (non-wind chill) low was minus 4 and the high was 8. (BWI averaged out at zero that day, with a -5 low and a +5 high). I walked to and from work that day (2 1/2 miles).

The last "nice" cold day was two years ago when the high was 18 and the next a.m. low was about 8. When is it going to be cold enough to wear gloves this winter??

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 24, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

My Samoyed votes for snow, please!

Posted by: HappyArmyWife | January 24, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

HappyArmyWife - actually, despite his sweater, my dog would too. He loves to stick his face in it and roll around in the snow.

Posted by: weatherwatcher1 | January 24, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

i likes the " nowhere to go but up" comment from earlier. I suggest that if anyone sees any rain or snow falling upwards plese get a picture of it. I would cause lots of comment.

Posted by: pvogel88 | January 24, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Well, I'll tell you what I do when the models don't agree and the meteorologists can't afford to make guesses:

I watch the local wildlife.

They can predict earthquakes and tsunamis--why not snow or ice or rain?

Clue #1: The deer in western Loudoun were out in force this morning, far more than usual, as they were before our ice showers last week.

Clue #2: I saw several flocks of geese flying straight east today.

My guess, based on these facts: Snow in the western areas, rain in the eastern areas, as a few other fellow amateurs here have predicted.

Posted by: celt1 | January 24, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

VaTechBob, keep your head up! You are a welcome poster any time. Anyways, at this point we need SOMETHING to wash all the crap off of the roads. I bought a black car for the first time this past summer and the stuff on the roads is tough to keep off. Not only that but there seems to be not enough car washes where I live, nearly every day there's a huge line to get it washed. It's hard to believe that it's going to be mostly rain given how cold it is outside right now, but I guess since the storm is arriving later that gives it more time to warm up. Hopefully the models are wrong and we get the "perfect track". Bring on the snow!!

Posted by: dcg35 | January 24, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

New NAM = little precip....this better not happen again. I will actually take rain, but we need something.

Posted by: rocotten | January 24, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Seriously if we have to put up with below 10 degree weather and then it warms up just enough to give us cold rain, there is no other possible explanation then there are weather gods who are amusing themselves greatly at our expense.

Like sitting up there in the clouds pointing and laughing. Well, screw you too.

Posted by: kallieh | January 24, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I second ThinkSpring's comments about VaTechBob...

Posted by: weatherdude | January 24, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

12z GFS shows what looks to be rain/snow early Wednesday to rain to rain/snow Wednesday night (snow west, rain east) to all light snow Thursday morning. Looks like about .5 total qpf for DC.

Posted by: Dylan0513 | January 24, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

don't want it west.
meanwhile, the elkie, keesie, and husky call this convertible weather.

Posted by: shadow_is_lost | January 24, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Jaybird im with you. Last week the #1 local story was the snow. At the end of each forecast they always would say probably no accumulation. Everyday it was the same thing. So in reality they were running a story on how it's not going to snow but making it sound like it was.

Posted by: dswt | January 24, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I would think the models would give us something tonight with the strong 850 mb warm advection pattern and the high moving off the coast, pumping in some low level moisture.

The 500 mb hights are fairly low (552) and not rising much, so why isn't the warm advection going into vertical motion and causing precip?

Very little that has happened this winter has fit the normal rules. This has been by far the toughest year for forecasters ever!

Posted by: frontieradjust | January 24, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

You know things arent good for snow when Hype Machine (HM) Henry Margusity starts talking about rain, headaches and scratching his head ;)

As he said, there will be some snow on the backend IF we get any. Wowza, this time last week he was putting on his big daddy hat and had his snow train as his profile pic on facebook. LOL, weather clowns!

Posted by: KRUZ | January 24, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

So, I'm starting to hear some numbers when the rain change to snow.... I'm hearing 1-3 Inches then 3-6 Inches.... I guess this storm is very unpredictable....

I like to see 3-6 Inhes, but witht he trend this winter it's always the lowewr end of the amount...

How much rain we supposed to get??

Posted by: Michael_Nguyen | January 24, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I've seen a storm setup like this once before. Right before the Blizzard of '47. Two days prior weathermen were calling for mostly rain and a little snow mix. Then it hit. Big time. Be afraid, everyone, be afraid. But mostly be warned. As for me, I'm headed towards the grocery store for about a week's worth of food, and then the hardware store.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | January 24, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse


I'm so with you. This storm is gonna smack DC. No one's gonna see it coming. I'm thinking we'll get an hours worth of light rain during the day wednesday but by 2 pm wednesday its all turning to "white stuff". By thursday morning we will have 7 inches of heavy wet snow. 12 Inches in the west. Everyone get ready for this one. We have already dodged the bullet 3 times this year. This time we won't be so lucky! Also I think almost every county school district in MD and VA will have an early dismissal wednesday and most likely a day off thursday with a two hour delay friday. There will be major air port delays and roads will be a mess. Government, Schools, and Stores will all be shut down.


Posted by: SNOWLUVER | January 24, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I need some of what SNOWLUVER is smokin'.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 24, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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