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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 01/29/2011

Forecast: A flake or two today, nicer Sunday

By Ian Livingston

Early-week storm brings snow and ice threat

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


Plenty of clouds and chilly. But it is the weekend, and there is snow on the ground (a few flakes in the air?).
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Mostly cloudy, snow showers? Mid-to-upper 30s. | Tonight: Mostly cloudy. Low 20s to upper 20s. | Tomorrow: Partly sunny. Near 40. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


After another 0.6" of snow during yesterday's light event, National Airport now stands at 9.4" this winter. It's the second above average (7.3" so far) snow total in a row for January following a decade of at-or-below average numbers for the month. We've got another risk of snowflakes today, and a quiet tomorrow, but by late Monday wintry threats re-enter the picture. So much for any thinking that the infamous Dec. 26 snowhole signaled a quiet winter...

Snow Potential Index: 5 (→) - A few flakes are possible today, largely non-accumulating. Odds of some more seem good Mon-Wed, but storm may have tricks up its sleeve.

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 regional 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 (Saturday): It's looking pretty cloudy today, though parts of the day may feature some sunshine or thinner clouds at least. Another clipper system, this time passing in a less favorable (for snow) position to our north, tries to send in a few snow flurries or snow showers during the day. It could lead to around a dusting mainly on existing snow and mainly north of D.C. Highs reach the mid-to-upper 30s. Confidence: High

Tonight: Flurries or a few snow showers continue to be a threat into early evening before the system speeds east early. Some clearing is possible, but another wave (this time mostly just clouds) rides by on the continued active northern jet stream. Temperatures are probably held up a bit by the clouds, but it's still rather cold. Low 20s in the coldest suburbs to the upper 20s downtown. Confidence: High

What about the storm on the horizon? Didn't I ask that the last two weeks?

Tomorrow (Sunday): This is probably the pick of the weekend. I can't promise totally sunny skies as it seems some clouds (mainly high level, hopefully) want to drift by. Still, temperatures rise higher than we've seen in the recent past -- up near 40 or above. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: Partly to mostly cloudy skies look like a good bet, we just can't kick the clouds fully right now and it looks like plenty more follow in their footsteps. Temperatures fall to the low 20s in the suburbs and mid-20s downtown. Confidence: Medium-High


On Monday we start to see moisture try to work into the area over colder air at the surface. This brings more clouds and wants to lead to some light precipitation (most likely snow), though right now any snow looks to stay south of us during most or all of the day. Highs mainly reach the mid-30s. Confidence: Medium

The risk of snow picks up a bit (40%) on Monday night as moisture tries to stream over the area. I think it would want to be rather light if it happens, though it'll be cold, so any that falls might stick around. Lows are near 20 to the mid-20s. Confidence: Medium

By Tuesday the larger storm to our southwest (center of the U.S.) begins to really take shape. During much of the day we run the risk (40%) of light precipitation, seemingly still in the form of snow if it falls. Highs are pretty close to freezing, though there is indication the atmosphere may want to warm above as the storm's brunt approaches for Wednesday. Ice to come? Hope not. Snow and/or unfreezing rain lovers: get to dancing to try to work your magic. Confidence: Low

By Ian Livingston  | January 29, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: Cold tonight, few flurries Saturday
Next: A snowstorm montage from January 26-27, 2011


While I was waiting for your update, I visited NOAA/NWS and noticed that under the longrange outllok under "forecast discussion" specifically under the "Marine outlook", they used the term a chance for significant accumulations for Tues night into Weds night. I just wanted to get your take on that phrasing please.

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | January 29, 2011 5:48 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about last post but my new laptop and extended keyboard seem to be fighting, and I am left looking uneducated.

Posted by: MITCHRAPP | January 29, 2011 5:51 AM | Report abuse

Snow was a lot more fun when I was unemployed. But I did get to go sledding at work yesterday! Now to clean out the fridge and freezer after the power outage. Damn.

Posted by: ChickenLady | January 29, 2011 7:54 AM | Report abuse

does anyone want to send me the choreography notes for the "raining lollipops" dance? that's what the little graphic looks like for wednesday. heheheheh. i'll be dancing...

Posted by: ashleyba | January 29, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

It sure does look "snowish" out there this morning.
Alas, viewing radar it appears all the action is up north.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 29, 2011 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Flurries in Falls Church right now. Looking forward to see how next week's storm shapes up.

Posted by: Bworl | January 29, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

losing power stinks. getting stuck in traffic is aggravating. listening to complaints about schedules and slipperiness and shoveling and cold and getting wet is tiresome. despite increasing the chances of all those things, i still want snow next wednesday or whenever the precip gets here.

right now, on the gfs, it looks to be too warm for that to fall as snow - at least during the business part of the storm. i think this is how last week's storm looked 5 days out.

does this storm look like last week's in that it would have to take the perfect track to put us on the very southwest edge of the rain/snow line and then intensify right over us?

what else are you and/or others looking at that gives us a decent chance (SPI=5) of snow? surely not "threading the needle" like last week, right?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

CWG- HELP. I have a flight scheduled to leave DCA at 11:15am Wednesday. What is your best guess, at this point that it will be canceled?

Posted by: tiggerinfairfax | January 29, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

based on my very very limited knowledge the latest gfs run is very warm?

the 540 line is up into PA and west va. If this were to verify?...

Posted by: KRUZ | January 29, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

According to, we may get more than a 1/4" of ice. That won't be good to drive, walk or go out in.

Posted by: robostop10 | January 29, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

As for next week's mid-week storm, I would take a large snowfall over an ice storm any time.

I noticed that Accuweather is also showing possible snow for next Friday in addition to the mid-week storm. Not looking good at all.

Posted by: Novalife49 | January 29, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I am really starting to get concerned that this [mid-week storm] will be an ice storm. And if it was, it would be a big one...NOOOOOOOO!!!! Ice is the worst - - no, I take that back; it's the ABSOLUTE WORST!!

Walter makes a good point, though. The last storm looked like a rain event several days out, so there's still hope. I just want all snow - - fluffy, accumulating snow that's easy to shovel. I could also do without that period of sleet at the very beginning. I think that really cut back on accumulation along with those low snow ratios.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 29, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

For Fairfax Accuweather under their extended forecast tab are saying 3-6 inches Tuesday night with a little bit of ice during the day Tuesday and a wintry mix on Wednesday.This would be a pretty significant storm, although I find it very difficult to believe the extended forecasts Accuweather puts out.

Posted by: ffxside | January 29, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

DON'T do the lollipop dance! that brings sleet. do the snowball dance (like shown for tuesday - but we need 5 or 6 balls up there).

NOBODY want ice/sleet/mixed/freezing rain - snowfanity. let's be clear about that.

freezing rain and sleet are formed high in the atmosphere when snow-lovers' and snow-haters' prayers/dances exactly cancel each other out. we have plenty of time for rain in the spring, summer and fall. seeing as how it's winter, can't we just all hold hands and dance for snow?

i'm pretty sure that early sleet was part/much of the reason the roads got so slippery so quick. and subsequent snow stuck as well as it did.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

If Accuweather is already predicting a Tuesday snowstorm I'd better get ready to bunker down for ice & lollipops.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 29, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I remember an ice storm, '96?, which was frightening. The buzz and pops from the transformers going on endlessly. Then the powergoing out for an extended period of time. Not good. Very dangerous. I know CWG will put their collective energies in to a good forecast and everyone fair warning.

Posted by: moo1 | January 29, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I've done it before and I'll do it againg. Give you an accurate prediction. DC will get snow, mixed in with rain. Nort and West of DC will get 1/4 of an inch of ice and freezing rain followed by some 4 inches of snow. Power will go out, tree will fall down (without killing anyone, please), and school will be cancelled as they are used as shelters for the 700k people that will lose power, including myself. But I, will be at the bar, warming up with some Jack and Coke, reloading my CWG website for updates. Over and out.

Posted by: RJ16 | January 29, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

moo1, there was a 1994 ice storm (I had just moved here in 93). The start of the storm was so cold I watched the rain freeze instantly. Here's a short description:

Posted by: eric654 | January 29, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for that. Yes, we had no power for days. It was horrible.
What I do remember clearly was the night sky being lit by the transformers flaring. It was eerie and something that I hope does not happen again.
Maybe we can all join you at the bar.

Posted by: moo1 | January 29, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Walter's timely explanation of the lollipop/snowball dance difference and the danger of reaching that fateful point in the atmosphere where all the snow hating/loving interact to create snowfanity misery are spot on.

Posted by: manassasmissy | January 29, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Why is it that we're always stuck with this same freezing rain/sleet/ice stuff EVERY TIME? Other than last Wednesday's storm it hasn't snowed at All this winter while philly, NYC, and Boston have seen 2 ft of snow 3 times! Maybe this next one will be an all out blizzard and bring 20+ inches to DC :)

Posted by: waitingforsnow | January 29, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Why is it that we're always stuck with this same freezing rain/sleet/ice stuff EVERY TIME? Other than last Wednesday's storm it hasn't snowed at All this winter while philly, NYC, and Boston have seen 2 ft of snow 3 times! Maybe this next one will be an all out blizzard and bring 20+ inches to DC :)

Posted by: waitingforsnow | January 29, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse


It's too early to be concerned about a flight Wednesday. We won't be able to provide the kind of specific information you need for informing a decision about a flight until probably Monday at the earliest. 8 or 9 out of 10 times, it doesn't make sense to change your flight (last Wednesday night was a one of the notable exceptions).

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

ashleyba, no, no, no! Please don't do a lollipop dance! We need everyone to do a snow dance. Those lollipops will put this city at a standstill!

BTW, the 12z GFS is about to come out. Hopefully it will suggest a snowier scenario.

FIREDRAGON47, you said, "If Accuweather is already predicting a Tuesday snowstorm I'd better get ready to bunker down for ice & lollipops." Good point. since AccuWeather can't be trusted, you might as well do it George Costanza style and think the opposite of whatever they say! ;-) therefore, no snow :-(

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 29, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse


All you need is a dusting within the next week for the SPI to verify. Yes- the models suggest mostly ice or rain, but it's not a stretch to say 50% chance of a dusting before some changeover

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The GFS seems to be consistently showing this one cutting up the Appalachians and thus bringing us rain. I'm not getting my hopes up.

Posted by: bdeco | January 29, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@tiggerinfairfax-- Concur with Jason. Any forecast you see for 48 hours and later should USUALLY be taken with a grain of salt. Things can (and DO) change.

I understand concern over long range plans. I've been trying to get my daughter (HS Senior) to a Univ in Tidewater area of VA for an interview, and have had to change plans 3x so far due to weather. Frustration is mounting (on my part). Our latest plan has us going down Wed PM for a Thursday interview. THAT is now possibly in doubt. UGH!

Like Jason said, we'll keep checking back as well. Monday AM will be your best bet to get updated info (IMHO). I may have to start coming up with yet another contingency plan as early as tomorrow night. I can only change plans so many times w/folks at work.

Yours in total empathy and shared concern,

Posted by: southbridgemom | January 29, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Capital Weather Gang,
Does the La Nina have something to do with why the coastal lows have persistently missed the DC area but then blast the Northeast?
Also, what are the chances that this storm remains all snow for points north and west of DC, and how much precipitation is expected?

Posted by: waitingforsnow | January 29, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Just got my electrical power back on a few hours ago, after three cold nights in a dark house. Absolutely do not want to go through this again. So, ice is the last thing that I want to see in next weeks storm. Would prefer just some old fashion plain ol' snow. So . . . here's to hoping for a model trend toward a colder soluntion over the next few days, bringing more snow and no ice as the precip type.

Posted by: johnnierat | January 29, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

walter, the 5 was mainly based off the frontrunning risk of snow which seems to be quickly dwindling. Guidance has fallen apart on this wintry risk pretty quickly the past 24 hours or so. We'll see how it plays out I guess.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

In honor of Ashleyba giving me my first laugh of the day by pointing out correctly that the graphic for Wednesday looks like it will be raining lollipops I recommend that if it happens we all break into this song set to the classic Weather Girls song "It's Raining Men". Sing-a-long with me:

It's Raining Lollipops! Hallelujah!
It's Raining suckers! Amen!
I'm gonna go out to run and let myself get
sugar crazed!

It's Raining Lollipops! Hallelujah!
It's Raining suckers! Every Specimen!
Red, orange, blue and green
Filled and unfilled
Some even full of cream

God bless Mother Nature, she's a candy lover too
She took off to heaven and she did what she had to do
She taught every angel to cook those sweets
So that each and every person could find their perfect treat
It's Raining Lollipops! Hallelujah!
It's Raining suckers! Amen!

etc. etc.

Posted by: rwalker66 | January 29, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse


Yes- La Nina probably has had something to do with storm track which has favored New England for snow. On your second question, we'll post an update on our thoughts on the next storm mid-afternoon-- but chances are very low for much if any snow. More and more looking like rain but there's still uncertainty.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The guys on the American WX boards are pretty negative about this week's festivities. And if it's going to be sleet/ice it can just go around and miss us again, I hope.

Posted by: concepcion611 | January 29, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

@ rj16

thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: VAresident2 | January 29, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I remember the 94 ice storm, it was 18 degrees when the rain started. The same storm went up into Canada & some parts of Quebec had 4-6" of ice. The gaint metal power line structures literally collapsed under the weight of the ice. Some people in Canada & New England were without power for almost 2 weeks.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 29, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

ok, so all you weather history buffs: can you think of times where everyone predicted "too much warmth" and "sleet and ice" and so forth, but we ended up with just snow?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I know that some of the models are not accurate this far out but does anyone know what they are saying for the storm next week???

Posted by: ffxside | January 29, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

btw this was the accuweather link for Fairfax I was referring to earlier about the storm next week... I know it's not accurate but I hope it comes true!

Posted by: ffxside | January 29, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The new Euro run while warm for the main storm does hint more at some snow Mon night into Tue. It's tricky with the atmosphere warming but verbatim it spits out some snow D.C. north.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Can you somewhat predict what "some" snow means? Also, how far north is north?

Posted by: GiveIn | January 29, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Please let it rain, please let it rain, please let it rain!!!

You know what? I'm going to go buy my kids nice, expensive snow boots - in their current size. This will guarantee a rain storm! :)

Posted by: rumbly45 | January 29, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

GiveIn, "some" would be 1-2, maybe 3 on this run. I'd feel more comfortable in northern Md, but I think it brings some into the city as well. It's hard to tell exactly just looking at the maps with no text output.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

@Ian: Can you please explain the use of the word "verbatim" as relates to model output? thanks

Posted by: petworthlad | January 29, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Huge storm tomorrow.Seriously.

Posted by: RJ16 | January 29, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Huge storm next week. I can feel it.

Posted by: RJ16 | January 29, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The raining lollipops have now been replaced by raining blue peanuts or perhaps blue jelly beans. Curiouser and curiouser.

Posted by: rwalker66 | January 29, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

the macaroni noodles...? not a good sign, darn it.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

CWG, I feel that these awards you guys hand out at the end of the storm, is causing people not to be themselves when blogging. Everyone is trying to be funny and or do something out of the ordinary. Just letting you know. Also, I know it's saturday, but if I'm here refreshing this page, one of your gang should be hollering at us about the next storm! come on!!!

Posted by: RJ16 | January 29, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

petworthlad, just trying to point out I'm just repeating what the model shows. This run was spitting out about .25-.30 inches liquid as snow or snow changing to freezing rain before the main event on Mon night/Tue a.m. So with simple 10:1 ratios the snow output on the model is about what noted above.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | January 29, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 29, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

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