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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Forecast: Wintry cold by day, flakes by night

By David Streit

Frigid but dry weekend ahead

* 9:00 a.m. update: The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory north and northwest of Montgomery county from 9 p.m. tonight through 9 a.m. Friday morning. Frederick, Howard, & Baltimore counties are included in the advisory, which indicates 1-3 inches of snow in those locations.

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


After yesterday's spoiling, today is a cold slap in the say nothing of the snow tonight.
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Mostly cloudy. 37-41. | Tonight: Light snow mainly after midnight. 28-32. | Tomorrow: Snow flurries end early; windy, clearing by midday. 33-37. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


Well at least we had some "warmth" yesterday! Winter is back with a vengeance starting with snow tonight and then a kayak-full of cold air for the weekend. Lows in the teens should be prevalent but the big question is will Reagan National finally drop below 20. I am betting we will (we have 3 straight nights to try) but probably by just a whisker. I won't complain if we don't make it if you won't.

Snow Potential Index: 7 (↑) - Not big accumulation potential tonight: a wimpy surface low and quick moving. But an inch or so possible.

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 (Thursday): Light winds from the north and thickening clouds through the day mean another afternoon warm spike like yesterday is out of the question. Highs only make the upper 30s to lower 40s. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: This is going to be more like a snow streak than a snow storm. The moisture should stretch across the Ohio River Valley and into our area before most of us turn in, so look out the window for those first fluffy flakes. The actual accumulating stuff is not likely until after midnight and should be over before most of us reach for the morning alarm (80% chance). Temperatures are fairly steady, bottoming out in the upper 20s to lower 30s. Winds are from the east at just 5 to 10 mph. Confidence: Medium

Keep reading for the forecast through Monday....

Friday: Morning commuters should encounter an inch or so accumulation, hopefully already brushed to the shoulders. There could still be a few early morning flurries but this event is essentially over. Skies brighten by midday with quite a few breaks likely by afternoon. Highs top out mainly in the mid-30s. Winds ratchet up to ensure it feels colder, coming from the west at 15-20 mph. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow Night: Clearing skies reveal a bright full moon but look quick and get indoors. Winds remain at 10-15 mph from the northwest in the evening and temperatures drop to the 20s. This is the first of 3 nights for National to make it below 20 but it should be close. Lows make it to the mid-teens suburbs to around 20 downtown. Confidence: Medium-High


Saturday is unseasonably cold with highs only in the upper 20s to lower 30s. Sunshine is a bit filtered today by some high thin clouds. Winds are very light which is a blessing although it allows readings to drop off smartly at night. Lows again bottom out in the mid-to-upper teens. This is likely the coldest night, hear that National? Confidence: Medium

Sunday is a fine day for the winter enthusiast. Bright sun and very little breeze. Highs reach the low-to-mid 30s. Temperatures fall off quickly under starry skies in the evening with high pressure dominating. Lows should do a "three-peat" with mid-to-upper teens. Confidence: Medium

Monday is expected to see increasing clouds as another storm approaches from the South. This should hold highs in the low-to-mid 30s or even colder. I would not rule out the possibility of some flakes but the responsible storm may remain south. A lot of scenarios are still possible with this, so stay tuned. Confidence: Low-Medium

By David Streit  | January 20, 2011; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: Today's warmth transitions colder
Next: NOAA-NWS begins Winter Weather Experiment


Go Nationals! Is it spring already?

Posted by: eric654 | January 20, 2011 6:14 AM | Report abuse

here we go snow streak, here we go!

Posted by: SnowDreamer | January 20, 2011 6:27 AM | Report abuse

I miss spring. Anyone know how many days until it is offically here again?

Posted by: McCarthy911 | January 20, 2011 7:11 AM | Report abuse


59 days til spring!

Posted by: ThinkSpring | January 20, 2011 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Guys, regarding the Saturday forecast: No matter how cold it gets, I really don't think you can have an "unseasonably cold" day in January, which is, after all, our coldest month on average.

Posted by: prickles1009 | January 20, 2011 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah they call it the snow streak
fastest thing on two millimeters.

Posted by: wiredog | January 20, 2011 7:38 AM | Report abuse

As for Friday night's forecast: wasn't the full moon last night? Looked pretty full to me. And the spotty cloud cover made it easy to see--and not as cold either.

Posted by: jkuchen | January 20, 2011 7:47 AM | Report abuse


It's just a fancy way of saying below average

Posted by: bbirnbau | January 20, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Snow ratios for tonight/tomorrow are going to be higher than expected. Wouldn't be surprised to see 3 inches north and west of DC.

Winter is just getting warmed up with very cold weather and more chances for snow over the next several weeks. If you want Spring, head to Florida or Southern CA.

Posted by: DLO1975 | January 20, 2011 8:05 AM | Report abuse

The moon was beautiful on the drive home last night.

Posted by: HappyArmyWife | January 20, 2011 8:07 AM | Report abuse

@prickles1009 The normals for now at Reagan National are 43/27 so we will see readings nearly 10 degrees below normal. I figure a difference of that much would be noticeable, but you may be one of our winter enthusiats!

Posted by: davidstreit1 | January 20, 2011 8:09 AM | Report abuse

@ jkuchen OK you got me on that one. It was indeed at "fullest" last night. I figured I could get away with full rather than "fullish" for a night or two. BTW it is the highest moon of the year as well.

Posted by: davidstreit1 | January 20, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

no accumulation forecast map?

Posted by: vtjudyz | January 20, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

prickles1009, our average high this time of year is in the low 40s. That makes high 20s unseasonably cold. If you are a snow lover, let me apologize for this area not having the climate you wish it had.

Posted by: SouthsideFFX | January 20, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Why have an accumulation forecast map when again, we may only see an inch of snow around DC metro?

Snowhole 2011 continues...

Posted by: HurricaneSpud | January 20, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

he might be as proud as he can be
of his climatology
but he WON'T give us a peek

you've mentioned "winter enthusiasts" being pleased w/the cold in this forecast. i can't speak for others, but sunday IS NOT going to be a "fine day" for me (weather-wise). and "unseasonably cold" does absolutely nothing for me unless it's associated with snow.

frankly, if it's not gonna snow, i'd just as soon have it be 50 or 60 degrees so i could play tennis or golf or something. there's nothing inherently wonderful about just the cold. cold is just part of the snow equation.

and apparently it's just a small, but prerequisite, part - as we've had lots of cold but barely any snow this infuriating winter, and we've had at least two occasions where the cold left us just in time to allow precip to fall as rain...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 20, 2011 8:37 AM | Report abuse


We'll have some information on how much snow will fall where in a bit in our midday update. We're just talking about an inch or so ( a little less south of D.C., and a little more north), so the map isn't going to add a lot of value here. Nonetheless, we'll give some more geographic detail.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 20, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Re: Snow maps...

CBS 9 has one here.

NBC 25 has one at the 1 minute mark of their video calling for 2-3 for DC/MD with less in VA

Posted by: spgass1 | January 20, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Days 1-5 total QPF forecast. This bubble around DC this winter is remarkable. What a stubborn pattern; quite frustrating for snow lovers. Starting to need any precip we can get now, rain or snow. It's DRY.

Posted by: HurricaneSpud | January 20, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

A "kayak-full of cold air?" I'm all for creative writing, but this is just strange.

Posted by: rks838 | January 20, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

It's all about what happens when this thing crosses the mountains. these east/west trajectories always kill the precip. If the precip shield would just hold up how it is now we would definitely see a few inches out of this.

I am hopeful for next week. Models have a blocking High to the north and a storm in the south with decent southern flow. NO MORE MILLER B'S!

Posted by: bbirnbau | January 20, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Amen Walter.
"Winter enthusiast" to me means "snow enthusiast".
Otherwise all I'm enthused about is high heating bills, chapped skin, static-y hair, wind that bites & mornings spent scraping the car.
Hope we get a decent dusting tonight. It would look nice even though there won't be enough for play.
Frankly my snow enthusiam endorphin levels feel somewhat tapped out.
It might take a winter storm warning to get the mojo back.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 20, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I appreciate the effort... "kayak-full" instead of "boat-load" tries to work in some alliteration with the word "cold"

but kayaks are small...

rks838, perhaps "boat load of brrrr" would be better?

Posted by: spgass1 | January 20, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

DLO1975 - I appreciate your ‘snoptimism’ but we're not getting more than 1-2 inches outta this one, again. Also, this pattern seems to be pretty consistent, I wouldn't expect a snowstorm with more than 2-3 inches this year. The odds are pretty good we'll get another 6-incher in the next several years though. I don't think a map is necessary when we're talking about a very minor event...we could get more snow out of a squall from a clipper!

Posted by: parksndc | January 20, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Can you please explain the daily digit?

Posted by: mmccluney | January 20, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I prefer the hard freeze for yard work purposes, because thawing turns my yard into a red-clay quagmire.

Posted by: mason08 | January 20, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I don't see how it can be "unseasonably" cold in winter. It's like being "unseasonably" hot in summer. That suggests the temperatures are more normal for some other season. But what season other than winter is it normal to have temps below freezing?

"Unseasonably cold" should be a term limited to spring, summer, and fall, and only when the temps are deviating outside a normal range.

And even if you're going to us the term, upper 20s are hardly out of the ordinary here. Sure, it's cold, but it's not even unusually cold. Show me a high temperature distribution curve for the month of January over the past 20 years and I highly doubt that upper 20s is in the 5% tail.

Posted by: ah___ | January 20, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

How about unreasonably cold?

Posted by: eric654 | January 20, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

i like "boat load of brrr". how 'bout "ship load of shiver"? besides the alliteration, "ship-load" alludes to a more common, and common, expression...

i feel kind of tapped out too, but imagine if jason/wes put up a post titled tonight's "clipper goes coastal: expected accumulations upped significantly" your endorphin tank would be instantly refilled. i know mine would be.

yard work?! are you crazy? ;-) what kind of yard work are you doing this time of year? i guess the quagmire is a product of moisture. is your yard a red clay quagmire all spring/summer/fall?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 20, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Now is the winter of our discontent....

I hope it can be finished with

Made glorious- snow by this month of Feb....

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 20, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

eric654 - we aren't too below average temperatures to call it unreasonable, are we??

Snowlover2 - yes February still ahead of us and we still have a chance at snow. I.e. no one should write-off the Winter just yet!

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 20, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse


if your question is what does "yesterday's spoiling" refer to, it's in reference to yesterday's warmth (highs near and above 50). today is a cold slap in the face in comparison. -Dan, CWG

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | January 20, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Actually, it can be "unseasonably hot" in summer. Average summer temps in this area are in the 80s to about 90; when we get streaks of several days near or above 100, that's pretty abnormal for the DC area, particularly if there are several such streaks as I recall there being last summer.

I think "unseasonable" is kind of in the eye of the beholder; to me it's when it goes from being cold or hot as one would expect to being extraordinarily so for more than a day or two, especially when the temperature combines with winter wind or summer humidity so that it feels more extreme than it is.

Posted by: mkarns | January 20, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

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