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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 01/21/2011

PM Update: Super cold tonight

By Jason Samenow

Coldest night of winter

Temperatures peaked early to midday in the low-to-mid-30s and have declined slowly ever since. Winds gusting to over 30 mph at times have made it feel even colder (teens). Everyone is now below freezing and may well remain that way into early next week.

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.

Through Tonight: It's the coldest night of the winter for many parts of the region. As Arctic air builds in, overnight lows fall into the mid-to-upper teens downtown with high single digits in the colder suburbs. Winds from the northwest blow from 10-20 mph this evening before relaxing to 5-10 mph after midnight. Wind chills are in the single digits to near zero. See these cold weather safety tips (compiled in 2009).

Tomorrow (Saturday): Winds aren't as bad as today, but the actual air temperature is colder. Under mostly sunny skies, highs are just in the mid-20s. Winds are from the north at 5-10 mph.

See Camden Walker's forecast through the weekend. And if you haven't already, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Upper Midwest cold: In my post this morning, I listed some of the frigid temperatures in the upper Midwest. Well those weren't even the actual low temperatures (just the temps at a given time early this morning). In turns out the low dropped to -46 at International Falls, the coldest temperature there in more than 40 years. The Duluth office of the National Weather Service and Capital Climate have more.

By Jason Samenow  | January 21, 2011; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Potential storm Tues-Wed: more snow or rain?
Next: Forecast: Frigid into early week, then stormy


Bring in your people & pets.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 21, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

It is truly and utterly frigid out there. When I left the office this afternoon, the walk to my car was pure torture. oh, and the winds aren't doing us any favors either.

I'm really hopeful for the Tuesday storm; as Wes mentioned, the latest GFS favors more snow and less rain and the potential for 8 - 10 inches. If we get that much, I'll be very happy.

btw, Walter, I know you must be crossing your fingers too for a biggie ;) These little trace - 2" storms aren't too good for snow sculpting!

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 21, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

@Bobmiller you say the potential for "8-10 inches". Right now the maximum potential IF (and thats a VERY BIG IF) things go perfectly would be ~2 feet, possibly even more! The latest DGEX(not the best model, but the Euro shows a similar solution with a bit less precip) model shows 2-4 inches of snow, then 2 inches of rain, and then 8-12 more inches of snow. If that shifted east just a bit, we could get 3 feet! While the precipitation is likely overdone, this is definitely the best chance of "the big one" this year, and has huge potential, but it could also go OTS or along the coast for mixing.

Posted by: samdman95 | January 21, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse


Tomorrow is Saturday. (TGIF!)

Posted by: AsymptoticUnlimited | January 21, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Not to sound like a do-gooder--I'm certainly not a saint by any stretch--but when it's this cold, please be aware of the homeless. If you see someone who is obviously really struggling, try not to ignore them and maybe offer to get them to a shelter, etc.

Posted by: danog224 | January 21, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

The 18z GFS is coming out... hang in there everyone!


I would stick to the major models (i.e. the GFS, NAM, Euro) if I were you. I can guarantee we won't see 3 ft. I'd be happy with 12". Anything more than that would be icing on the cake ;)

BTW, the current reading on my deck here in Sterling is 24.3°F and WINDY. Brrrrr

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 21, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

love this cold weather, took the dog out 4 an hour walk, even kept my sweat shirt on but did pull up my sleeves.
Might even have 2 close the window over my bed later 2night, haven't closed it at night yet this winter.
Still not buying into a big snow next week, waiting until Sun afternoon models come out. Don't put my faith in any models over 48 hrs.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 21, 2011 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I like how the models are not showing this thing getting super deep until it passes north of us. With the Strong Artic High to our north and warm air to the south... we will likely get a nice moisture train pumping in from the south. And with a weeker low... there will be less Warm Air Advection and a greater chance for it to remain snow. I think the key to this storm is gonna be pressure and temp gradient

Posted by: jac8949 | January 21, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I have no use for cold air unless there is a snow storm to go along with it!! If not, might just as well just fast forward to spring.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | January 21, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

i'm invoking all manner of superstitious activities designed to increase accumulations. given our history this winter, 2" would seem BIG.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 21, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Okay, good to know that I am not crazy-- AsymptoticUnlimited confirmed that it is Friday. I did a double-take when I saw CWG's forecast for "tomorrow (Friday)."

Posted by: SanDieganLostinDC | January 21, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I have no use for cold air unless there is a snow storm to go along with it!! If not, might just as well just fast forward to spring.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang

When I was younger I felt the same way. As I have grown to love "weather", I find that I now get excited for a butt-kickin cold, single digit event. That said, day after day of dry mid 20 - mid 30 degree days does get on my nerves after a while... In any case, it made the 50 degree day earlier this week seem downright balmy.

Posted by: amaranthpa | January 21, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Someone, what is the 18z GFS telling us? I'm new to this awesomely insane message board, and the 18z sounds real important, but I have absolutely no idea what it means.

Posted by: ddg6g | January 21, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse


Although I realize that artists don't need suggestions to get inspiration, if we get the 'big one' [meaning 2+ inches] next week, I think you should consider doing an homage to the construction worker...lord knows you have a lot to work with visually.

Posted by: amaranthpa | January 21, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse


2" would seem big. But it's not enough to satisfy me. The snow-phobes have been getting it their way all winter. All I ask is for one storm that will satisfy the snow-lovers!

The 18z gfs has trended colder, but slightly less precip; .5 - .8 inches.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 21, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

do you know where i live? are you referring to the construction workers across the street?

i'm afraid my "homage" would be more of an "insult". as an architect i deal with residential construction sites all the time, but man, having a commercial construction site across the street has not been fun at all. it has been loud and messy. working from home i hear it all day long. also, they don't (didn't, actually, because i've let them know) seem to know about the noise regulations. for instance this monday, a federal holiday, they woke us all up at 7:00 (months ago they tried starting at 6:00, but i let them know about that law...) with heavy construction machinery noise, like they've done every saturday for months now...sigh...this is scheduled to go on for about another 18 months... pretty soon though, once the "shell" is complete, all the work will be interior and hopefully it will be quieter.

sorry for that little rant, but it felt good....

nonetheless, an homage to the construction worker....i'll think about it.

so, manassasmissy has been asking about why storms always seem to decrease in intensity/accumulations as they approach us in time/space, and why they never sneak up on us and "surprise" us.

wasn't one of the big storms last year sort of a surprise in that 3 or 4 days out it wasn't predicted to be much?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 21, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Storm track is the most important ingrediant with any winter storm, if it's 2 far W that allows warm air 2 move in aloft. It doesn't matter how cold it's on the surface, if it's warm aloft it will b rain or freezing rain. I believe it was 96 when we had a massive ice storm despite surface temps in the teens. Don't get hung up on the surface temps, it's what's aloft that counts.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 21, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

for once i dont want snow as i have surgery scheduled for wed early morning.

Posted by: panthersny | January 21, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Steve, cold air is pretty useless unless we get snow. Otherwise I'd like it warm enough to golf and fish.

Posted by: wjunker | January 21, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Without snow, cold air is a complete and utter waste of my time.

I hope the weather Gods are listening.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 21, 2011 7:30 PM | Report abuse

cold air without snow stresses hardy plants. My rosemary is showing signs of wanting to go to florida! We need snow to help stem the building drought.

Posted by: pvogel88 | January 21, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse


Florida, eh? Funny you mention that because I hear it's 71 toasty degrees in Miami right now... If you leave now, you could be in the sunshine state by midday tomorrow (unless the I-95 traffic is bad). Your plants would be very pleased! ;)

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 21, 2011 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Hope I'm not too late in answering your question, or if I missed someone else answering it, but here goes.
The 18z GFS is showing a decent storm moving up the coast and giving us our first major snow fall of the year. Maybe 5 to 7". Of course you should take into account this is one run of one model. There are many different scenarios from different models from numerous runs that are quite different. Stay tuned and over the next 2 to 3 days the picture should come into better focus.

Posted by: pjdunn1 | January 21, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse


No apologies necessary. We could all use some more good deeds.

Posted by: bodypolitic1 | January 21, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Does the new GFS map show it bombing Philly?

Posted by: hamptonuniversity | January 21, 2011 8:23 PM | Report abuse

The 18Z GFS has the same problem with the convective precip instability that I mentioned two threads back with the 12Z GFS. Again, it's likely this "error" is larger than whatever intrinsic uncertainty ("chaos") exits. So, again, I'd say not to give much credence to this run, especially in regard to storm track.

This apparent problem is not new, as I've indicated in comments with earlier east coast storm setups this winter. (I'll see what I can find out about the problem from former folks at EMC's Global Modeling Branch)

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | January 21, 2011 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Well that just sucks because the 12Z and 18Z GFS runs show 12+ inches of snow for central MD according to the 10:1 ratio tool. I don't have much faith in the Euro since it's been wrong with just about every it will come down to the 0Z run later and all the runs tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday. Still a LONG ways to go. Just can't imagine the frigid air that's in place and forecasted to hang around eroding that much by Tuesday...models have understimated the cold temps over the last couple of weeks...this should be no different.

Posted by: DLO1975 | January 21, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Temps here in Sterling are really tanking tonight. The current reading on my deck is 17.1°F and falling rapidly.

I want that 18z GFS to verify soooooo badly. But, the trend this winter has been less and less accumulation with every run. By Monday night, the forecast will read like this: Philly, NYC and Boston brace for a raging blizzard, while DC gets a "glancing blow".

Snow-phobes, looks like you lucked out this winter...sigh...

Then again, you never know, maybe we snow-lovers will get lucky this time around.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 21, 2011 10:24 PM | Report abuse

18.9F at Pepco headquarters in Chinatown right now?! wow. I really hope you all are staying warm, saying safe.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 21, 2011 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree. I have no use for cold air unless there is snow involved. Then I would like to see it hit 60 with a nice steady rain for a few days.

Bottom line == I wash the car anyway this weekend.

Posted by: moo1 | January 21, 2011 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Sais I would not check in but I CANT STAY AWAY FROM THE FORECAST!! LOL

I agree with several folks on here. i feel this will be our best chance so far for a good snow storm this winter. I feel pretty confident we could at LEAST get a good coating out of this one.

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 21, 2011 11:12 PM | Report abuse

i'm very concerned about what steve is saying...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 21, 2011 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Error??? Let me guess. the Error is for more so than less We cant be that lucky for it to be for less snow.......

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 21, 2011 11:33 PM | Report abuse

i was reading some of the earlier post. Was any of the big 3 storms last year a suprise??? I cant remeber but it seems like one of them got beefed up the last 12 hours of the forecast. Am i correct?

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 21, 2011 11:36 PM | Report abuse

0z GFS = busting again?

Posted by: rocotten | January 22, 2011 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Regarding tuesdays storm... Correct me if im wrong here CWG but tonights 00z euro run has DC getting a good inch and a half to 2 inches of rain in about 10 hours time?

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 2:09 AM | Report abuse

Wow so Accuwx is really pouring on the hype with tuesdays storm... Gotta love this, and I quote:

"No matter what the storm brings to various locations along the Atlantic Seaboard next week, it will lead to major travel disruptions, closed schools, blown budgets, and perhaps life-threatening conditions.
The storm has potential to shut down some major highways and ground flights, stranding motorists on the road and airline passengers at airports."

LOL, these ppl are insane. I understand saying something like that, maybe.... on MONDAY. But 5 days out is reDONKulous.

But these are the same peeps who said DC would see snow with the last storm, i live 1 mile east of DC i didnt even get 1 flake. Sprinkles or rain, yes, snow no.

Wait till monday to say BS like that because the models are all over the place, they are like John Kerry's speeches vs his voting record, they just arent agreeing.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 2:43 AM | Report abuse

Why is it that we can't get out of this almost endless pattern of an Eastern-U.S. trough, northwesterly flow at the surface and aloft, below-normal temps, and weak upper-level disturbances every couple of days more than one day or so at a time? Is the block over Greenland STILL that strong, preventing the big trough from shifting eastward?

Posted by: MMCarhelp | January 22, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I don't buy the argument that because the so-called "snow-phobes" have had their way so far this winter, we now need at least one big storm for the so-called "snow-lovers". That, IMO, is B.S.....what happened here from Dec. 2009 through Feb. 2010 should have more than satisfied snow lovers for a long, LONG time. The winter of 2009-2010 was legendary for the D.C. area,, and will be remembered for many years.

Posted by: MMCarhelp | January 22, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

EURO = Rain!

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in the Upper Midwest and seem to remember times when International Falls dipped as low as the minus fifties! Same with locales such as Baudette, Bemidji, Tower, and even Iron Range locales like Hibbing and Virginia. Some of my cousins grew up in Duluth and Hibbing; my oldest cousin can remember when Bob Dylan was still in town.

The place to be in northern Minnesota is Grand Marais on the north shore of Lake Superior. Due to its location on a peninsula facing the lake to the south, Grand Marais never gets much hotter than the low eighties during the summer and never cooler than the minus teens or minus twenties during the winter. The disadvantages of Grand Marais involve wind chill from winds off the lake and extended periods of cloudy rainy or foggy weather due to lake influence; it's rather like those days here in May when we get extended periods of gloomy weather due to easterly Atlantic winds behind a back-door cold front.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 22, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse

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