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Posted at 1:45 PM ET, 01/22/2011

Strong storm chance Tues-Wed, snow odds unsure

By Jason Samenow

Computer models have come into good agreement that a significant storm will develop in the South early this coming week. However, there is a lot of variability in the projected storm track - which is the key to this forecast in the metro region.

Next accumulating snow chance: Tuesday and Wednesday
Probability of more than 1" of snow: 40%
Probability of more than 4": 10-20%

The important thing to emphasize right now is that the cold air necessary for snow will be moving away as this storm approaches. So unless the storm takes the perfect track - far enough east to hold remnant cold air in place and at the same time close enough for significant precipitation - we're almost certain to get rain and potentially mostly rain. In other words, the odds of a heavy snowstorm are quite low - but not zero. The odds of rain, some snow and some mixed precipitation are pretty good.


Let's break down the latest model runs...

* The NAM out to 84 hours (Tuesday night) shows an area of low pressure developing rapidly over southwest Georgia. The area of high pressure to our north - our source of cold air - has moved well offshore New England, resulting in milder winds from the east. Based on the orientation of the flow (trough) at upper levels, it would appear the storm would track inland overnight into Wednesday. This storm evolution would favor mostly rain except for the slight possibility of snow at the onset.

Position of surface low in five model simulations at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning

* The latest GFS develops a strong low Tuesday night over southeast Georgia. However, it then tracks the low up the coast far enough offshore (by 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon) that the metro region gets little to no precipitation even though it holds in more cold air.

* The mean of the GFS ensembles (alternative runs of the GFS with slightly different initial conditions), on the other hand, track the low a little closer to the coast (7 a.m. simulation) which would indicate more precipitation and at least some snow. You can view all of the GFS ensemble runs (I've linked directly to the simulations for 7 a.m. Wednesday morning) on Penn State's E-wall. It gives you a good idea of the wide range of possibilities.

* The Canadian model is similar to the NAM, simulating rapid development of low pressure over southwest Georgia Tuesday evening. It then tracks the storm up the Appalachians. Such a track would result in winds from the south and southeast over our region and mainly rain.

* The latest European model tracks the low just west of the GFS model - close enough to the coast for significant precipitation - but far enough to our east to keep winds from the north and northeast - which would support snow. This model run by far gives the best setup for snow lovers.

* The UKMET model tracks the low between the NAM/Canadian and Euro - from the South across eastern North Carolina across the Delmarva peninsula and then offshore. This kind of track might support snow to rain, and possibly back to snow before ending.

So there's a wide possibility of storm tracks, ranging from to our west, over us, and to our east. Wes Junker, our winter weather expert, emailed me the following:

"The models continue to the have wide range of track solutions with one camp favoring an inland track and another favoring a track along or off the southeast coast. With so much disparity, all you can say is that there will be a storm that will probably bring some precipitation to the area which probably would start as snow. The position of the surface high off the northeast coast normally provides enough warming to cause temperatures at some level to rise above freezing. Therefore the track of the low will be critical to type and amount of precipitation that falls. A perfect track that threads the needle just off the North Carolina coast could give us an all snowstorm. That's a viable option but still is probably not the most likely of scenarios. Tomorrow I'll post an in depth analysis of the storm and hopefully by then, the picture will be clearer. "

By Jason Samenow  | January 22, 2011; 1:45 PM ET
Categories:  Latest, Snow Lover's Crystal Ball  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Frigid into early week, then stormy
Next: Forecast: Cold keeps a tight grip



Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 22, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: SNOWLUVER | January 22, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Let's have us a nice rainstorm to wash all remnants of snow and salt away and then a good long stretch of 40's and 50's... early spring this year?

Posted by: rumbly45 | January 22, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm heading to Syracuse. 109.8" of snow thus far this winter. Hard to shovel rain.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: SnowDreamer | January 22, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Jason- I have read in a few places now that high will definitely slide east. And those statements have been farely condifent (like yours above). You guys seem pretty sure of that. My question would be, with all of the inconsistency in the models, how can we be so sure that this will happen?

Posted by: jac8949 | January 22, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

jac8949, I think for two reasons, one thing the models are agreeing on is that the high will shift off the coast. The other is that if you look at the 500h mb pattern over the northeast, it loses the confluent look to it that helps hold the high across the region during the early forecast panels. Once the confluence shifts eastward into the Atlantic, the high follows.

Posted by: wjunker | January 22, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

accuwx updated the wx map they have... we are now in mix the snow is well north of us according to the map....

Typical of DC wx in a non El Nino year.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Centreville VA It looks as though the high here today will be 23 degrees. Thank goodness that we're finally getting some weak sunshine. Good luck to any squirrel who tries to dig for our spring bulbs; that ground is frozen like cement.

The area is really paying its cold weather dues for a nice snowfall. Too bad that once again it doesn't read as if this Tuesday thing will be it.
But please, so much uncertainty. Continue fanning the flames of desperate hope (or dread, depending on your snow affiliation).
At least give us a decent rainstorm out of this one.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 22, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse


You may remember a few days ago how I said I liked that we had a high to our north in the model simulations. Well that was for Monday. Because the timing of the storm development has been pushed back toward Tues/Wed after the high has moved away (model consensus on that), to me looks a lot less promising for snow. It's not to say we won't get a lot of snow if the storm takes the perfect track - but around here things have a way of not working out for snow most years

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 22, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

With NAO trending negative will that help keep the high from moving off shore and allowing warming on the backside? My guess is that NAO is not negative enough to do that. At least here in Warren county we have better odds of snow over rain, but unfortunately also better odds of getting nothing.

Posted by: eric654 | January 22, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

thanks so much for the model comparison. you said the euro depicts the best scenario for snowlovers. also, on the previous thread you said something about how the euro bastages charge for their qpf figures... (you were nicer about it than that.) so if you can't display the actual map with totals can you tell us how much it shows for dc?

boy looks like rain is a big factor for this one. sure is galling having suffered all this cold all winter only to STILL have rain/snow line issues... grrr...

also, i see you using the words rain and snow, but not sleet and/or freezing rain. is this looking like snow and/or rain, but not sleet and/or freezing rain?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 22, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Outstanding.....rain works for me.

I'm with the "early spring" poster.

Posted by: SwellLevel5 | January 22, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse


It's about 0.5" qpf in the euro. I definitely think sleet could occur during a transition between snow to rain- less concerned about freezing rain due to relatively little cold air damming.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 22, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse


According to that map, the western suburbs would be all snow.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 22, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the latest forecase on the storm Jason, Wes, and CWG. I was checking for tweets at Chuck E. Cheese earlier :-) Hoping the models start agreeing more tomorrow (I prefer snow, heavy amounts). Looking forward to the next round of updates!

Posted by: kygurl94 | January 22, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The latest NWS forecast is also backing off snow chances for Tues night-Wed. Barring "the perfect track", which in the composite model simulations just ain't there, this looks another fail.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@ bobmiller

Much Agreed

I am sure this has been asked a thousand times but what does the red dotted line represent in on the GFS, jet stream? Much appreciated and what a great site especially this time of year. thanks cwg.

Posted by: VAresident2 | January 22, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Excluding last winter, these storm only take the perfect track about 20% of the time. Based on past history & having lived in this area since 1954, I've seen 2 many of these storm be mostly rain events. I love snow as much as the next person, but I wouldn't get my hopes up 2 much at this point, & I learned from experience that wishcasting doesn't work.
1" or less 50%
1-2" 25%
3-4" 15%
4+" 10%
snow changing 2 rain 90%.
all snow 10%
This is based on present model reading & subject to change.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 22, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

realize that the precipitation will be heavy enough that anyone getting snow would get plenty of it and anyone getting rain would get mostly rain. some of the western suburbs could get over a foot of wet snow while many of the eastern suburbs could get heavy rain

Posted by: CJWill1 | January 22, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I'll take either heavy snow or heavy rain, as long as we get substantial precip. I planted three trees this fall and they need a proper drink.

Posted by: allagar | January 22, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Just watched TWC PM edition

They said east coast/Midatlantic should prepare for a decent snow storm...What you put any merit into this?

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

In REALITY, no one knows what in the world is going to happen. The models may predict the track, and we may use probability and statistics to guestimate what's going to happen, but when it comes down to it. THIS FAR OUT, it is impossible to predict anything... so it's best to just wait until Sunday or Monday night and see where this storm is heading.

Posted by: RJ16 | January 22, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse






Posted by: celt1 | January 22, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Note to self.....leave car parked outside Tuesday for a good rinse.

The silver lining here for all of you snow lovers, this storm like most this winter season looks to put you within about a two hour drive (almost in any direction) from substantial snowfall. Drive safe!

Posted by: NovaCane | January 22, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I understand that CWG is reluctant to forecast winter weather unless the storm is at our front door, but to say that there is the potential for mostly rain is going too far. I am not a met so can someone explain to me how it rains throughout the event without any frozen precip at the beginning or at the end?

Posted by: joshtanner | January 22, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse




Posted by: SNOWLUVER | January 22, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

josh, prec. may start out as snow & even accum. some b4 changing 2 rain. The problem is the temps aloft, right now it looks like there will be warm air moving in aloft. Once that happens it doesn't matter what the surface temps r, the prec. will b sleet, freezing rain or rain. Once the L passes N it could change back 2 snow, but rarely do we get accum. from the back end. If we r lucky & the L tracks a little farther E, then the chances 4 snow go up. It will probably Mon. b4 any1 can get a decent handle on the exact track of the L. Right now it's looking more liquid than snow.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 22, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

So far the highest DCA I've seen has been 26? Do I hear a 27?

Re: snow, if CWG downplays the chances, sadly they are usually right. Alas, we sometimes have to take the bitter with the sleet.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse


Thanks I appreciate the insight.

Posted by: joshtanner | January 22, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

BradFinWoodbridgeVA - We stick by our forecast, above. Mathematically uncertain for TWC to state that we are going to get a snowstorm. I believe they still do have a proprietary computer weather model that they run, but I question the prudence of relying on just one (their) source of information--though I am just assuming they are.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 22, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

joshtanner - I am not sure how you are interpreting our forecast, but I don't think your summary matches our summary as follows:
we're almost certain to get rain and potentially mostly rain. In other words, the odds of a heavy snowstorm are quite low - but not zero. The odds of rain, some snow and some mixed precipitation are pretty good.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 22, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Think I need to join a snow lover support group. Outer Banks and Ocrakoke have a winter storm warning uo, it's freezing here now , and we're going to get rain? Really? This winter sucks. Makes me depressed.

Posted by: biketraveller22 | January 22, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

The 18z GFS went slightly west compared to the 12z. Do you think there will be a compromise between the NAM and the GFS when the 0z runs come out? Would that point us in the direction of what the EURO showed us?

Posted by: MVPlaya8120 | January 22, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Rats, it made it up to 27, after all, so today only tied for the coldest high temp, although the average of 22 is the coldest so far this season. Really want to see an average daily temperature of say around 12. Helps keep the stinkbugs inside the cubbyholes.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

With that Clarendon Ballroom dance in mind, I'm going with the Canadian/UKMET.

Please note: For a huge snow or wintry-mix event, DON'T schedule the storm for TUESDAY EVENING!!! Rain is preferable, but dry weather would be even better!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 22, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I agree with biketraveller22, after reading all of these analyses since winter started, I feel like I need to move or join a group.

Posted by: cait4891 | January 22, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

nice snowstorm at cape hatteras nc right now

Posted by: pvogel88 | January 22, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Correction re: today's high. Steve Rudin just said 28 was the high. Ok, I'm going out to harvest some mangoes from the tree outside my apt. building.

But winter storm warnings for Kill Devil Hills, NC. Man, that's tough to swallow for us snow-deprived DCists.

Here's hoping lots of fat flakes are flying hereabouts by Tuesday evening.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

We get it bombo, you dance...


Posted by: samdman95 | January 22, 2011 6:28 PM | Report abuse

We can't bet on having enough cold air during the January thaw, which will probably kick off with this storm. I concur with the forecast - a mixed bag with plenty of rain.

Posted by: prickles1009 | January 22, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse


You make a good point; I was thinking the exact same thing.

BTW, in case you haven't noticed, it's cold out there! The current reading on my deck here in Sterling is 17.6°F. Brrrrr

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 22, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

First choice for Tues-Wed sunny, high 75, winds 5-10.

Second choice high 30, snow.

Last choice this stinking rain, sleet, freezing rain we've been getting.


@JerryFloyd1 - "... bitter with the sleet." Love it!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | January 22, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Yes another dusting? I'm checking out on this one. Following these little nothings, one after the other, is just exhausting.

Posted by: alertcitizen1 | January 22, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse


The combination of the two. What a surprise.

I will go out on a limb here and predict there will be snow/chance of snow on Feb 1, Feb 8, Feb 15, Feb 22, Mar 1, Mar 8, Mar 15, Mar 22, Mar 29 -- all TUESDAYS. I bet my two-month model is pretty good.

Posted by: NYY1 | January 22, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

This winter stinks like last weeks rotten trash. I want to boycott all weather outlets for the rest of winter, but i can't seem to hold myself back from hoping for snow - and a dusting or mix does NOT count. Snow means at least 3 inches or more - the kind that sticks around to play in for more than an hour. Please please some REAL snow.

Thanks crystal ball!

Posted by: snowmomma | January 22, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I guess what gets me the most FRUSTRATED being a snow lover is all the HYPE( not CWG) but the weather stations and such who always talk about the BIG STORM 4 days out, I was just in the car about 20 mins ago and WTOP was saying and i quote. " THIS YEARS FIRST MAJOR SNOWSTORM COULD HIT THE METRO AREA OF DC" BE PREPARED!!

Why do they do that this far out???? It make no sense..unless its to bump sales of ice melt and bread and milk!!

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

From the bunch that gave you a 90% chance of 1-3 inches of snow a couple of days ago, when the temperatures ultimately stayed in the upper 30s, comes the next "no, really, trust us" forecast. Read it carefully - "we're almost certain to get rain and potentially mostly rain. In other words, the odds of a heavy snowstorm are quite low - but not zero. The odds of rain, some snow and some mixed precipitation are pretty good."

Translation: Anything could happen.

Goshers! I'm so happy the Crapital Weather Gang is made up of trained professionals!

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | January 22, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Snowlovers out there - RELAX!! Take a deep breath. And you've gotta' believe. The models are flip-floppin' all over the place from run-to-run. Ye of little faith! That 'perfect track' will happen, you bet it will, and we will all be celebrating in the blizzard conditions that the DC area will encounter Tues night and Wednesday. You heard it here first!

Posted by: johnnierat | January 22, 2011 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Jerry, I vacuumed out the bathroom fan vent recently and made a stinkbug coffin.

Brad, I actually think the WTOP line is fine, with the word "could"... always a good idea to be prepared...

Currently 11.7 after a hi of 19.8 today in the mountains east of Front Royal. Walter's shipload of shiver arrived as scheduled.

Posted by: spgass1 | January 22, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

@johnierat, as you may be attempting to capture the snowlover's attention/ avoid their wrath, you may end up getting tangled in it...

Posted by: SnowDreamer | January 22, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I'll take any type of frozen precip (I wanna use our 3 snow days (1 down, 2 to go), and hopefully have a few delays), prefer snow, but accumulating sleet and freezing rain also work just fine!

I'm actually a BIG fan of the cold. Yes, even the dry cold. The longer it's cold the longer there is no pollen. I HATE spring. HATE it. I have horrible allergies and usually "winter" here is so mild that the trees wake up so early and I'm miserable that much longer. I have both Spring & Fall allergies so the only "break" I get it from the 1st freeze (usually not until mid-Nov or later) and the onset of spring. So please, keep the cold!!!!!! And save the "plain rain" for April when it will make me very happy by washing the pollen out of the air for a few hours!

Posted by: mamory1975 | January 22, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

spgass1, wow, it is very cold where you are. Hope you are prepared? Watch for frozen pipes? Ick. (Open all cabinets associated with exterior water pipes)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 22, 2011 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Whats up with temps plummeting so quickly?? We are at 10.3 right now in Leesburg, after a high of 26. Anyone else getting colder than expected readings on their deck?

Posted by: 4seamed | January 22, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse


Try stinging nettle capsules, available at Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe or somewhere like that.

Allergy meds didn't work for my girlfriend, but stinging nettle capsules, 3 per day, worked wonders. No exaggeration--she was unbearable until we found those things :-)

Posted by: celt1 | January 22, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse


Gee, what a neat idea for a stinkbug coffin...I've managed to go a week without seeing one...what a relief!

As for the temperatures, Camden is right. It is really cold where you are. You must be pretty high up in the mountains.

Finally, that's an interesting website you posted a link to. Keep up the good work. Great photography you have on there.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 22, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse


Sorry for posting two in a row, but it is colder than expected here in Sterling as well. On my deck, it's 13.9°F.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 22, 2011 8:51 PM | Report abuse

@NYY1, no snow on 2/22; I am flying to Barcelona that day and that's the only day this winter when I don't want snow.

@spgass1, I may never eat a pistacho again. ; ))
When I see a stinkbug, and I still do from time to time, it is sent downstream.

@Mamory, allergies here, too. Love it when all the gunk in the air is frozen.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 8:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm see the NWS now back off on our snow chance to 50%, I know these model are going to flip flop on us for the next couple days and teasing us, but I'm just hoping no ICE/FREEZING RAIN if this storm does hit us....

I'm wondering what will do the model run will do tonight and tomorrow morning....

When is the time Frame??... I'm hearing Monday Night - Wednesday then Tuesday Night - Wednesday.... Someone clarify this for me...

Now we might have a 50/50 this will be our first significant WINTER STORM we will see this year thus far....

Posted by: MNguyen6551 | January 22, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Bob, thanks, we're up around 1850 ft or so.

4seamed, you're colder than us (currently 11.5)

Camden, prepared enough hopefully :-)

Posted by: spgass1 | January 22, 2011 9:18 PM | Report abuse

good, spgass1!

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 22, 2011 9:25 PM | Report abuse

This is why I'm a Bastardi fan (see below)...what he's saying is true! While I'm still not sure about the storm this week, I think's it's absurd to believe this much cold air will be erased that easily. Didn't we learn that lesson last week? Snow or ice...just can't believe there will be rain.


The european and GFS are now both in the non storm camp. Now here is a neat game you can play. See which weather outlet is wrong most ( me included). How do you play that game. Well see who changes their forecast the most. Suppose someone yesterday was saying a blizzard or such was coming. If they now say its going out to sea... they are declared wrong about forecast number one. In other words, it no longer matters, they have changed the forecast. If they change it again back to the big storm, they are wrong twice, cause once you change an idea, you cant go back and claim that was the forecast. You can say, I should have stuck with that, or that idea was better, but you cant own what you disowned.

In any given forecast idea, I try to only have two forecasts. The first one is the idea... the second is honing in. For instance, if this storm is such that the track is so the big cities miss completely, no precip, then its a bust. If it doesnt snow alot because of rain, I will take that as a good idea. If its a major snow, with rain close by to the east and south, thats okay with me. I am not doing this column to spot forecast for your backyard, but to lay out ideas and show why I have them, right or wrong. If I think that a storm is coming Tuesday into Wednesday because the ridge is so far west and the NAO is going negative, then at this time there is no change in that. The modeling problem is that it is trying to flatten the southern feature by putting more emphasis on the jet to the north, and kicking features behind. Its a problem, but one that the model cant handle now. Its why you have the NOGAPS, JMA UKMET and CANADIAN so far west, but the GFS, which is what everyone and his mother looks at and the European which I think has lost it status as operational one camp. When models are flipping all over the place. then look out. But the JMA and UKMET have come west from previous runs, the Euro is east, the GFS has been east since yesterday.

As always, there is a chance I am wrong, but if its a big snow in the northeast, it will be yet another storm that was written off by modeling, which is usually the sign in modeling from this point, that its coming.

Posted by: DLO1975 | January 22, 2011 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Headed to Pittsburgh tomorrow for a couple days. Sadly, no tickets to the AFC Championship game... If I thought it was going to feel cold in DC, wait until I get to the frozen tundra of western PA!

Posted by: wrytous | January 22, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I feel like I'm back in Florida. It's only dropped to 19.6 where I live in Glover Park. Those of you in the exurbs and the mountains are living on Eskimo Way tonight.

This year, the only good Super Bowl is a green Super Bowl (Jets/Packers)!

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 9:58 PM | Report abuse

CWG - How well do the models pick up cold air damming and the large storms pulling cold air down from the upper levels? I remember a couple of storms where these factors were missed causing forecasts to be low. However, it seems to me that the models have gotten better at anticipating some of these in recent years.

Posted by: jb41477 | January 22, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

looking at around 15F at IAD...

Posted by: SnowDreamer | January 22, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse


Thx for posting that. I like Bastardi and i think he has a gift (luck?) that alot of mets dont have, especially at longer range.

But seriously, for our area he has been wrong every single storm this winter, going all the way back to the rain event around thanksgiving.

Now im not saying we cant get the big one here this week, but straight up, Bastardi has no idea whats going to happen. He says hes not doing a forecast for anyones backyard but he's mentioned DC snow with every system this season and most of the time we received 3-6 inches less than what he forecasted for DC.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

The 00Z nam has shifted west and would be an all rain event for the dc area if it were true. It's shift emphasizing how much uncertainty there is in the pattern.

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


doesn't the NAM only go out to 84 hours? It seems as if the 0C line is drawing east as the storm approaches, indicating a possible change from rain to snow. Is this a possibility?

Posted by: bbirnbau | January 22, 2011 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree Bastardi has said 3-6 SEVERAL times this winter for storms thats were coming that were either a total bust or we got an inch or a dusting... TWC has siad 3-6 several times as well a few days out but they were alot quicker to lower the totals than him...

I remeber the 80s where they waited till alot closer to predict amounts...those were the fun guessing days....

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 10:18 PM | Report abuse

DLO1975 - I'm with you - and every time, you hear the same thing: temps will warm ahead of the system, temps stay cold - "drat, the cold air hung on longer than 'anyone' expected."

Last week's ice storm was a classic example. A change to rain around here is always a risk (I remember many a storm as a child watching out the window as the flakes disappeared into rain drops), but if we have highs in the 20's leading up to the storm, I'm willing to venture a guess it won't be all rain.

Also like JB for putting an idea out there on how things will turn out. When the models don't all agree (which, they virtually never do) it seems we have reached a point where the only forecast anyone is willing to venture is that anything is possible. I guess back before the GFS, meterologist were just making-up their forecast, or perhaps it's a lost art: if a model doesn't give you an answer, there must not be one.

Posted by: manatt | January 22, 2011 10:19 PM | Report abuse

TO WES and the CWG...just humour me on this one..

By the time my son ( who is 4 years old) is an old man in the future... do you think the technology will be available to 80 t0 100% predict accurate snow totals 3-4 days out?

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

I AGREE!!!! what did weather forecasters do before the MODELS were available?? Flip a coin??? Sure seems theses models are hugely relied on these days ...what did they do back in the old days??

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 10:25 PM | Report abuse

@BradFin I think forecasters back in the day had to do everything the computer models do, which made their job a lot harder. I'm pretty sure that's why computer models were make the forecaster's job easier.

Posted by: Zachazow | January 22, 2011 10:30 PM | Report abuse

This is kinda cool idea. CWG if you had to predict next weeks storm WITHOUT looking at the MODELS..and just use old fashioned weather predicting like they did many years ago ( Im not educated in this at all so forgive me) im not sure how they did it before models and doppler ..etc.. but what did they use lets say CIRCA 70s-80s...what would u predict for nect week?

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The new NWS precip outlook shows 1.25" - 1.50" liquid over DC for the Wednesday storm. 13 - 15 inches would be fantastic, but we would need cold air for that. Also, I'm not sure what they base that forecast off of, because none of the models are predicting that much.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 22, 2011 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for all the questions and trivia tonight/ im just courious.

Can anyone remeber the last time DC got a big suprise snowfall where the models got it wrong?

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 10:38 PM | Report abuse


This is a video from 1977 in which Bob Ryan explains how forecasts were prepared at that time. I can't believe he's still working after all these years... Hope this helps!

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 22, 2011 10:39 PM | Report abuse

The NAM really looks like the Canadian model, as of now its a rain event. This time tomorrow night it'll be a snow event again on the models then again monday night either rain or a miss. LOL.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 10:44 PM | Report abuse

17.5 here in falls church.

it sounds like if we get 2" or 5" or 8" it's gonna be wet snow, right?

stinkbug coffins... hahahaha

so, when we get a few inches here, do you typically get more out there...mostly due to cold/altitude? you're just before the "big mountains" right, near that old mill?

so by that logic, accuweather has ALREADY been wrong. remember that great map from yesterday(?) where we were in the "big daddy" range? i loved that map. i didn't believe it, but i loved it. it was so fun to imagine it being right... but, apparently, that's wrong now. i understand the latest, per accuweather, is that we're in the "ice" zone. or is there a different forecast now? btw, i really appreciate your keeping us up to date on all the (wrong) accuweather forecasts. seriously i do, because they provide a great counterpoint to the rational forecasts we get from CWG.

we disagree on many things, so i totally appreciate your forthright assessment of bastardi's being extremely reliable in issuing WROG forcasts for dc....

snow gods,
please bring many many inches of snow to the dc area (but steer clear of thinkspring, southsideffx, KRUZ et. al.'s yards) on tuesday/wednesday.

i knew when you made that pledge to not check back here 'til monday that you wouldn't be able to stay away.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 22, 2011 10:46 PM | Report abuse


That was awesome..thank you..very least back then there wasnt as many. flip flop or up/down forecast at the last minute as now...

they predicted what would happen at 6pm at night ..and when u woke up..its what u got!

they didnt have u runnin to the grocery store 3 days

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Quick question... I am somewhat new to this so I am not sure who to trust and who not to trust... So is DT an actual meteorologist? Cause reading his posts.. it seems like he is more angry than anything else. And I am not sure what the GFS did to him but MAN he is PO'd at that model. And he has a lot of spelling errors too... just curious

Posted by: jac8949 | January 22, 2011 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Brad, since models can't overcome chaos effect in the atmosphere, it happens about every four years--by my recollection

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 22, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse


I knew i wouldnt be able to as well..i just told my wife that.....She DREADS evertime the say " possible snow" she knows im gonna be tied to the laptop until its over.....Maby if we get the BIG ONE...i can calm down a

Man ..last year SPOILED ME being my first winter up here

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse

DLO & manatt, Don't get hung up on the surface temps, IT'S ALWAYS TEMPS ALOFT, it dosen't matter if it's 15, 20, 25, or 30 on the surface, if it's above 32 aloft it will b sleet or freezing rain. Sometimes the cold air damming last longer than predicted, which results in freezing rain. At this point, no one can accurately predict now long CAD can last.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 22, 2011 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks CAMDEN..

i figured it wasnt too often..but it does happen i guess..

It happens ALOT down In Upstate SC along the area just below the mountains..they get it wrong several times a year ( SNOW/ICE) Im told that area is very hard to predict. I remeber several times they were calling for rain at the 11pm cast..and we woke up to Ice or snow or vice versa. Models or not...

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 10:59 PM | Report abuse

I love that word CHAOS..none of the CWG happen to be WARHAMMER Fantasy games fans?? such as

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 11:02 PM | Report abuse

CWG, any idea of what the wind will b on Mon. would like 2 go striper fishing. Cold weather really keeps them in the power plant discharge.

Posted by: VaTechBob | January 22, 2011 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Goodnight everyone. I'm going to bed, but I hope when I wake up tomorrow, the models will have come into agreement.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | January 22, 2011 11:08 PM | Report abuse

@Brad, "surprise" snowfalls that come to mind ware in January 2000 (when there was snow as far south as Charleston, SC and Raleigh was buried in snow), the Veteran's Day 1987 storm of 11.5 inches (which caught everyone off guard), and the 1979 blizzard, not so much because snow wasn't predicted but the amount was much greater than originally forecast.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Holy plummeting mercury, Batman -- it's 12F in my part of Ashburn...yikes!

Posted by: natsncats | January 22, 2011 11:16 PM | Report abuse

thanks for the info Jerry.

The best one i remember ( IN SC) was FEb 1996.

They predicted 2 to 4 inches . the low stalled and we got around 11 inches..everyone was caught off guard..

and in 2003 ThE BIG ICE STORm for SC..we got almost 1/2 inch more ice than they was terrible.

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Looks like it could end as maybe a mix or a cold rain as we are right on the 540 line at the end....

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Guess I will wait to go to the car wash if Tuesday/Wed is a wash out. AND I will be able to keep that manicure appt. What a relief.

Posted by: moo1 | January 22, 2011 11:20 PM | Report abuse

VaTechBob...the surface temps control whether we get ice or plain rain. I'm not making an argument against sleet mixing in do to warmer air aloft (if the low comes far enough west)...just saying I would be very surprised if this much cold air was pushed away that easily at the surface.

Walter...accuweather did put out an initial map. If they change that and then go back to it, that's Bastardi's point. You are correct...they would be least once.

Kruz, Brad, and others...Bastardi has been wrong about overall amounts in the MD/DC area this year, but we're talking a few inches...and he has admitted it. Conversely, he is one of the only ones that has accurately predicted all the storms (along with Justin Berk locally) and the two of them should get credit for that. The storms did have a big impact...just not for us. Additionally, he and Berk were the only ones that did not waiver last week about the cold air damming and wet bulb temps. Bastardi is one of few that make a long range forecast (5+ days out), explain the forecast, stick with it, and explain what happened if it goes wrong. Others just go with each model run and consistently change the forecast...which to me ends up being nowcasting. Anyone can do that. Let me state clearly that I am not talking about CWG staff when I say others. CWG typically lays out potential and goes with a fairly conservative forecast the whole way. Sometimes that works out and other times it doesn't.

Posted by: DLO1975 | January 22, 2011 11:20 PM | Report abuse


Yeah hes been wrong about amounts by also precip type and precip period. Sometimes we got nothing when he was calling for something like this past thursday for example.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 22, 2011 11:22 PM | Report abuse


I totally agree with you.

I guess its the snowlover in me that hates the typical drop in accumulation totals that seem to be common in forecast here this year. We start out with a higher prediction and its drops off closer to the zero hour...I cant be the only one who has seen this pattern this year...

It is what it is an adult and i know the chances for a biggie is slim...I love this site and the CWG keeps me down to earth and realistic. Im just hopeing they( all the forecasters) get it wrong sometime and we get a big one out of nowhere. LOL.. I am not educated at all in weather..just what i have read and researched..BUT it does seem to me storms get downplayed over time and not vice versa..i guess thats just the way it it...


Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 11:31 PM | Report abuse

KRUZ...we got an inch up here in Carroll County and Bastardi was saying 3. Was the amount off? Yes. Was the idea of the cold air hanging around right? Yes.

Posted by: DLO1975 | January 22, 2011 11:37 PM | Report abuse

I agree as well.NOWCASTING seems to very popular these days.....Very few forecasters predict 6 inches 3 days out and stick with it..ill give him credit for that..

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Bring on the snow it's all money to me I need a new truck

Posted by: fishoinc | January 22, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm a bit confused because I see the latest 00Z Nam and 00Z GFS now show snow, not unless I'm reading this wrong? I'm assuming the latest NAM/GFS was the 11:00 PM Run??

But I might be wrong I guess someone clarify this for me, and now I see TWC has just changes there forecast for Wednesday it now shows "SNOW/WIND (70%)" instead of Rain/Snow/Wind, but the NWS still has the same forecast...

I'm wondering how the model will act tomorrow...

But I also TWC is forecast a high of 42 degrees on Tuesday then Snow comes in, is that possible, since it will be above FREEZING, also on Wednesday a high of 37 degrees..

Posted by: Michael_Nguyen | January 22, 2011 11:49 PM | Report abuse

As long as the TWC doesnt show the dreaded DRY SLOT for they have done for here all

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm also seeing the storm might arrive wednesday instead of Tuesday Evening?? Maybe this storm is slowing down according to the GFS run..... Interesting

Posted by: Michael_Nguyen | January 22, 2011 11:53 PM | Report abuse

omg, that bob ryan video was a trip! all those old paper maps and magic markers and rulers...vintage.

check this out:

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 22, 2011 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 22, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Brad, going w-a-y far back in time, in March of 1960, my stepfather was is in the USMC and we lived at Camp LeJeune, in the subtropics. Hadn't seen more a flurry all winter, then boom! Three March snowfalls, 13.2 inches total. The first two storms, both surprises, were on Wednesdays and made it up to DC. (I was a paperboy and I'll never forget the headline after the last snowfall, i.e., "Jacksonville digs out of the third snow of the season".

Digs out?? By the time the papers were delivered in the afternoon, most of the snow had melted.)

A fourth system, also on a Wed. brought rain to Jacksonville, NC but snow to DC. That was the year choppers were used to drop food supplies to people in the western NC mountains because people were stranded in their houses by the snow.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 22, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

you have an incredible memory for individual storms. i was a paper boy for the (now defunct) washington star in the mid 70s.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 23, 2011 12:03 AM | Report abuse

SC record snowfall was in 1973, 18 inches..

i was born november that

My dad is a truck driver..he said they called for around 2 inches that night and it snowed for 26 is awesome aint it....

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 23, 2011 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Walter, I can remember opera casts from the 1960s but ask me where I put my keys or glasses 5 mins ago and it's um, they're around here somewhere....

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 23, 2011 12:07 AM | Report abuse


A lot of the questions you're asking we've written detailed articles about in the past on this blog, so suggest using Google to find some of them. But here are a few notes for you...

Just a few cases in the last 20 years or so where little to no snow was forecast but then we got dumped on. The three cases that come to mind are March 99, Jan 25 2000, and Nov 11 1987

I think predictability of snowstorms 3 and 4 days out will get better in the next 20-30 years... but probably not perfect. Steve Tracton has written blogs about the limits of predictability.

Forecasting was far inferior to what is now without models. Incredible advances have been made in forecasting since the 1970s largely due to models.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Walter, I wrote free lance stuff for the Washington Star in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Fine paper, fondly remembered.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 23, 2011 12:09 AM | Report abuse


The latest NAM is mostly rain. The latest GFS is mostly snow (albeit a wet snow). I'd strongly encourage you not to worry about/consider what temperature forecasts are...they're spit out by a computer and just not that reliable.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 12:11 AM | Report abuse

yes, but you can probably recount the 5(?) snow events of the 2006/7 winter, and a thunderstorm on july whatever. it's amazing.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 23, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

thanks new to the site

I will do searches from now on..thanks for the info.

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 23, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

no kidding?! wrote freelance what stuff?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 23, 2011 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Walter, actually, I'm blanked out on 2006-07. Was that the year we had snow on April 1 or was that in 2008 or 2009?

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 23, 2011 12:19 AM | Report abuse


You're wrong that we forecast a 90% chance of 1-3" for the last storm. Please go back to the archives which show what we actually predicted. We downplayed the event from the beginning and never gave better than a 40-50% chance of 1". Two days before the storm we gave a range of a dusting to a few inches and indicated we favored the low end of that range. Our forecast the afternoon before the storm hit was for a trace to 0.5" which was correct (the National Weather Service at that time was forecasting 1-2"). We welcome constructive criticism, but not if you're mischaracterizing our forecasts.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Walter, mostly opera performance reviews from Bayreuth, Salzburg, Munich, and New York.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 23, 2011 12:22 AM | Report abuse

how esoteric. are you a musician or singer or actor?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 23, 2011 12:29 AM | Report abuse

wx bloggers all over the net are calling this weeks storm 2/10/10 storm part deux :/

Also, Jason you said the latest GFS shows snow, but the 540 line is well to our north and west at the start not till the end does the 540 line make it over DC. Looks like we are very close to the red line, you know better than my thats for sure, but I know the 540 can be a mix, snow or plain rain.

Posted by: KRUZ | January 23, 2011 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Jason..just wanted to say you guys ahve been pretty darn accurate. I have been a member on here since just right before the DCE 23 storm that was a bust for us and you guys have been 95% on the money.

Im happy to say out of all the forecasters I ( and my wife who is a snow hater trust you the most.

Its a good thing you are as accurate as you you wre saying..progress has come along way. men) have a love hate relationship with the public..get it right..your golden..get it wrong..everyones mad at got my respect man..espeically when all the school kids wanna lynch you when the snow doesnt!!!!! nite!

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 23, 2011 12:31 AM | Report abuse


The cold air damming potential from this storm is really low because the cold high is moving far off the coast. If the storm takes the perfect track and passes to our east such that we get winds from the north - that's our only chance to tap some cold air and get some damming. That's what happened with the last storm (although there was mild flow aloft that caused ice instead of snow. If the low tracked to the east of us this time, there would not be as much warm air moving in aloft, so we'd be dealing with more snow rather than ice).

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 12:34 AM | Report abuse


That's right. The 540 is NOT necessarily the rain/snow line- but a general guide. You need to look at forecast soundings of the temperatures from the surface up to cloud level to forecast rain versus snow versus ice. These soundings indicate mostly snow on this particular GFS run. But it's close.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 12:38 AM | Report abuse

gfs ensemble mean looks like rain to me as well... please correct me if im wrong....

Posted by: KRUZ | January 23, 2011 12:41 AM | Report abuse

So Jason

At this moment could you say this storm will be a nailbiter for snow lovers???

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 23, 2011 12:43 AM | Report abuse


you mentioned the high is moving off the coast. does it also seems like this storm is coming later than tuesday, maybe more like wednesday or wednesday night to start, which would give that high even more time to get out of here?

Posted by: KRUZ | January 23, 2011 12:44 AM | Report abuse


Though I don't have access to soundings for the ensembles (or an ensemble mean), the ensemble mean would suggest mainly snow. The 0 C line at 850mb is a much better rain/snow line than 540 thickness in DC in mid-winter.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 12:47 AM | Report abuse

wow...lot of people still posting this late into the night! Guess it's def not time to throw in the towel yet with potential snow accumulation. Any chance this could be a decent ice storm for us?

Posted by: BH99 | January 23, 2011 1:00 AM | Report abuse

so from my understanding of most of the models, the NAM is the only model giving us rain, euro and gfs are snow as is ukie and most others right?... so the general consensus is snow at this point with all the models now?

no models show a miss anymore right?

Posted by: KRUZ | January 23, 2011 1:02 AM | Report abuse


Something to watch is that there is another high building in over central Canadian and moving east after the first high moves off. This might actually help push the storm a little east (like the GFS and Euro have been suggesting) and serve as a new source of cold air. The first high may move offshore too quickly to deliver much cold air.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 1:02 AM | Report abuse

I guess what all the snow lovers wanna know is?? Should be get at least a little Accum??

Posted by: BradFinWoodbridgeVA | January 23, 2011 1:06 AM | Report abuse


This morning's Euro was snow and this evening's GFS was snow. I haven't taken a close look at the latest (tonight's) Canadian or UKMET yet - though I saw some posts on AmericanWx indicating they might suggest some snow on the back side of the storm.


Ice storm seems like the least likely scenario to me given the setup though we might get some sleet.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Walter, writer and serious snow lover. Although I grew up in Florida, I spent one winter in interior Massachusetts as a kid. Lots and lots of snow. Two blizzards. Winter very similar to what they're getting this year. Driving me nuts. I even look at the Boston web cams to vicariously experience it.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 23, 2011 1:16 AM | Report abuse

so i hear the euro is a little more west and warmer but similar to the gfs except euro now showing rain for us up to phillly?

Posted by: KRUZ | January 23, 2011 1:17 AM | Report abuse

So it sounds like precipitation is almost certain with just what form being up in the air. Will this 2nd high get here in time to keep the warmer air away?

Posted by: jbernard703 | January 23, 2011 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Latest European out. Track a bit farther west (warmer) than this morning's run. Rain/snow line just west of DC through eastern loudoun and western MoCo. But you can't take that literally this far out. Model does suggest rain changes to snow toward end of the event everywhere as low pulls away and colder air starts to stream in.

Under most circumstances, the track the Euro is showing would be great for snow - but lack of cold high during beginning and middle of this event really making this a marginal situation. We'll have more tomorrow. Good night.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 23, 2011 1:21 AM | Report abuse

thanks for all the updates Jason!

Posted by: KRUZ | January 23, 2011 1:23 AM | Report abuse

@JerryFloyd1: Interesting to hear of your past life at the Star. Did you know Irving Lowens? (Sorry to drift away from weather topics, but at this point, I feel like I'm in a wait-and-see mode for tomorrow...)

Posted by: petworthlad | January 23, 2011 1:26 AM | Report abuse

@petworthlad, I sat next to Irving and Marjorie Lowens at various performances and have the best memories of both of them.

I also have memories of numerous situations where it rained in DC and snowed in the far western and northern suburbs. I've crossed this next one off as yet another flop in the winter of our discontent.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | January 23, 2011 3:07 AM | Report abuse

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