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Posted at 10:25 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Update on weather for next two a.m. commutes

By Dan Stillman

A bit of light snow and sleet has left a very light accumulation in spots this evening with little to no impact. After last week's midweek mess, however, a lot of folks are concerned what the potential for wintry and wet weather may mean for tomorrow morning's and Wednesday morning's commutes. Here's our latest thinking...

Radar & lightning: Latest D.C. area 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.

Tonight/Tuesday: The forecast through early-to-mid morning is best described as patchy light frozen precipitation (snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain), especially in the northern suburbs, with temperatures remaining below freezing in the mid-20s to near 30. While I don't think it's going to be a big deal, I also don't want to downplay it too much, as some slick spots could be around for the morning commute. Overall, though, this is a minor event.

We'll see a general lull in precip chances from mid-to-late morning tomorrow into the evening, though occasional periods of drizzle or freezing drizzle may persist as highs only reach the mid-30s.

SchoolCast (for Tue):

Tuesday night/Wednesday: Evening temperatures are in the low-to-mid 30s and the leading edge of the big Midwest storm arrives in the D.C. area around midnight, give or take an hour, in the form a solid shield of moderate-to-heavy precipitation. There's little question that the precip will be rain, since temps at cloud level will be well above freezing - possibly warm enough for some thunder. The question is whether, where and for how long surface temps stay at or below freezing, making any rain that falls freezing rain (rain that freezes on contact with the surface).

This is probably an all plain rain event south of the District. From D.C. north we're looking at the possibility of a period of freezing rain before changing over to rain by 4-7 a.m., as warmer air starts to move in from the south/southeast and as the moderate-to-heavy rain brings down the warmer air from above. The exception is northern Loudoun County, northern Montgomery County, Howard County and points north (including Frederick County), where freezing rain may linger later in the morning. The whole thing is probably over by around lunchtime with afternoon highs well above freezing, in the 40s to low 50s.

Bottom line is that most of the metro area should be ok - soggy but not frozen - by around 7 a.m. Wednesday at the latest, unless the cold air hangs around longer than we currently anticipate. So as of now, it appears that pre-sunrise commuters, especially the further north and northwest you go from D.C., have the most to worry about, but do check back with us tomorrow for the latest.

And finally: We got a good chuckle out of this cartoon here at CWG. Thought we'd share...

By Steve Alaniz & Francesco Marciuliano; drawn by Craig MacIntosh. (h/t CWG's Steve Tracton)

By Dan Stillman  | January 31, 2011; 10:25 PM ET
Categories:  Latest, Updates  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Snow storm to bury Midwest, New England
Next: Forecast: AM mix, rain or ice for round 2 tonight


GRRR! So frustrating! We've put up with weeks of bitter cold this winter only for the moisture to come in right on the tail of warmer temps almost every time! I demand to know the meteorological explanation for moisture bringing in warmer temps! :P

Posted by: kolya02 | January 31, 2011 10:32 PM | Report abuse

any thoughts on the weekend yet? Too early, perhaps?

Posted by: jrodfoo | January 31, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

C W G,

you guys are underestimating this storm. There's gonna be power outages and school closures.

Posted by: SNOWLUVER | January 31, 2011 10:36 PM | Report abuse

The sauna at National (oh yes, I'm going there) is already sub-freezing. Might help us snow&delay-lovers out.

Posted by: ArlTeacherSnowman | January 31, 2011 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's see if FCPS teachers get the workday to "work from home" tomorrow!

Posted by: yannos | January 31, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Come on closed, FCPS!!

Posted by: Snowteacher | January 31, 2011 10:47 PM | Report abuse

So it seems (from various sources) that from about Noon tomorrow through 9PM there won't really be any precip to speak of? But then between 9PM-Midnight moderate to heavy freezing rain will move in north and west of the district....perhaps even in DC. Trying to decide if it's worth trying to attend the CAPS game. Guess that decision can wait until tomorrow afternoon to see what the temps and radar look like.

Posted by: DLO1975 | January 31, 2011 11:02 PM | Report abuse

so tired of fc cancelling school. fcdpw does a fantastic job on roads. (this is more than obvious when you head down 85/28 after major event) as a former new englander...fc rates high in my book. my tax $ SAY keep em in school!!!!

Posted by: BMSBKiller | January 31, 2011 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I guess I feel cautiously optimistic about Tuesday morning. No surprise ice emergency for western Fairfax. No school buses either. Looking good.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 31, 2011 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey DLO1975:

I'm a few blocks from Verizon so if you're feeling sheepish about coming into town to catch the Caps start off the post-ASB right, then i'll take the tix!

Personally, I'm disappointed how little white stuff will be on the ground, but I'm glad I will be parking my car underground during most of the freezing rain! That's the worst! Nothing like cracking your doors open under a coat of "Magic Shell"!

Posted by: mo_dc | January 31, 2011 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm cautiously optimistic about tomorrow morning too. One more shift to work tomorrow and then a couple of days off. I did pack a small bag, though, just in case we get stuck at work again like last week!

Posted by: natsncats | January 31, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

why is there a winter weather advisory until noon Tuesday if the commute tomorrow (Tues.) is supposed to be largely rain?

Posted by: curmudgeon31 | January 31, 2011 11:32 PM | Report abuse


It's tough to say whether DC itself will have freezing temps at the onset (between 10 pm and 1 am or so). Am afraid it's wait and see. Having said, even if temps are freezing, if roads are treated and it's raining and 32, you shouldn't have significant issues. You need it to be colder for ice accretion in the city.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2011 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else notice that a new HP appears over Maryland and VA in the latest satellite images from NWS? Hopefully that means colder temps and less chance for ice.

Posted by: SJMPARMAN | January 31, 2011 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Fairfax County students were already on a scheduled break. The day off was not weather related. Teacher planning break primarily. Maybe you should research a bit before you criticize.

Posted by: SJMPARMAN | February 1, 2011 12:27 AM | Report abuse

@ BMSBKiller, if you're talking about FCPS, the reason they close the schools is because we in the western portion of the county have been getting pretty fairly diced up by the winter weather throughout January. Even now, parts of my street are still covered by solid snow and ice, and that's on a curving hill too. Also, tree limbs are still everywhere, and a lot of cleanup is in store for our near future.

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 1, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

So... flying into BWI at 8pm on Tuesday? Am I between storms or flying into one? Worried about the ride into the district, mainly. Wondering if I should move my flight to Weds.

Posted by: dcnative71 | February 1, 2011 1:36 AM | Report abuse

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