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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 02/25/2011

Forecast: Potential thunder, then mega wind

By Camden Walker

Wind gusts to near 60 could be hazardous

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


Challenging weather to walk in, or dress for. Shower/storm risk in mild a.m., then cooler p.m. gusts to near 60 mph!
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Shower/storm thru midday, very windy. Near 60 early, falling p.m. | Tonight: Partly cloudy, winds diminishing. Upper 20s to low 30s. | Tomorrow: Partly sunny, light breeze. Near 50. | Sunday: Increasing clouds. Mid-to-upper 50s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


Hang on to your hats and dress in layers today. We briefly enter the "warm sector" this morning, but the cold front may whip up showers or thundershowers that gustily march through by midday. After that, winds howl with potentially hazardous 60 mph gusts and temperatures falling quickly backwards. After today, the weekend looks more tranquil, but storm threats loom for early week.

Snow Potential Index: 1 (→) - Nothing special or specific to mention, but flakes can still fall pretty easily in February (it doesn't take much!).

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 (Friday): After the warm front moves through early morning and potentially brightens our sky, temperatures rise to around 60 or maybe even above. Next up, cold front. Late morning to early afternoon we may have a line of showers and thundershowers accompanied by gusty winds. Watch out for some heavy downpours and winds increasing even after the weather passes. Part 3 of our multi-faceted day involves winds from the northwest, sustained up to 30-40 mph with gusts as high as 60-65 mph, and clearing skies. Temperatures gradually fall through the 50s in the afternoon, perhaps into the 40s by sunset. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Winds behind the cold front really stay whipped-up early, but calm late. Northwest winds could gust still up to 50 mph into the evening. All that air motion keeps the atmosphere stirred and mixed and this keeps temperatures relatively uniform in the region, preventing them from dropping too much -- upper 20s to lower 30s should do it. Confidence: Medium

Can we salvage the weekend after such a tumultuous Friday? Keep reading...

Tomorrow (Saturday): A few periodic cloud decks may come between us and the sun, but I think we find it to be not too bad of a day. Breezes from the north are light be comparison. And high temperatures approach our average high (near 50), ranging from upper 40s to lower 50s. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: Skies should remain mostly clear, but I'm not very confident they will remain completely cloud-free the entire night. Stargaze when you see an opportunity! Downtown may only bottom in the mid-30s, with readings around 30 possible outside the Beltway. Wish we could freeze more pollen, but oh well! Confidence: Medium

Sunday: Clouds could again be a challenging part of the forecast, but I think there is a decent chance of sunshine in the morning, with increasing clouds in the afternoon. Temperatures are in the mid 50s for most of the region, perhaps around 60 if sunshine stays abundant through afternoon hours. Have any outdoor plans? Looks like a good day for it! Confidence: Medium


Sunday night sees slight southerly breezes become more persistent. Low temperatures may stay pretty mild, in the mid 40s to near 50; but, rain chances increase from 20% during evening hours, to 50-50 shot of a shower after midnight. Confidence: Low-Medium

Monday might be breezy, but it appears it might also be mild! High temperatures in the low-to-mid 60s do make dodging occasional showers (60% during the day, 75% chance during the evening) not too unpleasant. If the cold front plows toward us faster than expected, we could have thunderstorms disrupt the evening commute. It will seem spring-like! Confidence: Low

Tuesday has perhaps a very few early-morning showers, but it should quickly clear out. Sunshine may control the area fully by midday, as high temperatures head toward the 50s. Breezes might make it feel a touch cooler, but the sun is getting stronger (welcome March!) so I doubt I'll hear many complaints. Confidence: Low-Medium

By Camden Walker  | February 25, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: High wind warning from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday
Next: Strong front, some severe storms racing by


I suspect climate change has hit some kind of tipping point, and every week from now on we'll get some kind of extreme weather event: dangerous winds, severe thunderstorm warnings, heat waves, tornado warnings etc.

Posted by: HenryFPotter | February 25, 2011 7:34 AM | Report abuse

hopefully this rain is pleasing for all the gardeners out there. but bear in mind IT'S STILL WINTER. so be sure any plants etc... that you plant prematurely are snow-resistant! to my point, here are the results of my morning "good chill hunting" (h/t AsymptoticUnlimited) trip:

2-5" of snow on march 7

this far out the models frames come 12 hours apart, so it's kind of hard (for me) to tell when during those 12 hours the freezing line passes over us, but that looks like snow to me.

and then, beginning march 9, i saw an 8-12" snow storm! it's pretty unbelievable, but the GFS shows it being below freezing at 850mb all the way from 300 to 360 hours as the moisture passes by.

it's showing below freezing temps at 850mb and precip. as far as i know, that's the simplified formula for snow. i even checked the 2M temps. of course, the main problem with these events is that they begin 10 & 12 days from now.

aside from being so far out, is there some other reason these aren't snow?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 25, 2011 7:51 AM | Report abuse

How much coffee did you have this morning? LOL

Posted by: worldtraveler83 | February 25, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

CWG, what time are you expecting the real heavy winds to die down later?

Posted by: nyjets113086 | February 25, 2011 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Hair is up in a French braid for me today, to avoid wind tangles... hopefully we won't get too much out of our blustery visitor (property damage, power outages, etc.)

Posted by: MKoehl | February 25, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Walter, it's meteorlogical winter for a few more days. That is important to note because that means meteoglogical spring is just a few days away. Meteorologists put March in with April and May because the weather in March is more similar to them than to Feb. and January. So while you are correct that calendar winter has a few more weeks to go, March could also be more spring-like than winter-like. I suspect you know this, but are in denial about it. Good luck with that...

Posted by: weatherdude | February 25, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Another exciting weather day that I am yet again stuck in a windowless office. Missing all the fun of watching trash & birds & branches go whizzing past.
I suspect that the SPI "1" is nothing more than an offering of sympathy to us snow lovers right now. Camden understands our late winter pain.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | February 25, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

It's a weird weather day already, and we're just getting started. After a breezy early a.m. in Harpers Ferry, we're now in a dead calm (which is sort of portentous and unnerving in itself), and fog is coming up.

Posted by: tinkerbelle | February 25, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, everyone. I hope your commutes weren't too challenging. Any wind-blow rain encountered? Winds are only increasing from here. So the evening commute could be challenging to walk AND drive in...

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

FIREDRAGON47 - haha, perhaps you are right ;) But be careful when leaving work today -- strong winds. Hm, maybe it is good you don't have a window...

MKoehl - you prepared in a good way, today!

Walter, I pretty much agree with weatherdude. The general atmospheric pattern is shifting towards a warmer, Spring pattern

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Lots of rain falling here NW of Boston into a foot or so of leftover cement-snow (several feet of total accumulation that has been through several rain, thaw and refreeze cycles). It is beyond me how they are supposed to predict equivalent QPF from rain and snowmelt when the snow is still absorbing rain in some cases and melting in other cases. Also the ground below is frozen rock solid.

Posted by: eric654 | February 25, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

HenryFPotter - before making that conclusion, I urge you to read the analysis (and commentary) by our blogger Andrew Freedman:

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Camden, thanks for the comments. I'm curious - given the choice, do you prefer walking to work in cold rain or snow? For me, the latter is definitely preferable - no soggy socks, and the snow doesn't seem to penetrate my wool coat as deeply!

I'd also venture to say that rain is just as dangerous to drive in as snow - maybe even more so, since people tend not to think about hydroplaning as so drive like it's a pleasant sunny spring day.

Posted by: kolya02 | February 25, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

eric654 - It sounds like there will be a ton of run-off. Be careful/watch for flooding, if you are driving in low-lying areas. I know in my hydrology & atmospheric science classes we attempted to calculate flooding potential and/or how much the snow would be able to absorb. Then the ground underneath it. Fun, but complicated, stuff :)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

kolya02 - agree about walking to work in snow. Definitely preferred. And the hydroplaning caused many accidents this morning. You're perhaps right about it being less visible, so psychologically folks don't have their guard up?

nyjets113086 - generally after midnight tonight the winds should slowly begin dying down as we get toward sunrise. 1-3am is my timeframe for when the gusts really cease, for the most part.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Winds just picked up in Ashburn. Here we go.

Ugh. I need to replace the shingles I lost from the last event, but I'd prefer to wait until a time when we're less likely to see high winds like this for a while. Not sure when that will be.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 25, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Winds already gusting to 30mph here in Fairfax at 11am.

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 25, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I sit at the front desk with 2 large windows & 2 doors & for the last few hours the winds have been howling literally.

It's been so windy this winter that we're on our second American flag.

I call it "Wicked Witch Weather" because it sounds like at any moment she's gonna be flying by with her monkeys!!

Posted by: wadejg | February 25, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Keep coming with the local wind reports. I'm very interested to see how they progress during midday, and into afternoon. But don't go out in them (when they start gusting ferociously this afternoon) unless you have to. Wish I had goggles for days like today...

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Right now in Laytonsville, we have almost no breeze. (Oh, look at that. The wind just kicked in as I was writing this. Not too strong, just breezy.) It's wild to read about the wind less than 20 miles away. Very warm and muggy out there.

Posted by: dprats21 | February 25, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

dprats21 - warm front has come through, but cold front not far behind. Changes coming soon! Including wind... just be careful, later. (maybe grab lunch now while it is fairly calm there!)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Winds now gusting to 35 mph in Fairfax. Do I hear 40? Come on, I know you can do it.

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 25, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

rwalker66 - it probably will hit 50 before long.. should keep heading higher... :)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Camden, thanks for the warning, but cannot stay inside today. Enough hair gel, and the wind means nothing to my helmet head! lol. Maybe for days like this you all could develop icons like hair peices, cans of hair spray, or kites to denote wind? Just a wise guy idea. ;-)

BTW: I can see the line of showers headed this way, getting pretty dark to the West, but it looks like they will pass north of town (Laytonsville) but may brush Damascus.

Posted by: dprats21 | February 25, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

dprats21 - I like where you're headed with potential icons! Thanks always for any ideas.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

And we're up to 41 mph wind gusts!

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 25, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Was sunny and 65F-ish from 11:00 to 11:45. Clouds have rolled in now, breeze has picked up a little (gusts to 20-25 probably), and there are some really dark clouds to the north.

(From Brookeville, MD)

Posted by: bastings | February 25, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post but looks like NWS says it might snow towards Annapolis:

Is this an error on their part or is it possible? Seems far too warm, mid-upper 60s right now!

Posted by: bastings | February 25, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Walter, I'm a big snow lover but I got 2 say I think your grasping at straws. None of the storms panned out during this winter, so I have 2 think the odds r even less in March. But, nothing in weather is certain & maybe it will snow in early March, just wouldn't count on it happening.

Posted by: VaTechBob | February 25, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Well we've gone from sunny in Fairfax to raining hard sideways and we're under a severe thunderstorm watch. Welcome to Spring. walter: surrender!

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 25, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh, while it's raining hard sideways the sky is still blue. Weird weather day.

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 25, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

The weather is really weird. Fast moving really dark clouds, lots of blue sky, random rain showers, and warmth. Definitely spring.

Posted by: bastings | February 25, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

camden, weatherdude, vatechbob,
of course i know about meteorological vs astronomical seasons. and i even agree that meteorological seasons ARE a better "fit" for weather than astronomical seasons. and i don't really expect those march storms i referenced to verify (but they could...). i may be crazy, but i'm not crazy...

nonetheless, did i interpret the GFS output correctly? i.e., if those storms were showing up 2 days out, wouldn't dc be working itself into a grocery-store-raiding frenzy?

"a foot or so of leftover cement-snow (several feet of total accumulation that has been through several rain, thaw and refreeze cycles)."


Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 25, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

bastings, and all: turbulent atmosphere to continue a bit longer! Cold front hasn't moved through yet...

Walter, at the 48 hr mark, yes we'd have to consider them.

also, bastings - looks like the error corrected itself. Those graphics can often have glitches. . .

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 25, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible for somebody to have a snow fetish?
I think Walter is a leading candidate.

Posted by: fakedude2 | February 25, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Fakedude2- if you haven't had the chance, check out Walter's amazing snow sculptures. Big waves are to surfers, as big snows are to Walter.

Posted by: dprats21 | February 25, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"big waves..." hahaha thanks. that's the second memorable thing you've said about my sculptures. the other one was about how you couldn't believe you felt "concern for a snow sculpture". (the cute seal being chased by the big mean shark.) ;-)

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 25, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Walter- Thanks, I have my moments. The seal comment was one of those things that the fingers typed as the brain caught up. Merely a testament to your enviable snow sculpting skills.

Keep up the great work! My daughter (4) loves your work, too.

Posted by: dprats21 | February 26, 2011 5:52 AM | Report abuse

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