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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Forecast: Two cold days, then a nice warm-up

By Dan Stillman

Enough flakes for a dusting tonight?

updated at 9:40 a.m.

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


Still cold, though without the whipping wind it's not half bad.
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter


Today: Partly sunny, much less windy. Mid-30s. | Tonight: Chance of flurries or light snow. Near 20 to mid-20s. | Tomorrow: Becoming mostly sunny & breezy. Low 30s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


Today we embrace a kinder, gentler cold. We're probably limited to highs in the 30s again, just like yesterday, but gone are the fierce winds that made even a short walk to lunch a blustery experience. The storm that once showed some potential to come up the coast and deliver some snow can't muster much more than flurries or a little light snow tonight. The cold then lasts through tomorrow before a warm-up that should make many of us quite happy.

Snow Potential Index: 2 (→) - Not much more than a dusting seems to be the max potential for tonight's system.

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

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.

Today (Wednesday): Yesterday's chill continues with early-morning lows in the mid-teens (suburbs) to low 20s (downtown). Thankfully, winds are much weaker than yesterday's gusts of 40-50 mph. They'll blow lightly today, around 10 mph from the southwest. So afternoon highs in the mid-30s, while pretty chilly, won't feel bitter. Partly sunny skies should take an edge off the chill as well. Confidence: High

Tonight: As low pressure develops off the Carolina coast we may see flurries or a period of light snow before the low tracks east/northeast out to sea. There's a 50/50 chance that some areas get enough flakes for a dusting to a quarter-inch or so. Lows from near 20 (suburbs) to the mid-20s (downtown). Confidence: Medium

Keep reading for the forecast through Valentine's Day...

Tomorrow (Thursday): Skies turn mostly sunny by mid-to-late morning. But breezes pick up from the northwest to around 10-15 mph, and that means another chilly one with highs only in the low 30s and wind chills in the 20s to upper teens. If you can grin and bear it, there's a warming trend right around the corner. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: Mostly clear skies and light or calm winds provide ideal conditions for cooling. Lows in the teens should be common across the suburbs, with the coldest spots likely sinking to the low teens to near 10. In the city, upper teens to low 20s should be the range. Confidence: Medium-High


Friday through Sunday features a wonderful warming trend, with at least partly sunny skies, courtesy breezes from the southwest and west. Highs reach into the 40s Friday and Saturday, and I think into the 50s on Sunday. Friday night and Saturday night lows drop back to the 20s to near 30. Confidence: Medium

A sneak peek at Monday (Valentine's Day) shows similar conditions to Sunday. Precipitation chances appear slim to none and highs past 50 may again be within reach before Valentine's evening temperatures drop through the 40s to near 40. Confidence: Medium

By Dan Stillman  | February 9, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The top five U.S. snow storms
Next: Washington D.C. weather in the year 2076, part II


@CWG - In this day in age when model agreement is very consistent across the board 24 hours out, do we ever get surprised? For instance, I believe most of the models have a very weak storm going OTS tomorrow. What is the likelihood they would be wrong 24 hours from the storm?

Posted by: snowlover | February 9, 2011 6:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm guessing that with a 700mb plot like this there's no wiggle room for a storm to sneak up the coast. I would want a stronger upper low somewhere to the west or a nice east coast trough.

Posted by: eric654 | February 9, 2011 6:45 AM | Report abuse

so, back on the previous thread, there was a poster who linked to a graph showing the "return period" (how many years before we can expect to see another like it) for certain "historic" storms. the chart showed the march '93 "superstorm" as having a return period of nearly 350 years. that seems crazy to me. i mean, it was big and all, but 350 years?! that same chart puts the jan '96 storm at ~150 years. that seems way too long too.

1) any weather historian types have anything to say about that? CWG guys?

2) what are the chances tomorrow's storm exceeds either the '93 or the '96 storms?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 9, 2011 7:27 AM | Report abuse

i look at tonights snow as a showdown of the local tv mets. Topper Shutts forecast last night at 11 and earlier all said we would see snow showers for a couple of hours, maybe up to but not exceeding an inch.

Palka too is calling for a light snow from aroumd 8 or 9pm until sometime early thurs morning. Both Palka and Shutt say there could be enough for some slick spots on the roads.

Kammerers forecast is more in line with CWG saying at most we may see is some flurries. Only Bob Ryans forecast is the one that doesnt include any snow at all. Not even a flurry. He dubs it OTSTOS anx says everything stays to our south, no flakes in Dc.

My money is always on Bob Ryan, but ill put his forecast to the test tonight looking for signs of even a flake.

Posted by: KRUZ | February 9, 2011 7:55 AM | Report abuse


1. I'm no weather historian, but I can tell you that mother nature doesn't care if a storm like 1993 is supposed to come 350 years later. She could have a storm like it happen any year.

2. I would say 0% chance. The best we could get out of this if the models are wrong is an inch or two, but that is highly unlikely to happen.

Posted by: cubscapsfan | February 9, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

i've been clinging to that "nature doesn't care" theory in hopes of getting another snowmageddon soon in falls church...

i understand the fickle nature of nature - especially when trying to apply statistics to her - but there is some validity to the concept of "return period". it's sort of a measure of just how historic a storm is. of course there could be another one just as big next year. it's just not likely. but i don't think the next "superstorm" is 350 years away.

i was just kidding, of course, about the chances of tomorrow's storm rivaling anything remotely historic. heck we'll probably have a storm just like it the following day deliver a similar 0.0" to dc and up the entire east coast all the way to maine...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 9, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

@ CWG I have beeen tracking the Midwest Radar for the past couple of hours....are we sure that storm is going to miss us?? Looks to be on a decent track to hit us.

Posted by: kdvols1 | February 9, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse


The whole thing should get crushed south as the day wears on and some of precip that makes it in here will evaporate in the dry air. Nonetheless, some light snow or flurries are possible tonight. Latest NAM spits out 0.04" liquid equivalent at DCA overnight, which would suggest a dusting or so.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 9, 2011 9:05 AM | Report abuse


The models could be a little wrong but probably not a lot wrong at this point. I wouldn't get my hopes up for much more than a dusting, and some folks might not even see that

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 9, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

If it's not going to snow... yes, let it warm up!

Getting rid of all the nasty snowpiles (in Fairfax City) before it blizzards later next week... :)

Posted by: MKoehl | February 9, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Just to be safe, and given the latest model data showing the potential for a period (even if brief) of light snow tonight, have tweaked forecast above to allow a 50/50 chance of a dusting to around a quarter-inch in metro area (not just south of town). -Dan, CWG

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 9, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Bernstein said this morning that only a slight chance of dusting well south of town in areas like Culpeper, Fredericksburg, and the Northern Neck.

Looks like a pretty good bet at this point.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 9, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

is this how it begins...?! will the next update say, "maybe 2" for dc." by this evening, it will be "4 inches possible for metro area." by the time we wake up there will be 6" on the ground w/ no sign of letting up.... we'll hear about how the storm took a hard left turn and went right up the coast... ...or not. dang, had myself going for a second there.

CWG, statistics people, someone who understands "gumbel distribution",

anybody care to address the idea that the next " march '93 superstorm" is nearly 350 years away?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 9, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Hamweather says 60% chance, up to an inch of snow in 20650. I'll take it!

Posted by: jenniej | February 9, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse


If you want history, I think I remember my Meteorology professor last year telling me big snows like that have occured roughly every seven years for the past few decades. To count, there was last year (2010), 2003, then -- a blip -- 1996 and 93, and then 87, 80 and 73. Not at all scientific and I wouldn't rely on this, but it's still kinda neat to know. Can anyone more learned than I tell me if this stands up to the CWG peer review? lol

Posted by: PlatinumFedora | February 9, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse


I'm not a statistician but the March '93 storm was a singular event in terms of incredibly large area it covered, its winds, its amazingly low pressures (set many records), etc. The 350 return period may be legit. But even so, March often brings big storms of varying character. The '93 storm wasn't ideal for snow along and east of I-95 because it was so wound it up it brought in warm air. We could easily get another big March storm - not as intense as 93 - that's more impactful for the DC region.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 9, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I beleive that everything runs in cycles.I mean everything...From are life to the way the Earth spins...From good winters, to bad winters...From hot summers to cooler wet summers..You get my drift. Yes every 7 years is right...That is when the DC area recievies a good winter storm and also a snowy winter...Next couple years will see what happens...Global warming will cause colder and harsher winters..Global warming will cause extremely hot summers...I do not think that takes a rocket scienctist to answer that one.I do not beleive the blizzard of 1993 will only come every 350 years...Just way to long in my book of thought.Last year wasthe mid-alantic region that got slammed with snow..This year it was the Northeast the got all the snow...Next year will be the Midwest..Then the following year 2013 winter will even itself out across the whole USA board...Catch my drift...Then 6-7 years will go by and will will get rocked again...As we turn so does the world...We all live in a Cycle.....

Posted by: bradfordfields81 | February 9, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Still too darned early for a warm-up!!!

Met winter lasts till March 1st.

Presidents' Day is over a week away.

Groundhog stew, anyone???

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 9, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

PlatinumFedora, to your list, you can also add another 7-year stretch between big D.C-area snowstorms.....'66 and '73. I'm old enough to still remember both of tham well.

Posted by: MMCarhelp | February 9, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunetly for us snow lovers, the next 12-14 days look mild & snowless. Looks like the chance 4 another big snow this winter is slim & none at all, & slim is heading 4 the exit.

Posted by: VaTechBob | February 9, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse


So this possible dusting to quarter to half an inch tonight, if the snow makes it here. What do you guys think the dew point will be like? I know the air out there is really dry today, will that change enough overnight to allow this snow to even hit the ground?

Either way, I have made plans to hit up the salt dome tonight if needed, although I along with many taxpayers are hopeful the salt wont be needed.

Posted by: KRUZ | February 9, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me or anyone else feeling alittle surprise tonight. Storm looks to have overperformed the entire time, hmmmmmm.

Posted by: dannythe357 | February 9, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

any need for a zone map now that potential accumulations are n the forecast?

Posted by: KRUZ | February 9, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse


No need for a zone map - gotta have a legitimate shot at 1" or icing for that. Dusting "or so" potential is area wide. With the best chance of "or so" south of D.C. I have a new post with some commentary and Wes' latest thoughts:

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 9, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"Looks like the chance 4 another big snow this winter is slim & none at all, & slim is heading 4 the exit"

Well, in light of the discussion on here of the 1993 blizzard, remember that it happened in mid-March, at the end of what was otherwise not a very snowy winter in the DC area. I wouldn't expect anything of that caliber this March, but it's always possible. In any event, more snow certainly can't be ruled out for the next five weeks or so.

Two years ago, the biggest snow of the winter around here was on March 1, 2009. I remember it well, as all flights to the area were cancelled, including one I had scheduled from Dallas to BWI. I was stuck in Texas (where the temperature was around 70) for two extra days.

Posted by: mkarns | February 9, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Have Fairfax county schools closed yet in anticipation of tonight's dusting?

Posted by: Axel2 | February 9, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

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