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Posted at 2:25 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Saturday storm: Light ice & rain, ending as snow?

By Jason Samenow

Some potential for storm next week

Model guidance continues to suggest the storm to impact the region Friday night and Saturday is no big deal. But, there is the possibility of some frozen precipitation at the beginning and end of the event particularly in the north and west suburbs.

Here's the way I see it playing out:

Friday night: Light precipitation breaks out mostly likely between 8 p.m. and midnight. North and west of the District, the precipitation may be in the form of light freezing rain and/or sleet. To the south and east, it's probably a rain event. There's no cold high to the north to supply cold air. On the other hand, surface flow may remain weak enough for stale cold air to stick around. So a light glaze of ice is possible in places like western Montgomery, Frederick and Loudoun counties by Saturday morning.

Saturday: Everyone should rise above freezing (even in the colder suburbs by mid-morning), meaning a cold rain for a good part of the day. The rain is mainly light. However, as a moderately strong upper level low approaches from the southwest, temperatures aloft will cool, possibly allowing the rain to change to sleet and/or snow during the late afternoon and early evening from northwest to southeast. Precipitation would most likely end between 5 and 10 p.m.

The most accumulation we might expect in the immediate metro region - based on current guidance - would be a coating on grassy areas. Farther to the northwest (Frederick and Loudoun counties), a light snow accumulation of an inch or so can't be ruled out. Having said that, rain to snow situations often fail to materialize in our region unless there is a strong source of cold air. As we lack cold air and are dealing with an upper level system not as dynamic as the Commutageddon storm, snow prospects aren't great. But if the this feature turns out stronger and/or tracks a bit farther south, snow odds would increase.

Here's what Wes Junker - our winter weather expert - thinks:

This morning's NAM and GFS models continue to forecast a mostly rain event though they still suggest that the precipitation could start as a period of freezing rain north and west of the city. The last two runs of the GFS bring the upper center far enough south to tease snow lovers with the threat that the precipitation could end as a brief period of wet snow Saturday afternoon north and west of the city but temperatures still appear to be on warm enough for rain through most of the event.
The upper system strength and track is not in any way similar to last week's Commutageddon storm evolution. The relatively warm surface temperatures and light precipitation rates during the period when snow might occur suggests little or no accumulation potential.

Today's update on the Saturday storm is necessarily short as I produced and shot a video today which - by the way - you can watch for some additional analysis. And tomorrow, I'll post zone maps and more details.

Finally, there is some potential for a storm next week. Here are Wes' initial thoughts:

Sometime during the Tuesday through Thursday period continues to look like the next real threat for a winter storm. A number of GEFS ensemble members last night and this morning were predicting a storm sometime in that time range but they differed on the the timing and track of the potential storm. Some offer a snow track, some show a track that would miss us out to sea and some that are forecasting a a track that would bring a mix or mostly rain. Today's GFS is advertising a snowstorm next Thursday while its previous run and last night's European model had a suppressed solution with the low missing us to our south. Any of the multitude of solutions remain possible.

The latest European model now also simulates a storm Thursday into Friday of next week.

Stay tuned for much more...

By Jason Samenow  | February 3, 2011; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  Latest, Winter Storms  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Queensland, Australia slammed by cyclone
Next: PM Update: Cold, clouds increase Friday


Hopefully the anniversary will bring some luck to our area.

Posted by: bbirnbau | February 3, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

CWG .. With next weeks storm, is this one that you think tracks up the Appalachians (the more favored La Nina track) or does it stick to the coast ?? The European model went from back to back runs up the coast to up the Appalachians on the lastest run, which would bring rain. How much weight to you give this major swift in tracks ?

Posted by: pseaby | February 3, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Not that we don't see potential next week, but Bastardi up to his usual, premature hype. He tweeted:

"Headline of my blog on ACCUWEATHER.COM PRO: Is the real blizzard of the century coming next week?"

"Next week could be a much more dramatic meteorological event ( monster deepening) and further east. Much warmer week later"

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 3, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The event Friday night and Saturday could be significant.

Right now, there is an pretty good ice storm on a line from Lake Charles to Atlanta with temps down into the twenties in many places.

With a lot of clouds moving in, the Friday temps will probably not get quite as high as forecast.

With the event starting at night, roads relatively cold and low dewpoints, the precip will probably be something frozen. It wouldn't take a high volume of precip to mess up the roads, especially if it falls as sleet.

Also, there is a potent upper air disturbance coming thru on Saturday. While it probably doesn't have the moisture of our last snowstorm, it cetainly has the potential to drop a couple inches or so of snow in a short time when people are out and about doing their Saturday activities.

So, this will not necessarily be a completely trivial event. It still needs to be watched closely.

Posted by: frontieradjust | February 3, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

""Headline of my blog on ACCUWEATHER.COM PRO: Is the real blizzard of the century coming next week?"

"Next week could be a much more dramatic meteorological event ( monster deepening) and further east. Much warmer week later""

If what happened in the Midwest this week, and here last year, doesn't qualify as "the real blizzard of the century" (so far), then I shudder to think what does.

Posted by: mkarns | February 3, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

It's cold, it's February......something has gotta come thru for us flake freaks.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | February 3, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse


All solutions need to be on the table, but a perfect snow track up the coast (like the GFS) seems like a low probability because of La Nina pattern and lack of strong negative NAO.

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

What's the latest with blocking? Is it in place now and if so, is it forecast to go away?

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

My 2 cents worth on the "Storm of the Century" next week.

If this winter hasn't taught us anything is that one GFS run, no matter how exciting means very little a week out. In fact, any meteorologist already touting the "storm of the century" at that time range at least borders on irresponsible.

Again we are dealing with a complex situation, merging of two streams, etc. We've been down that road many times this winter.

Is it doable? Yes, if everything goes perfectly. At least we should have plenty of cold air to start, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Is it likely. Probably not, it's way too far out in time to do anything but hope if you are a snow lover.

Posted by: frontieradjust | February 3, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

My take on blocking.

While I haven't looked at any anomaly charts, I would say that the heights in the preferred area of Baffin Bay/Greenland are fairly neutral.

Posted by: frontieradjust | February 3, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Andy, our problem is the surface temperatures and the fact that we probably will be just south of the comma head. We'll be fighting downsloping as there is now 850 low closing off to supply us with the cold conveyor belt. I'd be excited if I live in parts of nJ and eastern PA as they are the ones that get the strong upward motion. Of course, I could be wrong, it's happened before.

pseaby, I agree with Jason and think the euro track may be more realistic than the GFS track because of the position of the ridge which stays a little farther west than is optimal. However, if a strong shortwave wee to push that ridge eastward, then our chances of getting a GFS like track would be better. The spaghetti diagrams from the ensembles suggest that some members to shift the ridge eastward so even though I think the euro is more likely, I could easily be wrong. There isn't much skill at such long time ranges so in reality, any of the ensemble solutions are still viable solutions.

Posted by: wjunker | February 3, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Regarding next week's snow, this time last year I got caught the last flight out of Reagan before they shut down the airport. I was stuck in Vegas for a week because of the snow; they kept delaying my flight until the next day. Ironically, I'm flying out west again next Thursday. Normally I want it to snow, except when it's not convenient for me (hey, I'm a washingtonian ;) ) I'm really hoping its not a major event snowwise.

Posted by: dcg35 | February 3, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

man, gotta love reading bastardi.

"blizzard of the century" is MUCH more fun to read than, "Today's GFS is advertising a snowstorm next Thursday while its previous run and last night's European model had a suppressed solution with the low missing us to our south. Any of the multitude of solutions remain possible."

much more fun...but much less believable.

jason, wes, et. al.,
i know i've asked this before and you CWG guys have been hesitant to answer, but...i'll try again. i understand this is a week away and you can't predict anything a week away and so forth. but if you had to put odds or percentages on us getting say 5" or more of snow next thurdsay, what would they be? .1%? 1%? 5%? 10%? i know the models have "no skill" this far out and all that, and you just called it "low probability", but how low? can you just take a SWAG?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 3, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Sterling discussion mentioned ignoring the 6z and 12z GFS runs for Saturday forecast since they are too cold for the pattern...

Personally, not giving up yet for Sat snow

Posted by: spgass1 | February 3, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Bastardi??? What an interesting name.. His report has my "SNOWHOPE" barometer rising.. YAYEEE!!!
A possibility for a "real" snow storm instead of a slurpee storm. May the SNOW GODS bless Mr. Bastardi..

Posted by: BELLASNOWQUEEN | February 3, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse


So I was at work all day and I was so busy I didn't get to check the weather once. Then, I get home and the 12z GFS is portraying A MIRACLE on Feb 11th!!!!! If it verified, 1 ft would DEFINITELY be within reach. Oh, and the cold air in place! It looks like a rain/ice/mixed bag event would be out of the question!

Although, knowing our luck, the 18z run probably won't be as exciting.

Oh, and I would also like to echo what Walter said about the probability of getting at least 5". My cutoff is 6". I consider anything under 6 to be simply a "nuisance" event and anything over 6 to be a major event. Then, I consider anything over 14 or 15 inches to be a "crippling" event.


mkarns, you said, ""Headline of my blog on ACCUWEATHER.COM PRO: Is the real blizzard of the century coming next week?"

hmmm...storm of the century? I think that may be a bit of a stretch. Even if it were all snow, we'd only see about a foot. I'm not sure how that could be called the storm of the century.


ANYWAY, regarding Saturday's event, I'm really not focusing on it. Nothing but a nuisance at most. I'll be focusing on late next week's storm for the time being.


spgass1, you said, "Personally, not giving up yet for Sat snow"

you're lucky since you live up in the mountains, you're chances of getting SNOW out of events like these are significantly higher.

Yesterday, you posted a link to your website, on which there were pictures of the storm that gave you ice and the rest of us rain. That's a good example of how being in the mountains can make all the difference.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | February 3, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The european ensemble mean is more suppressed than the operational and would be colder. I haven;t seen it;s individual members.

Posted by: wjunker | February 3, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse


Joe Bastardi is so much more fun to read. Unlike CWG he takes wild guesses at storms. Watch he will predict this storm of the century next week and you guys will all be mad that you didn't believe him this week.


"blizzard of the century" is MUCH more fun to read than, "Today's GFS is advertising a snowstorm next Thursday while its previous run and last night's European model had a suppressed solution with the low missing us to our south. Any of the multitude of solutions remain possible."

I so agree with you. Bastardi is the man and he is a great weather man.



Posted by: SNOWLUVER | February 3, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

you misunderstand me.

i'm saying reading bastardi is FUN, but NOT INFORMATIVE. in his world there's always a giant blizzard on the way... until the time actually gets here and by then he's moved on to the next giant blizzard threat. i think he's predicted at least 5 big storms for dc this year.

so, i don't think bastardi is "the man" and i don't think he's a great weatherman. he is great at getting people to read his blog, though... because it's so much fun...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 3, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"12-18 INCHES NEXT WEEK!!!!"

Thats gonna be ONE HECK OF A FLOOD :/

The only foot+ of snow we'll be seeing is on TV live from NEW ENGLAND!!!!!!

Posted by: KRUZ | February 3, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse


get ready to start plowing next week.




Posted by: SNOWLUVER | February 3, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

will you (or your parents...) pay us each $10 if there's less than 12"?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 3, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Walter. I'm looking forward to the easy $10 on this one. When was the last time Bastardi was even close? That's what I thought....

Posted by: TBAlexandria | February 3, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

When Bastardi talks about the storm of the century, I tell my kids to make sure and do all their homework next week :D

Hasn't he ever read about "The Boy Who Cried Wolf?"

Posted by: concepcion611 | February 3, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Noooo! I love snow and all, but my Girl Scout troop is supposed to go indoor lodge camping at GSCNC campsite in Maryland next weekend. Cold is okay. We're sleeping indoors with heat. This is "luxury" Girl Scout camping, but no snowstorms. Hate to have to cancel our trip.

Posted by: queen522 | February 3, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse


If anything I'll have to get out the life rafts and rescue senior citizens door to door due to the mass amount of flooding from the 12-18 would be inches of snow that will be rain!

Bastardi also said we'd see temps in the 70s by months end. Get the shorts and suntan lotion out ahahahahaha :/

Posted by: KRUZ | February 3, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

To you snow lovers though, Topper Shutt is on board for the coastal storm being snow thursday. Im glad they are on board with it this far out, so as we make it within 2 or 3 days of the storm it will be a no show! Or the BIG SNOW youve all been praying for that will collapse roofs and then afterward bring in the big warm up and spring!

I'll take the giant storm as long as it ushers in spring afterwards!!!!

Posted by: KRUZ | February 3, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 3, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

CWG, Thanks for the feedback ! You guys are class acts! Now, lets get that ridge just off the west coast pushed east a little fellas. I was stuck in my car during our last storm and couldnt enjoy it.

Posted by: pseaby | February 3, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

The RJNAM just came in. 9 inches next Thursday night into Friday. It should start as a wintry mix, changing over to snow.

Posted by: RJ16 | February 3, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: RJ16 | February 3, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Yessssssss. 18 inches. Bring it on!

Posted by: casa_wasabi | February 3, 2011 10:30 PM | Report abuse

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