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Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Three possible storms: will any pack a punch?

By Jason Samenow

Arctic blast may follow parade of storms

Even if the winter of 2010-2011 hasn't delivered a knockout blow like Snowmageddon of a year ago, we've had plenty of action of track. The next six days present three opportunities for winter weather punches of varying force. In terms of snow, Saturday's potential is anemic, like a feather to your face, if even existent. Then a weather system Monday night could produce a lightweight hit. Thursday's snow punch - which may be followed by the fiercest Arctic blast of the season - could be the heavyweight. On the other hand, it's farthest away and could whiff or get washed out.

Let's take a closer look...

Tonight: Tonight, no snow is in the cards. That's a guarantee. Light rain is likely to develop mainly after midnight which could possibly fall as light freezing rain for a time from eastern Loudoun county to western Montgomery county and to the northwest. However, aside from a light glaze on untreated surfaces in those areas early in the morning (be careful walking if you're headed out early), no significant problems are anticipated.

Saturday: By 10 a.m., even the cold spots are above freezing so we're talking about light rain across the region. Patchy, intermittent light rain is the story for the rest of the day. The GFS model still wants to change the rain to snow briefly before ending early Saturday evening, but that would mainly be confined to the same areas that might get freezing rain Friday night: eastern Loudoun and western Montgomery counties and points northwest. If those spots get snow (30-40% chance), it would probably only be enough to whiten the ground as dry air is moving in as temperatures turn cold enough for snow. The NAM model keeps everybody rain until the precipitation cuts off between 5 and 8 p.m.

Upper level disturbance or "vorticity maximum" at 500 mb (about 18,000 feet) at 1 a.m. Monday night, Tuesday morning positioned east of Virgina Beach.

Monday night: The GFS and Canadian models show a fairly impressive upper level disturbance moving in from the south, passing to our southeast. Usually that's not a bad track for us to get snow. Two problems though: 1) the heaviest precipitation is simulated to our southeast. That's because after making its nearest approach, the disturbance heads out over the ocean rather than up the coast 2) Temperatures during the day on Monday are likely to warm well into the 40s so the precipitation probably starts as rain.

I asked Wes Junker, our winter weather expert for his thoughts on this system. He said: "There may be snow, but it's going to be hard to get accumulation."

This is one to watch - however. If everything comes together, some light accumulation isn't totally out of the question.

Thursday: This is the potential heavyweight event. Wes Junker says "All of the models agree that there will be a storm approaching the East Coast around Thursday but the devil is in the details and right now the models differ quite a bit on them."

Euro, GFS, and Canadian model position of low pressure Thursday morning and projected track. Source: StormVistaWxModels (left and middle panels) and Environment Canada.

He elaborated, walking through some of the latest computer models in the following technical discussion:

Last night's European model forecasts an inland track that would favor snow changing to rain but would have the bulk of the precipitation fall as snow. The GFS runs from last night took the low off the coast and would give the area a snowstorm. More of the various ensemble members are in the GFS camp than in the operational European (and the storm track in the European ensemble mean is also a little east of the Euro operational).
Now this morning's GFS has the storm missing us to the south. There are two factors that make me leery of the latest GFS track, the lack of an negative NAO (blocking in the north Atlantic) which would tend to favor a track closer to land or over it and the position of the jet stream ridge which is far enough west to allow a little more amplification (and hence inland track) than the GFS is simulating. If the northern stream were to dig a little more than forecast or dig a little more to the west than the current GFS is showing, then its track might shift westward (inland). The ridge position makes that a possibility.

The latest European model from this morning simulates a track that would favor all snow for the metro region - not quite inland and not out to sea. The Canadian model shows an inland rain track. There will be inevitable shifting in the models over the weekend, so stay tuned.

Arctic outbreak to follow Thursday storm: The models are fairly unified in suggesting frigid air will pour southeastward following Thursday's storm whether it's a hit or a miss. How cold is up in the air, but the National Weather Service Office in Sterling, gave an idea in its forecast discussion this morning:


We'll have more updates this weekend with additional discussion and analysis...

By Jason Samenow  | February 4, 2011; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Updates, Winter Storms  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Snowmageddon memories a trending topic
Next: Dallas gets pre- Super Bowl snow dump


As a snow and cold hater let me be the first to say...son of a (BEEP!)

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 4, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, Accu-blunder is anticipating snow Wed/Thurs, but it hasn't been updated for a while. I've learned that usually whatever Accuweather forecasts, its usually 180 out. I'll believe a significant snowfall when I see it.

Posted by: TBAlexandria | February 4, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Right now Wed/Thurs looks real good.

More time needs to pass

Posted by: bbirnbau | February 4, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm with rwalker66. I saw absolutely nothing appealing in that forecast. Snow, followed by possibly the coldest air of the season.

Blech. Spring can't get here soon enough.

44 more days. :)

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 4, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Long range forecasts on all of the big wx sites are model would be wise to look at them and consider what you see as a "potential" outcome for that day and continue. That said, the new Euro is to say the And very white and powdery. And cold. This solution is on the table and thats all that you need to consider until after the Super Bowl. Enjoy football and when you get back to work on Monday, just maybe you'll have a legit "Situation" (fist pump) to track.

Posted by: DullesARC | February 4, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

What I dislike about this is the snow chances are uncertain, but it seems the frigid temps are not. I'm a snowlover, but without snow, you can keep the cold.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | February 4, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

All right then, I will not yet put away the flannel lined jeans, the boot tray and the shovel.

I still owe lunch to the guy who shoveled the 3 inches of nasty frozen slush off my boat from the last storm. That stuff adds quite a bit of weight and can even push boats under. If I have to shovel the boat twice in one winter, even with help - ugh. I like the storms but lose patience with the aftermath.

Posted by: --sg | February 4, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

You know, I like the anticipation of getting snow – the play by play forecasts –but I don’t really want the snow. Weird, huh?

Posted by: ThinkWarm | February 4, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

ThinkWarm - hey the anticipation gets you through the winter, right? Before you know it - it will be spring.

Of course I'm hoping for one good snowstorm before then!

Posted by: nolagirl67 | February 4, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I like to see all the varying opinions on snow, cold air, and winter overall. Thanks for being a part of the community here--And yes indeed we will keep watching this and likely have at least one more update before the Super Bowl. The atmosphere is nice and tricky this winter, as compared to last year.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 4, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

It's like having some lottery know you probably won't win a thing but it is fun.
Hope the "euro" comes thru. Bring forth a "heavyweight"...does that mean possible double digit accumulations?
I'll take 20 inches of foof powder over 8 inches of "heavyweight" snow/slush like we had last week.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | February 4, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Nolagirl67 - I am desperate for Spring. I am soooooo over my Winter clothes. :o)

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

@Camden-CapitalWeatherGang. Can any of your crew, everyonce in a while, log into this piece and give us updates on the GFS, EURO and so forth? Instead of having to wait over and over again until the next udpate? I mean, we always come back either way, but it makes these blogs a lot more exciting when experts give us updates more than once every 16 hours. If that is possible, then cool. If not, then it's all good. Thanks guys! Looking forward to it.

@Everyone who can read the models. You guys should update too, you do a great job as well, and keeps the excitement going! Also, if you do comment, could you put the link to the maps so that we can see what you're refering too? That be awesome and very weatherly contructive.

Think snow, wintry mix, ice, freezing rain, hail, etc... no rain.

Posted by: RJ16 | February 4, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

If the Washington DC area does not see a significant snow event by PRESIDENTS DAY.. It would then be save to say, that us snow lovers, should just put down our shovels of false hope. Replace our dog like excitement for snow, with excitement for spring! However, I will not give up on "OPERATION SNOW HOPE"

Posted by: BELLASNOWQUEEN | February 4, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

If the Washington DC area does not see a significant snow event by PRESIDENTS DAY.. It would then be save to say, that us snow lovers, should just put down our shovels of false hope. Replace our dog like excitement for snow, with excitement for spring! However, I will not give up on "OPERATION SNOW HOPE"

Posted by: BELLASNOWQUEEN | February 4, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse


You know, we can still get decent snows through about mid-March ;)

Posted by: cubscapsfan | February 4, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Being totally honest, i would love one more good thump. I was in the dryer spot the last storm and it melted pretty quickly.

Posted by: lisajulia | February 4, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm originally from NC, and I can tell you that some of our biggest snows were in March. I haven't lived there in some time. However, here's some historical reference for you. My parents were married in 1960 in Winston-Salem. That March, it snowed every
Wed. One of those, Mar 9, still stands as the single heaviest 24 hour snowfall for the area.

Posted by: TBAlexandria | February 4, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm originally from NC, and I can tell you that some of our biggest snows were in March. I haven't lived there in some time. However, here's some historical reference for you. My parents were married in 1960 in Winston-Salem. That March, it snowed every
Wed. One of those, Mar 9, still stands as the single heaviest 24 hour snowfall for the area.

Posted by: TBAlexandria | February 4, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Re: March snow...yes, I remember at least one snow on my birthday (March 5) as a child. That time, must have been 1980 or '81, my grandparents had to cancel their flight to visit us here in Springfield because of snow on my bday. I was crushed.

Posted by: KEBV | February 4, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Ash Wednesday Storm March 5-6 1962 was a big one in DC. I was 9 years old and have some great photos that my parents took. Check at the information at this site:

Posted by: thinksnow | February 4, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

For those snow-starved folk, I might suggest a weekend drive to Loudoun County. Still plenty of snow cover out here in Ashburn.

As for March snows, Bellasnowqueens is on the right track with the President's Day assertion. On average, snowstorm possibilities remain thru President's Day, but then the window slowly starts closing until it slams shut for good around the Ides of March. Can it snow in March? Sure. It's happened in the past. But, it's not "likely" as it doesn't happen every year. Same goes for snow after March 15th. It's possible, but highly unlikely. For every year we can remember a year it did snow significantly in March, there are 10 more where it did not.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 4, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Sheesh - last year we were snowbound for my daughter's first birthday (2/11). I really hope we won't be snowbound for her 2nd! I love snow but it would be nice if we could celebrate her birthday with something other than a cupcake and candles (for light!).

Posted by: ashliew | February 4, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

All this talk of seasons reminds me of when I lived in Germany and we jokingly said there were only two seasons: ski season and beer fest season. I cycle so for me there was also bicycling season.

Seriously, I participate in this blog because I miss how many in Europe mark the passing of the seasons and make the best of the weather they have in each season. Nothing beats "burning old man winter" at the summer solstice on top of a mountain, drinking beer, and watching over 50+ climbers on all the peaks around you light their torches at the same time.

But I'm definitely rooting for snow next week!

Posted by: biketraveller22 | February 4, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

@biketraveller22, re: two seasons in Germany. I have heard mention that in Chicago (and probably elsewhere) that the two seasons are: road work and no road work.

Looking forward to tracking the late week storm with everyone. I only like Spring for the start of the local horse shows; otherwise it's way too damp for me. Fall is my preferred one :-) Cheers.

Posted by: kygurl94 | February 4, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

In the words of Al Sleet The Hippy-Dippy Weatherman (AKA George Carlin): "If you don't like the weather ... MOVE!"

Posted by: CubsFan | February 4, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Kairos123 | February 4, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

The 18z GFS is out and gives us NADA for next week's storm - - not even a little bit of snow. I'm starting to get worried.

Posted by: BobMiller2 | February 4, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

the 18Z gfs is even flatter than the 12Z and has an out to sea solution. I'm not sure what that means but the euro ensemble mean was also quite a bit flatter than the operational euro.

Posted by: wjunker | February 4, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Both Bob Ryan and Jim Cantore have been tweeting about the NAO going positive and "forecast" to go back neutral. Posses the ?, is spring right around the corner?....

Cantore tweeted the storm for next week looking not as robust... Also questioning if the pattern change is coming soon....

Then Joe Bastardi tweeted big flip after next weeks cold and storminess still on!

So snow or no snow next week, one thing sounds certain. SPRING WILL FOLLOW SHORTLY AFTER!!!!!! Hope you snow lovers get your snow next week, then I hope its onto spring time weather with above normal temps FINALLY!

Do your snow dance, this may be your last chance until next winter... heres hoping!

Posted by: KRUZ | February 4, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

@ BobMiller2: The storm you're starting to get worried about is almost a week away, right? Relax and let the models do their usual dance. I'm not going to start worrying until early next week (I say confidently...).

Posted by: petworthlad | February 4, 2011 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I shouted "mercy" several days ago, but the arctic air hasn't stopped. Statistics aside, this seems to me to be the most unrelentingly cold winter I can recall. The temperatures haven't been that extreme, just persistently-uncomfortably cold without a break. The three or four days it approached 50 for an hour or two just don't count as "pleasant."

In grade school I always looked forward to the week in January when classes shut down for "energy savings week" because it always seemed to coincide with highs in the 60's. No spring preview this year, but I suspect the pattern we're in is about to change. Love the snow, but we've had highs at or above 90 in March too you know.... looking forward to returning to ice in cube form only.

Posted by: manatt | February 4, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

The next time my power goes out from a storm, I'm going to get out my camping equipment and have me some roast groundhog. "Spring is right around the corner!!!", indeed.

Phil, are you listening???? Be afraid, be VERY afraid. . .

Posted by: RickyGibson | February 4, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I am making a prediction right now for next thursday's storm. I'm calling 17 INCHES of light powdery snow. You heard it from SNOWLUVER here first. When we get 17 inches next week say thank you to me.

Posted by: SNOWLUVER | February 4, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Only 9 degrees for a low next Thursday with a 35 degree high? Is that a typo or is the arctic air really going to drop the temperature that much and that quickly?

The Weather Channel says high of 35 that day and low of 19, with snow (apparently they have a lot of faith in the Euro, for now.)

Posted by: mkarns | February 4, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Any new updates on Whatever MODEL? If this storm does not come through I'll be pssd.

Posted by: Weather_Fan_Damascus | February 4, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Any new updates on Whatever MODEL? If this storm does not come through I'll be pssd.

Posted by: Weather_Fan_Damascus | February 4, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

It seems this year that for snow lovers, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong (with one exception).

Both the longer range European and GFS are getting it downright balmy by Valentine's Day. Of course that can flip on a dime, as we all know too well.

The problem now appears to be that all our nice high latitude blocks have disappeared.

Maybe the blocking will return by March, but probably too little too late.

Posted by: frontieradjust | February 4, 2011 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I am not asking for any CWG input, because it's so far off, but I really would love for an all rain situation. I'm looking to take 95 south out of DC to North Carolina Thursday night at 6:00PM and snow would seriously throw a wrench in those plans.

Posted by: HokieTerp | February 4, 2011 9:25 PM | Report abuse

CWG, are you guys at the bar or something? If you are, who ever is the drunkest please give us an experts update!

Posted by: Weather_Fan_Damascus | February 4, 2011 10:40 PM | Report abuse

They won't ever do that. They are pros.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | February 4, 2011 11:39 PM | Report abuse

They've done it before at the bar. Playing pool. Get your facts straight. Where is my snow!

Posted by: Weather_Fan_Damascus | February 4, 2011 11:50 PM | Report abuse

so the 0z gfs brought the thursday storm back a tiny bit. we get 1"-2.5"...

i guess that's better than the 0" shown in the last 2 runs.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 5, 2011 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Who the heck wants to see more snow? How can anyone want any more cold weather. Certainly you dont have to commute in it or pay heating bills or shovel your sidewalk and driveway. If you want snow, go to upstate NY.

Posted by: keirreva | February 5, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

AccuWx's Joe Bastardi is hyping a major warm-up after the two potential storms and Arctic outbreak, with temps hitting 80F. in Dallas and likely 70F. in D.C. during the week of February 13-20.

Posted by: snowbird25 | February 5, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

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