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This Time We Mean It, Really

Dan Stillman @ 1:15 AM

***11 a.m. update: 4 or more inches of snow is possible starting tomorrow morning and tapering off by midnight. See below for further discussion, and stay tuned for a accumulation map. A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for the entire metro area.***

So far, the winter of 2004-05 has been one big tease -- and local weather forecasters are as much to blame as Mother Nature. The events of this past weekend might have been the most disappointing of the season. Predictions of as much as 2-4 inches of snow yielded nothing but a few rain showers.

With this blown forecast fresh in the minds of Washingtonians, it would be hard to blame anyone for doubting predictions of snow for tomorrow into early Friday. But this one really does look promising. Really. I mean it. Don't give me that face.

Let's get straight to the forecast, as we currently see it at here at

Overall Storm Assessment

Storm Impact

Travelcast (Thurs. and Fri.)

Schoolcast (Thurs. and Fri.)

Where's The Storm Now?

The storm is currently organizing and gaining strength in the Southern Plains. It will begin heading north and east today while we experience partly sunny skies and high temperatures in the mid-40s. Expect increasing clouds this evening, with precipitation reaching the D.C. area by tomorrow morning ... let's say in the 8-10 a.m. range. The question that remains to be answered is how much of a northward turn up the coast the storm will take versus heading in a more eastward direction out to sea. Temperature-wise, it looks like it will be cold enough to make this a snow event for the D.C. area, with temps near 30 throughout the day.

Weekend Storms Mean Weekend Forecasters

A few weeks ago I examined whether the tendency for snow to occur on weekends more than weekdays was reality or myth. What I didn't address is what I think is an interesting consequence of weekend storms -- they have to be predicted by weekend forecasters. Washington is graced with arguably one of the best groups of TV chief meteorologists in the country -- Channel 4's Bob Ryan, Channel 5's Sue Palka, Channel 7's Doug Hill and Channel 9's Topper Shutt. But some of the second-stringers could use a shot of Jose Canseco's juice to bulk up their forecasting prowess.

I've found that some of the the back-up prognosticators (and there are notable exceptions) tend to be more deterministic in their forecasts than the starters. If all of the lead forecasters had been on duty this past Saturday, I think you would've heard more skepticism (similar to that expressed here at about the storm that turned out to be no storm at all. Check out the end of Jason's post from Sunday for a look back at what local TV forecasters were predicting, and his post from Monday for an evaluation of the various forecasts, including ours.

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