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10-DAY OUTLOOK: Cold to continue...

Josh Larson @ 2:00 AM

Today's weather:
Today will feature continued very cold weather for March, with highs only in the upper 30's under varying amounts of clouds and sun. However, with a continued blustery Northwest wind from 10-20mph, wind chills may be in the 20's at times -- so bundle up! Continued very cold tonight, with lows dropping to the upper teens in the suburbs and the low 20's in town.

10-Day Outlook:
The past 10 days have featured significantly below-average temperatures and two accumulating snow events! It kind of seems like winter has arrived late and is not yet ready to leave. A look at today's temperatures -- in the upper 30's for highs, and near 20 for lows -- shows just how far off from normal we are now. Note that the average high/low for today is 51/34, so we're some 10-15 degrees below normal.

For those of you craving spring, I have some bad news: It looks like the next 10 days will continue to feature below normal (at times, well below normal) temperatures. The Arctic Oscillation, which helps supply cold air to the Northeast via Canada, is off-the-charts "negative" at the moment. In simplified terms, this essentially means that a significant pool of very cold air is "available" over eastern North America. In addition, long term models are in very good agreement that a strong trough will remain draped over the eastern United States much of the next 10 days. This is a "high amplitude" pattern, and you can see one model's depiction of this at right. The NWS' Climate Prediction Center believes there is a high probability of below normal temperatures for our area over the next 6-10 as well as 8-14 days.

The average high/low over the next 10 days for DCA is 53/35. However, I expect that temperatures during this period will average closer to 44/29 -- which is, climatologically, more like the average temperatures in late January or early February. After today's very cold readings, however, temperatures will moderate somewhat. I expect temperatures Friday through Sunday through be in the low to mid 40's for highs, and near 30 for lows. Weather should by and large be dry during this time, but a weak, fast-moving clipper system may bring some flurries or light rain to the area Saturday night. No accumulation is expected.

By Monday, the flow aloft will begin to change a bit from northwest or west to the southwest. The result is that somewhat milder air should enter our region. As such, the mildest few days of the next 10 look to be Monday through Wednesday, when high temperatures will likely be in the mid to upper 40's, with lows in the 30's; note that even these temperatures are still below average.

Though model guidance is somewhat divergent, there are several indications that another blast of cold air is probable by the second half of next week (i.e., sometime after Wednesday.) I would give a 66% chance to temperatures turning colder, perhaps significantly so, by Thursday, probably back to the low 40's for highs and the low to mid 20's for lows -- well below average. There are also some suggestions that along with, or just after, this cold blast, a significant East Coast storm may be in the offing. However, as this is about a week away, details are very hazy; at this point, this storm is very much a guess, not a forecast. I would put a 40% chance of a major East Coast storm by late next week, with a low, 10-20% chance of snow for the DC area. Winter is just not going away, however....

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