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10-Day Outlook: Whether Wilma or Winter?

Josh Larson @ 9:30 AM

Today's Weather

**Note: Catch's own Dan Stillman on MSNBC's "Connected Coast to Coast" today between 12-12:30pm. He will be talking about this year's blockbuster hurricane season as well as about Hurricane Wilma; be sure to tune in!**

Today will feature some sunshine to start, but clouds will increase as the day wears on; expect cooler highs than yesterday -- in the mid 60s in most spots. Under overcast skies tonight, temperatures will range from the mid 40s in the cooler spots to the lower 50s downtown; widely scattered showers may develop after midnight, especially over the western suburbs.

-->Hurricane Wilma Update <--

Hurricane Wilma rapidly strengthened yesterday to become the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin with a minimum central pressure of 882mb and sustained winds topping 175mph at one point. Unfortunately, there is still significant model disagreement regarding exactly how Wilma will behave over the next few days.

A look at the most recent model runs suggests that Wilma should skirt (dawdle over?) the coast of the Yucatan before making a turn to the right and making landfall over southern Florida sometime on Sunday or Monday, most likely as a Cat 2 or 3 Hurricane. Thereafter, her behavior is even more up in the air -- no pun intended -- but there appears to be two very different scenarios which may unfold:

--> (1) [less likely] some models suggest that she will interact with jet energy from the trough building into the Northeast and will be pulled up the eastern Seaboard -- close to the coast -- which could bring heavy rain and high winds to the mid-Atlantic region Monday into Wednesday, with the potential for catastrophic flooding and wind damage especially for coastal New England.

--> (2) [more likely] some models believe that the timing will not be quite right between the two systems; the remnants of Wilma will stay far enough offshore to limit impacts (perhaps other than wind) for the DC Metro area. Stay tuned to for updates on this evolving situation.

Pattern Overview: Wild Weather

As the atmosphere fights between its own summer, fall, and winter impulses, it's not surprising that we'll see a very active, energized weather pattern over the next 10 days -- though the next 5, in particular, will be especially busy. Apart from the potential impact from Wilma, the main weather-maker affecting our area will be a strong cold front and associated very deep (amplified) through which will build into the Great Lakes, Northeast, and mid-Atlantic over the next 5 days. This feature is likely to bring wet weather to our area Friday into this weekend and much below normal temperatures to our area starting Friday as well.

The next 5 days (Oct 20-24)
Forecast high/low: 60/46 (normal = 66/47)
Forecast precip: above normal

After yesterday's highs in the upper 70s and today's highs in the mid 60s, Friday will be a damp and raw day with periodic showers and very chilly highs only in the mid 50s under dense overcast skies. The rain will be the result of an approaching cold front and associated area of low pressure. Saturday looks like a washout, with breezy conditions and moderate to occasionally heavy rain delivering an inch or more to many locations; expect very cool, nearly steady, temperatures near 56/51. Sunday's forecast is a tough one, but I'll call for mostly cloudy skies with a 30% of scattered showers, especially in the morning. Temperatures, too, are also a tough call, but I think they'll be close to 65/48. Monday looks to feature partly to mostly sunny skies with a blustery wind and quite chilly temperatures -- near 60 for highs, with overnight lows in the 40-45.

The following 5 days (Oct 25-29)
Forecast high/low: 61/40 (normal = 64/46)
Forecast precip: near normal?

Wilma, Wilma, Wilma...what are we to do with you? Aforementioned model divergence makes the forecast for next Tuesday through Thursday a somewhat low confidence one since the remnants of Wilma might or might not blast up the eastern seaboard during this period. This particular prognosticator believes that it is much more likely that the trough will build into the Northeast too quickly, and Wilma will dawdle in the Gulf too long, for there to be any direct interaction between the two systems, and, therefore, that any impacts will be quite limited for our area. I believe that most, if not all, rainfall will stay offshore of the mid-Atlantic region during Tuesday and Wednesday, though windy conditions (20-40mph) are possible during this time.

If Wilma's remnants stay far enough offshore, as I believe they will, then Tuesday through Thursday will feature partly to mostly sunny skies, very blustery winds, and unseasonably cool weather, along with wind chills. Daytime highs with this scenario will likely range from the mid 50s across the cooler suburbs to the lower 60s downtown; overnight lows might range from the mid 30s across the coolest suburbs to near 40 downtown. I believe that there is a slight chance that our north and west suburbs may see widely scattered frost during this time. Very chilly weather looks to continue Friday and Saturday will low chances for precipitation; high temperatures both days will be near 60, with lows in the mid 30s to lower 40s.

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