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Messy Wintry Mix Approaches...

Josh Larson @ 4:34 PM


Today's forecast calls for mostly sunny skies to start with increasing clouds throughout the day. Expect very chilly highs only in the lower 30s in most locations with breezy conditions.

Then the Storm...

Instead of the usual 10-day outlook that I post, I will focus primarily on the winter storm potential for tonight through Friday morning. While model agreement with this storm is somewhat better than it was for Monday's event (which produced 2-4" over most of the immediate forecast area), there are still many lingering questions -- primarily related to precipitation type.

That being said, the details of the storm are coming into decent focus. We have an approaching trough of low pressure which will transfer its energy to a dynamic coastal low early on Friday. There is more moisture to work with than Monday's system. However, with a stronger system, a stronger easterly push of warm, moist air off the Atlantic is likely to heighten the chances for mixed precipitation -- even north of the Beltway.

Thus, while many outlets have emphasized the potential for high snow accumulations, forecasters believe much of the immediate DC area may see significant sleet and freezing rain mixed with the snow, which is likely to cut down on total snowfall accumulations considerably.

Image above: Snow falls upon the White House on Monday night; taken by photographer, Kevin Ambrose.

What to Expect in the Immediate DC Area:

  • Storm Impact:
  • Travelcast:
  • Schoolcast:
  • Light snow will likely develop prior to midnight tonight from west to east
  • As warmer air is pulled in from the southeast, snow will quickly changeover to a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain by around 4am.
  • By dawn, expect heavy sleet and freezing rain over much of the area (though mostly snow over the far NW suburbs)
  • By rushour, many roads will be extremely trecherous, if not even impassable, due to a thick coating (1-2)" of ice and snow
  • Moderate snow/sleet, gusty winds and lowered visibility will characterize the period 8am through early afternoon; an additional one to two inches is possible during this time.
Accumulation Information
  • The most likely accumulation will be 2-4"
  • Favored areas to the north and west (upper Montgomery, Frederick, Loudoun) may see amounts above 4" -- most of that snow
  • Much of the District and points immediately south and east may see a messy mix of 1-3"
  • Points far south and east of DC will see a mostly rain event, perhaps ending as a quick inch of wet snow
  • Accumulation probabilities:
    • 30 % chance of <2"
    • 50% chance of 2-4"
    • 20% chance of >4"

After the Storm Departs...

Friday afternoon will be very windy and clearing with highs in the mid 30s. Clear and very cold Friday night with lows from 20-25 in most locations with blustery conditions. Saturday and Sunday are likely to feature milder weather with highs in the low 40s and overnight lows ranging from the low 20s in the cooler suburbs to the upper 20s downtown. Expect similar conditions to hold for Monday, though temperatures may approach 45 degrees for highs. Then turning much cooler again for the middle of next week.

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