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10-Day Outlook: Rollercoaster Weather!

Josh Larson @ 12:00 PM

Today's Forecast

We'll serve up abnormally warm temperatures for the second day in a row today. Expect the proverbial mercury to reach 60-65 -- a departure of 15+ degrees from our normal high -- under abundant sunshine. Partly cloudy tonight with mild temperatures in the mid to upper 40s in most spots.

Pattern Overview

Befitting the often volatile weather we frequently experience in Washington, DC in late winter, after a week of below normal temperatures and a major snowfall, we're now seeing "blowtorch warmth" as the atmosphere adjusts itself to more southwesterly flow aloft over the eastern US. The 50s (and even 60s) we'll see today and tomorrow, however, will vanish in a hurry as a very strong cold front comes barreling through Friday afternoon.

By Saturday, the weather map will feature some semblance of a broad trough stationed over the entire northern third of the nation with frigid low-level cold air pressing down from the north to our neck of the woods -- see 850mb chart above. Thereafter, we have the potential for up to two (light) precipitation events from the period Saturday through next Wednesday. Models suggest that during this period low-level cold air to our north may clash with weak waves of low pressure to our south, which may bring a few flakes to parts of the area. (See Snow Lover's Crystal Ball below.)

As such, after the next two days' warmth, we're going to get very cold in a hurry, with high temperatures ranging from the upper 20s to mid 30s Saturday through Monday -- some 15 degrees below normal -- with frigid overnight lows in the teens, or colder, areawide. Thereafter, the cold will moderate somewhat, but it appears that we'll hold onto below normal temperatures through at least the end of the work week.

In addition, new evidence -- especially from of the magnitude and extent of cold air over Canada, as well as the forecast behavior of the NAO -- suggests that below normal temperatures (and chances for more snow) may continue through the end of month and perhaps even into early March.

The next 5 days (Feb 16-20)

Forecast highs/lows: 45/29 (normal = 47/30)
Forecast precip: near normal

Friday will feature partly sunny skies to start the day, with temperatures quickly climbing to near 60 in most locations once again. The afternoon, however, will feature very gusty winds 20-50mph with a line of sprinkles or isolated showers as temperatures drop some 15-20 degrees in a matter of hours in the cold front's wake. By sunset, temperatures will be in the mid 30s; a continued blustery evening will give way to overnight lows in the mid 20s. Saturday will feature dramatically different weather, with partly sunny skies, blustery conditions, and a stray snow shower (especially south of town); very cold highs will only reach the mid 30s (though windchills will remain in the 20s), with frigid overnight lows expected near 10 across the cooler suburbs to the upper teens downtown.

Sunday will be one of the coldest days of the entire winter, under partly sunny skies. Highs will range from the upper 20s to lower 30s! Bitter cold once again Sunday night, with lows ranging from 10-20 degrees in most spots. Monday will feature partly to mostly cloudy skies with a slight chance for some light snow; highs will top out in the mid to upper 30s, with overnight lows in the upper 20s.

The next 5 days (Feb 21-25)

Forecast highs/lows: 44/28 (normal = 49/31)
Forecast precip: near normal

The forecast for the following five days is a little less certain, due mostly to the projected low amplitude atmospheric pattern; as a result, individual waves of weak low pressure will be difficult to track and time. Case in point: a slight chance of some lingering flurries on Tuesday as a little weak energy may linger around the area; warmer highs, though, near 40, with overnight lows in the mid 20s. Wednesday and Thursday appear to be dry and seasonably cool, with highs from 40-45 and overnight lows from 25-30. Some models indicate that a stronger area of low pressure may try to form during the Friday through Saturday period, perhaps bringing a chance for rain or snow for our area. Expect temperatures to remain near 40-45 for highs with overnight lows near 30.

Snow Lover's Crystal Ball

Next Chance of Accumulating Snow: Monday, February 20
Probability: 25%
Potential Impact:

Commentary: Some models hint at the potential for an overrunning-type precipitation event as a weak wave of low pressure interacts with low-level cold air late Sunday into Monday. Thus, we have a chance for light precipitation in the form of snow, sleet, or freezing rain on Monday. This does not appear to be a major event at this point.

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