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10-Day Outlook: Cool and Dry...

Josh Larson @ 9:00 AM

Today's Forecast

Today's forecast calls for a blend of clouds and sun with chilly high temperatures in the upper 40s to lower 50s in most spots. Though a NW breeze of 10-15mph will linger, it won't feel as bitter as yesterday due to milder temperatures. Expect mostly clear conditions tonight with lows ranging from 30-35.

Pattern Overview

We can say with relatively high confidence that generally cool and dry weather will persist for the remainder of the month, even into the start of April. Temperatures over the next five days will average about 5-7 degrees below normal (similar to the temperature departures over the previous five days); temperatures over the following five days will likely range from 3-6 degrees below normal.

The atmospheric factors favoring cool, dry weather over the next 10 days are the same ones that have dominated much of the weather so far this month: that is, continued blocking over southeastern Canada tends to lock anomalously cold air over the eastern US, due to strong northwesterly flow aloft, and to suppress the storm track well to the south of its usual position. This displaced storm track is the primary reason why this March has been so extraordinarily dry -- only 0.04" of precipitation has been recorded at DCA so far this month.

Indeed, the US Drought Monitor (at right) shows that the entire region is experiencing "abnormally dry" conditions, while much of southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina is experiencing "moderate drought" conditions. It appears that through at least the first week of April, drier than normal conditions will persist. How about thereafter? While it is difficult to assess with much confidence, climate modeling suggests that if our current weak La Nina conditions persist, continued drier than normal conditions may linger over the Mid-Atlantic thoughout the spring.

The next 5 days (Mar 23-27)

Forecast highs/lows: 52/35 (normal = 59/40)
Forecast precip: below normal

The next five days will feature a continuation of generally cooler than normal and dry weather. After today's highs in the low to mid 50s, Friday will feature slightly cloudier conditions, with high temperatures near 50, and overnight lows in the low to mid 30s. Saturday will again feature mostly cloudy skies, with cool highs near 50. As some upper-level energy rotates through, a few stray showers cannot be ruled out, especially during the afternoon or evening; many spots will likely remain dry, however. Sunday should feature improving conditions, with more in the way of sunshine and temperatures near 52/35 for highs/lows. Monday looks to be a very nice day, with abundant sunshine and temperatures approaching "normal" levels, with highs in the mid to upper 50s and overnight lows holding in the 30s.

The following 5 days (Mar 28 - Apr 1)

Forecast highs/lows: 55/38 (normal = 61/41)
Forecast precip: below normal

Atmospheric conditions over the following five days will probably continue to keep cool, relatively dry weather over our region. In fact, guidance suggests a very straightforward forecast for much of the period next Tuesday through Saturday: ample sunshine, with daytime highs in the low to mid 50s, and overnight lows in the mid to upper 30s. Unfortunately for agriculture and the growing things' sake, no major areas of low pressure are expected to bring precipitation to the region during this time; however, weak waves of low pressure, which cannot be accurately forecast at this time, might bring a bout of showers at some point during the week.

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