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From 85 to Snow?

Dan Stillman @ 1:10 AM

Gone with the wind are the balmy 70s and 80s from earlier in the week and this past weekend. In their place are high temperatures in the 50s -- soon to be 40s -- and a chance of snow, minimal as it may be. So get ready to stay indoors and maybe catch a movie, watch March Madness or grab a St. Patty's Day drink.

Today and Tomorrow

Today: Dress for a cold and windy morning, with wake-up temps in the upper 30s and wind chills at or slightly below the freezing mark. For the afternoon, sunny skies and high temps in the low 50s doesn't sound too bad, until you factor in the wind. Much like yesterday, look out for an annoyingly persistent wind at 20-25 mph, with higher gusts. Tonight: Mostly clear, cold and continued breezy. Lows around 30 in town, mid 20s in the 'burbs. Tomorrow: Breezy in the morning, then diminishing winds in the afternoon. Highs once again in the low 50s under partly cloudy skies.

Tomorrow Night and Friday Morning

A tricky forecast as low pressure tracks at us from the west and temperatures drop to around freezing. In the District, and to the south and east, I think any precip that materializes would be a mixture of rain and snow, but would have minimal impact with temperatures staying at or just above freezing. However, areas immediately north and west of town could see temps drop to freezing or slightly below, and thus have a chance -- I'd say 20 percent -- of seeing a dusting of snow between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. Areas further north and west, including west of Dulles, north of Rockville and heading up toward Baltimore, have a better chance of seeing a dusting to half an inch.

Note: This is a low-confidence forecast, but is reminiscent of previous events where just a little bit of frozen precipitation at exactly the wrong time has caused problems for the morning rush. In general, though, wherever snow does fall it is likely to accumulate more so on grassy areas than on road surfaces.

The Rest of Friday and the Weekend

Friday: Precipitation departs in the morning, leaving the remainder of St. Patrick's Day mostly cloudy, breezy and cold with highs only reaching the low 40s. The Weekend: Sunny, but still cold and still breezy. Highs only in the mid 40s. Ugh. Probably wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't been teased with 70s the weekend before.

Screening the Environment

The weather might not be ideal for frolicking outside, but at least it's perfect for catching an indoor flick. The 14th annual Environmental Film Festival gets underway in the D.C. area tomorrow and lasts through March 26. A complete listing of the 100 movies on tap is available here. Below are several that seem to have a connection with weather or Washington, or just happened to catch my eye:

Outside the Classroom: Science Education in the Environment
The film focuses on innovative environmental education through the example of Discovery Creek Children's Museum of Washington, D.C. (Friday, Noon, National Museum of Natural History, Free)
Running time: 15 min.
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The Anacostia -- Restoring the People's River
Once rated the most polluted in the Chesapeake Bay area, Washington, D.C.'s Anacostia River has recently emerged from a long period of environmental degradation. (Friday, Noon, National Museum of Natural History, Free; March 25, 11 a.m., Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture, Free)
Running time: 40 min.
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March of the Penguins
Antarctica's most resilient creature, the three-foot-high Emperor Penguin, finds a way to give birth and raise its young in the harshest climate on Earth. (Sunday and March 26, 11:30 a.m., National Gallery of Art, Free)
Running time: 80 min.
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Brood X: Year of the Cicada
The mind-boggling 2004 emergence of the periodic cicada is captured with humor and wit in this documentary. (Monday, Noon, Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, Free)
Running time: 72 min.
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EnvironMentors Investigators
A unique and compelling youth perspective on environmental issues of concern in Washington, D.C. is provided by this student-made video. (March 23, Noon, Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, Free)
Running time: 15 min.
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Two Winters: Tales From Above the Earth
The Tutchone people of the Yukon tell of the year when winter lasted almost two years, when in the early 1800s a volcanic eruption in Indonesia darkened skies around the world. (March 24, 6:30 p.m. and March 25, 3 p.m., National Museum of the American Indian, Free)
Running time: 27 min.
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Home Game
A film about the hardest, most common fight of all -- the universal struggle to get up in the morning. (Saturday, 3:45 p.m., National Museum of Natural History, Free)
Running time: 10 min.
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Image courtesy

Snow Lover's Crystal Ball

Next Chance of Accumulating Snow: Tomorrow Night-Friday Morning
Probability: 15%
Potential Impact:

Commentary: An overnight arrival of low pressure together with near-freezing temperatures could give us a little bit of snow (probably a dusting at most) in time for the Friday morning rush. Areas north and west of town have the best chance of being cold enough for snow to stick. See forecast near the top of this post for more details.

A larger and potentially stronger system arriving from the southwest could impact us early next week, in the late Monday through Wednesday time frame. At this early stage I'd call it a 10% chance of seeing accumulating snow. As Matt mentioned in yesterday's Crystal Ball, climatology argues strongly for a rain or wet snow event that mainly impacts the far north and west suburbs and the mountains.

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