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Cold Snap Begins

Jason Samenow @ 10:01 AM

What will likely be the coldest stretch of this winter begins today. This cold snap will be characterized by cold, dry and windy conditions -- and in character with this particular winter, little snow.


Forecast Confidence: HighBreezy and cold. Cold air in the wake of the front that passed through yesterday will trickle in today. Despite mostly sunny skies, high temperatures will only be in the low to mid 30s with westerly winds 10-20 mph. Overnight, a re-inforcing shot of cold air moves in. It will remain windy and turn very cold, with lows from the high teens (suburbs) to low 20s (city). Wind chills will be near 10.


Forecast Confidence: HighGripping cold, windy. A very cold and dry airmass will settle in. Expect mostly sunny skies and windy conditions, with highs 26-30. Northwest winds of 20-25mph will make it feel like it's only in the teens all afternoon.

Strange Stat

In 10 out of the last 16 days, Reagan National Airport has received at least a trace of snow according to the National Weather Service's preliminary climate report. You would think we'd be buried knee deep in snow. The problem is that in 9 of those 10 days, a trace is all that fell. The frequent flurries but lack of measurable snow is a reflection of the overall pattern in which our weather is mostly coming from the west. To get measurable snow, we need a southerly storm track -- elusive this winter thus far.

Thurday/Friday Post Mortem - Bust or Not?

In our comments area, some visitors suggested our forecast was a bust while others indicated we did a good job. I think it was probably a combination of both.

What we did well:
  • Identified the possibility of a relatively low impact (1.5 or 2 snow flake impact) storm four days in advance and consistently sticking with our assessment that this would not be a significant snowstorm.
  • Correctly conveyed that the storm had a high bust potential by indicating low confidence in the forecast and that there was a 25% chance little or no snow would fall.
  • Our forecast of less than 1" of snow/ice verified for the southern and eastern parts of the region.
What we did not do so well:
  • Forecasted 1-2" of snow for the northern and western part of the area. As far as I know, no one received 1" of snow from this event.
  • Disregarded a model (NAM/WRF) which correctly and consistently suggested the storm would be suppressed and thus, would give the area little snow. It was at odds with most other models, but turned out to be most correct.
All in all, we had mixed results with this difficult to forecast storm. Hopefully, the next event will be more clear cut and for the sake of snow lovers, a little more gratifying.

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