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Posted at 08:15 AM ET, 03/06/2013

D.C. area forecast: Snowquester to strike with heavy snow; one of March’s biggest?

* Winter storm warning for entire area through 3 a.m. Thursday *

Useful links: How Snowquester got its name | Storm talking points | Thundersnow? | The structure of a snowflake | The past as a predictor | March snowstorm history

8:15 a.m. Update: Snowquester is just about to get very, very interesting. Heavier snow is moving in and temperatures will drop. One neat place to follow the action is our Weather Wall, which features radar, temperatures, satellite, a D.C. webcam and weather map all on one page. Check it out. We’ll be starting a new post in the next 30 minutes, so keep an eye on our main page at www.capitalweathergang.com

7:40 a.m. Update: While we wait for snow to pick up (heavier precipitation now moving toward D.C. and surroundings from the east ), here are some snow totals from the first round earlier this morning... From NWS: St. Charles (1.5”), Frederick (3.5”), Columbia (1.6”), Rockville (1.1”), Staunton (8”), Culpeper (5.8”); From Facebook, Twitter and other reports: Herndon (1-1.5”), Ellicott City (2”), Spotsy (3.5”), Leesburg (up to 6”), Falls Church (3”), Staunton (8”), near Winchester (6-7”), up to 8” around Charlottesville.


(Weather Underground radar at 6:45 a.m.)
7:05 a.m. Update: Radar at 6:45 a.m. shows only very light precipitation across much of the close-in D.C. metro area. I even hear birds chirping outside. What’s going on? The answer is this storm’s initial low pressure over the Midwest is phasing out while a new and stronger one over North Carolina is still getting its act together. This second low is, and always has been, “our” storm. Radar should light up over next 1-2 hours.

6:40 a.m. Update: For those just waking up and getting online, welcome. Snowquester is off to a slow start, but not unexpectedly slow. The storm is strengthening overhead as we speak. Light to moderate snow/rain/sleet now should become moderatre to heavy snow for most over the next 2-3 hours, helping to cool the ground closer to freezing and support more stickage. See our full forecast guide to Snowquester below.


(College of DuPage)
6:10 a.m. Update: Not much sticking at least to roads yet. That’s because snow has been relatively light and temps around town are ~34-36 F. The colorful mess in the picture is a model forecast showing intense vertical motions over the area (D.C. is near the center of the image if you look closely) at 7 a.m. It’s these vertical motions that will bring colder air down from above and begin to produce heavy, accumulating snow. When precipitation is lighter, however, we may see rain and sleet mixing in (mainly from D.C./I-95 east).

5:40 a.m. Update: NWS discussion from earlier this morning explains what’s happening above as Snowquester strengthens:

THE TRANSITION BETWEEN PHASES OF THIS INTENSE AND IMPACTFUL INCOMING SNOWSTORM IS FULLY UNDERWAY. THE INITIAL SFC LOW THAT DROPPED DOWNFROM THE NRN PLAINS INTO THE UPPER MIDWEST IS ABOUT TO BE PHASED-OUT. THE NEWER AND STRONGER LOW CURRENTLY OVER THE RALEIGH NC AREA WILL CREATE A SNOWY AND HAZARDOUS WEDNESDAY FOR MUCH OF THEMID-ATLC. THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS WILL BE THE CRITICAL TRANSITION PERIOD AS THIS LOW INTENSIFIES AND ROTATES DUE NE TOWARD THE LOWER TIP OF THE DELMARVA PENINSULA AND DEVELOPS HEAVY SNOW BAND ACROSS THE NWRN QUADRANT OF THE LOW DURING THE DAYTIME HRS

Here’s more of that NWS speak, if you like that sort of thing.

5 a.m. Update: We have reports this morning ranging from bare ground in downtown D.C. and Old Town Alexandria, to about an inch on grass in upper Northwest D.C. and much of the north and west suburbs. Roads are mainly just wet for now in the immediate metro area. That should change as snow intensity increases the next few hours (more on that in next update). When precipitation is light, however, it may mix with rain or sleet.

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Snow, heavy at times, mixed with rain/sleet east. Windy. Low-to-mid 30s. | Tonight: Snow tapers, windy. Near 30 to low 30s. | Tomorrow: Cold and windy. Near 40 to low 40s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail

TODAY'S DAILY DIGIT

A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10


Snow day and snow play for many kids trumps the inconvenience factor and need to shovel. Get the Digit on Twitter | Discuss on Facebook

SNOW POTENTIAL INDEX

A daily assessment of the potential for *accumulating* snow for the next week on a 0-10 scale. More info


SPI: 10+ (↑) - Today’s snow accumulations vary greatly, but most everyone should need a shovel. Get the SPI on Twitter | Discuss on Facebook

FORECAST IN DETAIL


From 50 degrees yesterday, to our biggest snowstorm in more than two years today, and back into the 50s this weeekend. That’s March for ya. Snowquester is here and should pack a very heavy punch of wet snow in the north and west suburbs where some power outages are possible, and at least several inches from D.C. to the east. This storm could turn out to be one of March’s top-10 biggest in and around the nation’s capital. A wintry chill sticks around tomorrow and Friday, but much of the snow will have melted away by the end of our warmer and brighter weekend ahead.

Today (Wednesday): Snow is heavy at times through afternoon, occasionally mixing with rain or sleet from D.C./I-95 to the east, and may even be accompanied by isolated thunder. Temperatures are steady in the low-to-mid 30s and feel mighty chilly with 20-25 mph winds from the north, gusting near 35 mph. Road conditions and visibilities deteriorate everywhere early this morning, with the worst likely west of D.C./I-95 where snow is heavier and temperatures are colder. The heavy, wet snow could be enough to cause some power outages, especially heading west into the higher accumulations. How much snow in your area? See our accumulation forecast map below. Confidence: Medium


CWG’s total snow accumulation forecast

Tonight: Snow tapers this evening, followed by mostly cloudy skies and some mist. Gusty winds persist from the northwest with lows near 30 to the low 30s. So, not a hard freeze, but slick spots a concern especially west. Probably some school delays on Thursday and cancellations, too. Confidence: Medium

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For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock. Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend...

Tomorrow (Thursday): Still very wintry with the snow on the ground, perhaps a few flurries or snow showers in the air, and a harsh wind. Highs probably don’t do much better than near 40 to the low 40s under partly cloudy skies, and winds from the northwest stay up around 15-25 mph with gusts near 35 mph. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: Winds back off a bit, but breezes remain with partly cloudy skies above. Lows in the upper 20s to low 30s mean some refreezing of melted snow, especially outside the city. Confidence: Medium-High

A LOOK AHEAD

On Friday we still find ourselves with a cold breeze from the northwest, which holds highs to the 40s. Despite the cold air, increasing sun helps to melt away more of the snow. Becoming mostly clear Friday night with lows in the upper 20s to low 30s. Confidence: Medium-High

You can thank high pressure for what looks to be a calmer, warmer and brighter weekend. We expect mostly sunny skies Saturday with highs in the 50s, and partly to mostly sunny skies Sunday with highs in the 50s to near 60. Both days should see light winds. Saturday night lows settle back into the 30s. Confidence: Medium-High

By  |  08:15 AM ET, 03/06/2013

Categories:  Forecasts

 
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