D.C. area forecast: Blissfully warm today, icy threats loom for Sunday

December 5, 2013

Today’s Daily Digit

A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 1 to 10.

8
Live it up! It all goes downhill after today’s warmth.

Express Forecast

Today: Mostly cloudy, isolated a.m. sprinkles. Highs: 65-69.

Tonight: Cloudy, scattered showers. Lows: 53-57.

Tomorrow: Showers become more numerous by p.m. Highs: 56-60.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Were it not for the weekend worries, we would be spending a lot of time talking about how nice today is. However, many computer models are conspiring against us on Sunday, with a multitude of scenarios for snow, sleet, and freezing rain. There is still time for those models to come to their senses, but not right now. Some are giving the city a couple of inches of snow and plenty more north and west of town. However, what really worries me is the ice potential with some showing up to a half inch of ice or sleet. Thankfully, Sunday is the problem and by the time Monday commuting comes around we will back to liquid precipitation.

Today (Thursday): Overcast dominates the morning. As moisture streams northward a few sprinkles could be squeezed out. By afternoon, the clouds should lighten and a few breaks are even possible. What is breath-taking is the warmth! With highs in the mid-to-upper 60s, get out and enjoy. Light winds from the south are not a problem. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Hopefully, clouds are broken enough to give glimpse of a crescent moon balancing above the brightest Venus of the year in the western sky. Clouds thicken through the night and very light showers will scatter across the area with a 50% chance for any particular area to get damp. Lows are pleasantly stuck in the mid-50s with only light south winds. Confidence: Medium-High

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

Tomorrow (Friday): The main surge of moisture spreads across the region through the day. Initially thickening clouds but by later in the afternoon showers will increase significantly in number and intensity (90% chance). Temperatures are still respectable with highs mainly in the mid-to-upper 50s. Light winds initially out of the west shift to the north late in the day. That signals the beginning of the cold air infiltration. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: Showers continue to be frequent through much of the night (90% chance). Many areas could end up with as much as an inch or rain out of this initial charge. The real story though is cold air slowly but steadily surging across the land with lows ending up in the mid-to-upper 30s.  Confidence: Medium-High

A LOOK AHEAD

Saturday is definitely the calm before the storm. Well maybe not so calm in the bread and milk aisles, but outside clouds should break enough for some sun. Meanwhile, the real cold is now gaining the upper hand. Highs only make the lower 40s. The evening should still be fine for being out and about. However, after midnight all bets are off as temperatures across the region fall below freezing and the next moisture surge begins to arrive from the southwest. Chances of snow and sleet are only 40% before dawn. Lows drop to the mid-to-upper 20s. Confidence: Medium

Snow Potential Index

A daily assessment of the potential for at least ~1″ of snow in the next week, on a 0-10 scale.

3 (↑) Possible brief period of snow Sunday AM gives us a fighting chance to pick up an inch.

Sunday has plenty of time to morph into a better or worse scenario but the one good bet is precipitation will fall (80% chance). The chances of it being all rain are becoming quite low but the chances for a significant snow event are also very low. Being a poker player, I will give you my best bet for the city proper (Jason’s zone 2): A quick inch of big fluffy sticky flakes could pile up at sunrise but sleet quickly mixes in and becomes prevalent. This is likely to then mix with freezing rain by late morning and then shift over to just rain early afternoon. (But as cold air sometimes is tough to dislodge, icy conditions could last longer). As is almost always the case, we see more snow (up to 4″?) and ice (up to 1/2″?) north and west of town with temperatures struggling to get above freezing. Highs will only make the low-the-mid 30s in most areas. Precipitation remains active overnight and we could end up with yet another 0.5-1″ of rain before tapering near dawn. Temperatures hold steady overnight or rise a few degrees.  Confidence: Low-Medium

Monday remains showery (80% chance) especially in the morning but of a lighter variety. Highs climb to the mid-50s in most areas thanks to south winds back in control.  Confidence: Medium

David Streit grew up on a farm/ranch in Nebraska. Witness to severe weather of all varieties focused his career path. Degrees from the universities of Nebraska and Wisconsin prepared him to be a forecaster for Capital Weather Gang as well as his day job as COO of Commodity Weather Group.
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