D.C. area forecast: A damp Friday as all eyes turn to Sunday’s wintry mess

December 6, 2013

Today’s Daily Digit

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

5
Weather headed downhill. At least it’s Friday, and we could still use some rain. Plus it’s not cold.

Express Forecast

Today: Periods of showers. Highs: Above 50 early, near 50 or below much of the day.

Tonight: Showers likely, turning chilly. Lows: Mid-to-upper 30s.

Tomorrow: Sun attempts some shine. Chilly. Highs: 39-46.

Sunday: Snow mixing with sleet, turning to freezing rain and eventually rain. Highs: 30-36.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Before we get to Sunday’s potentially hazardous, mixed wintry weather mess, do keep your umbrella around today and tonight. By tomorrow, we are given a small break. Maybe even some peeks of sun. Check back often for Sunday storm updates, and prepare for bone-chilling cold air again by Tuesday. Maybe Monday can be a “melting day” before we eye our next threat?


Radar & lightning: Latest regional radar shows movement of precipitation and lightning strikes over past two hours. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

Today (Friday): Clouds keep us mostly-to-fully overcast as moisture surges in from the south. We may see showers at pretty much any time of the day, but in general it seems they should be light and it could be more like intermittent drizzly type rain during most of the daylight hours.  Heavier and more consistent stuff should be just off to the west though, so we’ll need to watch for any that escapes and targets us.  For now, I’d lean toward the National Christmas Tree lighting not being a washout, but you’ll definitely want to prepare for the chance — probably growing into the evening — of raindrops.

Temperatures either drop a bit or are fairly steady during the day, with temperatures in the 50s likely early in the morning, but temperatures during the day near 50 or in the upper 40s.  Light west breezes shift into a northerly wind with a bit more oomph (5-10 mph). Yes, that is a colder wind direction—foreboding. Confidence: Medium

Tonight: Our best odds of rain come by mid-or-late evening and into the overnight as the activity to the west during the day shifts through. Probably nothing super heavy, but it could add up in a few spots. Temperatures bottom out near the mid-to-upper 30s. Do have warm layers to pile on, if out late, with northerly winds noticeable around 10 mph. Confidence: Medium-High

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

Tomorrow (Saturday): Enjoy this respite? Folks in the western part of our area in particular may want to finalize any storm preparations during this time frame. Outside the grocery and hardware stores, some sun may poke through the clouds by mid-morning or so. Skies slowly clear with sunshine starting off as veiled and faint—but we’ll take it. Cold air now has a good grip on us, with temperatures struggling to reach the 40-45 degree range most spots. Northwest winds stay assertive, around 10 mph. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow night: Mostly clear with continued breezes out of the cold northerly direction around 5-10 mph. If you can handle low temperatures just prior to sunrise around freezing downtown, mid-20s well outside the Beltway (to the north & west), you should still enjoy a quiet weather evening. Some precipitation may advance into the area by around sunrise,  especially south and west. Possibly all snow to begin with. Confidence: Medium-High

Snow Potential Index

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

5 (↑) Looking more likely that we see some snow turn things white on Sunday before ice becomes a big concern.

Sunday: Un-fun day. Combining our synthesis of many data points and forecast perspectives our team has, we believe precipitation should begin between early morning to noon (south to north). Snow mixing with sleet and freezing rain (or a very cold rain) appears likely into the afternoon as we transition into mostly sleet and freezing rain from south to north. Snow totals up to or even past 1” may occur despite mixed precip. The highest snow accumulation is likely to be west of D.C.

Related: Legitimate chances for snow and ice in D.C. region Sunday and Sunday night

Temperatures appear to want to try to stay near and below freezing across the area through the day. The spots most able to stay below are those to the north and west of I-95, but even far southeast zones could. Potentially hazardous travel appears increasingly likely across portions of the area.  Confidence: Low

A LOOK AHEAD

Sunday night: Freezing rain, rain and perhaps some sleet starts to turn over to all rain for at least parts of the area as warmer air finally pushes in. Cold air should erode from southeast to northwest (latest in the night, if at all). Near and west of I-95, frozen precipitation may continue through midnight or even later. We have a chance of about 0.5-1″ (liquid equivalent) precipitation when all is said and done.  In some places out west that could be mostly frozen.

Please note that after midnight, there is considerable uncertainty about precipitation type near and west of I-95. Temperatures hold steady overnight or rise a few degrees—upper 30s if you are east of town and very lucky, but many of us may hover around freezing or below for much/all of the nighttime hours. Confidence: Low

Monday has a slush-watch issued as melting begins. Cold air is finally scoured out thanks to a warm front, pushing temperatures through the 40s and into the 50s possibly. It remains to be seen if continued showers (70-80% chance) allow for any peeks of sunshine in addition to the warm-directional southerly wind flow. Goodness knows some spots may need it to aid any melting. Confidence: Medium

Tuesday could deserve some early morning caution if temperatures dip below freezing and black ice forms. Concurrently, we need to watch for a chance of more precipitation possibly heading our way, if it gets organized. Let’s leave this alone for now but we may need to keep you apprised of the slight chance for frozen precipitation during Tuesday as well. At this point it appears it would be light snow if anything. Sorry the break may not prove to be long enough! High temperatures may only reach near 40 without precipitation, thus the slight concern. Confidence: Low

Ian Livingston contributed to this forecast.

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