D.C. area forecast: Calm start to 2014, but snow showers and bitter cold await

Today’s Daily Digit

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

7
Some sun and 40s makes for a perfectly fine start to 2014. Extra point in there for no wind chill to speak of.

Express Forecast

Today: Partly to mostly sunny. Highs: Mid-to-upper 40s.

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows: Near 30 to mid-30s.

Tomorrow: Increasing clouds. Afternoon rain/snow shower? Highs: 40s.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

No weather worries for New Year’s Day, which allows us to focus on the more interesting part of the forecast from Thursday night into next week. First up we have a chance of snow showers Thursday night, though impact should be minimal the way it looks now. The bigger deal is a gusty and bitter cold Friday, when wind chills may have trouble breaking the single digits! We’ll warm a bit over the weekend before a chance of rain late Sunday into Monday, followed by what could be the coldest air in years.

Related: Snow Thursday night? Maybe. But bigger deal is likely two shots of bitter cold

Temperature Map

Temperatures: Latest D.C. area temperature map. See interactive map on our Weather Wall.

Today (Wednesday): Not bad at all for this first day of the new year. Under partly to mostly sunny skies, temperatures should rise nicely toward afternoon highs in the mid-to-upper 40s. Wind chill factor is not a concern, with light winds from the south at no more than about 5-10 mph. Confidence: High

Tonight: We’re partly cloudy and not terribly cold, as lows drop back to near 30 to the mid-30s. Just a slight chance of a rain shower as you go south and east from D.C. and I-95. Confidence: Medium-High

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

Tomorrow (Thursday): We look to spend most of the day between a storm system offshore and an upper-level system approaching from the west. That should leave us with partly sunny skies during the early-to-mid morning, followed by increasing clouds and a 30% chance of a few afternoon rain or snow showers. Highs hit the 40s with light and variable winds. Confidence: Medium-High

Snow Potential Index

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

3 (→) Up to ~1″ not out of the question Thurs night, but only if exiting moisture and incoming cold cross paths at right time.

Tomorrow night: Cold air pours in from the north, which combined with an energetic upper-level wave could produce snow showers. Accumulating snow up to around 1″ isn’t out of the question, but that’s only if the system can generate enough moisture, which isn’t a sure thing. Snow or no snow, lows should plummet all the way to the teens to near 20. Confidence: Low-Medium

A LOOK AHEAD

Any snow should exit to our east-northeast early Friday morning. Skies should then turn mostly sunny, but that won’t take the edge off of bitter cold highs likely no better than the mid-20s. That’s only half the story, though, as strong and gusty winds from the northwest could keep wind chills in the single digits through much of the day. Winds diminish Friday night with lows in the teens area-wide. Confidence: Medium-High

Saturday starts cold again, but plenty of sun should help temperatures rebound into the 30s for afternoon highs, with light winds. And by Saturday night we’re back to a more reasonable chill with lows in the 20s. Assuming the next system doesn’t speed up, we should squeeze out a decent day on Sunday with increasing clouds, highs in the 40s, and a chance of rain showers hopefully holding off until late afternoon or Sunday night. Confidence: Medium

Also on Capital Weather Gang

PM Update: Near or below freezing to ring in 2014, and a tranquil New Year's Day