D.C. area forecast: Light rain to snow tonight; bitter Arctic winds Friday

January 2

Today’s Daily Digit

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

5
A seasonably cold day but it would be a 1 if I was rating tonight as light snow is whipped by strong cold winds.

Express Forecast

Today: Increasing clouds, patchy light rain or mix late. Highs: 43-47.

Tonight: Light rain/mix to snow, becoming very windy. Lows: 18-22.

Tomorrow: Clearing early, strong winds and very cold. Highs: 22-26.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Temperature Map

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

Winter weather moves into hyper-drive tonight with light rain quickly shifting over to snow. At the same time, winds accelerate from nearly light this evening to  close to 40 mph by Friday morning. That may make it hard to measure our mainly meager accumulations of around a dusting to a couple inches. Highs in the 40s today become teens by Friday morning and only 20s Friday afternoon. Relative tranquility returns for the weekend but by Monday the next Arctic front could give us daybreak in the 40s and near freezing by sunset.

Today (Thursday): There is a decent chance for some patches of sun in the early going but clouds should fill in by midday. Hard to see much rain developing before sunset and even then likely to be just sprinkles (40% chance). Highs are typical of the season running mainly in the mid-40s. Confidence: Medium

Tonight: The trick for measurable snow tonight is trying to convince a surface low to fire up very quickly to our southeast before disappearing out to sea by morning. The best bet for flakes to start mixing in with rain sprinkles would be around 7 p.m., with the most likely window for significant snowfall between about 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The farther east and northeast you are the more likely that snow will linger, as late as 4 a.m. on the Eastern Shore. However, with limited dynamics/moisture around an inch or so seems the most likely potential for much of the area.

 


Capital Weather Gang snow map issued 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, January 1.

Snow Potential Index

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

5 (↑) Maybe, just maybe we’ll squeeze out an inch of snow Thursday night. Probably more towards Baltimore.

The best chance for a stronger burst of snow would be after midnight northeast of town, capable of a quick 2-4″. What is a certainty is strongly building winds increasing from about 5 mph out of the east early and to 20-30 mph, gusting to 40 mph from the northwest by dawn. Lows fall to the high teens and low 20s. Confidence: Low-Medium

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

Tomorrow (Friday): Skies quickly clear in the morning but what will be painfully noticed is the wind chill factor – perhaps near or even slightly below zero early on. Temperatures struggle to climb at all and nothing better than mid-20s is expected. Winds howl from the northwest at 15-25 mph and gust to 35 mph but do start decelerating by afternoon. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: Stars shine brightly as dry Arctic air dominates. Winds continue to quickly die down after sunset. This is welcome, but the result is that temperatures drop off more quickly and all areas should fall to the low-to-mid teens with colder spots in the suburbs likely to see some single digits. A touch ironic as we will be at our closest orbital approach to the sun of the year at daybreak! Confidence: Medium-High

A LOOK AHEAD

Saturday recovers respectably despite a sun that still hangs pretty low in the sky. Highs climb back to mid-to-upper 30s. Breezes do pick up but mainly just around 10 mph from the south. Overnight is mainly clear with lows in the mid-to upper 20s. Confidence: High

Sunday should see clouds gradually across the area as moisture feeds up ahead of the next Arctic front. The southerly breezes should still give the area reasonable highs, mainly in the low-to-mid 40s. A few showers could develop by afternoon but are more likely overnight (70% chance). Temperatures are likely to hold steady through much of the night with building winds. Confidence: Low-Medium

Monday’s temperatures go nowhere but downhill. The free fall starts early as strong winds from the northwest take readings down about 20 degrees from overnight levels. The freezing mark is likely reached by late day and then temperatures head back into the teens overnight, if not colder.  By the time it’s below freezing, early morning showers should be long gone making icy patches unlikely. Confidence: Low-Medium

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Jason Samenow · January 1