In DC’s future: Up to 3 completely underwhelming snow events

If you’re a glass half-full snow lover, you’re satisfied that we’ve received more snow than all of last winter already.  But – for the glass half-empty crowd – this winter’s 3.4 inches isn’t going to cut it.  And there’s little reason to get excited about two or three opportunities for snow this week which – collectively – are unlikely to add much to the seasonal total.

We debated even doing a post on these upcoming mini-snow opportunities.  If Snowmageddon was a Big Mac, these events are microscopic versions of what you might find on the dollar menu.  But here we go…

Three minor precipitation events could bring us a little snow this week.  Right now none of them appear  very impressive.  All three are  linked to  upper level systems that will be diving across the area dragging through cold fronts.  None have much moisture to work with, and the cold air supply is marginal, for the most part.

Snow chance 1: Wednesday evening

Our first chance  – probably at just 40 percent – to see a period of light precipitation in the form of rain and/or snow will be late Wednesday afternoon and night.  The most likely timing would be between 7 p.m. Wednesday to 3 a.m. Thursday.  The latest European, GFS and NAM models dig the upper level disturbance far enough to our south to keep us mostly dry.  Low pressure forms too far south and east to spread much precipitation into our region.


European model simulates very light precipitation mainly southwest of the District Wednesday night into Thursday morning, with temperatures above freezing as indicated by purple line (StormVistaWxModels.com)

Even if we do get precipitation,  we don’t see this being a big deal.

The disturbance will have to overcome surface temperatures that are expected to be well above freezing at the onset of the precipitation. Temperatures above freezing and light precipitation rates will make it hard for any snow to accumulate even if it occurs.  In areas well west of the city (especially with some elevation), spotty light accumulations may be possible (a dusting to an inch at most).

Snow chance 2: Late Friday night

A second system may impact areas Friday night into Saturday morning – the most likely timing is between around 11 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday morning.  Again,  winds out ahead of the system are expected to be southerly which should help push temperatures above freezing. The models generally are only predicting light precipitation with this event.


European model shows light precipitation falling over the region Friday night, but temperatures mostly above freezing (except well west) as indicated by purple line. (StormVistaWxModels.com)

In essence, this event has many of the same characteristics as the Wednesday afternoon and night event – meaning any snow is mostly non-accumulating and it may mix with rain. However, out towards Frederick and Loudoun counties, snow is somewhat more likely and some areas could see a dusting to one inch.

Snow chance 3: Saturday evening

The third event slated for Saturday night (first guess on most likely timing: 7 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday) is a little trickier since temperatures are likely to be colder.  It resembles a classic clipper system.

On the GFS model, a weak low pressure system tracks just to our south spreading light snow over the region, but the European shows no such low and shuts us out as far as precipitation goes.


GFS model simulates light snow over the region Saturday night, with temperatures below freezing, as indicated by purple line. (StormVistaWxModels.com)

Just because of the colder temperatures (likely subfreezing throughout the region), this last system has the best “dusting” potential (maybe a little more if everything came together right) for the immediate D.C. area.  That’s assuming the GFS is right and the European is wrong.

Teaser

While snow chances are underwhelming into this weekend, the period 6-15 days into future looks cold and *might* feature above normal snow chances.

The forecast pattern from the European model 6-10 days from now shows a dip in the jet stream (low heights) over the Eastern U.S. which increases the chances of colder than normal temperatures (StormVistaWxModels.com)
The forecast pattern from the European model 6-10 days from now shows a dip in the jet stream (low heights) over the Eastern U.S. which increases the chances of colder than normal temperatures (StormVistaWxModels.com)
The forecast pattern from the European model 11-15 days from now shows a dip in the jet stream (low heights) over the Eastern U.S. which increases the chances of colder than normal temperatures (StormVistaWxModels.com)
The forecast pattern from the European model 11-15 days from now shows a dip in the jet stream (low heights) over the Eastern U.S. which increases the chances of colder than normal temperatures (StormVistaWxModels.com)

We’ll take a closer look at the long-range later this week.

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Jason Samenow · January 14, 2014

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