Stormy stretch next week with multiple winter weather threats

Yes, we may reach the 50s this weekend, but following the Groundhog’s forecast Super Bowl Sunday, the weather pattern turns very active over the eastern U.S.  Early to mid- February is often D.C.’s snowiest time of the year.  Could 2014 follow suit?

There are three windows for winter weather next week. Let’s examine each, briefly:

Sunday night into Monday

After a cold front puts an end to our weekend thaw Sunday night, cold air trickles south and east.  At the same time, a wave of low pressure may develop along this front causing rain showers to potentially change to snow.  The new European model simulates a thump of accumulating snow early Monday morning to around midday.  The GFS model shows lighter precipitation, warmer temperatures, and substantially less snow potential.


European model simulation of weather map at 7 a.m. Monday morning. Temperatures have dropped below freezing and it would suggest moderate snow. (StormVistaWxModels.com)

GFS model simulates very light snow over the D.C. area at 7 a.m. Monday morning (StormVistaWxModels.com)

This could be anything from a non-event to moderate event – but, until we can pin down the exact track of the storm, it’s going to be difficult to give specifics on snowfall amounts, if any.  The forecast for this event has the potential to be high drama and difficult.  Events in which rain is forecast to transition to snow are often disappointing for snow levels. But if everything came together right, several inches could materialize.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday night into Wednesday 

I’ll hand off to CWG’s winter weather expert Wes Junker to describe this possibly messy winter weather event:

A stronger system and wetter system is expected to impact the area on Wednesday.  Most models track the storm to our west putting us on the warm side of the storm.  However, they also hold a cold high pressure system across New England as the low track towards northward towards the Ohio Valley. That raises the possibility of the storm starting as a period of snow, sleet and/or freezing rain before transitioning to rain across most of the area.  While the pattern favors the storm tracking to our north, it’s still a storm worth watching closely as there is some potential for accumulating snow and ice prior to the expected changeover.  Plus cold air during damming events sometimes holds on longer than expected especially to the north and west of the city.


European Model showing weather map at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. Light freezing rain is falling west of I-95 taking this simulation literally (StormVistaWxModels.com)

Friday into the weekend

Following Wednesday’s storm, cooler air will stream into the area Thursday – setting the stage for a possible weekend winter storm, that you may have heard a lot of hype about on Facebook.  No, there’s little chance of a blizzard and 20-30 inches of snow, but some snow and/or mixed precipitation is certainly possible as low pressure likely develops in the Gulf of Mexico and heads northeastward.  Wes chimes in with his thoughts on the models:

Last night’s operational European model really jumped on the idea of a major coastal low and winter storm.  This morning’s GFS liked a storm but also suggested that the storm might start as snow, and end as a mix.  The ensembles [suite of model simulations] provide a strong signal  a storm will be somewhere near us during the Friday through Sunday time range but it is way too early to make any statements about precipitation type as the ensemble members from the GFS are almost equally divided between taking the storm to our north or to our south (the track we need for a major snowstorm). Right now all you can say about the storm is there is a pretty good chance of precipitation occurring sometime in the Friday-Sunday period.  Rain, snow or a mix are all still on the table.

The latest (just out, shown below) European model shows an impressive snowstorm.


European model at 1 a.m. Saturday morning shows low pressure over Southeast, and snow over the Mid-Atlantic (StormVistaWxModels.com)

Storm trackers know 8 days is an eternity in terms of predictions.  Expect model flip-flopping and a prolonged period of prognostication pontificating from us pundits.

It’s going to be a fun but stressful week ahead….

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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Jason Samenow · January 30, 2014