D.C. area forecast: Cold today before freezing rain risk tonight; watching potential for weekend storm

** Winter storm warning Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon for Montgomery, Loudoun, Carroll, northern Fauquier counties and points north with freezing rain advisories for most other areas except southern Maryland **

Today’s Daily Digit

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

4
A cold, cloudy break between storms. That weekend warmth was too short-lived!

Express Forecast

Today: Mostly cloudy. Highs: 34-39.

Tonight: Rain after rush hour, freezing rain north and west. Lows: 29-34.

Tomorrow: Rain/freezing rain tapers during morning. Highs: 44-50.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Temperature Map

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

Our busy winter weather week marches onward as clouds and cold today bridge the gap between two storm systems.  Our next one carries a freezing rain concern mainly for areas north and west of the city tonight into the morning. We’ll dry out tomorrow afternoon through Friday. But then the weekend still looks complicated, with the latest trends favoring a storm impacting the area on Sunday, though even that timing (let alone the type of precipitation) is suspect this far out.

Today (Tuesday):  Low pressure is on the way, lifting up through the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys.  In advance of it, a dreary gray ceiling of a sky dominates our domain as temperatures stay well below normal.  Expect highs in the middle to upper 30s with light winds from the east around 5 mph.  Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Rain, possibly mixed with sleet at the onset, approaches from the south and west after rush hour, likely spreading into the entire area by around 8-10 p.m. Temperatures during this time are a tricky call, with areas north and west of the city around or below freezing, but the city and points east and south probably still in the mid-30s. Overnight, lows may briefly dip close to freezing in the city, while the north and west suburbs could drop a couple degrees below freezing and see more of an impact from freezing rain. Drivers should watch out for icy spots especially the farther north and west you go from D.C. Confidence: Low-Medium

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

Tomorrow (Wednesday): The way it looks now, the District and points south and east should see temperatures above freezing by around 6 a.m. Temperatures in the close-in north and west suburbs (Howard, Montgomery, Fairfax, north Prince William counties) may remain right around freezing a couple hours longer, but probably with nothing more than minor icing. More significant icing is possible for areas further north and west (Carroll, Frederick, Loudoun, north Fauquier counties), where temperatures could hold near to below freezing until late morning. Rain tapers by mid-morning, followed by clearing skies in the afternoon and highs surging to the mid-40s to near 50 as winds increase to 10-15 mph from the west-northwest.  Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow night:  Partly cloudy and colder with light winds and lows ranging through the 20s.  Confidence: Medium-High

A LOOK AHEAD

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 (→) We’ll leave this steady at the halfway mark until there’s more clarity on the weekend storm.

Thursday and Friday make a pair of partly cloudy days (Friday could see a few more clouds than Thursday) that are colder than normal, but at least allow us to dry out a bit.  Highs are only in the 30s, with Thursday night lows in the upper teens to mid-20s and Friday night lows in the 20s.  Confidence: Medium-High

The weekend still presents the possibility of a significant coastal storm with the timing now aiming mostly on Sunday, but give or take a day at this stage. The storm originates from the Gulf of Mexico, so it will be carrying a great deal of moisture. But at this point there is very little confidence in the storm’s track, which will be key to determining if we see snow, sleet, rain, or some combination thereof. Highs Saturday should be in the mid-30s to low 40s with lows Saturday night in the mid-20s to low 30s. Highs on Sunday could range anywhere from the upper 20s to near 40 depending on the storm track.   Confidence: Low

Dan Stillman contributed to this forecast

Also on Capital Weather Gang

PM Update: Winter storm watch expanded into D.C. suburbs; record rainfall