Long range maps show winter fighting back and winning

Temperatures in the 50s to near 60 the last three days have delighted the masses. But the long-range outlook will surely have many pining for spring.

After a fine-looking weekend in the 50s to near 60, colder than average temperatures return early next week. We’re not talking bitter cold, but temperatures we might expect more in mid-January rather than ┬áleading up to March – highs in the mid-30s to mid-40s, and lows in the 20s to low 30s – some 4-8 F degrees below normal.

Temperature difference from average Monday through Friday next week from GFS model (WeatherBell.com)

Temperature difference from average Monday through Friday next week from GFS model (WeatherBell.com)

Later next week and into the weekend – when forecast uncertainty grows – models predict much colder than normal conditions – perhaps more than 20 degrees below normal. That would mean highs struggling to reach freezing and lows as cold as the teens.

Temperature difference from normal forecast by European model March 2 (WeatherBell.com)

Temperature difference from normal forecast by European model March 2 (WeatherBell.com)

In terms of snow chances, we see two in the next 10 days.

The first, in the Tuesday into Wednesday period, is probably no big deal. It’s a weak clipper-system – with limited moisture – approaching from the west. Not only is moisture likely lacking, but temperatures may only be marginally cold enough for snow – so accumulation prospects aren’t great.

The second snow chance is the one most are paying attention to… and that’s in the February 28 to March 1 time frame. The European model showed a huge snowstorm in its simulations yesterday – but backed off this idea some today, keeping the storm more to our south. The GFS model also keeps the storm to our south. It’s too early to write the storm off or sound an alarm.

 

European model shows storm off Southeast coast February 28 (WeatherBell.com)

European model shows storm off Southeast coast March 1 (WeatherBell.com)

I think Wes Junker’s take below – is a smart one…

Technical discussion, by Wes Junker

cwg_JunkerA cold wintry pattern still appears to be on tap next week with various operational models entertaining the possibility of potential storms. The combination of having a negative Arctic Oscillation (high latitude blocking) and a positive Pacific North American Pattern featuring ridging over western North America is the most common configuration found with D.C. snowstorms. Similar patterns to the day 8 mean 500mb (18,000 feet) pattern have in past produced snowstorms, a couple of the analogs (historical patterns similar to the present) topped 4 inches of snow. One of them was a major snowstorm for the southern Mid-Atlantic. The probability of getting accumulating snow between February 26 and March 3 remains above normal.

Some model runs have hinted that around the 26th is one time to watch while the last couple of European model runs have targeted period centered around March 1 with a major snowstorm – although today’s run keeps the heavier precipitation to our south. By my count, 16 of the 50 last night’s European ensemble members were in the same camp as last night’s European model concerning the Next Friday/Saturday threat, giving it some support. However, a number of members were also much less bullish than the operational suggesting it’s not yet time to go all-in on its solution.

It’s way too early to say much more than the probability of getting snow during next week is above normal. I wouldn’t yet get caught up in any hype about a particular snow threat. The European model forecast late week snowstorm is one of many forecast possibilities. Long range model major snowstorm forecasts fail much much more frequently than they verify. Despite that cautionary note, next week is a period to monitor for potential winter weather.

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