Some sleet and snow mixed in as well

NatCast: Season starts with a chill, shower?

If you brought your umbrella with you today, you might have been wondering why. Well, we “lucked out” in between two main masses of moisture, one to the northwest and the other to the southeast. The one in the southeast may have helped sap atmospheric energy over us, though some guidance suggested today’s activity would not be too strong up here. The lack of rain ’til recently (new showers of rain, sleet, and even a few flakes are now breaking out) allowed temperatures to climb into the upper 40s to near 50 many spots.

Radar & lightning: Latest D.C. area radar shows movement of precipitation and lightning strikes over past two hours. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

Through Tonight: The risk of rain showers (mixed with some sleet and snowflakes) is back up through this evening and into the first half of the night as the area of precipitation to our west and northwest moves east, also interacting with moisture from the surface low to our southeast. Still, any showers should be relatively light and scattered. Temperatures drop rapidly back though the 40s where precipitation falls, on their way to lows mainly in the mid-and-upper 30s.

Tomorrow (Thursday): Another low pressure (eventually quite powerful) forming to our south and east keeps us in the gloom, and while much of the daylight may be largely rain-free, some sprinkles or a shower are possible throughout as highs reach the mid-and-upper 40s. The steadier activity should move into the area by the late afternoon or evening while the low moves off the Carolina coast toward the northeast. A period of moderate to occasionally heavy rain is possible into the overnight as the low passes, though the exact track and area of heaviest rain is still uncertain. Some wet snowflakes may also mix in, mainly north and west of the city, but temperatures should remain above freezing.

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Warmth return? Among the factors pointing toward milder times ahead is the North Atlantic Oscillation heading back positive. The recent negative swing has helped push colder air south out of the northern latitudes, and a flip should help end that. In response, most guidance is now showing temperatures at least near normal by next week, and perhaps quite warm for a day or so as a storm potentially passes to our west. In fact, today’s European model run advertised 70s to near 80 next Tuesday! While super warmth may not be long lasting, the pattern after appears to still be a warm and trending warmer one.