The Washington Post

Models backing off winter storm threat next week, but not a done deal

Since yesterday, both the GFS and European model have shifted the track of a possible storm next week off the coast, which would leave much of the Mid-Atlantic high and dry rather than wet and/or snowy.

In short, the chances for a storm in the region have dropped.


Tracks from GFS model and ensemble members are mostly out to sea for next week’s storm (NOAA/Gary Szatkowski via Twitter)

What we can confidently state is that an Arctic front will pass through the region in the early to middle part of the week, delivering the coldest air of the season. Behind the front, an impressively strong Arctic high (1040 mb+) sinks south and southeast.


Mean sea level pressure simulation for next Wednesday morning from European model (WeatherBell)

High temperatures Wednesday may struggle to get much above 40.


Forecast high temperatures from GFS model Wednesday (WeatherBell)

It’s the strength of the inbound Arctic air mass which may well keep any storminess over the ocean. Having said that, a few members of the GFS and European model ensembles (alternative runs of these models with starting conditions tweaked) allow for a weaker “push” from the high which would keep the storm close enough to the coast for rain and/or snow.

In other words, there’s still an outside chance of storminess and wintry weather next week, but we’re back to our initial assessment that the chance of seeing snow is just about 10 percent.

The storm (or non-storm) is still 5-6 days away, so there is time for shifts in the track. We’ll post a special update over the weekend if the odds of a stormy scenario increases.

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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