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Tuesday snow? Models trending storm away from D.C., but too soon to write off

As we bask in temperatures nearing 70 this afternoon across the D.C. area, we still must keep one watchful eye on the storm that threatens snow Tuesday into Tuesday night. The latest news is good for those who would just as soon be done with accumulating snow until next winter. However, there is still time for things to change. Here, in a nutshell, is where things stand…

*An intense storm is likely to track northward off the East Coast Tuesday into Wednesday.

*As of mid-afternoon today, three major forecast models keep the storm far enough off the coast so that the D.C. area would get little to no precipitation.

*If the storm ends up tracking a little closer to the coast than currently modeled, which could easily happen, then light to moderate snow would become more likely. But much of it might fall during the daylight hours on Tuesday and would have a hard time accumulating under the March sun.

*There is still some chance, although decreasing, that the storm tracks significantly closer to the coast than currently modeled, which could bring heavy enough snow to accumulate even during the day.

Pictured below are the Tuesday evening forecasts from the European, Canadian and American models (in that order). The Euro and Canadian have generally outperformed the U.S. model this winter. But the key point here is that all three are showing the storm to be well off the coast…

European model forecast for Tuesday evening.

Canadian model forecast for Tuesday evening. (StormVistaWxModels)

American model forecast for Tuesday evening. (StormVistaWxModels)

Technical analysis from CWG winter weather expert Wes Junker

The pattern still favors the development of a strong low off the East Coast with a number of models bombing out the low but enough offshore to keep the precipitation light across the area. A few ensemble members (see graphic below) still wrap the low close enough to the coast to give us a moderate precipitation event which would probably fall as snow. However, the wetter solutions are vastly outnumbered by solutions that would not offer the D.C. area much in the way of snow with only light precipitation falling, much of it during the day or early evening. In late March, that doesn’t yield accumulations. The fact that the majority of models are predicting bombogenesis makes the system one to keep watching in case the models start shifting the low development closer to the coast.

Several ensemble members from the American model (the GFS) still show moderate precipitation over the D.C. area or not too far to the east. The above plots show 72-hour precipitation ending Wednesday afternoon. (Penn State University)

We’ll have more tomorrow…

Dan Stillman is a meteorologist and editor for the Capital Weather Gang. He earned an M.S. in Meteorology from Texas A&M University, and a B.S. in Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences from the University of Michigan.
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