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D.C. area forecast: Afternoon cold front ends warm reign; Rain, snow chances late Thursday into Friday

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TODAY’S DAILY DIGIT
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.

6/10: Our spring preview ends today, after which we return to regularly-scheduled late winter weather.

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Variable clouds, warm start, cooler finish. Early Highs: 63-68
Tonight: Colder and windier. Lows: 26-36
Tomorrow: Sunny, breezy, cooler. Highs: 48-52

FORECAST IN DETAIL

All good things must come to an end, and our recent round of warmer, springtime weather is going back into cold storage later today as a cooler-than-normal pattern arrives. Nighttime periods feel cold at times, while daytime conditions are more on the cool side of normal spring temperatures with some crisp wind chill effects. After some 60s midday today, temperatures start their descent this afternoon into the evening with colder conditions tonight enhanced by gusty winds.

Cooler to colder weather prevails the balance of the week and we have to watch a weather system Thursday night into Friday that could be cold enough to mix with snow, especially north and west of the city. We warm a bit briefly on Saturday before another cool to cold push by Sunday to linger into early next week.

Today (Tuesday):  This is a busy day, so let me break it down:

  • Warm morning (many areas hold in 50s) with mostly cloudy skies
  • Temperatures move quickly into 60s mid to late morning with midday peaks in mid-to-upper 60s
  • Light winds from southwest at 5 to 10 mph morning to midday
  • Big cold front slides through early afternoon; temperatures flat-line before slowly falling
  • Slight chance of light shower early to middle afternoon along/around cold front
  • Variable sky conditions in afternoon with some sun breaks possible mid-afternoon into early evening
  • Winds pick up in afternoon coming from northwest at 15 to 25 mph with higher gusts to 40 mph
  • Dew points collapse into 30s and 20s as air gets very dry
  • Much colder by evening as temperatures keep falling

Confidence: Medium

Tonight: Brrrr. Temperatures dive down fairly cold tonight on the heels of very windy weather too that amplifies the wind chill effect. Outer suburbs could see upper 20s for lows, while the city drops down toward the middle 30s. Strong breezes from the northwest at 10 to 20 mph with gusts to 30. Skies are mostly clear.  Confidence: Medium-high

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

Tomorrow (Wednesday):  Mostly sunny skies try really hard to warm us up, but temperatures just sputter and struggle to reach the upper 40s and low 50s (colder than normal for this time of year). Breezes continue from the northwest at 10 to 15 mph with gusts to 20 working against the warmer sun effect.   Confidence: High

Tomorrow night: Those irritating breezes finally diminish with just a few clouds overnight.  Low temperatures dip to a hard freeze in the outer suburbs down into the middle 20s, while the city sees lower to middle 30s.  Confidence: High

A LOOK AHEAD

Thursday watches clouds build in during the day with a slight chance of late day rain or rain mixed with snow (best chance for snow mix in farther north and west suburbs).  Highs mainly manage to reach the cool to cold upper 40s thanks to the sun-blocking cloud cover encroachment. Thursday night should see light to moderate rain that could mix with snow at times especially on the north and west side.  The current thinking is that temperatures stay just warm enough to prevent an accumulation situation, but we’ll monitor this sneaky system closely.  Lows in the 30s.   Confidence: Low-Medium

Friday finds more rain or rain/snow mix in the morning with some lingering cold rain during the day with highs only in the 40s, which is well below normal, especially for the first day of spring.  Friday evening could see lingering showers with drying out overnight as clouds linger.  Lows mainly in the 30s again.  Confidence: Low-Medium

The weekend is also a bit complicated, but it seems like we have a shot for a nicer Saturday before the next cold push arrives on Sunday.  Highs pop into the middle to upper 50s Saturday with breezy conditions and partly to mostly sunny skies.  A cold front arrives Saturday night and it could be accompanied by some rain or snow showers.  Sunday should bring us partly cloudy skies, but very breezy conditions make those highs in the 40s feel chillier again, especially since we’ve already been teased by some warmer springtime weather already!  Confidence: Low-Medium

SNOW POTENTIAL INDEX
A daily assessment of the potential for at least 1 inch of snow in the next week, on a 0-10 scale.

1/10 (↑): North and west suburbs need to watch Thursday night and then we’ll need to monitor Saturday night’s cold front.

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