* Blizzard watch Friday night through Saturday night | How to prepare | School closings and delays | An inch of snow unleashes 9 hours of traffic chaos

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

6/10: Today is nothing but a sunny and cold interlude, for the weekend brings a snowstorm with a bad attitude.

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Mainly sunny and breezy. Highs: 32-36
Tonight: Mostly clear and calm. Lows: 19-25
Tomorrow: Snow developing, likely midday into the afternoon. Highs: 32-36

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser updates residents on the city's response plan to the massive snow storm expected to hit the area as early as Friday. (WUSA9)

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Everyone take a deep breath. We are still a full day away from what may rank among the bigger snowstorms ever seen in these parts.

The first flakes are likely to drift in during the midday to afternoon period Friday, but the first inch may take until the early evening (though an inch, as shown last night, can cause gridlock). The snow then intensifies overnight and falls at a furious pace well into Saturday. The combination of strong winds and heavy snow makes travel difficult to impossible. Some power outages are possible.


This is likely to be a memorable snowstorm for the region, that brings it to a standstill starting Friday night. Snowfall totals of 12-20 inches are likely in the immediate metro area, with 15-25 inches possible in our western and northwest suburbs. Wherever you are late Friday, plan to be there through Sunday or Monday, at least.

Programming note: We will have a fresh, detailed analysis on the Friday-Saturday storm, including storm timeline, frequently asked question, and the latest model updates by late morning.  We will also post a short commentary on the events leading to last night’s mini-Commutageddon, i.e. the traffic gridlock due to the dusting to 2 inches of snow that fell.

A snowstorm headed toward Washington, D.C, and the Mid-Atlantic is expected to last 36 hours between Friday and Sunday. Capital Weather Gang's Angela Fritz has your forecast and snow accumulation predictions. (Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

Today (Thursday): It’s not a total calm before the storm as breezes gust up to 20 mph out of the northwest to start the day. But they do taper off by afternoon. Sunshine has very few clouds to contend with but the cold air remains stubbornly in place with highs only in the low-to-mid 30s. Confidence: High

Tonight: Starry skies last until just before dawn when clouds begin to increase. Nearly calm winds are welcome as lows drop to the upper teens suburbs to lower 20s downtown. Confidence: High

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates. For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock. Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend…

Tomorrow (Friday): The sun may get in a last peek or two as it rises but clouds are likely to thicken fairly quickly through the morning. The first flakes of snow are not likely to start fluttering down until between around midday and late afternoon and accumulations mount slowly at first. However, with recent cold days, untreated roads could quickly become slick. Light winds from the east gradually increase in the afternoon. Most areas should reach the low-to-mid 30s. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: Snow starts to pick up the pace in the evening. By midnight the snow rates accelerate with an inch or two an hour across most of the metro area. Making it worse is a steadily increasing northeast wind that will drastically reduce visibility. Lows hold in the mid-20s in most of the region. Confidence: Medium-High

A LOOK AHEAD

Saturday starts out with much of the immediate area looking at around a foot of snow on the ground and the potential for full-fledged blizzard conditions as winds blow from the northeast at 15-25 mph, gusting to 40 mph. Thunder snow is not out of the question. Snow rates of 1-2 inches per hour likely continue into the afternoon, although it’s not out the question there is a lull in the precipitation at some point – especially east of the city due to a possible dry slot. Areas near and especially southeast of the city could also see a period of wintry mix (50/50 chance), lowering snow totals a bit.

This is a good day to just hunker down and allow the road crews unhindered access. Highs hold in the upper 20s to lower 30s.

Snow lingers well into the evening and finally tapers off overnight but strong winds still hamper visibility. Lows range through the 20s. Confidence: Medium-High

Before sunrise Sunday skies start to clear and you might catch a glimpse of the full moon so very aptly named the “snow moon”. A mainly sunny day and calming winds make for a good day for the great dig out. Highs do no better than low-to-mid 30s so not much help on that front, just keep shoveling. The fresh snow cover and calming winds lead to overnight lows plunging into the teens. Confidence: Medium-High

Monday could be a challenge despite the mainly sunny skies and relatively calm winds as snow will be piled everywhere. Highs only reach the mid-to-upper 30s keeping much of that snow in place and look out for refreeze in the evening. Confidence: 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.

10/10 (↑): If not now, when? This weekend storm most definitely rates a ten!