7:15 a.m. update: If you thought maybe this storm would fizzle at the last minute? Not gonna happen. Models continue to be in unanimous agreement for a crippling storm, starting today as early as approximately noon-2 pm in the immediate metro area and late morning as you head south. We’ve got all the forecast details below…
TODAY’S DAILY DIGIT
A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.
5/10: Stay SAFE. Tranquil morning, then serious, historic(?) blizzard ramps up this PM. It’s exciting & foreboding.
Today: Snow developing around 12-2 p.m. Highs: Upper 20s to low 30s.
Tonight: Heavy snow, strong winds, dangerous whiteout conditions. Lows: Mid-to-upper 20s.
Tomorrow: Blizzard continues. Brief lull and/or mixing with sleet possible. Highs: Mid-20s to low 30s.
Tomorrow night: Snow tapers around or after midnight, strong winds. Lows: 20s.
Sunday: Becoming mostly sunny, breezy. Highs: Low-to-mid 30s.
FORECAST IN DETAIL
A fun forecast for snow lovers, but a serious forecast for everyone with a blizzard warning starting at 3 p.m. today. Confidence is quite high for a crippling snowstorm. Underscoring one of many impacts in our region: do not assume emergency services will be reliably available this weekend. Make all efforts to complete preparations this morning so roads (which may slow/halt by this afternoon or evening) are not blocked. Be safe. Help those around you. Most of us will likely be immobile through at least Sunday and perhaps into early next week.
Today (Friday): One, maybe two peeks of early-morning sun turn quickly into overcast skies. Light winds gradually increase to around 10 mph from the east-northeast with highs in the upper 20s to low 30s. Roads should be fine through the morning and may remain in decent condition into the early-to-mid afternoon. But with most pavement temperatures holding in the 20s, snow should start sticking immediately once it begins, sometime between noon and 2 p.m. from southwest to northeast.
To be safe you’ll want to be hunkered down by around 3 p.m. at the absolute latest. Roads deteriorate quickly toward sunset with 1-3″ on the ground by around 6-7 p.m. Confidence: Medium-High
Tonight: Roads dangerously slick. Snow gets heavier after around 7-8 p.m. By midnight, snow rates accelerate to an inch or two an hour across the region. Blizzard conditions are likely overnight as wind gusts ramp up to around 40-50 mph from D.C./I-95 to the east, and 30-40 mph west of D.C./I-95. Whiteout conditions are likely with power outages possible, especially across the eastern half of the area. Lows bottom out in the mid-to-upper 20s, with total accumulations likely in the 8-14 inch range by sunrise. Confidence: Medium-High
For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock. Keep reading for the forecast into early next week…
Tomorrow (Saturday): Blizzard conditions remain likely with snow rates around 1-2 inches per hour and even a chance of thundersnow. Wind gusts continue at 40-50 mph from D.C./I-95 to the east and 30-40 mph west of D.C./I-95. Can’t rule out a midday lull in the snow or mixing with sleet, especially south and east of the city. Snow totals by sunset are likely in the 16-24″ range. Remain where you are. Emergency and road crews need unhindered access. Temperatures are mainly steady in the mid-20s to low 30s. Confidence: Medium-High
Tomorrow night: Snow — more moderate in intensity, but perhaps still heavy at times — should linger into the evening, accumulating another several inches before tapering after midnight. Evening winds continue to gust around 30-40 mph, diminishing a bit after midnight, but still strong enough for blowing snow to create whiteout conditions. Lows stay stuck in the frigid 20s. Confidence: Medium-High
Sunday: Finally skies start to clear, with even the aptly named “snow moon” possibly visible as the sun rises. A few flurries may linger early, but overall we think it’s a mostly sunny day, with calming but still breezy winds from the northwest around 15 mph. Shovel carefully, and slowly. Highs remain muted as you might expect, in the low-to-mid 30s. We are lucky to avoid a deeper freeze? Confidence: Medium-High
A LOOK AHEAD
Sunday night: Get ready for a big re-freeze. Thanks to clear skies and the fresh snow cover that’s essentially icing-down our lower atmosphere, we plummet into the teens throughout the region. Calming winds could lead to a few single digits in the western and northern cold spots. When the atmosphere isn’t mixed or stirred by the wind, and clouds are absent, we have no insulating blanket to counteract our freezing mass of snow! Confidence: Medium-High
Our big dig out goes full-throttle by Monday into Tuesday, when we are assisted by partly sunny skies and helpful melting temperatures in the mid-to-upper 30s on Monday and 40s on Tuesday. Of course overnight re-freezes continue the risk of black ice. Be prepared for a fairly slow melting, as well. But we will get back to normal before long, hopefully. 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 (→): Life-threatening, possibly historic winter storm starts in the afternoon.
Deadly winter storm hit the nation’s capital
Dan Stillman contributed to this forecast