The temperature soared to more than 60 degrees in Washington on Thursday and could top 65 degrees Friday. But such warmth is just a tease.

A powerful cold front will blast through the Washington region late Friday night, rain will pour down and temperatures will drop suddenly Saturday morning. We’ll quickly be back in the grips of winter over the weekend.

Then, with cold air reestablished, a little snow is possible when the next weather system approaches early next week.

The rain

Washington, in serious need of rain, is officially in a drought. We should see significant rainfall Friday night but not nearly enough to put a dent in the drought.

Scattered showers are likely at times during the day Friday, but a more significant and widespread area of rain should sweep through the area overnight Friday as the front moves through and low pressure develops along it. The heaviest rainfall is most likely between about 10 p.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday.


GFS model simulation shows rain over the region at 1 a.m. Saturday.

This rain is part of the same storm system called Hunter by the Weather Channel, forecast to bring heavy snow and ice to the eastern Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and interior Northeast.

Here are forecast rainfall totals from different models by the time the rain ends in Washington:

  • High-resolution NAM: 0.6 inches
  • NAM: 0.5 inches
  • GFS: 0.7 inches
  • European: 0.8 to 0.9 inches

The National Weather’s official forecast is for 0.8 to 0.9 inches.


National Weather Service rainfall forecast through Saturday. (WeatherBell.com)

The temperature drop

The front coming through is a strong one, and the temperature drop in its wake may be its most impressive and jarring feature.

Temperatures well into the 60s Friday evening are predicted to fall to near freezing Saturday morning.

The biggest temperature change is expected to occur between about 1 and 4 a.m. Saturday morning when the mercury plunges about 20 degrees, from near 60 to near 40.


Temperature forecast from high-resolution NAM model from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning.

The precipitation is predicted to end at least a few hours before temperatures settle near freezing, which should prevent a flash freeze and icy roads. But in some outlying areas to the north and northwest, when the precipitation ends and temperatures fall to freezing is a closer call — and worth monitoring.

By Saturday afternoon, temperatures will be up to 35 to 40 degrees colder than Friday afternoon, hovering between 30 and 35.


Temperature change between 4 p.m. Saturday and Friday forecast by high-resolution NAM model.

Snow next Tuesday or Wednesday?

The GFS and European model are hinting that a clipper may zip through the region Tuesday or Wednesday, bringing the potential for snow. However, there are questions about its track. If it tracks over us or to our north, very little or no snow would be likely, while a track just to our south could result in some light accumulation.

An additional wild card is that there is potential for the clipper to redevelop over the ocean and draw in more moisture, which would increase snowfall potential; but we see that as a low probability in the Mid-Atlantic, and more likely to the north.

We’ll have additional analysis on this system Friday.