After a practically snowless winter, some computer models are hinting at some of the white stuff Saturday afternoon and night. We’ve seen models show snow in longer-range forecasts many times before and then back away, so you’re forgiven if you’re skeptical. We are too.
Here’s the deal. After we spike to 70 degrees on Thursday, a cold front will push south through the region on Friday, bringing rain. It turns colder Friday night.
On Saturday, things get interesting. The front will stall to our south, and low pressure is forecast to form along the front, drawing up moisture from the south while cold air pours in from north. The questions are how much moisture and how much cold air will ultimately converge over the D.C. area.
A lot of moisture and a lot of cold air could mean a snowstorm.
A lot of moisture but a little cold air could mean a rainstorm.
Some moisture and some cold air could mean a mix.
A little moisture might mean not much of anything.
Ultimately, the amount of moisture and cold air will depend on the track of the low pressure center that forms, and this is where forecast models are all over the map.
If the low stays weak and too far south like this morning’s GFS model suggests, the precipitation might stay suppressed, leaving us dry. By contrast, if the low tracks too far north or west, it would offer us mostly rain with the cold air and snow shunted to our north. This afternoon’s GFS model offers that scenario.
Only a track like the Feb. 13 European model would threaten the area with a snowstorm. The Feb. 13 Canadian model is similar to the European but tracks the low a little farther to the north into West Virginia and then re-forms the low off the Carolina coast, offering a snow-to-mix scenario.
Snow lovers can be encouraged that over half of the 50-plus simulations in the European modeling system offered Washington at least some snow. Around a third of them predicted two inches or more.
Meanwhile, the Feb. 13 group of simulations from the GFS modeling system show just about every possibility.
The bottom line is that during the past 24 hours the models have moved toward the possibility of winter weather impacting the area Saturday afternoon and night. There still is lots of uncertainty about the storm track, making it impossible to say exactly what scenario will play out.
Snow lovers can stay cautiously optimistic that this will be “the one,” but this could also turn into another rain event at 33 degrees, which would be the ultimate kick in the pants.