Back-to-back Arctic cold fronts are predicted to sweep across the eastern United States over the next week, the second of which has a small chance to squeeze out some snowflakes in the Washington region late Monday and/or Tuesday.
It’s hard to believe that little more than a month ago, it was 98 degrees in Washington, the hottest ever recorded during the month of October. But the weather pattern to start November is taking a sudden shift.
On Thursday and Friday, the jet stream — which divides cold air and warm air — will dive south over the eastern half of the nation, allowing Arctic air from Canada to pour into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Highs on Friday and Saturday are forecast to be stuck in the 40s.
By Monday, a second, stronger push of cold is forecast to arrive from the northwest. A wave of low pressure may form along the cold front, which could produce a period of wet snow Monday night into Tuesday (with the exact timing still coming into focus).
If this scenario plays out, air and ground temperatures would probably be too warm for much to stick and the best chance for accumulation would be in colder areas north and west of Washington.
The European modeling system shows snowflakes as a possibility but indicates there is just a 10 percent chance of at least an inch of accumulation.
Wes Junker, Capital Weather Gang’s winter weather expert, notes that the American (GFS) model predicts the zone of low pressure to form too far to the east to produce snowfall. But the Canadian model shows the potential for a more significant storm with heavier precipitation in the region in the Tuesday time frame.
Junker said “it’s hard to get excited” about this snow potential, especially considering it’s still six days away. “Veterans Day looks like our first possible chance of snow, but it’s a long shot,” he concluded.
The mountains west of Washington have a much better chance of accumulating snow early next week, especially in western Maryland and eastern West Virginia above 2,000 feet.
But for snow lovers close to the Beltway, there is precedent for snow on Veterans Day. On Nov. 11, 1987, Washington received 11.5 inches of snow from a surprise storm, its biggest on record during the month.
It has snowed in Washington in November as recently as last year, when 1.4 inches fell on the 15th. It was the biggest snow during the month since 1989, when 3.5 inches fell just before Thanksgiving.
Washington’s average snow in November is 0.5 inches, but measurable snow only occurs about once every two to three years on average.
Whether or not it snows Monday into Tuesday, temperatures behind the cold front sweeping through are likely to be abnormally low. Some models project highs only in the 30s to near 40 next Tuesday and Wednesday. Average highs in the second week of November are in the upper 50s. “Looks like a really impressive shot of cold air for the season,” Junker said.