Clouds over Duke Ellington Bridge in Washington on Wednesday. (Jeanne McVey/Flickr)

Today’s daily digit

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

4/10: Strong winds blow, cold air will follow. Hoping for Saturday snow could just bring sorrow.

Express forecast

  • Today: Clearing and becoming very windy. Highs: 50-54.
  • Tonight: Gusty winds, clear skies. Lows: 23-29.
  • Tomorrow: Sunny, breezy, chilly. Highs: 36-40.

Forecast in detail

Gusty winds today will finally sweep some winter cold back into the area in time for the weekend. Winds could gust close to 50 mph in the afternoon, and the cold air that comes in will set the stage for a possible wintry mix on Saturday. It’s likely that any snow that falls Saturday morning will mix with and change to a cold rain in and around the Beltway, but in colder locations well to the northwest, an icier scenario needs to be watched.

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Today (Thursday): Clouds should scurry off to the east in the early morning as winds steadily build from the northwest, mainly at 15 to 30 mph, but some gusts near 50 mph are possible in the afternoon. Highs in the low to mid-50s won’t feel that warm, and temperatures are likely to drop steadily in the afternoon. Confidence: High

Tonight: Gusty northwest winds continue through the night, with gusts up to around 30 mph in the evening. Skies are mainly clear, and temperatures continue a steady descent. Lows bottom out in the mid- to upper 20s. Confidence: High

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Tomorrow (Friday): Sunshine is in abundance but warmth is not, with most areas only reaching the upper 30s. Brisk north winds make it feel even colder. Confidence: High

Tomorrow night: Clouds increase quickly and winds finally calm. A stray snowflake or two is possible late at night. Lows range through the 20s. Confidence: Medium-High

A look ahead

Saturday will see moisture streaming into the area, which could set off some bands of snow by midmorning. However, warmer air will ooze into the region, changing precipitation to sleet and freezing rain and then plain rain in the immediate area, during the afternoon. Northwest of the city, the concern is that cold air near the surface could linger for longer, raising the risk of some icing. Cold rain is likely for most of the area in the afternoon and evening. Highs should eventually reach the upper 30s to lower 40s late in the day with gusty south winds. Temperatures hold fairly steady overnight. Confidence: Low-Medium

Skies clear early Sunday as winds come howling from the northwest, bringing in more cold air. Temperatures struggle to climb, with highs only in the low 40s. Overnight lows drop to the low to mid-20s, and with winds still brisk, wind chills could fall to the teens. Confidence: Medium

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday) is mostly sunny but cold, with highs in the low to mid-30s. 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.

4/10 (→): Saturday’s storm should see some snow to start but warmer air is likely to mix in freezing rain and sleet before much accumulation can occur.

Read more about Capital Weather Gang’s confidence rating.