Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cold Rain Gonna Fall
Whither Wintry Weekend?

* Winter Weather Advisory in effect 3am to noon for northern and western areas *


Mostly cloudy, damp, milder. Yesterday's high of 51° at midnight was enough to keep the temperature forecast from being a complete bust, but only technically, after the raw 40s in the afternoon. Today is somewhat milder, with afternoon readings mainly in the low and mid 50s, although by noon, both National and Dulles had reached the low 60s. Earlier mist and haze have given way to just mostly overcast skies.

Cooler and drier conditions are on tap for this evening while a storm system brings precipitation into the area from the southwest tomorrow. Temperatures are likely to be cold enough for the threat of frozen precipitation from about the Mason-Dixon line northward during the day, and closer to the metro area if precipitation begins earlier. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the northern and western suburbs from 3am tonight to noon tomorrow for the possibility of sleet or freezing rain. Meanwhile, yet another storm system will be approaching the area over the weekend.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Cooler, rain likely. Lows tonight will be 36-41° under cloudy skies. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with a cold rain likely (80% chance) developing from southwest to northeast by late morning, possibly beginning as sleet or freezing rain in the northern and western areas and highs 41-45°.

Scroll down for Dan's outlook through the rest of the week and a weekend peek.

Weekend Storm Outlook

"You might have even seen an accumulation map on the Internet. I think that's nuts at this point." (Howard B on WUSA-TV 9 news at noon today). Bravo, Mr. B! Speculation on the specifics of the storm expected to develop this weekend is just that at midweek: speculation. Nevertheless, the model gnomes in the basement of Momma Nature's Weather Grill are bound and determined to cook up a wintry treat (or trick, depending on your point of view) for the Mid Atlantic region from Saturday into Sunday.

The main U.S. model run this morning continues the trend of putting the DC area in the traditional transition zone between frozen and liquid precipitation. Even though there is a respectable pool of cold air anchored over eastern Canada and New England in the model forecast, temperatures in the immediate DC area would favor mostly rain. The models do have a tendency to underestimate the ability of cold air to persist near the surface in this type of situation, however, so it definitely bears continued watching.

The storm is just now coming into the sights of the shorter-range model known as the NAM, which runs out to 84 hr. (1am Sunday morning). The run from this afternoon's data was being output as this was written. It shows a much less vigorous development, but temperatures cold enough to favor frozen precipitation.

See Dan's Snow Lover's Crystal Ball below for more details on possible scenarios.

Conference Report

The RealClimate blog is reporting near real-time from the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) currently underway in San Francisco. The latest post a few hours ago covers the extension of the Antarctic ice core CO2 record back to 800,000 years ago. As noted on Monday, the lecture "Abrupt Climate Change and Our Future" is available via webcast at 9:15pm Washington time tonight.

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Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

Latest 3-month temperature outlook from Climate Prediction Center/NWS/NOAA.