All signs are pointing to plenty of available moisture and enough cold air to make for a wintry mess in parts of the D.C. area. Here are some of our initial thoughts.
I literally chose the picture to the left because that is what I feel like right now and I am willing to bet the majority of you are feeling the same way. We're getting tired of the weekly wintry messes, causing delays, cancellations and adding enough stress to call for 3-day weekends throughout the month of March!
While that is extremely unlikely unless you are your own boss, there's one thing that does appear likely on the horizon, and that is the potential for a winter storm. While exact timing, precipitation type and precipitation amounts are impossible to forecast at the moment, guidance continues to show the potential, which is why I am relaying what we know to you.
- Satellite image of the west coast and Pacific
Where is this storm coming from?
Currently, the energy and moisture from this system is located in the Pacific Ocean. It's not expected to move into the U.S. until Friday afternoon. This will bring plenty of appreciable rainfall to the western U.S., in particular California, which is struggling through an exceptional drought.
It's then expected to push into the Rockies and exit into the Central Plains Sunday before heading east to the Mid Atlantic.
When will it enter the D.C. area?
Current thoughts are that the weekend looks relatively dry, with a weak system traversing the area Saturday and a frontal boundary setting up shop north of the area Sunday.
Late Sunday afternoon or evening, a few showers are expected to enter the Potomac Highlands and eventually move into the D.C. area by Sunday night. Precipitation is expected to intensify into Monday before finally exiting the region by Monday night into Tuesday morning.
What type of precipitation is expected?
This is the tough part. You're totally surprised about that aren't you? An arctic cold front will be lying on the D.C. area's doorstep Sunday night into Monday morning. Current guidance depicts plenty of precipitation over the D.C. area (over 0.50" of liquid).
- 12Z ECMWF 850mb Temperature forecast for Sunday
While the most recent data from a few models are depicting more snow in the region, others are still hanging on to a warmer solution with a wintry mix of sleet, freezing rain and rain.
As the system is still located over the Pacific, over 3 days out, there is still going to be a bit of a discrepancy. Honestly, I can't tell you exactly what to expect at the moment, but I am willing to guess that wintry precipitation will be likely across parts of the D.C. area Sunday night into Monday morning.
Unlike the past few systems, this time around areas north and west of D.C. will have the higher likelihood for frozen precipitation while areas southeast of D.C. will have a better chance for rain.
As always, we'll keep a close eye on this and keep you informed through the weekend to anything new we may see. Beyond Monday, colder than normal temperatures appear likely for the eastern half of the U.S. through the first week of March.
- CPC Temperature Probabilities from March 5-9