WASHINGTON - Ah yes, the dreaded "S" word. We could not possibly be talking about the chance for snow this weekend, right? After all, it is Friday, the sun is shining, and temperatures are rising through the 60s and into the low 70s in parts of our regions.
But alas, it is also November, the final full month of autumn and one that typically sees swings from warm to cold.
The weekend will start with some false hopes. Saturday will start chilly, but also sunny and bright. By the early afternoon, many around the Washington, DC metro area may once again be looking at temperatures climbing into the low 70s-- but then the changes sets in.
Sometime after 3 pm on Saturday (earlier west, later east) a strong cold front will push through the region, bringing showers and perhaps even an isolated rumble of thunder. At the same time, a storm system located over the northeast will begin to strengthen, sending the coldest air of the season so far in our direction out of Canada.
Cold air will spill in above the surface first, before we feel it here at the surface. While not likely in DC and farther south, it is possible that some north of the District could see a few wet flakes mix in with showers as the front passes on Saturday evening.
As the storm to the north continues to strengthen, our winds will increase throughout Saturday night and into Sunday, possibly gusting above 40 mph from time to time. By Sunday afternoon, temps will struggle to reach the upper 40s with the wind making it feel like the 30s in many locations. For the Redskins home game on Sunday night, it will likely feel much more like Green Bay than Kirk Cousins and company would probably like as wind chills dip into the 20s. Needless to say, dress warmly if you are heading to the game!
The threat for a few flakes comes throughout the day on Sunday, but is not something that would cause any concern. It’s primarily due to the wind direction, with winds gusting out of the northeast from the direction of the Great Lakes, still unfrozen and relatively warm at this time of year. Snow showers are expected to be widespread across upstate New York, western Pennsylvania, and even westward facing highlands of the Maryland Panhandle and West Virginia where several inches of accumulating snow will be possible, with Winter Weather Advisories already posted in a few locations.
East of the highlands around metro DC and Baltimore, our only hope for flakes is if one of these snow showers makes it through the mountains. Chances of this happening are much higher to the north, closer to the Maryland/Pennsylvania boarder, than they are in Washington. If some flurries did happen to make it over the mountains, what falls would be very light and not stick to anything (even the grass). The flurries would move relatively quickly as well, with locations that see them likely getting less than 15 minutes of very light snow before they move on.
November flakes are nothing new around DC. Of the past four winters, three of them have featured snow falling in the month of November. Accumulating snow in November is much rarer occurrence. In fact, it has been 20 years since measurable snow was last recorded at Reagan National, a meager 0.2” on November 14, 1996. The District has not seen more than an inch of snow in November since 1989.
Going all the way back to the late 1800s, the average date of first measurable snowfall in Washington, DC is December 11, showing we likely still have a few weeks before the word “snow” in the forecast starts to be more threatening.
Stay warm this weekend!