WASHINGTON - The first half of March has certainly roared in like a lion across much of the northeastern United States. On Thursday morning, many across eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, southern New York, and New England were digging out from their second nor’easter in only the past five days. Many of these regions are making up for snowfall deficits brought by an unusually warm February across the eastern half of the county.
Here in Washington, D.C., the thermometer surpassed 60 degrees a total of seven days in the month of February, including a record-shattering 82-degree day. So far in March, we have yet to break 60 degrees here in D.C. and currently have none in the forecast for at least the next 7 days. For a month that typically averages 12 days above 60 degrees, it has been a rather chilly start by March standards for sure.
Despite the Spring Equinox looming in the not so distant future (March 20), Mother Nature seems poised to remind us what season it is and is threatening parts of the East Coast with yet another storm this weekend. Unlike the previous two most recent storms, this one has a little better shot at impacting the Mid-Atlantic region. There are still plenty of questions about the track of this system. As is the case with any winter system, minor differences in the storm track can be the difference between a major snow event and a dry, chilly day here in Washington. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the latest information.
The latest run of the American model is the one that snow lovers want to be correct. It brings a southern storm system into the area late Sunday afternoon. The system starts as a rain/snow mix. As the rain rates increase over the region, the atmosphere cools rapidly and the model switches it over to all snow by Sunday night. It then snows throughout the overnight hours and into Monday morning as the low turns northward off of the Carolina coastline passing east of the Delmarva peninsula. Such a track would easily be D.C.’s biggest snowfall, not just of this year, but of the past two years.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the European model. This model still contains the storm but it is a weaker system that is suppressed farther to the south. It brushes portions of Southern Maryland, the Northern Neck, and the Delmarva region with some light mix or snow. The core of the storm passes far enough to the south that it has a very little impact on the immediate D.C. region. According to this track, the storm still moves to the north but stays far enough out to sea that the D.C. region would not see any snow. Over the past few days this model has trended closer to our region but as of Thursday morning it is still not there yet. The one thing that is certain, as we continue to monitor the storm, is that we will not have any confidence in the storm forecast until the various weather models come into better agreement.
Why the big difference between the weather models despite the potential storm being only about three to four days away? The answer is in the pattern of the storm which models are still struggling with. The main issue between the various models at this time is how they are handling the remnants of Wednesday’s nor’easter, which still looks to be around Nova Scotia during the weekend. The stronger or farther southwest this feature is the more likely it is that the storm passes harmlessly to our south. Recent model trends have pushed this feature a little farther northeast which would allow the storm to come a little closer to our area. Such a trend would increase the threat of snowfall in the D.C. area. We need to continue to see how models trend with this, as well as other features, over the next 24 hours or so.
As a recap - yes, the threat of a late winter storm hitting our region is there this coming Sunday and Monday, however, we are not yet to the point where we can say for sure it will happen. This winter has been a difficult one for storm tracking. Models have had difficulty, all winter long, with storm tracks - even when storms are only a few days away. We will be constantly monitoring the latest data as it comes to us in the days ahead. We hope to have a better idea of the storm track by late Friday afternoon.
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