Tracking 2 winter weather threats through weekend as March approaches

After a very windy start to the week, the D.C. region will enjoy quiet and seasonably chilly weather for the next few days. While some clouds are expected each afternoon, no precipitation is anticipated through at least the second half of Thursday. Thankfully, winds will stay light as well and February looks to close on a very quiet weather note here in our region.

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But things get a little trickier as we start the month of March.

As the old adage goes, March loves to "come in like a Lion" and the majority of our weather models do suggest a pretty active pattern through the first week or two of the upcoming month. Despite meteorological spring beginning on March 1st, recent years have shown us that snowfall in the month of March is not so uncommon. The past six winters in a row have all featured some measurable March snow for D.C. at some point and several of our better weather models suggest we may try to make that seven in a row at some point during the first week!

The first threat we are tracking comes our way late Thursday night into the early morning hours on Friday. What is important to note about this system is that it is a very weak wave more so than a storm. It shares some similarities to a snow event that was in the forecast two weeks ago when several weather models were threatening our region with a small snow event on Saturday, February 16th. Once we got to within a day of that event, the system was modeled significantly weaker and much farther south and ended up completely missing the D.C. region. The point being -- sometimes models are too aggressive with these weaker systems in the four to five-day forecast range and will end up trending weaker and changing the track as we get closer.

For as long as our forecast guidance continues to show it, we will continue to update you on it and keep you ahead of any possible impacts. At its worst, the system could bring a few inches of snow to parts of the region and be especially tricky with the timing as far as schools and delays are concerned. However -- and I do want to make this very clear -- there is a legitimate possibility that this system could turn out to be not much of anything at all. I would not cancel any plans over this system yet, but keep it tuned to FOX 5 as the Weather Team continues to update as the latest data rolls in.

The next system that has caught our eye approaches the East Coast during the latter half of the weekend. This one is very tricky as there are a lot of different atmospheric features in play. Of the two systems, this one is definitely the more moisture rich. It would also have a bigger snow potential if things happened to continue to look wintry for us -- so this system is certainly one worth watching in the days ahead.

On Monday, all of the weather model guidance available suggested that upper level features would keep this system well to our south. On Tuesday morning, those same upper level features had shifted enough in the European model that those around the D.C. region got a decent snow event through the second half of Sunday all the way until early Monday morning. It did not show a blizzard, mind you, but the model itself did threaten several inches of snow region wide. The European model is beloved by forecasters as it is widely seen as the most accurate model.

We do look for several things when forecasting a snow event in what is considered the "middle range" (any event out beyond three days in the future.) One of these is model agreement. At the moment, the European model's biggest "rival", the American (GFS) model. This model is not nearly as aggressive and it shows stronger upper level features leading to a slower system and one that is forced to stay farther to the south. We would like to see these two models come into more of an agreement about the risk over the next couple of days before we can raise our confidence about what will truly happen. So for now, our general confidence in this event remains low as well. Just like the Friday event, keep it tuned for updates as we always do our very best to bring you the latest in a timely fashion.

One thing that we do actually have higher confidence in is that March does look like it is going to start off on a cold note. Whether or not any of the possible systems happen to strike our region or totally miss us -- the upper atmospheric pattern is conducive to a more winter-like feel returning to our region as we move into the first full week of March. However, if you would like a little bit of good news, extended range guidance does suggest these patterns shift around by the middle of the month to return the cold air where it belongs -- back up to the north. As things currently stand, it does look like spring should arrive, weather wise, right on time this year during the second half of the month.

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