Weekend forecast improves; all eyes on next week's storm that could bring snow, mix to DC region

The holiday weekend is nearly here and you could not ask for a better start! Friday temperatures are expected to hit their warmest levels in the last week with highs in the 60s expected this afternoon. Clouds will hold steady however, although it will feel nice when the occasional sunny break occurs. A cold front will then approach the region later tonight, potentially bringing a few light showers to the region. More importantly, winds behind it will take on a more northwesterly turn, which will bring the cold air back in just in time for the long weekend.

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Eyes have been very carefully monitoring the system on Saturday. As recently as Wednesday afternoon, weather models had been consistently indicating the potential for an impactful four to five inches snow event in the D.C. region on Saturday morning. However, over the past 36 hours the trend has this small, compact weather system pushing farther to the south.

Since this is not a big system with a wide precipitation field, the southern trend has pushed the threat for accumulating snows deeper south into Virginia. Current model projections suggest two to four inches of snow will be possible along the Interstate-81 corridor of southwest Virginia, while one to three inches is possible through central Virginia. While the threat for impactful snow has largely pushed south, it is still not out of the question that some of our southern zones could see some snow showers or snow flurries. Parts of Southern Maryland, down closer to Fredericksburg, and the Northern Neck of Virginia could see a period of light snow that may put down a coating to an inch in a few spots. However, snowfall is not expected to fall at an intense enough of a rate to cause major issues.

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Sunday should start off dry, with some clear skies and light winds leading to the coldest morning of the weekend as you wake up, with widespread 20s expected. Under some morning sunshine and winds turning out of the south, temperatures are expected to rise above freezing as cloud cover builds in during the afternoon hours. By the evening, another small and weak system will pass to the south. This will scatter out some rain showers for much of Virginia, D.C., and Maryland. For locations north off Interstate-70 in Maryland up towards the Mason-Dixon Line, temperatures may stagnate in the lower 30s for much of the afternoon and there is the potential for a little bit of snow or sleet to mix in with the showers. But even in these areas this is not expected to be a major deal as this system really does not have a whole lot of moisture to deal with.

Of the three systems, the one that has always been the biggest concern to forecasters has been the one in the middle of next week. It is certainly the bigger, more moisture heavy system. Since it is coming during the middle of the week as well, it is also the only one of the three that could potentially impact local schools and governments with delays and closings.

Overnight weather models were a little bit late bringing the system into the region, preferring much later in the day on Tuesday and keeping the majority of the day from being impacted by bringing the moisture in well after sunset. However, they have also trended towards starting the event as more snowfall. Weather models suggest parts of the region could pick up several inches of snow prior to the changeover to sleet and then freezing rain. Wednesday morning in particular looks like the most difficult travel morning at this time, and would be the most likely day for delays and cancellations as well assuming that the forecast holds steady through the holiday weekend.

The overall setup suggests that the event could trend closer to what we just experienced on Monday and Tuesday of this past week. While parts of our region escaped that even with just a heavy and cold rain, many in our northern and western zones did have a significant an impactful ice event that caused a number of problems. Unquestionably we will have to continue to hammer out the details on this bigger system as we move through the course of the weekend and into next week. Stick with the Fox 5 Weather Team on air and online to keep you ahead of the storm, and monitor the Fox 5 Weather App to have the latest information always right at your fingertips. Have a wonderful and safe Presidents Day weekend!

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