3 storm systems in 5 days; forecast update shows snow, rain and wintry mix heading toward DC region

We are still tracking the threat of three storm systems expected to pass through over the course of the next week in the Washington, D.C. region. Our mission is always to do our best to keep you ahead of any winter weather that may threaten our area. Here is the latest on all of the systems that we are tracking for our region based on all of the new data that came in overnight.

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The first system we are tracking continues to threaten Saturday with some snowfall. Current timing suggests that the system moves in around sunrise on Saturday, potentially starting as a little mix before transitioning over to some wet snow. It is a small, fast moving system and models do indicate that it would likely exit our region by the middle to late afternoon on Saturday. It would not be an all-day event.

One thing we talked about Wednesday, as a concern, was just how small this system was. It is not a big, high moisture storm that comes up from the south, but a weaker storm that will travel along the frontal boundary that will pass through our region on Friday afternoon. This being the case, any small shift in the track can and will lead to big changes in snow totals. The majority of weather guidance overnight shifted a little farther south with this storm, now favoring the steadiest and heaviest snows a little farther into central Virginia, the Northern Neck region, and parts of Southern Maryland. If you recall, Wednesday's European model was showing just over four inches of snow in downtown Washington. Due to this slight southern shift, that total has been reduced to now just be about an inch of snow for the city, with even less the farther north you go.

The question for forecasters is whether or not this is a new trend. There has been a single weather model out there (the North American Model…commonly referred to as the NAM) which has been adamant that the D.C. area will not see any snow at all. If the all-important European and American models continue their southern jog with this system, this particular system could quickly become a non-event. There is also the possibility that this is what forecasters call a "windshield wiper" where models overcorrect too far to the south, and then return to more of a northern track as the event approaches. The bigger snow in the middle of January was an example of when things shifted significantly northwest within about 36 hours of the event and snowfall totals had to be brought up. We just have to continue to monitor the latest guidance, and then bring you the latest as we get it.

The second system, which is also a smaller one similar in scale to the one on Saturday, approaches the region on Sunday. Model trends have been to slow this system down, meaning it is becoming increasingly likely that Sunday morning ends up dry with perhaps even a little bit of sunshine for parts of the area. This allows temperatures to warm above the freezing mark in most locations, both at the surface and through the middle layers of the atmosphere. As a result, while there could be some mixing of flakes or sleet north of the Washington, D.C. area as the system comes in, we a likely just looking at some light rain or scattered rain showers across our region. One change is that, with the slower system, some of these showers could linger into the very early morning hours of Presidents Day on Monday, although Monday afternoon continues to look dry. However, as far as winter impacts go, we are less concerned with Sunday at this time.

Most of the questions I have received concerning the weather over the next week have pertained to the storm beyond the Presidents Day holiday. Of the three systems that could impact our region, this one remains the most moisture heavy. Thoughts here have not changed over the past day. Weather features are such that this system is more likely to be along the lines of what we just experienced on Monday and Tuesday of this past week, as opposed to an all snow major blizzard.

Current expectations are that later on Tuesday afternoon or during the evening, wintry precipitation starts pushing into the region, starting in the southwest and moving to the northeast. Similar to Monday and Tuesday, this may include some snow initially that changes over to sleet and freezing rain in many neighborhoods as cold air gives way above the surface first. Similar to the early week, snow could hold on for longer up to the north, while the story becomes sleet, freezing rain, and ice for those living west of the Interstate 95 corridor. The farther south you go, the more likely you are dealing with a just cold rain. Again comparing the event to the early week storm, there could be similar impacts in terms of school delays and closings due to freezing rain and icing concerns, with a better chance of this on Wednesday morning as opposed to Tuesday given the current timing.

As the forecast continues to shift around, we will continue to update you with the very latest information online through the web and social media, as well as on our newscast. Do not forget to check out the Fox 5 Weather App to stay ahead of the storm from your mobile devices. Our goal is always to bring you the latest so that you can stay safe and ahead of any storms that are coming our way.

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