WASHINGTON - The recipe for winter weather and snow is really not all that difficult. You simply need air cold enough overhead as moisture is moving in and boom...you have either freezing rain, sleet, or snow! In the Mid-Atlantic though, it is not always that easy to hold that cold air in place long enough to give a purely snow event. You need certain features to align atmospherically which is actually a rarer occurrence than I think many people realize. Yes, we do get some big blizzards here in the D.C. region, but they are far from an every year occurrence. The setup has to be just right.
The setup for next week is far from perfect. The cold that will be in place over our region on Monday morning will be residual cold leftover from the weekend. There will be a ridge of high pressure draped across the Northeast, the feature that forces cold air down the eastern range of the Appalachian Mountains, but compared to say the snow event we dealt with a week before Christmas back in December, it is not nearly as strong and will be weakening throughout the afternoon on Monday. This leads to a situation that typically involves more of a mixture, than a pure accumulating snow. Weather models over the last 24 hours have been trending more in that direction for us as well.
As of Friday morning, weather models show rain pushing into the region during the afternoon hours of Monday, likely just starting as the liquid variety. As the sun sets, and as you rain into a dry airmass, you cool it. This should lead to rain changing over to a mix, sleet, and snow for some of our neighborhoods heading into Monday night, with winter weather lasting right up through sunrise on Tuesday for some northern and western locations.
As of this morning, most weather modeling is showing the all important rain/snow line setting up around the I-66 corridor in Virginia. As with any winter weather event, where exactly this line sets up is going to be key to who could receive what in terms of accumulations. Unlike earlier this week, we are not seeing any computer guidance suggest big time snow numbers at this time. So we are not expecting this to be any sort of blizzard, more of a nuisance winter storm event that could impact travel on Monday evening. As is pretty typical, northern and western zones will have the best shot at accumulating snows, because these are the areas where the cold air tends to linger a little longer. Conditions should improve pretty quickly on Tuesday as the storm pulls away.
As we have already seen over the past few days, who could potentially get what with this storm is more than likely to change over the weekend as computer models come into better agreement. Keep it tuned to Fox 5 for the latest on this winter weather event all weekend long.
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