Weekend winter threat emerges for DC region; mild temperatures expected for Valentine's Day

It has not been the best start to the work week in the nation's capital. Almost everyone in the region saw ice, sleet, snow or a soggy, cold rain that prompted school closings and delays both Monday and Tuesday. Getting us through it all is the promise of a better middle of the week that includes a mild afternoon on Valentine's Day with expected temperatures in the mid-50s.

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All eyes are beginning to trend towards the upcoming Presidents Day holiday weekend -- the beginning of which threw weather forecasters a little surprise overnight.

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It all begins Friday when a separate system passes well to our north. Earlier on Friday, temperatures could be quite mild, with a number of our weather models suggesting some spots reaching the mid-60s around our region. A cold front swinging through late afternoon into the evening could scatter some rain showers across the area. The key will be watching that front itself and how far south it gets when it passes through the D.C. region. This is the boundary that the system on Saturday will try to develop along, like a train riding along train tracks.

Much to our surprise, there was some model agreement with this sneaky little system from some of the overnight weather models, notably the European model which is a typical favorite among weather forecasters. The European model, along with a new weather model from the National Weather Service known as the FV3, showed notable agreement on the potential for the weekend wintery system. Both suggest that at the very worst, several inches of snow could be possible on Saturday.

The morning run of the American model shows another possible outcome with the front from Friday sinking too far to the south and the subsequent system staying farther to our south, leading to a drier day for D.C. and areas to the north. The Canadian weather model shows the opposite, carrying the storm farther to the northwest leading to some rain showers across our region on Saturday afternoon.

Now, the question of course always is whether or not this is a legitimate threat -- and while the answer is yes -- it is always more complicated than that! It is concerning that it is a winter threat that has popped up within the five-day forecast window, which is a time period where our weather models tend to preform pretty well in. However, we cannot say it is set is stone for a few different reasons. First off, it's quite the change from Monday's weather models. Until we see consistency on that front, it will be hard for us to "lock it in" as a guarantee.

The reason that it is so jumpy is it is a smaller system. Many in the weather community call them "sliders" because they slide from west to east and out to sea as opposed to developing into a true coastal storm and turning up the coastline. Like a leaf floating down a stream, this storm is likely to get bumped around a bit as weather models adjust the strength of weather features around it.

Often times forecasters will look to a weather model comprised of a number of different members, known as a model ensemble, and the European version of this (called the EPS) is showing the energy wave as well. But it is a much weaker signal. What this tells us is that while it is something we do have to keep an eye on, it is also a feature that comes with a high degree of uncertainty and has a pretty good shot at "jumping around" on us over the next couple of day.

As always, we will stay ahead of this for you and bring you the latest information on this potential weekend system in the days ahead as we help get you ready for the holiday weekend to come.

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