DC Winter Storm Updates: Snow and ice all Thursday

In essence, temperatures are slightly above freezing at around 5,000 feet, partially melting snowflakes and turning them into sleet. Models had predicted that these temperatures would be about a degree colder, which was the reason for predicting at least one short period of snow. But the fact that the real atmosphere is warmer than the modeled version has meant sleet.

We had predicted snow would turn to sleet and had stated last night that more sleet would fall than snow, but that little warm layer, several thousand feet high, has mostly melted the snow prospects away.

Our next update will be shortly after 8am

6:20 a.m. – Sleet has been the dominant type of precipitation so far

Reports from the area indicate a lot of sleet (although radar precipitation algorithms show snow; they are incorrect). In some areas sleet mixes with snow and / or freezing rain. Regardless of the type of precipitation, untreated surfaces become smooth.

As we wrote last night, the temperatures are a few thousand feet above us right at the sleet transition point and it seems that we have ended up on the sleet side so far. It is possible for rainfall to mix with snow or turn to snow during major eruptions, but we can also have freezing rain in the mix if it is easier.

Assuming we have sleet most of the time, sleet is at the lower end of our projections as sleet accumulates more slowly and is denser. Regardless of the 20s temperatures and frozen precipitation steadily dropping, the road / drive impact is similar regardless of whether there is more sleet or more snow.

Scroll to the bottom of this article for previous updates.

Detailed forecast

Today’s daily digit

A somewhat subjective assessment of the daytime weather on a scale from 0 to 10.

1/10: Not enough snow and ice are not nice, so go slow or pay the price when you go out.

Express forecast

  • Today: snow / sleet / freezing rain, strongest in the morning. Heights: Near 30.
  • Tonight: Mottled, intermittent light winter mix. Lows: 25-29.
  • Morning: morning mix possible; Partial cleaning in the afternoon. Maximum values: 35 to 39.

Forecast in detail

No doubt that today will be a mess from the combination of snow and ice. The heaviest falls this morning, but even the lighter, icy rainfall that follows until tonight makes untreated surfaces potentially dangerous. A dry weekend offers relief, but the cold temperatures don’t let up.

Today (Thursday): Snow and / or sleet welcome early risers and eventually turn into sleet in the course of the morning. Rainfall can sometimes be heavy, affecting visibility, and quickly covering streets and sidewalks. A gradual shift to mostly light freezing rain in the afternoon could result in a treacherous glaze as temperatures stay below freezing.

Most of us ingest at least an inch or two of snow and sleet, and the amounts increase as you head northwest, where more snow falls. Highs are in the upper 20s to low 30s with northeasterly breezes. Confidence: Medium high

Tonight: Freezing showers should be light and intermittent, but still have a dangerous ice film. Sleet and / or snow can mix in at times but may not be much. North winds are generally on the light side. The lows slide into the mid to upper 20s. Confidence: Medium high

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Morning (Friday): In the morning, very light freezing rain is possible, which can mix with sleet and snow. Most rainfall should be over by noon and partial cleaning is possible in the afternoon. The winds from the northwest are moderate. The highs reach the mid to upper 30s and melt away a bit. Trust: Medium

Tomorrow night: The sky will become clearer through the night with light northwest winds. Lows fall in the upper teens through the lower 20s, so be wary of icy spots. Trust: Medium

A look ahead

Saturday has a lot of sun, but brisk north winds and highs no better than the low 30s make for shaky walks. The crystal clear night should offer calm winds and the opportunity to watch the growing moon pull over the head of the constellation Orion (also tomorrow evening). The lows range from teenagers to near 20 downtown, which could be the winter’s lowest yet. Trust: Medium

The sunny sky on Sunday is still deceptive as the cold is stuck. Highs only fight for the mid-30s, which is about 10 degrees below normal. Another clear night, but not that cold, with lows mostly in the mid to upper 20’s. Trust: Medium

The clouds increase on Monday and some snow / rain showers are possible until mid-morning, but should mostly rain in the afternoon and stay on the bright side. Highs reach the top 30s to low 40s. Trust: Low-Medium

Snow potential index

A daily assessment of the potential for at least an inch of snow for the next week on a scale from 0 to 10.

9/10 (↑): Our snow accumulation should reach its peak by the morning and then shrink when the sleet / freezing rain takes over.

Expired updates

5:40 a.m. – sleet and snow break out quickly over the region

In the last 90 minutes, a mixture of sleet and snow has developed in the region from southwest to northeast. In some areas it is already falling sharply.

In some areas, even if you started out as sleet, you can switch back to snow as the air cools and precipitation falls through it. Or alternate between sleet and snow or have a combination. Some freezing will also be part of the mix. The region lies directly at the transition point sleet-freezing rain.

Temperatures in the mid to upper 20s mean precipitation quickly clings to all surfaces and roads and sidewalks become slippery.

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