Washington, which believe it or not, has seen only an inch and a half in official snowfall so far this year, is about to get clobbered with a late-winter system that will thrill snow lovers, cause panic, and fill grocery stores today.
In terms of where the snow falls, this forecast chart (Capital Weather Gang) for the snow storm is pretty much a typical set up in the DMV.
We figured this is a good time to explain a situation that exists here. Probably not unique but it’s consistent enough to talk about.
As you can see, Alexandria, parts of the District, where we live south of Alexandria and elsewhere are in the two to six zone. The higher totals are what they call here “parts north and west.”
This map serves a reminder for area residents who live in these places to get ready for the oft-heard question?
"How much snow did you get? Saw on the news where it was fourteen!"
So why does this happen?
Well, the question is natural curiosity.
But as a seasoned weather-watching vet, we thought we would dig further and offer these thoughts and observations.
Parts of the DC region got…
More than one hundred miles wide, the Washington region stretches from the Appalachian mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
…. up to a foot.
For that dramatic forecast or report lead in, the weather folks find the highest amount, which are generally in the higher elevations of the Piedmont or the mountains. Since West Virginia is in the region, they can use those too.
Climate and geography
D.C. tends to be on the southern edge of winter storms. If you’re not paying a lot of attention, it sometimes appears Washington is within the graphic of forecasted snow.
The Young and Restless
Tom, Chuck, Doug, Emilia, Sheena, Lauren.
These are the meteorologists at one of our local TV stations. I rattled off their names merely on memory. They are seen many times on the morning and afternoon shows. Point is, weather is ubiquitous. You couldn't dodge it if you tried.
Selling the Drama
The forecast for the first storm of the year was one half to two inches. The forecasters nailed it, but the guns blazing coverage beforehand made it seemed more like we were going to get a foot.
That Tricky Snow/Rain Line
Can't explain it to you in scientific terms, but along a line roughly the same as I-95, warmer temps can turn the snow to rain or sleet.
Forecasting is not Easy.
Personally, I think the forecasters here do a good job, But it is never easy, as noted in today’s report by the Capital Weather Gang.
We want to stress that this forecast is extremely complex and we have lower confidence in predicted snow amounts than usual. This is especially true along and east of the Interstate 95 corridor where we have reduced our predicted snowfall amounts some.