WASHINGTON, DC — Severe weather is expected to hit the District of Columbia and northern Virginia later this week, with a stormy Thursday in the forecast, but what are the odds for snow on Christmas?
Right now the weather forecast favors a wet and windy Christmas Eve and Day, with the potential for flooding, a gale warning on Chesapeake Bay, and a dramatic temperature drop in temperatures that could bring ice and snow just in time for Christmas.
“A strong cold front will sweep through the region Christmas Eve,” the National Weather Service said Tuesday afternoon. “The front will be accompanied by showers, thunderstorms, some producing heavy rainfall and strong gusty winds. Arctic air will rush in and could change the rain to a brief period of snow.”
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for most of the state for Wednesday through Monday. The agency said a strong low-pressure system and cold front will move across the region later in the day on Christmas Eve and then last through early Christmas Day.
The hazardous outlook applies to the District of Columbia, Prince William, Manassas, Manassas Park, Fairfax, Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, Fauquier, Loudoun, Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George.
This area includes the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay, tidal Potomac River, and the I-95 corridor through central Maryland, northern Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Also, a gale warning is in effect for the waters through 6 p.m. Tuesday.
There is an increased risk of flooding and wind damage later Thursday and Thursday night.
“There is a potential for a flash freeze on wet surfaces Thursday night into Friday morning as colder air rapidly moves in. There is also a chance for accumulating snow Thursday night,” the weather service said.
In the Mid-Atlantic, 1 to 2 inches of rain is likely along and west of Interstate 95 on Thursday night into early Christmas morning, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang said.
Temperatures may drop 30 degrees Friday morning, with highs in the mid-30s in eastern spots, including Washington, the Post said. Accumulating snow is possible in parts of the Appalachians, including western Maryland, while a few flurries or snow showers are even possible Christmas Day in D.C., Baltimore or Philadelphia, though accumulations would be light.
Technically, a white Christmas means an inch of snow on the ground to cover the grass.
The first major storm of the official winter season will bring rain and a flooding risk to most areas along the Eastern Seaboard, and even some thunderstorms, according to AccuWeather. “The storm is also expected to bring a brief period of snow at the tail end for some locations and a dramatic change to colder weather for all in its wake spanning Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.”
The unsettled weather pattern later this week means cities including Atlanta and Orlando will turn colder much faster than Washington, D.C., AccuWeather said. Temperatures are forecast to warm into the 50s in the District.
Temperatures are expected to plummet through the 30s and into the 20s in Atlanta on Christmas Eve. And even the high in Orlando on Friday may end up lower than the low temperature in Boston from Thursday night, with readings likely to be within a few degrees of 50 in both locations.
According to the Farmers’ Almanac, which recently released its annual Christmas weekend forecast, our state is in for fair and cold weather for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The fascination with a white Christmas was likely popularized by the writings of Charles Dickens. The depiction of a snow-covered Christmas season in his 1843 classic “A Christmas Carol,” and a number of his other short stories, was reportedly influenced by memories of his childhood.
The song, “White Christmas,” sung by Bing Crosby, is among the best-selling singles of all time. The tune nostalgically speaks of a white Christmas and has since become embedded in American holiday traditions.
Here’s the forecast through the holiday weekend:
Tuesday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 29. West wind 3 to 8 mph.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 46. Calm wind becoming southeast 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday night: A slight chance of rain after 2am. Increasing clouds, with a low around 39. South wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Thursday: Rain likely before 10am, then showers, mainly after 10am. High near 62. Breezy, with a southeast wind 9 to 14 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Thursday night: Showers. Low around 30. Breezy, with a south wind 13 to 20 mph becoming west after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Christmas Day: Rain and snow showers likely before 8am, then a slight chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 36. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Friday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 21.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 35.
Saturday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 24.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 44.
Sunday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32.