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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 02/12/2008

Primary Prediction: Skimpy Snow to Slick Ice

By Matt Ross

Today's biggest threat: Light afternoon ice

*Winter Weather Advisory north of D.C. from noon to 10 p.m. today*
*Best voting weather is in the morning. Vote early!*

Voter turnout in the Potomac Primary may be hampered by some wintry weather, especially later this afternoon. A weak, but complex storm system over the Tennessee Valley will slowly drift east during the day. Light snow will break out in the early morning hours mainly in the far-reaching suburbs well north and west of DC (towards Frederick, Md). The closer in suburbs and the District may experience a period of light snow or flurries in the morning, but any light snow will be spotty and intermittent with little or no accumulation. The main slug of precipitation will arrive later in the afternoon in the form of light sleet, freezing rain and rain. Your best bet is to vote before this steadier, icy precipitation moves in.

DC Forecast | Maryland Forecast | Virginia Forecast

Note: This is a complex storm so forecast confidence, on a scale from 1 to 10, is about 6.5.

Detailed DC Forecast (polls open from 7am to 8pm)

Before the polls open: Some intermittent light snow/flurries may (30%) develop in the pre-dawn hours. This could cause a quick dusting, but more likely it will just be cloudy and cold with temperatures in the low to mid 20s.

7am - 1pm: While some patchy light snow or flurries cannot be ruled out (30%), it will mainly be cloudy and very chilly with temperatures only climbing to near 30 by lunchtime. District voters shouldn't encounter much inclement weather issues during this time.

1pm - 8pm: Light sleet and freezing rain will move into the area during the mid to late afternoon (60%). Precipitation will be light, but surface temperatures will be in the low 30s. Some slick spots are definitely possible on sidewalks, bridges, overpasses, and less traveled streets. Toward the end of this period temperatures will likely rise into the mid 30s and just plain rain will fall, but the timing is still uncertain as to when temperatures in DC rise above freezing.

After the polls close: Rain will become steadier and more widespread as temperatures slowly climb into the upper 30s and low 40s overnight.

Detailed Maryland Forecast (polls open from 7am to 8pm)

Before the polls open: Snow will break out well north and west of town in the pre-dawn hours (50%) and attempt to creep into the closer suburbs (30%). Areas like Damascus, Frederick and Germantown may even see a coating of snow before dawn. However, with very dry air in place, any snow that falls will be light and intermittent. Temperatures will range from the mid teens to the low 20s.

7am - 1pm: Apart from some patchy light snow and flurries, especially northwest of the beltway, it will just be cloudy and cold with temperatures rising into the mid to upper 20s. This is the best time for suburban MD voters to go to the polls.

1pm - 8pm: Light sleet and freezing rain will arrive in the area during the mid to late afternoon (60%). Precipitation will be light, but surface temperatures will be near 30. Anything that falls will stick so some slick spots are definitely possible on sidewalks, bridges, overpasses, and less traveled streets, especially north and west of town where more significant icing is possible. Toward the end of this period temperatures will likely rise into the low to mid 30s and just plain rain will fall east of I-95. However, in Montgomery and Frederick counties, and points north and west, temperatures are likely to remain at or below freezing until the polls close. As precipitation intensity increases, there could be some moderate icing problems in those areas that stay below 32.

After the polls close: Precipitation will become steadier and more widespread. While some isolated areas could stay below freezing with icing issues continuing, most everyone will be above freezing by late evening through midnight and just plain rain will fall as temperatures rise through the 30s overnight.

Detailed Virginia Forecast (polls open from 6am to 7pm)

Before the polls open: Snow will break out well west of town in the pre-dawn hours (50%) and attempt to creep into the closer suburbs (30%). Areas like Winchester, Purcellville and Leesburg may see a dusting of snow, while closer in suburbs will just see some light snow or flurries. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 20s.

6am - noon: Other than a few flurries or patches of light snow, especially west of DC, it will just be cloudy and cold with temperatures rising into the upper 20s. This is the best time for suburban Virginia voters to go to the polls.

Noon - 7pm: Light sleet and freezing rain will begin during the mid to late afternoon (60%). Precipitation will be light, but surface temperatures will be in the upper 20s to low 30s. Anything that falls will stick so some slick spots are definitely possible on sidewalks, bridges, overpasses, and less traveled streets, especially west of town where more significant icing is possible. Toward the end of this period temperatures will likely rise into the low to mid 30s and just plain rain will fall east of I-95. However, in western Fairfax, Loudoun, and points west temperatures are likely to remain at or below freezing until the polls close. As precipitation intensity increases, there could be some moderate icing problems in those areas that stay below 32.

After the polls close: Precipitation will become steadier and more widespread. While some isolated areas could stay below freezing with icing issues continuing, most everyone will be above freezing by late evening through midnight and just plain rain will fall as temperatures rise through the 30s overnight.

Keep reading for the forecast tomorrow through the weekend ...

TOMORROW

Rainy, milder. Mid to upper 40s then dropping. Rain will continue tomorrow, moderate at times. The track of the storm system will push plenty of milder air into the region and allow temperatures to rise well into the 40s. Eventually the storm will develop a coastal component and move rapidly off to our northeast. Rain should taper off by the late afternoon. However a brief period of non-accumulating light snow is possible after dark (20%) as temperatures drop into the mid to upper 30s. Overnight, cold air will make its presence felt again with lows in the low to mid 20s under gradually clearing skies.

A LOOK AHEAD

Valentine's Day looks good for lovers with partly sunny skies and temperatures seasonably warm in the upper 40s. The weekend will start off benign with temperatures on Friday in the low 50s, but a frontal passage early Saturday will usher in some colder air just in time for another tricky storm system to affect us from the south on Saturday night and Sunday. It is too early to determine precipitation type so stay tuned. President's Day currently stands to be dry and cold with temperatures in the 30s.

By Matt Ross  | February 12, 2008; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: Update: Spotty Snow Now, Patchy Ice Later

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