January thaw, then a hard rain

Feels like spring, doesn't it? We've already topped 50 degrees here at The Sun this (Friday) morning, and the airport is forecast to reach 55 degrees by this afternoon as sunshine and a southwesterly breeze drive temperatures to their highest marks in about a month.

Increasing cloud cover late today will put a lid on the temperatures, and Saturday won't be quite as mild. There's a cold front moving our way from the Midwest. As long as we're on the east side of the front, and in westerly winds, we'll stay mild. But after the front passes this afternoon, we'll be cooler. We could even see some drizzle tonight.

High pressure behind the front will give us partly sunny skies on Saturday. But the high will move offshore quickly, and clouds will start to move in ahead of the next storm.

The new low will develop in the lower Mississippi Valley. Clouds and precipitation will begin to move into the region late Saturday. Forecasters say the storm will redevelop and intensify off Delmarva Sunday, pumping lots of Atlantic moisture into the region.

Although there may be some mixed precipitation at first north and west of I-95, it will quickly turn to all rain. Forecasters are describing it as a soaking rain, with three-quarters to an inch of water falling on Sunday, and another tenth to a quarter-inch Sunday night. Chances are put at 100 percent for Sunday, and 90 percent for Sunday night.

A switch back to some frozen precip is possible late Sunday as the departing storm system heads for New England. But the risk is in the higher elevations of Western Maryland.

The rain should be enough to flush the road salt that has been been swirling in dust clouds over the interstates and major roadways this week. No word yet on any flooding concerns here. The Monday holiday looks better than Sunday, with mostly cloudy skies. The middle of next week looks to be mostly sunny, with seasonable highs in the 40s, lows near freezing.

No wintry weather in sight.

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/MODIS imagery/Jan. 12, 2010)

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