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Tornado watch in effect for D.C. region

Friday - 2/21/2014, 11:21am  ET

WASHINGTON -- A tornado watch is in effect for the region around the D.C. metro area and areas east of I-95 until 5 p.m. Friday.

A tornado watch arises when conditions are favorable for producing storms that could create a tornado.

Temperatures ahead of the cold front have shot up as a warm front lifts north. As the cold front and the rain associated with it moves into the region (by noon in the D.C. area) some strong to severe thunderstorms are possible. However, isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out. Winds will be the primary factor as storms pass the region.

Everything should continue to move off the coast by the mid-afternoon hours.

People in the D.C. region can expect a soggy Friday before warmer weather and some sunshine arrive for the weekend.

A tornado watch has been posted for the region around the D.C. metro area and areas east of I-95 until 5 p.m.

While the chance for some severe weather is still in the region Friday, widespread warming temperatures are not. Most of the area will still surpass the 50-degree mark and some areas (mainly east of the city) may even pass the 60-degree mark but with the warm front still south, we will have minimal heating time to create an area-wide severe weather event.

The storm prediction center continues to have some of the area to an elevated risk for severe weather with the main threat being strong and perhaps damaging winds with gusts possibly more than 57 mph.

A severe weather threat for damaging winds (more than 57 mph) is the highest off the Southeastern Virginia coast (30 percent) while Southern Maryland and areas east of I-95 have a 15 percent shot of seeing severe weather with damaging winds being the highest threat.

As you can see, the highest threat will be in Southeastern Virginia just clipping Southern Maryland. This makes sense as this is the area that will be last to see the front arrive. This will allow more time for temperatures to rise through the morning and early afternoon hours, creating more instability, which, in turn, will trigger stronger thunderstorms.

The front and the rain associated with it still continue to travel quickly eastward. It should arrive in the D.C. area in the mid-morning hours Friday (earlier to locations west) and continue to progress through the region during the early afternoon. There is a possibility of more showers behind the front leading into the mid-afternoon but a lot of the region should see some clearing by the late afternoon and into the evening as temperatures fall.

The possible projection of rainfall for around noon Friday.

This will likely not be a flooding event as most of the snow around the region has melted off, however, since the ground is saturated from the melting snowpack, breezy winds could bring down some trees. Winds will pick up as the front crosses the area (mid-morning to mid-afternoon), but will settle down as we continue into the late afternoon and evening hours.

As rain falls, some locations could see some heavy downpours, but all in all, only expecting about 0.25 inch to about 0.50 inch for rainfall amounts (and obviously those who do not see heavy downpours embedded within the thunderstorms could only receive about 0.10 inch of rain accumulation).

We will continue to watch as the storms crosses the area (and you can too with the WTOP radar maps), but again expected breezy winds, some downpours, isolated thunderstorms (some which could be strong to severe—which would be mainly south and east) and all rain wrapping up by the mid-afternoon hours.

Keep your eyes on the weekend as temperatures rise into the mid to upper 50s with some areas nearing 60 degrees. A dry and beautiful weekend is in store, so get the outdoor plans ready.

Great weather is in store for Saturday and Sunday, although Sunday may see some more clouds.

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