Thursday, March 3, 2005

Mid-day update: Marching in Washington

Washington has long been noted for its Marches, and as Josh explains below, this one promises to be every bit as exciting as many in the past. Except for a sun angle more typical of World Series time in October (Did you notice how BRIGHT the snow was Tuesday?), today could easily be mistaken for a mid-January day whose temperature is about 5 degrees below the average for that time of year. Yesterday's high was only 37. That was as cold as, or colder than, 20 days of this past January and all but 2 days of last month. Brisk northwesterly winds gusting up to 30 mph should make it feel even colder than that. The winds are generated by the pressure difference ("gradient") between a large high-pressure area stretching from the upper Midwest all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and the low pressure area which brought our snow on Monday, still spinning over the Maritime provinces of Canada.

How cold can it get in DC in March? The all-time low of 4 was set on the 4th in 1873. On the other hand, the lowest record maximum for any date in March is 77, with an all-time high of 93 on the 23rd in 1907. So, if you want to experience all the seasons in Washington, come back each March, and you'll eventually see just about every kind of weather except tropical storms. Some years, you might even see spring!

At noon, temperatures around the area ranged from 32 at Leesburg to 39 at Culpeper, within a degree or 2 of those at the same time yesterday. Winds were gusting as high as 26 mph. We're on track for a high in the upper 30's and a low tonight about 20.

Tales from the Weather Grill
In our last episode, we revealed some of the secrets behind Momma Nature's management of the Weather Grill. Unfortunately, that wasn't the whole story. In fact, it's downright chaotic there. As we said, she goes out and buys the very best ingredients: crispy cold air, ripe juicy tropical moisture, the liveliest energy ("vorticity") available. She hires the most skilled technicians to develop partial-differential equations and program them into the tastiest recipes. But then, something seems to go terribly wrong. Perhaps she forgets where she put the recipe and leaves the ingredients sitting around until they spoil and have to be thrown out. Maybe she rushes around too fast and everything turns out undercooked. Or, she mixes the ingredients, puts them into the oven, and then spends so much time talking on her cell phone to the other goddesses that she doesn't hear the timer go off, and dinner is burned beyond all recognition. What can you do? She's a quirky lady, but she's the only Nature we've got. Even though we keep complaining, snow fans or snow-haters alike, we love her anyway, and we keep coming back to see what she's dishing out today. If you don't like your meal, please don't complain to us. We don't cook it; we only interpret the menu from the clues Momma gives out. If you want, you could try filing a report at Zagat's.

Washington Wacky Winter Weather Wimpiness
Recent discussion of the wimpiness of Washington's response to winter weather (or the threat thereof) reminded me of the fast-food commercial of a decade or so ago which went something like this:
Geezer 1: "When I was a kid, we had to walk to school 10 miles in the snow. And it was uphill both ways. In fact, we didn't even have shoes on our feet."
Geezer 2: "Feet, you had feet?"

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