Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Miss, but a Win for the Models

The recent trend of cold, but dry, weather continues in the Washington DC area as the models correctly predicted that precipitation would stay south of the region. The sun gradually strengthened this morning through a high overcast which was caused by a weak low pressure area bringing mostly rain to the southeastern states. In far southwestern Virginia, precipitation was in the form of snow. At mid-morning, radar showed precipitation advancing as far as just north of Richmond and just south of Charlottesville, but none of it was reported reaching the ground. These areas were becoming more scattered by noon. A few stations in West Virginia had light snow. Light rain reached as far north as the Norfolk area in southeastern Virginia.

Temperatures should warm up to near 50 this afternoon in most locations. It's now 49 here in Montgomery County.Tonight should see temperatures below freezing for the 12th time so far this month, with lows about 30. Tomorrow will be sunny with temperatures a few degrees warmer, into the low 50's, nearly seasonable for this time of year.

March so far
March is normally one of the wettest months in Washington, with an average of 10.1 days, or 33%, having measurable precipitation. For the first half of this month, we have seen only 2 such days. Last year on the 16th, we were beginning a 6-day stretch of rain and drizzle. As for the temperature, there has been only one day so far which averaged above normal. The overall average of 5.3 degrees below the long-term normal, if it continues, would make this the coldest March in over 20 years, just 0.1 degree warmer than in 1984.

In the news
The industrial grade 80,000-ton ice sculpture near Fairbanks we mentioned last week has collapsed from above-normal temperatures, according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News.

On a somewhat larger scale, there were reports this week that the snow cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro has melted for the first time in 11,000 years.

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