Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ophelia Onstage

Showers breaking out in the broad easterly flow north of the large circulation of Hurricane Ophelia have brought some relief to a few parched lawns in the Washington DC metro area, mainly to the west and north of the Beltway. Most of the rain activity in the region was over the northern Chesapeake Bay and adjacent Eastern Shore. There was a likely severe thunderstorm in the vicinity of Elkton. Here in west-central Montgomery County, rain was moderate to heavy around 2:30, with a peak rainfall rate of 1.12"/hr at the 4-WINDS network station about a mile away. Total rainfall was a little more than a quarter of an inch. For a series of Weather Channel radar images showing the evolution of this storm from Fairfax County across to Montgomery County, click here, here, and here.

Temperatures in the rain-free areas are well up into the 80s and the dewpoints are in the tropical range of upper 60s to low 70s.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Cloudy and humid conditions will continue tonight with lows around 70 and a 30% chance of showers or thunderstorms. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy and humid with highs in the low 80s and a 30% chance of showers, but a higher chance to the south and east of the immediate area.

Tropical Beat: "Enter Ophelia, Distracted"

Hurricane Ophelia strengthened to 85 mph as of 2pm. It was located 70 miles southwest of Cape Lookout, NC and moving north-northeast at a slow 7 mph. The center of the storm is expected to turn more to the northeast and make landfall near Cape Lookout, then move across the Outer Banks somewhere near Cape Hatteras and out to sea. However, the center is very wide, and hurricane force winds extend as much as 50 miles from the center; tropical force winds extend up to 140 miles. This, together with the slow movement of the storm, means that significant damage, especially from beach erosion and storm surge, can occur a considerable distance north of the center.

As of 2pm, a hurricane warning is in effect from Little River Inlet north to the North Carolina/Virginia border. There is a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch northward from there to Cape Charles Light, VA, including southern portions of the Chesapeake Bay.

The main effects from Ophelia on the DC region are still likely to be south and east of the immediate metro area.

More Katrina Media Notes

Under the headline "Storm Drain", the WaPo TV section reprints today an Associated Press story which says that only 24 million viewers tuned in to the Katrina benefit concert last Friday night, although it was carried on 29 networks. That's "fewer than the number of people who typically tune in to a new episode of 'American Idol' or 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.'"

This just in: Also in today's WaPo, featured in the lead column of the Business section front page (although below the fold), is the truly astonishing news that the increase in gasoline prices spawned by the Katrina disaster has greatly diminished the attractiveness of road-hogging, gas-hogging SUV's. Our hearts go out to all of the real estate agents whose image is threatened with impairment in this moment of crisis. Who could have possibly foreseen such an event?

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