Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Record Rainfall; Beta Testing

Temperatures this afternoon in the Washington DC metro area are more typical of an average day in mid or late December. Mid or even low 40s prevail as some scattered showers linger in the area. In the higher elevations, snow has been falling, with as much as 6" reported this morning in western Maryland and West Virginia.

Yesterday's rainfall of 0.57" was enough by 0.01" to set a new record for maximum October monthly rainfall in Washington. This record is especially significant since last month set the record for minimum September precipitation. With additional rainfall around an inch today, this month has achieved the dubious distinction of being 1 of only 25 months overall in 135 years to have exceeded 9", and it is well on the way to reaching 10".

Tonight and Tomorrow

Cloudy skies will continue tonight with lows near 40 and a 30% chance of showers (or snow flurries in the colder locations). Tomorrow will see gradual clearing and highs in the mid 50s. A frost advisory may be needed tomorrow night.

Tropical Beat
The idea of Wilma merging with a non-tropical low to produce a "perfect storm" turned out to be a little simplistic. The image shows the surface weather map early this afternoon (18Z or 2pm EDT) from the National Weather Service HPC. The center of Wilma is shown as the small hurricane symbol in the warm-air sector to the northeast of the large nor'easter pummeling New England. (Providence RI was reporting wind gusts of 41 mph, for example, at 4pm.) Although the non-tropical low is absorbing some of the moisture and energy of the tropical system, Wilma is an intense enough storm to maintain its own identity within the larger circulation. At 5pm, the 105 mph winds of this morning had decreased to 85, the storm was losing its tropical characteristics, and advisories were discontinued.

With Wilma rapidly exiting stage right, the search is on for storm Beta. A suitable candidate has appeared in the form of a low pressure area located in the southwestern Caribbean (11N 78W, for those of you keeping score at home). The National Hurricane Center reports this afternoon that computer models "unanimously" agree this area is stocked with those essential ingredients for Momma Nature's favorite Weather Grill tropical treats: warm salt water and low-fat wind shear.

Stupid Storm Stunts

For more on Al Roker's excellent adventure and other stupid storm reporting tricks, check out the reruns of last night's Daily Show on Comedy Central. Since ridicule doesn't reduce this foolish behavior, it seems that a reporter or crew member will have to be killed or maimed before the various news media reform their storm reporting techniques.

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