Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wilma Wending Westerly Way

A cold front which passed through the Washington DC metro area overnight is becoming stationary across southern Virginia. Temperatures which had been in the low 60s earlier have dropped to the upper 50s with some light showers. Radar in early afternoon showed an area of showers from near Morgantown, West Virginia eastward across far western Maryland, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and extreme northwestern Virginia. By mid afternoon, the bulk of the rain had moved quickly to north-central Maryland and the Baltimore area, but a few showers reached the western suburbs of Washington.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Tonight will be cloudy with a 50% chance of showers and lows in the low 50s. Tomorrow, cloudy skies and an east wind will keep high temperatures in the mid 50s with a 70% chance of rain.

Tropical Beat

Accuweather image via
Although it weakened somewhat yesterday from its most extreme intensity, Hurricane Wilma is still a Category 4 storm with maximum winds of 145 mph as of 2pm and back up to 150 at 5pm. It has been moving more westerly than originally expected, and so it is likely to make landfall on the northeastern Yucatan peninsula or remain just offshore tomorrow before turning toward the northeast and heading for southwestern Florida. The storm was centered 135 miles southeast of Cozumel in late afternoon, moving northwest at only 6 mph. Reports from Cozumel showed winds from the east-northeast at 35-40 kt this afternoon. (You can track real-time conditions at the Aviation Digital Data Service METAR web page. Enter station code MMCZ for Cozumel or MMUN for Cancun, although the latest from Cozumel states "FUSE POR WILMA".)

The track models are fairly consistent in turning Wilma toward the northeast and across Florida, but a few are hinting at a later threat to the New England coast, or even Cape Hatteras and Ocean City. The official "zone of uncertainty" extends as far west as the Chesapeake Bay and the lower Potomac. (There is probably a more descriptive term for the shape, but we'll leave that to Wonkette).

You Don't Need a Weatherman
Watch out, Topper, Bob, Sue, Joe, and company: A press release from Televirtual's UK Media Lab announces the world's first artificial TV personality. (That point might actually be debatable.) METman is "a virtual weather reporter/forecaster, whose entire performance is generated automatically from a few lines of text-based data issued as a meteorological summary, and accompanied by a weather map update." The METvoice speech engine is driven by XML-style mark up language to control lip-synch, moods, and gestures.

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