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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

It's mid-March; do you know where your spring is?

It's a few degrees warmer today than at the same time yesterday, although the winds are actually stronger, gusting as high as 29 mph around the area at 1pm. Temperatures ranged from 45 to 48, heading for a high around 50 under sunny skies.

Clouds will increase by tomorrow morning as a low-pressure area getting organized in the western Gulf of Mexico this morning heads eastward. Yesterday, we told you that precipitation from this storm was likely to remain south of us, and that trend has been confirmed by model runs since then. Both major U.S. models this morning are again keeping the precipitation to the south, although some measurable precipitation does make it as far north as central Virginia. This means we can't totally rule out some light rain or snow in the southern part of the area; the most likely time would be tomorrow morning or early afternoon. After that, the most likely time for precipitation in the area is Saturday or Saturday night; amounts will probably be light.

Through the looking glass
I have rarely looked at Southern Hemisphere weather maps, so I find them a bit disorienting; they're a mirror image of what we're used to. Severe tropical cyclone Ingrid, after bouncing around the northern Australian coast, was making its third landfall this morning (early hours of Wednesday Australian time) as a category 4 storm with wind gusts up to 260 km/hr. It had previously strengthened to a category 5 over the Gulf of Timor. ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) was reporting that winds of over 280 km/hr were hitting the remote resort of Faraway Bay. The storm had moved north of Darwin, which was nearly destroyed by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day, 1974.

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

Latest 3-month temperature outlook from Climate Prediction Center/NWS/NOAA.