Tuesday, March 14, 2006

And Now for Something Completely Different

After a brief blast of summer, here's a novel idea: March temperatures. Today's high will go into the record books as midnight's reading of 74, but temperatures have been falling or nearly steady since then, down to the upper 50s by mid afternoon. Winds behind the cold front which finally went through early this morning have been strong from the northwest, gusting near 40 mph.

The rain showers which accompanied the front were very weak; only a trace fell into the official rain bucket, although Dulles managed to pick up 0.02". We are now in a month-long dry spell. Only 0.03" of precipitation has been observed at National up to mid-month, and a mere 0.25" was reported in February following the snowstorm on the 12th.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Tonight will be much more March-like, with lows around 36 under mostly clear skies, a few degrees cooler in the outlying areas. Tomorrow will be sunny and breezy with highs in the mid 50s.

NOAA's New Digs

Here's something else different: After decades of residency in sunny Suitland at FOB #4 and later at the World Weather Building in Camp Springs, NOAA broke ground yesterday for the Center for Weather and Climate Prediction at the University of Maryland's M-Square Research and Technology Park in College Park. The nearly 270,000 sq. ft. building will be the new home of the 800 people who make up the Satellite and Information Service, Air Resources Laboratory, and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). NCEP collects and analyzes worldwide meteorological data, develops and runs the numerical weather prediction models we look at here every day, and does climate analysis and prediction.

Having first trod the hallowed halls of FOB #4 more than 4 decades ago, I wish the members of NCEP good luck in their well-deserved move to improved facilities at their new $50 million home beginning in late 2007. Full occupancy is planned for February 2008. Besides including state-of-the-art technology, the building plan qualifies for U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver Certification for sustainable buildings.

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