Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spring of Our Discontent

After such an underachieving winter, what was already featured as a low-potential system created some excitement among the snow-lovers as it approached the Washington DC metro area today. Unfortunately for the flake fanatics, the extreme dryness at the surface won out over all of the other factors. Actually, no matter where you were in the metro area, you were probably no more than a mile or so from some moderate snow. The only catch is that it was straight up, and most of it evaporated before reaching ground level.

Around noon, radar truthfully showed snow falling nearly everywhere within about a 30-mile radius of the Washington Monument. The radar image above from weather.com shows snow across most of the area around noon. The surface map to the right from College of DuPage around the same time shows light snow falling in Washington, but a large area of 20° and lower dewpoints from the Mid-Atlantic region across the Northeast and back into the Great Lakes. After 2 hours of light snow, National was able to eke out 0.01" of precipitation at temperatures of 33-34°.

Remember, we told you yesterday that the devil was in the details. Ultimately, the models were just a little bit too strong on the moisture. Having said that, the models are still hinting at a little more light snow or flurries tonight, especially in the mountains, as the upper-level energy now over the Midwest and Ohio Valley moves eastward and out to sea.

The big story here is the fact that we have now had only about 1% of average precipitation in the last month and only about 10% in the last 6 weeks, with a mere 0.04" so far in March. If we don't get some soon, we will be looking at serious drought conditions going into the warmer part of the year.

Tonight and Tomorrow

For tonight, there is a slight chance of some light snow showers or flurries. Clouds will decrease toward morning with lows near 29. Tomorrow will be sunny with highs in the upper 40s.

Tropical Topics

With a little over 10 weeks before the official start, it's not too soon to start thinking about hurricane season. The Southern Hemisphere season is in full swing now. The AP graphic via BBC shows Cyclone Larry, a Category 5 storm, slamming ashore in Northern Queensland, Australia on Monday, local time. Fortunately, there were no reported deaths despite the severe damage from winds up to 180 mph. A second storm, Cyclone Wati, is now approaching the coast as a Category 3. It is forecast to intensify but remain offshore.

Closer to home, AccuWeather is going for the hype by touting the likelihood of a hit on the East Coast. In his typical low-key style, Joe Bastardi is quoted saying, "The Northeast is staring down the barrel of a gun."

PM Update will be taking off tomorrow to work on a global warming story so hot it is embargoed for release until 2pm on Thursday.

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Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

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