Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Slow Storm: A Turkey of a Travel Day


Cold rain. Rain from a slowly moving strong storm off the Carolina coast arrived in the Washington metro area about 6 hours ahead of when it was "progged" by yesterday's models, throwing an extra spin into what is already a traditionally challenging travel day. The good news is that the earlier arrival implies an earlier departure as well, and a high pressure ridge building into the region afterward promises the reward of a much nicer weekend. (For the weekend details as well as the Travelcast, scroll on down to Dan's post below.)

Besides being driven by a northerly wind gusting over 25 mph at times, the rain is accompanied this afternoon by temperatures in the upper 30s after morning highs in the low to mid 40s. Radar late this afternoon showed a sharp cutoff of the precipitation to the northwest with the western edge from a little west of I-81 in VA to near Harpers Ferry WV and York PA. The heaviest rain was in a band from just north of Richmond northeastward across southern MD and into southern DE.

Pictured: Beach scene yesterday at Kill Devil Hills, NC, where winds gusted to 59 mph, from the Virginian Pilot. Alligator River, NC, had a gust to 82 mph. Storm total rainfall amounts on the Outer Banks were over 6" at Hatteras and Ocracoke (6.92") with considerable flooding.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Rain, possibly heavy, then ending. Rain tonight may be heavy at times, especially to the southeast of DC. Lows will be in the upper 30s to near 40°. Rain should taper to showers tomorrow morning, ending around noon with highs in the upper 40s.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Can Chilly, Clear Conditions Continue?


Clear, chilly. Bright sun has been shining through nearly cloudless skies this afternoon, but its intensity is roughly equivalent to that of late January, and temperatures have been limited to the upper 40s in the Washington metro area this afternoon. Highs were 47° at National and 46° at Dulles.

The main weather question for this heavily-traveled holiday week is the timing and extent of rainfall from a low pressure area lurking off the Southeast coast. That storm, being fed by tropical water vapor from as far away as the central Caribbean and even the extreme eastern Pacific, was absolutely drenching the Outer Banks today; in the hour ending at 2pm, Cape Hatteras received over an inch of rain, followed by 0.57" in the next 22 minutes. Northward progress of the rain will be quite slow, however, because the circulation is cut off from the main flow of the westerlies. Contrary to wishful thinking expressed in some forums, there is no prospect of enough cold air for frozen precipitation in this region.

Pictured: Portion of Northern Hemisphere water vapor image mid afternoon today from Unisys.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Chilly, some clouds. Clouds will increase a bit tonight with lows near 36° in the city, low 30s in the 'burbs. Tomorrow will be partly to mostly cloudy with highs around 50°.

For the outlook through the rest of the week and into the holiday weekend, scroll down to Jason's post below.

Tropical Topics

The last advisory on eastern Pacific storm Sergio was issued yesterday afternoon. Sergio was the longest-running eastern Pacific tropical storm ever observed in the month of November.

Political Science

Tom Toles comments on the recent election's impact on climate policy in today's WaPo editorial cartoon. The headline shown in the cartoon is a reference to Saturday's article analyzing changes in Capitol Hill committee assignments and priorities. Sen. Barbara Boxer, scheduled to be the new chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has announced she plans to hold serious hearings on climate change, as opposed to the science fiction performances put on by the outgoing chair, Sen. Inhofe of Oilahoma. In a double-barreled reality check, not only is Inhofe losing his chairmanship, but he is being challenged by Sen. Warner of Virginia for the position of ranking minority member.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fall Fading Fast


Cloudy, cold. As we enter the last 10 days of meteorological autumn, a big southerly dip in the jet stream, accompanying northwesterly breezes at the surface, and a mostly overcast sky have prevented temperatures from breaking 45° in much of the Washington metro area this afternoon. National's high of 46° occurred before 11am, and the high at Dulles was only 43°. Meanwhile, radar shows very widely scattered snow flurries in the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

As the jet stream dip becomes cut off from the main flow, potential holiday travel problems will develop and linger into the end of the week, especially over the Southeast.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Chilly. As clouds break somewhat tonight, lows will be near 34° downtown to the upper 20s in the cooler 'burbs. Tomorrow will be partly cloudy and chilly with highs near 50°.

For the outlook through the rest of the week and into the holiday weekend, scroll down to Jason's post below.


The DVD version of the climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" is being released tomorrow. The DVD is currently ranked #6 in sales at Amazon, where it is being sold at a 43% discount. Extras include commentaries by the director and the producers, a 30-minute update with Al Gore, a "Making of" feature, and a music video by Melissa Etheridge. The packaging is made from 100% recycled materials. A portion of the proceeds from the sales will be used to help support the bipartisan Alliance for Climate Protection.

Also shipping soon is the DVD "Storms of 2006". All of the profits from the sale of this video, a volunteer effort by 55 storm-chasing contributors, will be donated to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund. Last year's edition, "Storms of 2005", was exhibited at the American Meteorological Society national meeting earlier this year.

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

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