Tuesday, August 21, 2007

DC: Dark, Clammy


Cloudy, very cool, humid. After some welcome rain, mostly in the early morning hours, it's like a bad day at the beach in the Washington metro area: cloudy, damp, and cool. National picked up 1.42" of precipitation, and Dulles had 0.53". Temperatures are near record low maximums, barely reaching 70° this morning and remaining mostly in the upper or even mid 60s this afternoon with some fog and drizzle. Radar shows showers scattered through Pennsylvania and south and west of Charlottesville, but nothing in the immediate area.

Conditions will be slow to improve, but the heat will return by the latter part of the week.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Cloudy, humid, cool, scattered showers possible. Cloudy skies, with some fog and drizzle, will persist overnight. Lows will be near their current readings in the mid and upper 60s. There is a 40% chance of measurable rain. Tomorrow will again be cloudy and damp but somewhat warmer with highs in the mid to upper 70s. The chance of showers is 30%.

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

Tropical Topics

Dean made landfall around 4:30 this morning on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula near the port of Costa Maya. It was still strengthening as it approached land as a Category 5 storm with winds of 160 mph. The central pressure of 906 mb was the ninth lowest ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin, and the third lowest at landfall, exceeded only by the infamous 1935 Florida Keys storm and Hurricane Gilbert as it hit Cancun in 1988. This is the first Category 5 landfall in the Atlantic Basin since Andrew in 1992.

The storm weakened quickly to Category 2 over land this morning, but it continued to lash the coast with pounding waves. At 5pm, Dean had just moved offshore into the Bay of Campeche as a Category 1 storm with estimated maximum winds of 80 mph. The mainly westward track will take Dean across the southern end of the Gulf of Mexico and to another landfall in Mexico in the middle of the day tomorrow, after possibly having restrengthened to a Category 3. After that, it should rain itself out as a depression in the mountains of central Mexico.

The transcript of this morning's discussion on hurricanes hosted by CapitalWeather.com is available at the online WaPo.

Political Science: Freedomology

We don't normally cite Faux News here at the Update, but an opinion piece today, "Does Government Weather Forecasting Endanger Lives?" is worth noting, if only for the point that wingnuttery regarding privatization of weather services did not disappear with the resounding defeat of Sen. Santorum at the polls last year. Having fled civil service after only 5 years at NOAA, the Update is no great fan of bureaucracy, but only the most ideologically extreme would claim that government has no role in public safety. This was recognized from the earliest days of the republic; there's a good reason why an immediate ancestor of today's NOAA, the Coast Survey, was founded exactly 200 years ago. It's a fact that the advances in numerical weather prediction during the last 50 years that have made today's forecast accuracy possible have all been government-funded, either directly at NOAA or through support of university research. Private industry could not, and would not, have made the huge investment necessary to produce these results.

The author of the article, John Lott, is an economist. I think we know how accurate their models have been. Like Allan Sloan in today's WaPo, I'm a strong advocate of free markets (after all, they made it possible for me to do this as a public service), but apparently Mr. Lott sees no hypocrisy in being paid by tax dollars as an employee of the University of Maryland.

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Seasonal Outlook

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