Thursday, May 10, 2007

Balancing the Budget


Summery. After a mainly cool beginning to the month (6 days at or below average), May is rebalancing the temperature budget with another summery day in the Washington metro area. Temperatures have reached the low 80s in most places with dewpoints in the low to mid 60s.

Showers on radar are quite sparse south of the Mason-Dixon line, but a line of strong thunderstorms north and west of Harrisburg prompted a severe thunderstorm warning for portions of central PA. Warm temperatures and moderate humidity should persist through tomorrow before some cooler air arrives for the weekend.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Partly cloudy, warm, slight chance of showers. There is a slight chance of showers through this evening, but skies will be partly cloudy the rest of the night with lows in the low to mid 60s. Tomorrow will be partly to mostly sunny with highs 80-83° and a 25% chance of afternoon or evening showers and thunderstorms.

For the outlook through the weekend and beyond, scroll on down to Josh's post below.

Tropical Topics

A reconnaissance flight this morning indicated that Andrea's maximum sustained winds had decreased to 35 mph, and the storm was downgraded to a subtropical depression. Movement is a slow southward drift. There was little change in the 5:00 advisory.

Capitol Climate: Budget Battle

An op-ed piece in today's WaPo, "The Planet NASA Needs to Explore", discusses the scientific impacts of shifting budget priorities at NASA. Among the endangered satellite species is QuikSCAT, which National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza mentioned specifically at last month's DC-AMS meeting as an essential tool in improving the accuracy of hurricane intensity forecasts. Two of the authors of the op-ed are directors of the country's leading oceanographic institutions, Scripps and Woods Hole.

A special report in this month's Physics Today analyzes the 2008 science budget across the entire government. Although proposed R&D spending for NSF, DOE, and NIST is increased, EPA is cut by 3.1% and NOAA by 9.5%. The NOAA research cut is within an overall decrease for the agency of 2.7%, but the National Weather Service would go up by 6.5%. NOAA's education programs (scholarships and outreach programs) would be cut in half.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Moderate May Mugginess


Sunny, warm, moderately humid. Increasing humidity produced some low clouds over the Washington area this morning, but winds more southerly than easterly have helped skies clear this afternoon as temperatures have reached at least into the upper 70s. By 4pm, many locations, including Dulles, were 80-82°. Dewpoints in the summery low 60s are reflected in relative humidity ranging over 60%. Radar is clear over the entire Mid Atlantic region.

Pleasantly warm conditions are likely to continue for the next couple of days.

Surface weather/satellite image map at 2pm today from HPC/NCEP/NWS shows subtropical storm Andrea, the first of the season, lurking off the Southeast coast.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Partly cloudy, warm. Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy tonight with lows in the low 60s in the city to the upper 50s in the cooler 'burbs. Some clouds in the morning tomorrow will give way to mostly sunny conditions in the afternoon with highs 77-82°. There is a 20% chance of showers or thunderstorms in the afternoon or evening.

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

Tropical Topics

The tropical disturbance off the Georgia/South Carolina coast noted yesterday became the first named storm of the tropical season (which begins officially in the Atlantic on June 1) this morning. A tropical storm watch is in effect from portions of the Georgia coast southward to Flagler Beach, FL. As of the lastest advisory, subtropical storm Andrea was still poorly organized. Top winds were near 45 mph with higher gusts. Movement was erratic, but generally slowly to the west. The heaviest rains are expected to remain offshore for the next 24 hours. The next advisory will be issued at 5pm.

The Weather Channel's Stu Ostro has a very nice illustrated discussion of the history of this storm and subtropical storms in general in his blog post this morning.

A subtropical storm (unnamed) formed in the Atlantic as early as Jan. 18 in 1978. Other early-season storms were observed on: 2/2/1952, 3/6/1908, 4/18/2003, 4/21/1992, 5/5/1932, and 5/6/1981. In addition, there have been 17 others in May, including 2 in 1887 and a second one in 1908.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007



Clear, warm. It's another exceptionally nice spring afternoon in the Washington metro area. Temperatures have warmed into the mid 70s throughout the region. Humidities are somewhat higher than in the last couple of days but still quite comfortable. Clouds are likely to increase tomorrow, and there is a slight chance of showers.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Some clouds developing, warm. Tonight should be mostly clear and seasonably mild, with lows from near 60° downtown to the mid and upper 50s in the 'burbs. As a more easterly flow prevails tomorrow, some clouds should develop, and there is a 20% chance of showers. Highs will be in the low to mid 70s.

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

Tropical Topics

The National Hurricane Center issued a Special Tropical Disturbance Statement this morning for the non-tropical storm which has been hanging around about 230 miles off the Georgia/South Carolina coast. Satellite wind measurements showed 35-40 kt. winds off the coast, and strong winds and heavy surf were affecting the coast from Georgia through the Carolinas. "No significant strengthening" is expected, but an Air Force reconnaissance flight will be available if necessary tomorrow morning to investigate.

A posting at the WunderBlog indicates that the 31 days through today with no tropical storms anywhere in the world is the longest such streak since worldwide satellite surveillance became available in the 1980's.

Also on the tropical front, a paper in last week's (May 1) American Geophysical Union Transactions by Christopher Landsea takes some exception to the notion of a relationship between tropical cyclone activity and global warming. Landsea provides statistics which indicate that increases in the number of tropical storms in recent decades are due to improved observational technology (satellites and aircraft). This could be interpreted as contradicting the work of MIT's Kerry Emanuel and others which has supported a link with global warming. A significant aspect of Emanuel's work, however, involves the intensity of tropical cyclones, which does not appear to be considered in Landsea's analysis.

Enhanced satellite infrared image over the Southeast this afternoon from Unisys

Monday, May 7, 2007

Not a Day at the Beach


Clear, warm. Dry northeasterly breezes between high pressure over New England and low pressure nearly stationary off the Carolina coast, together with an early-August equivalent sun angle, are bringing spectacularly fine spring weather to the Washington metro area this afternoon. Temperatures have reached the mid and upper 60s throughout the region. On the Outer Banks, where PM Update spent a relaxing week, however, conditions are not quite so fine.

Our clear and dry conditions will continue through at least tomorrow, with gradually warming temperatures.

Surface weather map this afternoon from IntelliWeather.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Clear, warmer. Tonight will be clear, but chilly for the season, with lows in the mid to upper 40s in the city and near 40 in the cooler burbclaves. Tomorrow will be much like today, but with a little less wind and a little more warmth, highs in the low to mid 70s.

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


The Weather Channel, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, without apparent fanfare has rebranded its weekly "Climate Code" series under the less provocative existing "Forecast Earth" name. The 30-minute climate news segment is now packaged in a 1-hour block with traditional Forecast Earth programming. This week's feature, to be repeated on Saturday, covers solar energy in the first section and the newest generation of weather satellites, GOES-R, which is scheduled for launch in 2014, in the second half-hour. See the WaPo's TV Week magazine cover article for more on TWC's anniversary, including some local connections: Rich Johnson (Baltimore native), Carl Parker (Go Terps!), Mike Seidel (Salisbury, 1980-83 and '89-'92), Alexandra Steele (ABC-7).

551.5: Book Nook

With misinformation so readily available these days from cable noise, squawk radio, and their ilk on the web, it may seem quaint to mention a dead-tree product, but we forego our usual Amazon commission to note that the Oxford University Press Spring Sale includes the Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather at over $200 off. While PM Update can't personally vouch for the book set itself, we can certainly approve of the editor's initials, as well as his apparent coining of the term "mediarology".

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

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