Friday, August 26, 2005

Katrina Cranking Up

Well, we got the humidity part right in yesterday afternoon's forecast. Except for the lone holdout of National at 57, dewpoints are up into the 60s throughout the Washington meteorological reporting area. Temperatures are another story, since unexpectedly persistent cloud cover is keeping readings below 80. Radar is showing an area of showers from central and southern West Virginia eastward to near Charlottesville. There are also a few smaller areas in northern Virginia, although it's not clear how much of that is actually reaching the ground. Leesburg, which is a robo-observer and therefore somewhat suspect, did claim to have light rain at 4pm.
Just in case you think we're the only flip-floppers, here's the official NWS forecast from this morning for tomorrow:
and the current one:

Tonight will be mostly cloudy, lows near 70; the chance of a passing shower cannot be totally ruled out. Tomorrow will again be mostly cloudy, highs around 80, and a 30% chance of showers in the afternoon or evening.

Tropical Topics
After taking a practice run at southeastern Florida last night, Katrina was briefly downgraded to a tropical storm, but it has now regained all of its strength and more over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. At 2pm, Katrina was a category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and a central pressure of 969 mb; at 5pm the pressure had dropped to 965 mb. Although the center of the storm was 60 miles from Key West and moving away, a wind gust of 74 mph was reported at Key West Airport. The storm was still moving south of west at latitude 24.8 N, after having been as far north as 26 N before landfall. The longer the storm continues on this track before turning north, the more it is likely to intensify, and the further west the second landfall will be. Three of four models this morning were forecasting landfall at least as far west as Mississippi. The latest model run this afternoon, the NAM, keeps right on truckin' towards Texas at 72 hours. The SHIPS intensity model is forecasting maximum winds of 135 mph at 72 hours (Monday morning). As of 5pm, the official forecast track has landfall near the Mississippi/Alabama border.

For the latest news headlines on the storm, check out the Miami Herald's excellent storm page and their reporters' storm blog. Except for license-mandated bar closures between 5am and 8am, it was party time in South Beach. The Herald also has an interesting behind-the-scenes report on the Weather Channel's Jim Cantore's remote broadcast on the storm.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Afternoon Update

Once again, afternoon temperatures are in the low 80s in the Washington metro area, and National is reporting a dewpoint which hasn't been seen in some time: 49 degrees (relative humidity 31%). As cool as it has seemed, the morning low of 62 will make this the only day so far this week which has averaged below the long-term mean for late August. The month as a whole is still averaging 3.3 degrees above normal so far.
Under mostly clear skies, lows tonight will be in the low to mid 60s. Tomorrow will be a few degrees warmer and a little more humid, highs in the upper 80s.
Tropical Topics
Hurricane Katrina continues on a westward course at 6 mph toward the southeastern Florida coast. A hurricane warning is in effect for the Florida coast from Vero Beach south to Florida City. There are also tropical storm watches in effect north and south of that area and for portions of the Florida west coast. At 3pm, the broad center of the storm was about 35 miles offshore in the vicinity of the Ft. Lauderdale/Boca Raton area. Maximum winds have been increasing steadily, reaching just below hurricane strength, 70 mph, at 3pm. At 3:30, however, reports from a NOAA aircraft and Doppler radar indicated that the storm had reached hurricane force. The storm is expected to track slowly westward across Florida tomorrow. Following that, the various models are producing a very wide "cone of uncertainty", varying anywhere from the Mississippi Gulf coast to well offshore of the Georgia coast by Monday morning. Rainfall amounts from this slow-moving storm are quite heavy. The Weather Channel reported that some offshore precipitation totals have been from 8 to 12 inches, based on Doppler radar.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Repeated by Popular Demand

It's almost a carbon copy of yesterday in the Washington metro area: temperatures in the low to mid 80s, dewpoints in the 50s. You'd have to go about as far south as Georgia to find temperatures in the 90s.

Low temperatures will be in the mid 60s tonight, and highs will be around 84 again tomorrow, with a less than 10% chance of rain through tomorrow night.

Tropical Topics
Tropical Depression 12 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Katrina this morning. A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch are in effect for southern Florida from Vero Beach to Florida City. As of 5pm, these advisories are also extended to Lake Okeechobee. Aircraft reconnaissance indicated maximum winds of 45 mph. The storm is moving north-northwest at 8 mph from a position about 200 miles off the southeast coast of Florida. Continued strengthening is expected, with the possibility of reaching minimal hurricane intensity before landfall in southern Florida. The models diverge somewhat on the ultimate track, but the official forecast brings the storm across southern Florida and back into the Gulf as a tropical storm, where it reintensifies into a hurricane. Because of the slow movement, the storm is likely to be a heavy rain event for the Bahamas and southern Florida.

Broadcast News: More on Weather Channel Makeover
The Aug. 1 issue of RealScreen magazine has an article about the Weather Channel's programming redesign from the point of view of Janet Johnson, VP of long-form programming. Among the new feature shows is something called Full Force Nature, which is intended to be "weather on steroids." Also on the schedule is, just what you've always wanted, more product placement. Multichannel Merchant reports that TWC and L.L. Bean have made a deal to outfit the Severe Weather Team. One item which is NOT on the schedule is "Who Wants to be a Meteorologist?"

Has the Weather Channel jumped the shark? Cast your vote.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


5:10 Update
Tropical Depression 12 has formed over the Bahamas, and a tropical storm warning has been issued for the central and northwest Bahamas. The National Hurricane Center expects further strengthening, and tropical storm or hurricane watches may be issued for portions of southern Florida tonight. The forecast track takes the storm across southern Florida into the Gulf, where further strengthening to hurricane force is possible. When and if it's named, it will be Katrina.

5:00 Update

It's not often that you hear the word "delightful" applied to Washington DC August weather, but that's the term of art for today. With a sky marred only slightly by a broken layer of clouds at 25,000 feet, temperatures are in the low to mid 80s, and dewpoints are mainly in the 50s. The cold front which pushed through here has hung around to the south, bringing the kind of gloomy Tuesday to that area which we had the last couple of weeks. Radar at mid afternoon showed showers from just south of Ocean City southwestward back across the lower Chesapeake Bay and Tidewater Virginia. Norfolk, Newport News, and Langley AFB were all reporting light rain and temperatures of 75-77 at 3pm.


For tonight, partly cloudy skies will be accompanied by temperatures in the mid to upper 60s. Tomorrow should be very similar to today: partly cloudy, comfortable humidity, and high temperatures near 83.

Tropical Topics

If you blinked, you missed Jose, which developed just off the Mexican Gulf coast and moved inland early today. It was already dissipating this morning about 70 miles from Mexico City, and advisories have been discontinued.

A "Special Tropical Disturbance Statement" was issued for the area in the southeastern Bahamas which was at least indirectly related to what was once T.D. 10. Advisories are beginning at 5pm; we'll post an update when something is issued.

The low which is now 650 nm west of the Cape Verde Islands continues moving west. Conditions are marginally favorable for development.

Extreme Makeover: Weather Channel Edition

An alert reader sent us a link to a Harper's Magazine article titled, "It's Going to Be a Hot One". This is a transcript of "a presentation given by Terry Connelly, senior vice president of Programming and Productivity, to female on-camera meteorologists (OCMs) at The Weather Channel in August 2003." Citing the example of Daryn Kagan of CNN "wearing a short black skirt with a slit up the side", he concludes that the "boundaries that we've set for ourselves shouldn't be there." The quotation ends with "Do you want to look old? That's what happens when you don't smile. And have a big nose." I guess this explains the exotic outfits and huge earrings Alexandra Steele has been wearing with all the goofy grinning and happy talk on the new version of Evening Edition.

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

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