Friday, January 20, 2006

Party Like It's 1950

Even the snow-lovers would have to admit that a nice day is better than an ice day. Except for the notoriously unrepresentative locations near cold bodies of water, temperatures were in the 60s by early afternoon today in the Washington DC metro area. To the south, Stafford claimed a reading of 68 by 3pm. That certainly qualifies as a nice day in January, on average the coldest month. The best part is that the warmth is not accompanied by rain (yet), and you don't have to wait until The Midnight Hour. It's not warm enough to set a record in the century-plus history of the city locations, but for Dulles today easily surpasses the old record of 57 in 1991. (That leaves only 2 January dates, tomorrow and the 10th, which have never exceeded 60 there.)

A low pressure area working its way northeastward toward the Great Lakes will bring the threat of showers to our region tomorrow, but for now, the radar is clear for hundreds of miles.

Tonight and Tomorrow

For tonight, lows in the low to mid 40s will be accompanied by increasing cloudiness. Tomorrow's highs will be in the low 60s under mostly cloudy skies and a 50% chance of showers in the afternoon or evening.

How Warm Is It?

This year's warm start has many people asking how unusual it is for January. The monthly average temperature of 42.7 through yesterday has moved up the charts to 9th place on the 135-year official Washington hit parade.

One record which is not in jeopardy of being broken any time soon, however, is the amazing 48 degree average in January 1950. That month's 13-degree excess over the January average for the entire period of record makes it the warmest month of all time in Washington history, relative to average. It's enough to be warm for March (3.2 degrees above the period-of-record average) and equal to or warmer than the 2 coldest Aprils. The chart of the daily temperatures from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center shows that the month started off warm, with highs in the 70s on 3 consecutive days in the first week and reaching 70 again on the 10th. The coldest day was the 20th, with a high of 35 and a low of 22, but after that the temperature rose steadily for 6 straight days, reaching over 70 on 3 of them, including the all-time January record of 79 on the 26th. Five of those daily records still stand over half a century later. chart from NWS monthly records

It Could Happen the Day After Tomorrow (Or Not)
  • Last week's IMHO distinctly underwhelming Category 3 Hurricane Destroys New York will be followed by F5 Tornado Does Dallas on TWC's "It Could Happen Tomorrow", Sunday at 9:30pm.
  • WeatherTalk radio has inexplicably invited conspiracy nut Scott Stevens, tinfoil hat and all, back for a second week, Sunday at 3pm, WCBM 680. As the CarTalk guys say, "You've wasted another perfectly good hour . . ."
  • A site visitor has pointed us to the dcrtv news that the, shall we say, "flamboyant" Joe Bastardi has been pulled from national broadcast duty by AccuWeather. I have personally noted his absence from CNBC since late summer or early fall. (Currently at the top of dcrtv is an interesting item about Rush and Daryn, but that's a subject for another blog.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Winter Marches On

Some clouds associated with a weak warm front have moved out, and temperatures throughout the Washington DC metro area have reached or exceeded 50 degrees by mid afternoon today. Some mixed precipitation earlier on radar from the West Virginia panhandle northeastward to Pennsylvania was apparently not reaching the ground, and it has now disappeared. Tomorrow looks like a fine day to sneak out early for your favorite outdoor activity (as long as it doesn't involve snow), so get your excuses ready.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Lows tonight under a few clouds should be around 37 in the city, lower 30s in the colder 'burbs. Mostly sunny and low 60s are on tap for tomorrow.

Betting on Snow

Whether you believe in the gambler's fallacy (a coin is more likely to come up heads after 9 consecutive tails) or persistence (a coin is more likely to come up tails after 9 consecutive tails), you don't have much support in Washington snow statistics. Last month, we looked at whether December snowfall amounts can give any clue for January and found that they were almost completely uncorrelated. If it's possible, February snowfall in DC is even less correlated with January. The chart shows an almost completely flat regression line, with a correlation coefficient nearly equal to 0. Stay tuned as we try to figure out what Momma Nature's cooking up for the February menu.

Six out of Seven EPA Administrators Recommend

It's stuck under an equal-sized White House Iraq photo-op on page A4 (dead last in the online A section), but today's WaPo has an article about a meeting in which 6 former EPA administrators, 5 of whom are Republicans, recommended mandatory limits on CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. The immediately previous administrator, Mike Leavitt, who is now secretary of HHS, could not attend because of "schedule conflicts". Russell Train, who held the position from 1973 to 1977 under Nixon and Ford, said,
"This is not a sort of short-term cycle problem. This is a major disaster for the world. To say we'll deal with it later and try to push it away is dishonest to the people, and self-destructive."
Come on, Mr. Train, stop being so partisan!

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

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