Friday, April 7, 2006

The "M" Word

Update: Thunderstorms with heavy rain and lightning to affect immediate area between 8 and 11pm tonight

We haven't had use for the "m word" around here for a while, but as Camden noted earlier, temperatures and humidities are both up this afternoon in the Washington DC metro area. Temperatures jumped by as much as 6 degrees from 2pm to 3pm, approaching or exceeding 70 in most places, while 81 was posted at several locations on the southern fringe of the region. By 4pm, upper 70s were widespread.

Showers which moved through this morning are now well off to the north and east of the area. The rainfall total was around 0.10". There's still a chance for a few showers to break out through this evening, but a better chance late tonight and tomorrow. At post time, a few heavy showers were sprouting around the northern Shenandoah Valley.

Latest surface weather map from IntelliWeather. Subtract 4 hours from time shown for EDT.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Clouds will increase tonight with lows in the mid to upper 50s and a 70% chance of showers by morning. Temperatures will remain nearly steady or falling slowly in the mid 50s during the day tomorrow with rain likely through mid afternoon.

Political Science

"Muzzle" was the word in a WaPo Federal Page story yesterday titled, "Climate Researchers Feeling Heat From White House". This was a follow-up to earlier stories on the Administration censoring reports, interfering with press access, and otherwise limiting the distribution of climate research results at NASA and NOAA. (If this sort of thing is going on in the physical sciences, it kind of makes one wonder about some of the less scientific statistics coming out of Washington, doesn't it?)

"Majority (veto-proof)" was the word in Maryland. In the face of large majorities in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, Gov. Ehrlich signed the Healthy Air Act yesterday. Besides requiring reductions in pollution from coal-fired power plants, the bill joins Maryland with 7 other northeastern states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Along with the WaPo, the bill was covered in the Baltimore Sun ("Md. enacts law to cut power plant emissions"), New York Times ("Pollution Pact Gets Maryland as 8th Member"), and Associated Press ("Md. Governor Signs Air Pollution Bill").

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Marching Back

A vigorous batch of upper-air energy, reflected at the surface as a weak low-pressure trough, rattled through the Washington DC metro area this morning. It brought liquid and frozen showers, and even the rumble of thunder, to many locations along with gusty winds. The northwesterly breeze, gusting over 35 mph at times, is reinforcing the cold air over the region; temperatures were barely making it into the low 50s at mid afternoon, about 10° below the long-term average for the date. It's also very dry; dewpoints are near 20° in most places. (Ft. Belvoir is still, undoubtedly bogusly, reporting at least 10° below everyone else.)

Surface weather map at 8am this morning from HPC/NCEP/NWS

Tonight and Tomorrow

Under scattered to broken clouds, temperatures tonight will fall to the upper 30s city to the lower 30s in the colder 'burbs. Tomorrow will see mainly sunny skies and temperatures rebounding to a more seasonable range, with highs around 64.

Tropical Topics: Gray Outlook

There are 57 days to the official start of hurricane season, and the land-locked folks at Colorado State's Tropical Meteorology Project have issued their updated hurricane season forecast. They have reiterated the numbers from the December outlook: 17 named storms with 9 hurricanes, 5 of them severe. Probability of a severe hurricane landfall along the east coast (including east and west coast of Florida) is given as 64%. The forecast also includes their opinion (highly negative) of the relationship between global warming and hurricane intensity.


If you've been spending more time lately with localized and personalized web sites such as rather than the big Internet names, you're in good company. Yesterday's WaPo reports on a traffic analysis which shows that growth is "is skyrocketing at sites focused on social networking, blogging and local information."

Speaking of our friends at WaPo, if you think they've been getting bashed here for their climate coverage, check out what the professional climate scientists have to say about the WaPo publishing global warming bashing columns on consecutive days by those distinguished climate scientists (and notorious sources of hot air) George Will and Robert Novak. For the antidote to Will and Novak, see yesterday's editorial cartoon, excerpted above, by Tom Toles.

Monday, April 3, 2006

April Fuel? Tornado Watch in Effect Until Midnight

6:40 Update: The line of thunderstorms has now filled in from central Pennsylvania southward across central Maryland and into Virginia between Charlottesville and Richmond. The leading edge is in western Montgomery and central Loudoun County. Check the comments section for some specific reports around the region.

5:30 Update: The line of intense storms has now built southward across western Maryland and the West Virginia panhandle. Some potentially severe storms could reach the area, especially the northern suburbs, in the next couple of hours. Stay tuned to the comments section for further updates.

Showers associated with a warm front extending southeastward from a low pressure area over the Great Lakes briefly passed through the Washington DC metro area last night and this morning. However, rainfall was extremely light, just 0.01" in each of the two precipitation episodes. It was only enough to moisten the pavement and raise the dewpoint from bone-dry to more normal levels. Although radar echoes were more impressive to the southeast, reported amounts were still very light, with Norfolk, for example, receiving only 0.10".

Surface weather map at 1pm today from IntelliWeather. Click on the image to animate.

Another line of showers ahead of the cold front moving through the Ohio Valley was in the mountains of West Virginia at mid afternoon. A narrow portion of the line east of Pittsburgh around 4pm was potentially severe, but south of the Mason-Dixon line, it was looking somewhat ragged. With some fuel from the abundant sunshine in the area, that may be enough to set off some much needed showers and thunderstorms this evening. Temperatures were at or above 70 in most locations by 4pm.

Tonight and Tomorrow

There is a 50% chance of showers and possibly thundershowers late this afternoon or this evening. Lows tonight will be in the low to mid 40s. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny, windy, and much cooler with highs only in the mid 50s.

Art and Science

Weather forecasting is often as much of an art as a science, and the current (March) issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society features a painting based on an infrared image of hurricane Katrina. The art is the work of Susan Voss, a PhD entomologist at Emory University and the mother of AccuWeather and CNBC meteorologist Katrina Voss. Several of her works are available for purchase at modest prices on eBay, and 20% of the proceeds are donated to animal disaster victims.

Painting "0245Z-050829" (11" x 14" acrylic on canvas) by Susan Voss

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

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