Friday, January 19, 2007

Degrees of Separation


Windy, chilly. A late-morning frontal passage which was much more of a humidity drop than a temperature change, strong downsloping winds, and abundant sunshine have separated the forecasts from the observations today in the Washington metro area. Temperatures have reached the upper 40s and even 50° in some favored locations, including Quantico and Culpeper. The high at National of 48° brings an end to the string of below-average days at 2.

A reinforcing shot of cold air from the Great Lakes region should lower readings tomorrow on brisk northwest winds while a low pressure area becomes organized in the southern branch of the jet stream over the Gulf States for possible action late in the weekend.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Clear, windy, colder. Skies will be mostly clear tonight with lows in the upper 20s downtown, mid and lower 20s in the 'burbs. Tomorrow will be sunny and windy with highs in the mid 30s.

For the outlook through the rest of the weekend and the Snow Lover's Crystal Ball, scroll on down to Camden's post below.

One Degree of Separation

The uproar started by the posting on the web site of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that we noted yesterday has continued. Dr. Heidi Cullen has a response, "A Very Political Climate", on her blog, a video response, and an interview with Mike Bettes on the One Degree web site.

Christopher Mims has a posting on the Scientific American editors' blog, "Now Hold On, People - Sen. James Inhofe vs. The Weather Channel" . If you thought you detected the pungent whiff of Swift Boat fumes in the Senate Committee statement, Mims has a good explanation: "Senator Inhofe's Pet Weasel", from another SciAm editor. SourceWatch has more details.

Seeing Green

If the politicization of climate change has you upset, Jim Jubak of has the ultimate pragmatic solution. Whatever your opinion on the subject, you can "Turn a Profit From Global-Warming Stocks".
Even if you think that global warming is based on bad statistics and unconvincing computer models . . .The deck is stacked at the moment in favor of action on global warming. Even if global warming winds up on the rubbish heap of discredited scientific theories, entities such as the European Union, Japan, China, India and even the U.S. are going to adopt a program that looks a whole lot like one designed to stop global warming because it fits each nation's need to increase its energy security as well.


Today's SciFri on NPR featured an interview with Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on recent extreme weather. Also on the program was David Goldston, former chief of staff for the House Committee on Science, speaking on the prospects for climate change legislation in the new Congress. Audio should be posted around 6pm, according to the web site.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stick a Fork In It


Cloudy, cold. It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings, and it most certainly may not be over for more northerly latitudes, but this particular "event" is pretty much history for the nation's capital and vicinity. An extremely weak low pressure area (1022 mb for those keeping score at home) off the far southeastern Atlantic Coast still shows the potential to "bomb out," providing a distinctly winter experience for northern New England in the next day or so, but the light showers and flurries associated with the coastal front extending northward from the low have been quite unimpressive for the local region. To the north, Philadelphia has picked up a whopping 0.01" of precipitation in the form of light snow, followed by another 0.01" of freezing rain and drizzle.

Meanwhile, the front has helped hold the cold air in, with temperatures barely creeping into the mid 30s. Highs were 35° at 2 of the 3 major airports; Dulles was 34°.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Slight chance of showers or flurries, then breezy and cold. There is still a very slight chance of light showers or flurries, especially to the east, through this evening. Skies will remain mostly cloudy overnight with lows in the upper 20s to near 30°. Tomorrow will be partly cloudy and becoming windy with highs moderating to around 40°.

For the outlook through the weekend and beyond, including the Snow Lover's Crystal Ball and Larson's Long-Range, scroll on down to Josh's post below.

Capitol Climate

The climate for action on climate policy has changed with the new Congress, according to an article, "Bills on Climate Move to Spotlight in New Congress," in today's NYT. The silicon-based version also includes a graphic depicting the potential effects on greenhouse gas emissions of several alternative proposed bills.

One thing which hasn't changed in the new Congress (other than a switch in labels from "majority" to "minority") is the continuing vehement attack on global warming and its advocates from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The latest, a blog post criticizing The Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen, was featured on today's Drudge Report. (Well, actually, it was below and to the left of the UFO article.)

The main point is the assertion that Dr. Cullen advocates that the AMS "revoke" the Seal of Approval from those "who do not agree" with her position. Here's the quote from her blog: "If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval." Where does that demand either decertification or agreement with a particular position? In fact, the AMS, presumably with considerable input from those potentially affected, already has included climatology and climate change as a major category in the study guide for its new Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Program.

Since the EPW Committee minority doesn't like to get climate science from climate scientists, where do they get their "Facts of the Day"? From a science fiction writer whose main scientific credential is that he graduated from medical school.

Their advocacy for dissent is particularly ironic for a blog which has no provision for comments. Yours, of course, are welcome at the link below, but please keep the discussion civil. It also helps to give specific, factual reasons and sources for your opinions if you wish to be taken seriously.

Graphic from

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chilly Con Sensus: Snow Included?


Clear, cold. Despite sunny skies and diminishing winds, temperatures barely reached the mid 30s in the Washington metro area today. After morning lows of 23° at National and 22° at Dulles, highs were 34° and 33°. A weak area of low pressure developing along the Southeast coast bears watching for late tomorrow and tomorrow night.


Cold, light winds. Under mostly clear skies, light winds, and low humidity, temperatures will drop again tonight, but some clouds toward morning will probably limit the lows to around 25° in the city and near 20° in the 'burbs.


Increasing clouds, light precipitation developing. Clouds will increase tomorrow afternoon, and there is a 30% chance of light rain by evening, especially south and east of the immediate metro area. Highs will be near 40°. Light rain could mix with some wet snow tomorrow evening with minimal if any accumulation. Precipitation will end overnight with lows mainly in the low 30s.

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

Our Consensus View

Yes, we know the NWS was briefly calling for a 1-2" accumulation (they have since backed off). They are dedicated, highly experienced professionals and have our complete respect, but that forecast was made before the afternoon model runs were complete. Based on the latest available data, the forecast given here is the consensus view of the team. We will continue to monitor the situation and update if conditions require. Your views, as always, are welcome in the comments section using the link at the bottom of this post.

By the way, here is a good example of the value of consensus forecasting: Jason's Monday forecast of today's high was 31°. Mr. Update, despite the benefit of a shorter lead time, said 37° as of yesterday. Do a little arithmetic and compare the average of these 2 forecasts with the actual highs listed above.

How Many Meteorologists Does It Take to Change the Weather?

You may have heard in the media about the unusually nasty winter weather in central and southern Texas. What you may not have heard is the reason for this. No, it's not Global Warming. It's not even a vast left-wing media conspiracy to contaminate the precious bodily fluids of the American people. In fact, this week is the 87th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in San Antonio. This means that probably the largest concentration of meteorologists anywhere in the world has convened for a number of concurrent conferences and symposia.

Monday's meeting newsletter detailed some of the travel challenges faced by the attendees. A major winter storm also hit San Antonio during the AMS meeting in 1982, and the temperature dropped to 14°.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Winter II: Reversal of Fortune


Blustery, turning colder. As if on cue, precisely halfway through meteorological winter, circulation patterns have shifted to bring an abrupt end to the extended warm spell. It's not a mirror-image of the winter's first half, but the upcoming week will be much closer to the "normal" Washington January. After a high of 64° near 2am, temperatures leveled off in mid afternoon near 45°, then resumed the decline, heading toward the 20s tonight and the first non-trivially below-average day of the year tomorrow. chart from NWS data, photo © Kevin Ambrose

Tonight and Tomorrow

Variable clouds, breezy, cold. Readings will continue to drop this evening through the 30s, reaching morning lows from the upper 20s downtown to near 20 in 'burbistan. Tomorrow will feature variable cloudiness, northerly winds, and highs around 37°

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

Attention Science Teachers

As reported here previously, your national organization NSTA may have declined to participate, but reported yesterday that 50,000 free copies of "An Inconvenient Truth" are available on request for classroom use. You must sign up by Thursday to be eligible, however. AIT in the Classroom also has a blog for discussing educational use of the film.

Update: The Seattle P-I reported recently on how the film screening was handled in Federal Way, an outer suburb of Seattle. Apparently Situational Science is indeed alive and well.

Situational ScienceMan courtesy of Sunday's Doonesbury Flashback, originally published June, 2005.

Political Science

The British press, including the Guardian, reported over the weekend that the State of the Union address would contain a policy shift on global warming, but that was quickly denied by anonymous Administration sources.

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

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