From the ABC 7 Weather team

Thunderous, tropical-like storm bears down on D.C. Wednesday

May 18, 2011 - 04:00 PM
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A strange area of low pressure that acts like a tropical storm is a bit closer to D.C. on Wednesday; residents stand a threat of being sniped by pop-up thunderstorms and falling ice.

A tornado is visible in the background of this shot, taken by John Hansen near Cambridge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

7:50:  Things winding down but still some heavy rain and some lightning into DC metro area next 2 hours.  See you at 11 on 7 Bob Ryan

7:30 Severe warning down but line of heavy rains and thunder continues to move up I-95 into immediate southern DC suburbs next hour Bob Ryan

6:45:  New warning for those storms to the south until 7:30 Fredricksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Prince William.  Saw this one coming  Bob Ryan

6:28:  Strong cell near Ironsides in Charles County warning still up but probability of hail decreasing.  More warnings likely with another spiral line southeast Fredericksburg Bob Ryan

 6:07:  Warning for Charles and eastern Prince William until 6:45.  Several reports of large hail with this storm.  May produce waterspout in the Potomac also.  Keep an eye out  Bob Ryan

5:47: Another severe warning for western Fauquier County for 50% chance hail this until 6:15 Bob Ryan

5:20: Until 6:15 p.m., a severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for Stafford and Charles counties. Quarter-sized hail and winds faster than 60 m.p.h. are possible. If you live in D.C., you're probably wondering where the heck the storm is by now. Answer: North, west, south and east. Just not in the city.

5:10 A very heavy cell is heading into Hagerstown. Here's a great video of last evening's tornado near there (let's hope not again tonight). Bob Ryan

5:00: It was only a matter of time before an image came out from Maryland's Eastern Shore tornado, and in this case it's a pretty good one. John Hansen shot the photo around 2:30 about 6 miles west of Cambridge. "Rotation was clearly visible. It was huge and scary!" he says. Yep, agreed:  

Tornado Talbot    
A tornado sweeps down west of Cambridge, Md., Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: John Hansen)

4:30: For the flyers out there, Dulles International is reporting some long delays, especially if you're heading to New England. Going to Boston? Wait an hour. Newark? Try two-and-a-half hours. JFK? Forty-five minutes (although La Guardia is right back at two hours). For a comprehensive list of delays, check the FAA's airport delays page.

4:15: Baltimore and Harford counties get their second tornado warning of the day! This time, the warning lasts until 4:45 and affects White Marsh, Perry Hall, Carney, Kingsville, Pleasant Hills, Fallston and Jarrettsville.

4:00: The D.C. region has had more than ten National Weather Service warnings today, despite there being no reports of widespread problems. There is currently a flash flood warning in Manassas. The sun is out there.

Perhaps it's time to turn to tomorrow's weather? Doug Hill says there could be a “lingering shower, rumble of thunder” this evening. Alex Liggitt says Thursday could be stormy, too, but to expect more sun and a diminishing chances of storms toward the end of the week.

3:45 Now western Fairfax County and Loudoun have a flash flood warning until 6:45. It's barely rained in Fairfax.

3:20 There is a severe thunderstorm warning until 3:45 for Loudoun as the storm near Hamilton moves northwest. It will cross the Potomac in about 10 minutes.

3:10: A tornado warning is up until 3:30 p.m. for northern Maryland, specifically Baltimore and Harford counties. If you live in Norrisville or the Maryland Line, find a basement, ditch, or priest. (Kidding. But seriously, stay indoors and away from windows.)


2:55 p.m.: Fire department staff on the Eastern Shore reported seeing a tornado at 2:35. The twister was moving at a steady clip of 25 m.p.h. near Oxford, about 8 miles south of Easton. Accordingly, there is now a tornado warning until 3:30 p.m. for southwestern Queen Anne's County and western Talbot County.

If the tornado lasts, here's a timeline of where it's expected to visit over the next several minutes, according to the National Weather Service:

- 9 miles east of Tilghman Island right... about... now.
- St. Michaels at 2:55
- Copperville and Talbot by 3:00
- Grasonville by 3:20
- Chester by 3:25

2:20: A flash flood warning until 5 p.m. just went out for parts of Northern Virginia as a line of thunderstorms moves through. Areas that could get 1 to 2 inches of quick rainfall include Manassas, Manassas Park, north central Fauquier County, southwestern Loudoun County and Prince William County. Sudden streams could wash over the usual flood-prone areas such as Route 776, near Route 667; Stottlemeyer Road near Middle Catoctin Creek and the Fleeburg Loop, which sounds like a great dance move but actually is a road in Shenandoah, Va.

UPDATE 1:05 P.M.: Could this be another chance for a tornado? The D.C. region is under a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 p.m. (as well as many other watches and warnings, including a special marine warning, coastal flood warning, flash flood watch, coastal flood watch, etc., etc.). Winds up to 70 m.p.h. and "dangerous" lightning (is there any other kind?) are possible, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Oh, and hail, too, up to 1.5 inches in diameter. That would be "ping pong" or "walnut"-sized, if you want to go by proper NOAA measurement descriptions.

The potential for supercell thunderstorms increases throughout the afternoon as a large low-pressure area moves toward D.C. While the wind shear isn't very strong, there still exists the possibility for a tornado, according to the SPC.

This post will be updated as the weather warrants. For now, here's the latest forecast and ABC7's interactive radar.

ORIGINAL: If you loved yesterday’s paranoid weather, then you’ll cherish this Wednesday. A strange area of low pressure that acts kind of like a tropical storm, the threat of being sniped by pop-up thunderstorms and falling ice, humidity that makes walking up a non-functional Metro escalator more of a happiness-killing chore than usual – it’s all here.

With hail just having melted on the lawns of Frederick, Culpeper and Nelson, Va., another round of nasty weather moves through the Mid-Atlantic today. The change from yesterday is that the storm center is closer to D.C. (Radar, latest forecast.) Temperatures will still be elevated – around 75 at the peak – and lines of thunderstorms bearing heavy rain are possible throughout the region, particularly in the afternoon and to the east and north of the city as the storm moves toward New York. The wind shouldn’t be as strong as on Tuesday, thanks to a portion of the jet stream that has moved out to sea, so feel free to spend extra time in front of the mirror to give your hairstyle some deserved love.

The air above the D.C. region is lacking in instability, a key ingredient to powerful storms, but don’t give up hope today for a few booming claps. This stormy streak is expected to continue throughout the week – peep the electrifying outlook with ABC7’s new interactive extended forecast (although be sure to enter your own zip code).

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