From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for February 2014

Another storm for the D.C. area and Mid Atlantic early next week

February 27, 2014 - 02:16 PM
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I literally chose the picture to the left because that is what I feel like right now and I am willing to bet the majority of you are feeling the same way. We're getting tired of the weekly wintry messes, causing delays, cancellations and adding enough stress to call for 3-day weekends throughout the month of March!

While that is extremely unlikely unless you are your own boss, there's one thing that does appear likely on the horizon, and that is the potential for a winter storm. While exact timing, precipitation type and precipitation amounts are impossible to forecast at the moment, guidance continues to show the potential, which is why I am relaying what we know to you.

Satellite image of the west coast and Pacific

Where is this storm coming from?

Currently, the energy and moisture from this system is located in the Pacific Ocean. It's not expected to move into the U.S. until Friday afternoon. This will bring plenty of appreciable rainfall to the western U.S., in particular California, which is struggling through an exceptional drought.

It's then expected to push into the Rockies and exit into the Central Plains Sunday before heading east to the Mid Atlantic.

When will it enter the D.C. area?

Current thoughts are that the weekend looks relatively dry, with a weak system traversing the area Saturday and a frontal boundary setting up shop north of the area Sunday.

Late Sunday afternoon or evening, a few showers are expected to enter the Potomac Highlands and eventually move into the D.C. area by Sunday night. Precipitation is expected to intensify into Monday before finally exiting the region by Monday night into Tuesday morning.

What type of precipitation is expected?

This is the tough part. You're totally surprised about that aren't you? An arctic cold front will be lying on the D.C. area's doorstep Sunday night into Monday morning. Current guidance depicts plenty of precipitation over the D.C. area (over 0.50" of liquid).

12Z ECMWF 850mb Temperature forecast for Sunday

While the most recent data from a few models are depicting more snow in the region, others are still hanging on to a warmer solution with a wintry mix of sleet, freezing rain and rain.

As the system is still located over the Pacific, over 3 days out, there is still going to be a bit of a discrepancy. Honestly, I can't tell you exactly what to expect at the moment, but I am willing to guess that wintry precipitation will be likely across parts of the D.C. area Sunday night into Monday morning.

Unlike the past few systems, this time around areas north and west of D.C. will have the higher likelihood for frozen precipitation while areas southeast of D.C. will have a better chance for rain.

As always, we'll keep a close eye on this and keep you informed through the weekend to anything new we may see. Beyond Monday, colder than normal temperatures appear likely for the eastern half of the U.S. through the first week of March.

CPC Temperature Probabilities from March 5-9

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More snow for the D.C. area, cold end to February

February 26, 2014 - 11:00 AM
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Light snow pushed through the region again today, this time starting prior to sunrise but tapering off in the late morning hours. Sunshine will continue to filter back into the region this afternoon and snow will melt very rapidly as it did yesterday afternoon. It should actually look a lot like the picture Meteorologist Adam Caskey shared yesterday.

Great Falls Country Club - WeatherBug (Courtesy: Adam Caskey)

Snowfall totals today were around 1 to 2 inches across the region, with the majority of it falling in and around the D.C. Metro and points south and east. I must say I was a little nervous when I woke up in Fairfax at 5:45am and didn't see anything, but was quickly relieved after checking the radar!

Sunshine Returns this Afternoon

After checking for reporter Brianne Carter, I found that 6 of the past 7 weeks have experienced some kind of wintry weather including snow or extreme cold. This may be a good reason why many are experiencing winter fatigue!

I at least tried to capitalize on what will HOPEFULLY be the last snow of the season. Unfortunately, a few flurries appear possible Saturday and the Sunday-Monday system still has more questions than answers but at the moment looks like a fair amount of rain will be involved.

Temperatures this afternoon should hang in the 30s and winds should remain fairly light. With clear skies, light winds and some snow on the ground, temperatures tonight will be well below average in the teens instead of lower 30s. With the average high at 50 degrees, the D.C. area shouldn't really get close to average the remainder of the month with highs near 40 Thursday and only near 30 Friday.

Be sure to check out our HD WeatherBug Cameras if you would like to see the sunshine earlier!

 

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Winter Weather Advisory 1am to Noon Wednesday

February 25, 2014 - 02:15 PM
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Snow definitely fell a bit heavier than I was expecting it to this morning due to a nice banding feature that set up right over the D.C. Metro. There have been reports of 1 to 2 inches (isolated higher spots) of snow across the area and a Winter Weather Advisory has been posted until 2pm, though additional accumulations will be unlikely. Here are some of the latest snowfall reports.

Fairfax Station, VA:  2.0"        Warrenton, VA:  2.0"

Haymarket, VA:  2.8"              American Universtiy, D.C.: 1.0"

Alexandria, VA:  1.5"               Colesville, MD:  1.0"

Another shot of light snow is likely Wednesday morning as a different system kicks to the south and east of D.C. Snow will begin in the early morning hours close to 4am and continue through 9am or 10am. Accumulations will again be generally around 1 to 2 inches in the Metro and points south and east.

Temperatures are expected to start a little colder tomorrow morning in the 20s so roadways may have an easier time accumulating the light snow, particularly on side roads. If another band happens to form like it did today, there may be a few spots with amounts to 3 inches, but that should be on the high end.

Reagan National Airport reported 2.8" of snow today, bringing the seasonal total up to 18.3", which is the second highest snowfall in the past 10 years. The highest was the record breaking 56.1" from 2009-2010, which hopefully we won't get closer to!

4km NAM 12Z Model Composite Reflectivity for 6am Wednesday Morning (Courtesy: WeatherBELL Models)

Above is a look at the forecast composite reflectivity for 6am Wednesday morning. Again the best chance for snow will be east of the Blue Ridge closer to the Metro and points southeast to the Chesapeake Bay. We'll keep you on top of it!

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A Foot of Snow has Melted, but will it Cover our Ground Again this Week?

February 24, 2014 - 08:02 AM
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The past week has featured lots of ups and downs in the weather department and has left the D.C. Metro area with naked ground once again. It only took a week to melt more than a foot in some areas.

Snow Depth- NOAA

Of course, there are still mounds of plowed snow in parking lots in the metro, and Northern Maryland and the Mountains in West Virginia still have some snow pack.  It's tough to keep snow on the ground for long in our area.  We often freeze and thaw through the winter months.  Check out our quick loss of snow at Dulles last week.

 

 

 

Snow Depth & High Temperature Last Week at IAD

 

 

 

 

The National Weather Service records show that the longest stretch of snow cover at Dulles Airport lasted 23 days with 1" or more on the ground.  And in 42 years of records, an inch or more has stayed on the ground more than a week only 25 times.  So, can we expect a bare ground through the rest of spring?  Probably not.  In fact, there is snow in the forecast within the next 48 hours.  It's not expected to amount to much, but it looks like it will coincide with the Wednesday morning commute and that could make for tricky travel.  Here's our "Futurecast" for Wednesday showing snow across the area. 

 Wednesday Morning

Best case scenario, nothing accumulates.  Worst case, we get up to 2"  Right now my thinking is that we get a dusting at the most.  We'll keep watching on flake patrol for you and keep you up to date on forecast totals.  March starts this coming weekend, and historically we get snow that month, too. Our average snowfall for March at Dulles is 2.8"   and at Reagan National the average snowfall is 1.3" 

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Tornado Watch has been cancelled for the D.C. Metro

February 21, 2014 - 11:04 AM
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1:16pm: Damage has been reported near Leonardtown, MD. If you happen to see any damage, please send us a picture to our Facebook page, twitter accounts or to iwitness@wjla.com and we will forward them along to the National Weather Service office.

1:15pm: Sorry it's been a while but we had to break in on-air with the Tornado Warning! The severe threat has mainly passed the region and the Tornado Watch has been dropped for the majority of the D.C. area. A few heavy showers are still moving through the D.C. Metro but will move east quickly out of our region.

12:20pm: Severe Thunderstorm Warnings continue for Calvert and St. Mary's Counties until 1:15pm along a line moving to the northeast at 65mph.

Hail to the size of quarters and winds to 60mph or higher are possible in this line.

12:08pm: A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for Anne Arundel County and points north into Baltimore until 1pm. A strong line of storms is producing wind gusts possibly up to 60 mph.

12:06pm:

12:00pm: A big area to watch is the Northern Neck of Virginia into southern St. Mary's County in MD anywhere from California, MD and points south to Point Lookout. I'm surprised there isn't a Severe Thunderstorm Warning on this cell as very strong damaging winds may be accompanying this line.

11:49am: Current look at the storms moving into the D.C. Metro. A nice line has formed, it will be interesting to watch how the winds are behaving once it moves through Rosslyn in the next few minutes. I'll keep you posted!

11:39am: Here's the latest look at the Doppler radar. Right now there doesn't appear to be any severe storms in the area, but pockets of heavy rain exist just west of D.C. moving through Fairfax, VA and southern Montgomery County, MD. Another strong cell is moving through Carroll and northwestern Howard Counties.

Doppler Radar as of 11:39am

11:27am: The Storm Prediction Center also agrees that the best instability is over southeastern Virginia, northeastern North Carolina and the Delmarva Peninsula. That will be the highest threat for tornadoes this afternoon.

Storm Prediction Center Tornado Watch in red and threats

The strong cold front continues to push east towards the D.C. Metro and will move through during the afternoon. A Tornado Watch has been issued for the region until 5pm.

Tornado Watch in Yellow

Damaging winds in excess of 75 mph are possible in the strongest storms and an isolated tornado isn't out of the question given the strong wind field aloft. The best chance for strong storms will be south and east of D.C. given the instability levels are highest in those locations with temperatures soaring into the 60s ahead of the front.

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Thunderstorms and gusty winds possible in D.C. area Friday

February 20, 2014 - 11:12 AM
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A potent cold front will push through the Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys today bringing with it the chance for severe thunderstorms with damaging winds as the primary threat. A few tornadoes will also be possible. Severe storms a possible in those areas late this afternoon through the early overnight hours.

The front will reach the D.C. area by tomorrow morning, but we're not expecting storms to be quite as intense since instability will be lower in the morning hours. Regardless, the wind field above the surface will still be very intense, with winds screaming up to 70 or 75 mph only a few thousand feet above the surface.

12Z GFS 850mb temperatures and winds (Courstesy: NEXLAB Models)

Above is a look at the bigger picture with the 850mb temperatures and wind speeds. The strong southerly winds ahead of the front should bring very mild air into the region tomorrow morning with temperatures likely to reach the lower 60s.

12Z 4KM NAM 900mb winds and MSLP at 10am Friday (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

Wind speeds at 900mb (~3000ft) are expected to be in the 70 mph range ahead of the front. This graphic depicts tomorrow morning at 10am with everything in orange above 60 mph. Remember, these winds are above the surface, but as the cold front moves through the region, areas of heavy rain may help push a few damaging wind gusts to the surface. This would be in the form of straight-lined winds which may down a few trees.

The threat doesn't only exist in the D.C. area, but also along much of the east coast south of D.C. including the Carolinas, Georgia and Northern Florida.

Slight Risk for severe storms in the area shaded in yellow (Storm Prediction Center)

What about the timing? The western suburbs may see rain and possible storms as early as 10am and the D.C. Metro by 11am-Noon. Storms should move east rather quickly and exit the region by 2pm-3pm. Winds should turn westerly and skies should clear rather quickly behind the front. Temperatures should dip back into the 50s and 40s behind the front tomorrow afternoon.

12Z 4km NAM forecast surface reflectivity Noon Friday (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

 

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Winter 2013-2014 Snapshot: The Season of Snow and Cold!

February 18, 2014 - 10:55 PM
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Less than two weeks until Meteorological Winter (defined as the three coldest months of the year) is finished and many Midwest cities have already slid into the record books. Here’s a look at a few of the snow and cold weather records already set.

Midwest Snowfall Totals & Rank

Snow Totals

Midwest Winter's Chill

Chicago: 22 days with subzero lows ranks as the 4th highest in a winter season.

Milwaukee: 2013-2014 is ranked as the 10th coldest winter on record to date with an average temperature of 16.6 degrees.

Detroit : 5th coldest winter so far with an average temperature of 20.3 degrees.

Locally, snowfall totals have been on par with average in the nation's capital but higher than average north and west. Here's a snapshot of winter snow accumulation to-date:

Local Snow

As for temperatures in Washington, December was 2.6 degrees above average. The cold air then plunged into the Mid-Atlantic for the second half of winter. January was 3.8 degrees colder than average and February hasn’t seen much improvement with the average temperature 2.6 degrees colder than what is normally expected.

The break in the cold outside now is just temporary; winter temperatures return early next week. For more on the upcoming forecast for Washington, click here.

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A Taste of Spring- Warmer Temperatures and Possible Storms Late Week

February 18, 2014 - 07:15 AM
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After waking up to more snow in the D.C. area this morning,  many of us are ready for a warm up! Here's a look at some of the snow totals. 

 

 

This is the seventh consecutive week that has had at least one day with school delays and/or cancellations because of the weather.  I am happy to say that the rest of the week features NO snow!  And, temperatures will be above average the rest of the week after today. 

 

But, it's not going to be perfect either...  We'll start with the good news.  Sunshine is back the rest of today and our temperatures will reach seasonable highs.  The average high in D.C. is 48 degrees.  A weak disturbance moves through early tomorrow morning and could bring a few morning showers.  Our Futurecast displays that the morning commute will be damp, but sunshine returns for the afternoon.

 

 


The jet stream (the fast channel of air in the upper atmosphere that divides warm and cold air) will be lifting to our north late this week.  It will allow temperatures to warm well above average. A few spots could hit 60 by Friday!  

 

However, notice the circled "kink" on the image.  That will swing our way on Friday, along with a cold front at the surface.


This will trigger thunderstorms ahead of the front in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys on Thursday and possibly in our region on Friday. 

Right now it looks like the storms would come midday Friday and damaging winds will be the most likely form of severe weather.  Temperatures will moderate a little behind that front and it looks like a nice weekend ahead with highs in the 50s. With those kind of temperatures the rest of the week and with rain in the forecast, we'll have to keep an eye out for the potential of some flooding.  Snow will be melting quickly. Here is a map of the snow cover across the country.

I expect that map to look very different this time next week.  While you might be thinking that this is the start of spring.... what comes up, must come down.

We cool back off for the middle of next week.  Winter isn't over just yet.

 

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One More Wintry Round Then A Spring-like Warm Up

February 17, 2014 - 01:14 PM
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Photo credit: James Joslyn

Four days after the biggest snow in the Nation's Capitol in four years, and yet another batch of wintry weather heading towards us tonight.  It is a relatively weak weather system, so snow totals will be minimal, but it could impact your Tuesday morning commute. 

High pressure will dominate our weather pattern today bringing tranquil weather conditions but colder than average temperatures.  The average high at Reagan National on February 14th is 48 degrees.  Clouds will increase late today, as the weather system in the Midwest tracks southeast.  Here are this morning's surface features and radar overlay.

Weather Prediction Center

With the snow in the Midwest, most of those areas are under a winter weather advisory (purple) or winter storm warning (pink).  Between four and eight inches of snow is expected today in Chicago.

National Weather Service

Precipitation from this system will arrive well after the Monday evening commute.  In fact, most of us will already be in bed by the time the snow starts.  The snow will move in from west to east.  Here's one of our local computer models at 11pm tonight showing light snow approaching the metro.

Microcast - Local Computer Model

The snow will continue through the overnight, possibly mixing with a little sleet/freezing rain in the metro area by dawn.

Update - Accumulations are still expected to be light, but not as light as originally stated in this blog. A general 1-3 inches will be possible, with the highest amounts along the Mason-Dixon line. Areas from D.C. and points northeast along I-95 to Baltimore and north have a decent shot at a couple inches of snow.

South and east of D.C., rain may mix in leading to lesser amounts, but pockets of freezing rain may also create a few slick spots, so the morning commute could be dicey in spots.

Below is a look at our in-house 12Z Microcast model predicted snowfall. It could be a little on the high end with D.C. closer to 1-2" and BWI and Frederick closer to 2-3", but it's not terrible so we wanted to show it to give you the idea that higher accumulations should be mainly north of D.C.

12Z Microcast Possible Snow Accumulations

Snow will taper off before sunrise and then it will dry out for the rest of the day Tuesday. Temperatures will also start to climb with more seasonal highs tomorrow in the mid to upper 40s.  Highs will climb to near 60 degrees by the end of the week and into the weekend,  making the possibility for snow tonight a little more manageable with more spring-like weather in sight. 

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A look back at the winter storm and ahead to snow chances tonight

February 14, 2014 - 12:45 PM
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While sunshine will break through today (hopefully everybody has those sunglasses handy), another chance of some snow showers will effect us tonight and through the first part of tomorrow. We could even pick up a few inches of snow in spots on top our what we already received yesterday!

Snow totals through Thursday morning

A series of disturbances will continue to affect the D.C. region through the next seven days. Some could bring snow, some could bring rain but we are NOT looking at anything like we saw yesterday - just quick moving systems traveling through the region.

If you are in the north and western tier of our area, plan on seeing the first rain showers or flakes fly after the 7 o'clock hour and after 9PM if you are around the D.C. metro area. A piece of energy dragging a cold front with it will track through the Tennessee Valley tonight, traveling and intensifying along the North Carolina/Virginia border during the overnight hours.

The snow could linger through the first part of tomorrow with some rain mixed in as well during the onset and through Saturday (mainly near the D.C. area and areas to the southeast). Snow totals are minor but still could create problems considering the snow we have on the ground already, along with temperatures right below the freezing mark overnight for much of the listening area. These are some of the snow totals we could expect, the heaviest being north and west of the D.C. area.

NWS Baltimore Washington snow forecast for tonight

To break it down even further, here is a graphic displaying the chances that you will see more than or just around 2" in your location by the end of this event. It is about a 70% shot through the Shenandoah Valley while is is only about a 30%-40% chance around the D.C. metro area.

Snow probabilities from the WPC

Saturday will feature temperatures in the mid to upper 30s but it will feel like we are in the 20s with the increasing northwesterly winds in the afternoon hours. Another slight chance of a brief snow shower/flurry on Sunday and then another disturbance expected to roll through the area Monday night into Tuesday. However, temperatures will near 50 by mid-next week and possibly near 60 by the end of the week so a warm up is on the way!

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Another chance for snow Friday night into Saturday morning in D.C.

February 13, 2014 - 01:30 PM
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Our current snow storm hasn't even departed the region yet and more snow is likely later this afternoon and evening as the upper-level low spins overhead.

**Update on tonight's snow***  Latest guidance is depicting the heaviest snow to fall between 4pm and 11pm, with the greatest threat along and east of I-95. Try to plan to stay off the roads as some isolated totals close to 4 inches may be possible during this time. Other areas may see 1 to 2 inches of additional snow tonight.

Mesoscale Discussion posted about tonight's snow

On to the next system... A disturbance over the northern Rockies will push through the Midwest over the next 24 hours before landing on our doorstep Friday night.

12Z GFS 500mb Vorticity Plot for Saturday Morning (Courtesy: NEXLAB)

Unfortunately, this will bring the possibility for more snowfall in the area. The good thing is we won't tap into any Gulf or Atlantic moisture and snow accumulations should be light.

12Z GFS forecast MSLP Saturday morning (Courtesy: NEXLAB Models)

Snow should begin Friday night after 10pm and continue through early Saturday morning. Total accumulations at this point appear to be around 1 to 3 inches across the region, with the higher totals northwest of D.C. There are some hints that a mix to rain will also be possible south of D.C.

12Z 4km NAM model reflectivity for Friday night into Saturday morning (Courtesy: WeatherBell)

We'll of course be watching this system closely and will have a full update live on ABC 7 News at 4pm, 5pm and 6pm.

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Febraury 12-13, 2014 snow storm recap

February 13, 2014 - 09:48 AM
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DOPPLER RADAR | CLOSINGS  | STORMWATCH FACEBOOK  | MOBILE

3:22pm: Latest observations showed a thunderstorm just north of Richmond where it was 35 degrees. A strong upper-level low will move into the region over the next few hours.

Rain will change over to snow around 6-7pm tonight bringing additional chances for another 1-2 inches of snow with isolated higher amounts to 4" possible. Snow will come to an end by 10-11pm tonight.

2:45pm: Check our latest blog for updates on more snowfall tonight. Some areas mainly east of town may see an additional 2-4" on top of what fell last night.

Blog here: http://www.wjla.com/blogs/weather/2014/02/another-chance-for-snow-friday-night-into-saturday-morning-in-d-c--20932.html

11:55am: Very quiet at the area airports so far today. Per Dulles Airports twitter account they are hard at work clearing the runways for inbound flights to start coming back in later this afternoon. Below is a tweet from WTOP's Dave Dildine.

Flightaware.com's Misery Map shows substantial delays and cancellations across the eastern seaboard.

11:46pm: Beautiful satellite image of the winter storm.

11:43am: Yep...apparently some of us are enjoying ourselves this morning.

11:03am: Be sure to tweet us fun pictures! You can also email them to us at iwitness@wjla.com. This one doesn't seem to be in the fun category.

9:57am: Here are some of the latest snowfall totals reported to the NWS Baltimore Washington office.

Washington D.C.: 8.0"                              Ballston, VA: 9.5"

BWI Thurgood Marshall: 12.3"                Reagan National: 6.0"

Towson, MD: 15.8"                                    Alexandria, VA: 7.0"

North Beach, MD: 4.2"                              Falls Church, VA: 12.0"

Mount Airy, MD: 13.0"                                Centreville, VA: 15.0"

St. Charles, MD: 5.5"                                Herndon, VA: 13.5"

Frederick, MD: 18.0"                                 Burke, VA: 11.5"

Columbia, MD: 14.0"                                Purcellville, VA: 16.4"

Damascus, MD: 18.0"                              Ashburn, VA: 13.5"

Germantown, MD: 14.0"                          Dulles Airport: 10.8"

Inwood, WV: 12.0"                                    Romney, WV: 15.2"

9:24am:  Snow still falling in Frederick, MD but rain inside the Capital Beltway and points SE.  Expect precipitation to taper off over the next hour.


9:22AM:

8:22AM:

8:04AM:

8:00AM Update: Heavy snow will taper off by later this morning for North-Central Maryland, Northern & Western Suburbs of DC and Central VA.

-We will still experience a light to moderate mixture of snow (North & West of I-95) and Sleet/rain/Snow mix east of I-95 between 8AM -11 AM.

-More snow with additional light accumulations for this evening after 4PM.

7:30AM Update: Dry air working the way in from the south and east. A lull/slow down in the precip will occur through the morning hours.

ZZZZZ

 

 

7:16am:

7:00AM:

 

 

6:30am:  Reports of sleet now in Prince William county, near Manassas.

6:18A: According to WTOP, GW PKWY closed in both directions between the beltway and the overlooks

6:05AM Comparison:

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

5:19am:  Live Super Doppler clearly shows the precipitation transition zones.


4:51am: 8 inches in Frederick, MD

4:50am:  Newest snow totals

4:10am:  7.5" of snow in College Park, MD

3:03am:  Preliminary snow totals from the National Weather Service.

As of 2:40am
As of 2:40am

2:25am:  Already between 3-5 inches of snow across the metro area with reports of 6 inches near Fredericksburg. 

2:17am:  The National Weather Service has issued a statement regarding the heavy snow early this morning:

"A BAND OF HEAVY SNOW OVER THE VIRGINIA PIEDMONT IS EXPECTED TO
OVERSPREAD THE WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA BY 2 AM THIS MORNING.
THE HEAVY SNOW WILL OVERSPREAD THE BALTIMORE METROPOLITAN AREA
BETWEEN 2 AM AND 3 AM THIS MORNING.

HEAVY SNOW WILL PERSIST FOR A COUPLE HOURS WITH VISIBILITY REDUCED
BELOW ONE-QUARTER MILE. SNOWFALL RATES OF ONE TO AS MUCH AS THREE
INCHES PER HOUR ARE EXPECTED UNDERNEATH THIS BAND. TRAVELING WILL
BE VERY DANGEROUS DURING THIS TIME SINCE ROADS WILL BECOME QUICKLY
SNOW-COVERED."

11:27pm: Snow is accumulating on most roadways across the D.C. area and conditions will only deteriorate from here on out. This is a picture from Richard Barnhill near Chinatown. We haven't seen snow actually stick in Downtown D.C. for a long time!

In fact, the last time Reagan National recorded 5" of snow was commutageddon, and the last time it recorded more than that was the February 8-9, 2010 storm which recorded 10.8" of snow.

11:23pm: Meteorologist Mike Stinneford will be covering WTOP overnight with all the latest information on the Winter Storm. Be sure to follow him on twitter if you have an account and tune in to WTOP 103.5FM.

ABC 7 News will be airing live early starting at 4am with Meteorologist's Jacqui Jeras and Eileen Whelan.

11:02pm: This is from one of our friends at the University of Maryland.

10:29pm: Latest D.C. area snowfall totals from the NWS Baltimore-Washington office.

http://www.erh.noaa.gov/lwx/events/snowmaps/

10:15pm: ABC 7 News is setting up shop in Leesburg, VA tonight!

10:09pm: Here is the latest from ABC 7 News...

10:06pm: Here are the latest snowfall and icing reports from the NWS Weather Prediction Center. Up to 9" of snowfall in southern Virginia! 0.70" of ice in parts of Georgia and South Carolina, yikes...

http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/discussions/nfdscc4.html

10:01pm: Be sure to check out the long list of closings for Thursday. At this point in time we don;t really expect much to be open tomorrow!

 

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Heavy snow still likely for parts of the D.C. area

February 12, 2014 - 01:33 PM
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DOPPLER RADAR  |  CLOSINGS  |  STORMWATCH 7  |  WARNINGS

Send pictures to iwitness@wjla.com or our Facebook Page!

A strong winter storm is still expected to hit the D.C. area beginning tonight and ending late Thursday afternoon. Multiple inches of snow are possible and delays and cancellations are already ongoing. Expect conditions to deteriorate once snow begins after sunset, as temperatures will remain below freezing today and snow should accumulate rather quickly.

Current thinking on snow totals

Above is our current snow map, with higher forecast snowfall totals west of D.C. and less east. Current thinking is that snow will begin after sunset and continue through the early morning hours. Multiple inches of accumulation will be likely overnight into the morning before a changeover occurs starting in the eastern portions of the viewing area.

Remember, Calvert and St. Mary's Counties are only under a Winter Weather Advisory, as accumulations there shouldn't be as high, thus not under warning criteria. Areas to the east may see a change to a wintry mix and rain close to 5am or 6am Thursday. This transition zone is expected to creep closer to the D.C. Metro later in the morning, probably closer to 9am for D.C. itself.

Higher totals are likely just to the west of D.C. as the transition zone isn't expected to reach that far west. Areas such as western Fairfax, the majority of Montgomery and points west should stay as all snow, allowing for higher accumulations.

A foot is possible in locations west with locally higher amounts possible along the Blue Ridge in the higher elevations. The 6" low range may even be a touch low for areas west of D.C., but we will update the map accordingly for ABC 7 News at 5pm. NWS Baltimore/Washington is calling for a foot of snow through the majority of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge.

Snow, sleet and rain will continue to be possible Thursday afternoon and will end by Thursday evening. Friday will see the return of sunshine and milder temperatures in the low 40s.

Please send us any pictures you can and we'll share them online and on air!

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Questions remain for the approaching winter storm

February 11, 2014 - 07:00 PM
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Many of you asked why we put out a snow forecast map so late today and our answer is simply that the storm is still coming together and big questions still remain. The biggest question is still where exactly will the storm track be?

This will help answer the rest of our questions, which are how much warm air will intrude into the system and how will that affect the high end snowfall totals? Remember, just a few hours of sleet can have a huge affect on how much snow may accumulate. Here are some of our latest thoughts.

Questions Remaining about the storm

The latest thought is still to expect snowfall to start after sunset and after the commute tomorrow evening. Snow will continue to be likely overnight into Thursday morning, and will be heavy at times Thursday morning. Our concern is how much of a mix of sleet and rain will the D.C. area see Thursday morning as the main area of low pressure sits off the east coast.

If the track of the low is farther to the west, sleet and rain may be more likely and snowfall amounts will be less. If the track is farther east, snow will be a more likely scenario with less warm air filtering into the region.

Our latest thought is to give a range of values across the area. As this seems to be a more standard winter storm, snowfall totals should be higher northwest of D.C. and less southeast of D.C. One thing we please ask you is to not focus on the higher end totals. I know, I know, I always did the same thing when I was growing up as I wished for the most snow possible, didn't you?

This is our first look at snow bands, with the heaviest snowfall potential west of D.C. and much less closer to the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore. The confidence level of this forecast isn't extremely high, but then again, we don't think you'll be going to work or school anyways as snow will continue through the early morning hours before the possible changeover to rain.

Current Expectations

What do we know? We are confident in heavy precipitation across the region, and that it will at the very least start as snow and continue as snow overnight into early Thursday morning.

Snow will begin tomorrow night, and the system will exit by late Thursday afternoon and high accumulations appear more likely west of I-95. We'll continue to watch this storm closely and update you with new information as we get it. Until then, be prepared to be at home Thursday!

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Winter weather "wishcasting" is not "forecasting"

February 11, 2014 - 05:45 PM
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When I was a kid growing up in suburban Detroit, I would watch Doug Hill forecast the weather. The mere mention of snow would trigger my crazy button. Thoughts of a winter wonderland, a day filled with skating, sledding and no school. My hopes were high. As each hour passed, I would listen to the forecast on the radio and my selective hearing would take hold. In my head, one to three inches turned into a foot.

Meteorologist Steve Rudin at 4 years old

Even as the forecast was refined, I would only hear the biggest numbers. It did not matter if they were talking about Ann Arbor or Detroit. It was all the same to me. Back then, when a couple inches were in the forecast, a “Travelers Advisory” would be issued by the National Weather Service. Today, it is known as a “Winter Weather Advisory.” Once again, in my mind, it did not matter if it was an advisory or warning – we were all going to be snowed in (for days!).

Fast forward some 30 years later and the world of social media. While technology has changed, we still tend to see and hear only what we want, especially if it is reinforced by multiple posts from different sources on several platforms. A simple tweet and map post on Facebook a couple weeks ago caused a huge kerfuffle amongst “wishcasters” from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic. Like a hypnotic trance, what snow lover could possibly resist the thought of 30” of snow? Once again, hopes were dashed. Nothing materialized for us except a light dusting.

Over the weekend, word started going around about a potential storm by late Wednesday and Thursday. In a matter of hours, maps with outrageous snow totals started to flood the internet. Everyone suddenly became an expert. Some went as far as posting maps with “80 percent certainty.”

As the storm develops and moves our way, remember “wishcasting” is not “forecasting.” It is fun to dream, but more important to keep things in perspective.

This is not Snowmageddon.

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Midweek Snow Update: How Much & When

February 11, 2014 - 10:20 AM
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SNOW -- it's what's on everyone's mind. When? How much? For how long? What impacts? Let's break it down based on current information.

WHEN?

A winter storm watch is in effect for the entire viewing area from 7pm tomorrow evening (Wednesday) through 7pm Thursday.  A winter storm watch means there is the potential for 5+ inches of snow.

The coastal storm, that will bring us the snow, has yet to even develop, which makes forecasting extra tricky.   After looking at multiple computer simulations and projections, it looks likely the snow will start from south to north after the evening rush hour. 

RPM model
RPM model

By the time you wake up Thursday morning, snow will already be on the ground.  As the low gets closer to the coast, slightly warmer air will start to feed into the region.  That will bring us a transition to rain and sleet, especially along and west of I-95 during the early to mid morning hours.  That transition zone will cause significant impacts to snowfall accumulations.  (See two maps above)

HOW MUCH?

Significant snow is possible with nearly an inch of liquid precipitation possible.  If a general 10:1 snow/liquid ratio is used, between 5-10 inches will be a possibility.  *The 10:1 ratio means that for every inch of rain, 10 inches of snow will accumulate. 

With the expectation that rain and/or sleet will mix in, especially over southern MD, that could lessen snowfall totals.  Here's a graphic that shows where the highest totals are most likely to occur.

FOR HOW LONG?

The event will begin tomorrow evening and will wrap up Thursday afternoon.  It should be a fairly quick event; however, it will have a high impact on travel.

IMPACTS?

This nor'easter will impact everyone up and down the east coast.  Check out all of the winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories across the eastern half of the U.S.  The southern tier of the country is dealing with the first wave of wintry weather this morning. 

Once the second wave develops over the Gulf coast, and races up the east coast, expect additional watches and warnings to be issued over New England. 

Flights will likely be canceled and delayed over the next several days due to the impending storm.  Also, school closings and delays look to be a definite possibility on Thursday and Friday. 

MORE INFO:

Stay with the entire StormWatch7 weather team for the latest updates, as they become available.  By tomorrow afternoon, we'll have an even better handle on the situation, since the storm will have developed.

 

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Winter storm possible this week for the east coast and D.C. area

February 10, 2014 - 01:25 PM
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Latest guidance continues to depict the development of a winter storm for the east coast, including the D.C. area. At this point in time, I will already tell you it is too early to pinpoint or give an estimation of predicted snowfall totals, but there is a potential for multiple inches.

As usual with these kind of storms, snowfall totals will completely depend on the exact track, which at this point is still up in the air. Just a difference in 50 miles can greatly determine snowfall amounts across the area.

Latest graphic from the National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington Office

If you remember a few years ago the D.C. area was expecting a snowstorm around Christmas. The track ended up changing 50 miles and the Eastern Shore saw a foot of snow along the coast while D.C. barely saw a thing. These can be very difficult to track so we will be watching the set-up very closely this week.

Speaking of the set-up, what is giving this system more confidence for snow than storms earlier this winter? It appears we'll finally be dealing with some southern energy which will be able to pull in moisture from the Gulf and eventually the Atlantic as a coastal low is expected to develop by Wednesday night.

12Z GFS 500mb Vorticity plot and heights forecast for Tuesday Morning(Courtesy: NEXLAB Models)

Combine that with energy about to enter the Pacific Northwest which will eventually catch up to the southern stream system and phase together. This will help develop a nice troughing feature which should help intensify the surface low pressure system.

12Z GFS 500mb Vorticity plot and heights forecast for Thursday Morning(Courtesy: NEXLAB Models)

All the while, high pressure currently over the Midwest will help set the stage for this storm as it meanders to the east and eventually sets up shop over the northeast. A classic cold-air damming situation will set up and plenty of cold air will be situated across the D.C. area.

12Z GFS MSLP and P-type forecast for Thursday around 1am (Courtesy: WeatherBELL Models)

High pressure should also help push the low pressure system up the coast instead of a more easterly track out to sea. This is where the question of what track will it actually take. Too far west and the D.C. area may see a wintry mix or rain, too far east and parts of the area may not even see snow at all. If it's just right we could be in for a big snowstorm.

Time will tell, but right now snow is looking more and more likely starting late Wednesday night continuing through Thursday evening. We'll have a full update with all of the latest tonight on ABC 7 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm.

 

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Latest on the weekend snow chances in the D.C. area

February 7, 2014 - 02:30 PM
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This weekend will be sandwiched between disturbances. One is anticipated to visit tomorrow morning through the afternoon and the next will push through the area by late Sunday into Monday morning. Snow is possible in each system, but with temperatures at or slightly above freezing, accumulating snow isn't likely, especially on the roads.

Friday night 12ZGFS 500mb Vorticity forecast (Courtesy: NEXLAB Models)

Here's the set-up. Saturday's system has been passing over Texas today bringing a light mix of rain, freezing rain and snow across the state. The disturbance will push into the D.C. area by tomorrow morning, though the greatest energy associated with it will be to the south of D.C., only allowing for light precipitation in our area but heavier rain over the Carolinas along the coast.

Precipitation Forecast by the WPC through Monday morning

The second wave of energy is streaming into the Pacific Northwest and will eventually affect the region by late Sunday. The circled area above in the top graphic is the beginning of the disturbance, which will evolve as another trough digs into this system from Canada and moves across the Midwest to the east coast this weekend.

One big thing to note on the second system is the precipitation it is bringing to the west coast. Though Southern California is still waiting for heavier precipitation, the northern half of the state will see the chance for up to 3 inches of rain locally which is phenomenal for the drought conditions. I just hope the soil isn't too parched to soak it up!

By the time the disturbance travels to the Mid Atlantic, it's not expected to be very strong, and it will be quite moisture-starved after exiting the northern Rockies, so anything that falls will be very light. The timing brings the possibility for light rain and snow by the evening hours Sunday into Sunday night.

Oddly enough, one of the model simulates light snow heading for the D.C. area Monday morning. I'm not quite buying that at the moment as I currently do not see the upper-level support for it. It's something we can watch through the weekend but nothing more.

6-10 Day Temperature Outlook from the CPC

Above is the 6-10 day temperature outlook showing continued cooler than normal temperatures in the eastern half of the country. The pattern doesn't look to shift colder than normal temperatures away from the D.C. area just yet, but it's also not conducive to the extremely cold air we saw in January. I think it's safe to say we can all be happy with slightly below normal temperatures rather than the single digits we experienced not too long ago!

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Recap of the icing across the D.C. area

February 5, 2014 - 10:50 AM
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Let's first take a look at some of the icing reports from the National Weather Service this morning. Icing has already caused multiple accidents in the area, trees down and power outages. Here are the cities that have recorded the highest icing totals so far.

Romney, WV: 0.7" (If true, that is a ridiculously high amount of ice...)

Hedgesville, WV: 0.5"

Manchester, MD (Carroll County): 0.5"

Cumberland, MD: 0.4"

Frederick, MD: 0.4"

Purcellville, VA: 0.4"

Leesburg, VA: 0.33"

Winchester, VA: 0.3"

Sperryville, VA: 0.3"

Hagerstown, Germantown, Gaithersburg, New Market, Clarksburg in MD, and Sterling, Front Royal, Berryville in VA and many other cities at 0.25".

The impacts have been just about what you would expect with an ice storm. Here are a few tweets coming in from the region.

What should you expect for the rest of the day? Milder temperatures actually! Temperatures should reach the 40s in the D.C. Metro and points south.

Unfortunately, it isn't expected to reach the 40s northwest of town where the region needs the warmer temperatures. Highs in the northwestern suburbs are still only expected to reach the low to mid 30s.

In addition, winds are expected to pick up through the afternoon and evening with gusts into the 30s. This may cause additional trees or tree limbs to come down from the added weight. Try to stay inside today and tonight if you can. Expect the chances for more delays and cancellations tomorrow morning.

4km NAM Forecast Temps this afternoon (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

 

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Icing likely in parts of the D.C. Metro tonight into Wednesday

February 4, 2014 - 06:20 PM
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Icing has already become a problem across parts of the U.S. today, with reports currently from Arkansas expected to spread east into the Ohio Valley later this afternoon. Below is a look at a tweet from Little Rock, Arkansas of icing on power lines. This kind of precipitation is expected for areas west of D.C. overnight into Wednesday morning.

Low pressure is expected to develop over the Tennessee Valley tonight as precipitation begins in the D.C. area. High pressure located to the north will supply cool, dry air at the surface which will keep temperatures at or below freezing overnight when precipitation begins. This in turn will allow precipitation to start in the form of sleet and freezing rain for the majority of the region.

LIVE RADAR HERE

Precipitation should start tonight closer to 11pm in the D.C. area. Temperatures are currently at or below freezing from Dulles and Gaithersburg and points west. It will be those locations that see the highest likelihood for accumulating ice on trees, power lines, and roadways.

Winter Storm Warning and Freezing Rain Advisory

A Freezing Rain Advisory is in effect close to the D.C. Metro while Winter Storm Warnings are in effect in areas such as Loudoun, Montgomery and points farther west. Freezing rain is expected to change over to plain rain in the D.C. Metro by the early morning hours closer to sunrise, while freezing rain is anticipated to hang on for a longer duration for areas under the warning.

Precipitation type accumulations by 10am Wednesday per the 4km NAM Model (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

Freezing rain may total up to 0.25" to 0.5" in areas under the warning, and closer to 0.1" in areas under the advisory. Looking at the 4-plot chart above of the 4km NAM Model output by 10am Wednesday, it appears like a quarter inch of rain or isolated higher amounts may be possible in Southern Maryland where warmer temperatures shouldn't allow for as much freezing precipitation.

This model still depicts up to 0.1" of ice possible along and just east of I-95 tomorrow morning but once it changes over to rain, ice should be washed away pretty quickly close to the D.C. Metro. For instance, in the potential graphic below, remember that the "up to 0.1" of ice" should change to rain in the early morning.

Icing potential tonight into Wednesday

Our team still thinks there will be a number of delays and cancellations Wednesday and the morning commute will be a mess, so be sure to factor in extra time. Getting up early won't necessarily make it an easier trip with the changeover to rain expected closer to sunrise in the D.C. Metro. Be sure to take it extra slow on side roads and elevated surfaces such as bridges, overpasses and on/off ramps.

Stay tuned to ABC 7 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm for Chief Meteorologist Doug Hill's latest forecast and until then please tune in to Newschannel 8 (watch it live online!) for continuous coverage.

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