From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for May 2014

June 1st Marks the Start Meteorological Summer & Hurricane Season

June 1, 2014 - 05:00 AM

After a brutal winter, it's finally here -- summer.  Well, meteorological summer.  And it's also the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Meteorological summer begins June 1st and continues through August 31st. September 1st starts meteorological autumn. Meteorological seasons are grouped in sets of three months and are done so for seasonal climate purposes.


The graphic above shows three different ways summer can be defined.  Astronomical summer begins June 21st.  That is when the summer solstice occurs.  The summer solstice is when the northern hemisphere is tilted most directly towards the sun.  Solar summer is the three months of the year with the greatest amount of sunshine. 

June 1st also marks the start of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.  Hurricane season, in the Atlantic, goes through November 30th.  NOAA released the Atlantic hurricane outlook two weeks ago predicting an average, to slightly below average, hurricane season. 


As of right now, the tropics look quiet, but we'll be watching closely for the first named storm, Arthur.  Is your name on the list?

Regardless of how many named storms and hurricanes develop, you should be prepared with a hurricane emergency supply kit.  Now is the time to get that together, so you're not scrambling (with everyone else) at the last minute for those essential items.

As we march into the summer and hurricane seasons, you'll want to stay with the StormWatch7 weather team for all the latest updates.  I guess we can all agree the weather is practically perfect for this first day of June!


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Backdoor Front Heading For Washington Early Next Week

May 25, 2014 - 05:25 PM

The beautiful holiday weekend weather will come to an end just in time for many to return to work on Tuesday. The culprit for the changeable skies is a backdoor cold front. These fronts are typical in spring (yes, it’s still spring despite the “unofficial start to summer” noted by Memorial Day).

Most cold fronts slide in from the northwest, west or southwest. A few sweep from south to north along Interstate 95 but still have their roots to the west of the Interstate 95 corridor.

A rather unique front, although well-documented in meteorology text books, will slide through the Washington-Baltimore area Tuesday and Wednesday with its roots in New England. Called a backdoor cold front, it will edge south and west from the North Atlantic to the Interstate 95 corridor before moving west towards the Shenandoah Valley.

The reason for this movement is due to a strong high pressure centered in northwestern Saskatchewan that will move east into Quebec Monday and then slide south and west through New England Tuesday through Wednesday. As it does so, warmer, more humid air will slide into the Mid-Atlantic just as a cooler, marine air mass (that will still be high in humidity) settles south.

wx map

Climatologically, backdoor cold fronts don’t tend to produce severe thunderstorms (characterized by wind gusts in excess of 57 mph and hail larger than 1” in diameter) in the Mid-Atlantic due to the lack of upper-level wind support along and ahead of the front. However, due to the influx of Atlantic moisture with the convergence of the air masses, heavy downpours usually occur. They are notorious for dropping temperatures up to 30 degrees in 12 hours though.

Looking ahead, the front will slide into eastern Pennsylvania by Tuesday afternoon and then south of the nation’s capital by Wednesday afternoon. This will translate to showers and storms, a few with downpours on both days.

wx map

As is typical behind a backdoor cold front, temperatures cool markedly but the humidity can remain high. A low-level easterly wind will draw in Atlantic moisture to the region, keeping low clouds intact with a few spots of drizzle, especially closer to the Bay and east of the Blue Ridge on Thursday. Highs on Thursday may stay in the 60s in Washington and actually be warmer in the mountains far west of town, away from the cooler Atlantic flow!

The pattern will break on Friday as drier air pushes in from the west, so more sunshine will emerge.

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Memorial Day Weekend East Coast Beach and Local Forecasts!

May 21, 2014 - 01:30 PM

With more people traveling this Memorial Day than in previous years, the thought is that everybody is headed to the beaches with the first weekend of summer quickly approaching. If you are not already planning to travel, once you get wind of this forecast for our area beaches-you just might change your mind! All in all it will be a great weekend. There could be a few passing light showers Friday and into Saturday as an upper level disturbance floats around but high pressure will dominate. Humidity will creep up gradually for all locations by Sunday afternoon and into the daytime hours on Memorial Day. The UV index will be high to very high all along the east coast so please use skin protection (SPF 30+ suggested as well as a hat and sunglasses)—especially between the hours of 10a.m. and 4p.m.)





Ocean City and Delaware Beaches (including Rehobeth, Dewey, Bethany, Fenwick Island.

*Water Temperature: Around 60*

Friday: There will be sunshine around with a few afternoon clouds. Not too bad traveling weather. A very slight chance of a passing shower Friday afternoon into the nighttime hours, but it will be light precip if any. Daytime highs = Lower 70s. Overnight lows = Mid to Upper 50s. Winds = West 5-10 mph. Sunrise: 5:44am, Sunset: 8:10pm

Saturday: Sunshine continues for much of the day with just a few clouds around. If you are headed out early in the morning, there could be a little bit of a breeze. Yet another chance of a very isolated light passing shower in the afternoon hours. Day time highs = lower to mid-70s with little humidity. Overnight lows = Mid to Upper 50s. Winds = Northwest 5-10 mph. Sunrise: 5:43am. Sunset; 8:11pm.

Sunday: Expect mainly sunshine on Sunday as temperatures and humidity levels creep up a notch. A beautiful and dry day! Daytime highs = Mid 70s. Overnight lows = Mid to Upper 50s. Sunrise: 5:43am. Sunset: 8:12pm.

Memorial Day: Beautiful! There will be plenty of sunshine around the region with just a touch of humidity. Daytime Highs = Mid to Upper 70s. Winds: SW 5-10 mph. Sunrise: 5:42am.

Virginia Beach, VA including Sandbridge and local area beaches

*Water Temperature: Lower to Mid 60s*

Friday: Sunshine! Great day at the beach but lather on that sunscreen! Daytime highs: Mid 70s. Overnight lows: Around 60. Winds: Breezy in the morning, NW 5-10 in the afternoon. Sunrise: 5:52am. Sunset: 8:10PM

Saturday: Another great day out there with plenty of sunshine. There will be perhaps a few clouds here and there. Beautiful! Daytime highs: Lower to mid-70s. Overnight lows: Lower 60s. Winds: NW 10-15 mph, decreasing through the afternoon hours. Sunrise: 5:51am. Sunset: 8:11PM.

Sunday: Another day with all sunshine and no threat of rain. Expect a very nice with a touch more of humidity around. Daytime highs: Mid 70s. Overnight lows: Lower to Mid-60s. Sunrise: 5:51am. Sunset: 8:12pm.

Memorial Day: Beautiful with continued sunshine. Slightly warmer conditions. Daytime Highs: Nearing 80. Winds: S 5-10 mph. Sunrise: 5:50am.


Outer Banks, NC and local area beaches

*Water Temperature: Mid to Upper 60s*

Friday: Evening isolated sprinkle possible otherwise looking at a mix of sun and clouds! Daytime High: Low to Mid 70s. Overnight lows: Mid 60s. NW 10-15 mph decreasing. Sunrise: 5:52am. Sunset: 8:07PM

Saturday: Besides very few clouds, mostly sunshine for your Saturday. Humidity will be on the rise. Daytime Highs: Lower 70s. Overnight Lows: Lower to Mid-60s. Winds: N 5-10 mph Sunrise: 5:52am. Sunset: 8:07pm.

Sunday: Another near perfect day with plenty of sunshine to go around. Daytime Highs: Lower to Mid-70s. Overnight Lows: Mid 60s. Sunrise: 5:51am. Sunset: 8:08pm.

Memorial Day: Still gorgeous and warming with sunshine. Daytime Highs: Mid 70s. Winds: SW 5-10 mph. Sunrise: 5:50am.

And for those people headed out to the Eastern Shore, the forecast is looking great as well with water temperatures in the mid to upper 60s!


But if you like me and staying around the D.C. region, you still get a good chance to enjoy some swim time as well as some backyard BBQ’s in celebration of Memorial Day.

Washington D.C. and the WJLA viewing area.

Friday: A passing shower possible, mainly in the evening hours, but temperatures will move nicely into the mid-70s. Plenty of sunshine around! Overnight lows fall to the mid to upper 50s. Winds: NW 5-10 mph. Sunrise: 5:50am. Sunset: 8:20PM

Saturday: A few clouds but still expecting sunshine on Saturday. Temperatures stay in the mid-70s with a chance of some isolated sprinkles. Overnight lows fall into the mid-50s. Winds: N 5-10 mph. Sunrise: 5:50am. Sunset: 8:20pm.

Sunday: Another beautiful day in the region and slightly warmer! Expect full sunshine with a little bit more humidity around. Daytime Highs: mid to upper 70s. Overnight lows: Mid 50s. Sunrise: 5:49am. Sunset: 8:21PM

Memorial Day: Just a few clouds around for your Memorial Day but still nice and warm with increased humidity!. Daytime highs: Lower to Mid 80s. Winds: Light. Sunrise: 5:48am.


Follow Lauryn on Twitter and Facebook for continuous weather updates!

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New Meteor Shower Could Put on a Great Show Friday night, Saturday morning

May 21, 2014 - 05:00 AM

Whether or not it will be a delight or a dud is still at question, but a new meteor shower expected this weekend has space enthusiasts excited. It's being dubbed, "May Camelopardalids," after the constellation closest to it's radiant point (also known as the giraffe). While it is difficult to pronounce, it may be very easy to see in the Northern Hemisphere.

(Best Viewing - NASA)


Look in the  sky on Friday night or Saturday morning near the Big Dipper. Peak display is forecasted between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.


(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)


The waning crescent moon will only be 20 percent illuminated and these meteors only move at 40,000 miles per hour creating bright and slow displays. The comet called 209P/LINEAR orbits the sun once every five years but its a debris stream from that comet left behind from the 1800s that will track through the earth's atmosphere to create the display. It was first discovered in 2004.

Much like in meteorology, Astronomists differ in their forecast of the display. While they all agree on the date and timing of the possible first display of this shower, they vary on how spectacular it will be. Some are calling for a few hundred "shooting stars" per hour and others predict it will be a downright meteor storm (1000+ per hour). NASA will be hosting a live chat and Ustream of the display. Here's a direct link to it.  It's up to you to decide if it's worth losing sleep over.  Perhaps it helps that it's a holiday weekend and many don't have to get up early as mother nature makes her own fireworks show in the sky.

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D.C. Area Flooding: Rainfall totals and statistics

May 16, 2014 - 02:21 PM
Flooding in Old Town Alexandria, May 16, 2014. (Photo: Jeff Goldberg/WJLA)

A widespread 2 to 5 inches of rain fell across the D.C. area Thursday into Friday, making for widespread flooding conditions closing roads all over the region and even cancelling schools in the western part of the area.

Numerous flood warnings remain through this evening for small streams and urban areas, and river flood warnings remain through the weekend. Here's a look at some of our top rainfall totals from our WeatherBug Network (Thanks for finding these Mr. van de Graaff!).

1.) Leesburg: 4.25”
2.) Germantown: 4:20”
3.) Oakton: 4.18”
4.) Ashburn: 4.10”
5.) Frederick: 4.04”
6.) Springfield: 3.81”
7.) Woodbridge 3.32”
8.) Alexandria 2.96”
9.) DC (Children’s) 2.78”
10.) Culpeper 2.53”
11.) Indian Head 2.5”
12.) Arlington 2.48”
13.) Bowie 2.3”
14.) Huntingtown 0.70”

The Public Information Statement from the National Weather Service contains even more reports from the event. Both Dulles and Reagan National broke daily rainfall records today, each receiving more than 2 inches of rain for the day.

This is the second heavy rain producing system in the past few weeks. The last occurred at the end of April, dropping 2 to 5 inches of rain as well. Take a look at the graphic below, showing the rain over the past event, the month of May and the total accumulated from April 25th.

Just for comparison sake, Los Angeles and San Diego in California have COMBINED for less than 8 inches of rain the entire year, so our region has seen more in the past 22 days then they have in 2014.

Our region is currently running about 6 to 7 inches above average for our yearly precipitation. The current forecast keeps steady rain out of the picture until later next week.

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Severe Thunderstorm Watch cancelled, flood threat remains

May 15, 2014 - 06:25 PM


6:50pm: The severe threat is over, but the flooding potential remains tonight into Friday. Flash Flood Watches continue through Friday afternoon. See Jacqui's latest blog here.

6:08pm: Much of the Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been cancelled. No severe storms are active at the moment but we will continue to monitor Doppler radar.

Severe T-Storm Watch until 8pm


5:40pm: There's a chance for the severe thunderstorm watch to be extended east of its current position per the latest Storm Prediction Center discussion. Only a 40% chance though at this point. We will keep you informed!

5:35pm: This was from earlier this afternoon around 5pm, but the storm definitely had some broad rotation in it. Enough for a low hanging base or wall cloud to develop. We don't see them all that often in the D.C. area!


4:32pm: A few thunderstorms have developed out ahead of the main line and are affecting the western portions of the Beltway.

4:21pm: A line of severe storms will continue to move to the northeast through Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William and possibly western Fairfax Counties over the next 45 minutes. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning continues through 4:45pm. Damaging winds are the primary threat in this line.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been posted for parts of the D.C. area west of the district until 8 p.m. The main threat in any storms will be damaging wind gusts, but small hail and possibly even an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out completely.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 8pm

Latest model trends depict the line of storms making it to the Blue Ridge by 3-4 p.m. and the D.C. Metro area by 7-8 p.m. Heavy rain looks to continue tonight through Friday morning, including the morning commute. For more on the potential for flooding, please see Jacqui Jeras's latest blog.

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Heavy rain and flooding expected tonight and friday

May 14, 2014 - 09:55 AM

A flash flood watch has been issued for the large majority of the WJLA viewing area starting this afternoon in the Shenandoah Valley and tonight for the metro area. The watch is scheduled to remain in effect through Friday. Flooding rain has pounded parts of the south including Texas and Arkansas. Now, that heavy wet weather is heading to the East. this could be a similar situation to what happened April 30th when many rivers lifted out of their banks, but quickly receded leaving a muddy mess. 

(This Afternoon)

A cold front associated with an upper-level feature is now located in the Ohio and Tennessee River Valleys. Low pressure will lift along the front and will draw in tropical moisture ahead of it. Plenty of moisture is already in place here as witnessed in this morning's fog, so we expect to squeeze out significant rainfall.  

(Quantitative Precipitation Forecast - NWS)

The latest local rainfall forecast focuses the heaviest totals in the mountains, but an inch or two is possible in the metro area. Here is our most recent futurecast.
(Computer Projection of Rainfall through Friday)

2-4 inches of rainfall is possible in general. While we could use some rain to spruce up grassy surfaces and plants, we have a spring surplus and this next batch of rain will be too much in a short period of time.

(Rainfall Departure)

All the rain and run-off could lead to river flooding. The Mid-Atlantic River Forecast Center has highlighted our region for this possibility.  





(River Flood Outlook)

The worst of the weather arrives late on Thursday and continues through much of the day Friday. I expect the Friday morning commute to have significant delays due to heavy downpours and standing water on roads.There could even be some road closures. As always, if you encounter these conditions, slow down and turn around. You never know how deep the water is over the road or whether or not the condition of the pavement has been compromised. It only takes 6 inches of moving water to knock you off of your feet and 12 inches of moving water can lift a small car. Drier conditions will be arriving late Friday and high pressure settles in for a sunnier, cooler weekend.





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First 90 degree day in D.C. possible, plus a look to the past

May 12, 2014 - 08:41 PM

The highest temperature recorded in the D.C. area so far this year was 87 on May 8. By this time last year, D.C. had already recorded its first 90 degree day, but we're not behind schedule for 2014. Here's a look at when Reagan National recorded its first 90 degree day over the past 5 years.

First 90 degree day over the past 5 years

You can see last year it was on the 10th of April, which was also a record high for the date. 2009 and 2010 also recorded their first 90 degree day in April, but both 2011 and 2012 didn't experience them until late May. Looking back to 2008, it didn't happen until June 7th! Looking back further, there were only 6 times that temperatures reached 90 degrees prior to May over the past 20 years.

First 90 degree day in the past 20 years

Tuesday legitimately has a chance to hit 90 in the region. Temperatures are exceptionally warm out ahead of a cold front which should enter the region by Thursday night into Friday. Here is a look at the forecast temperatures from the 18Z 4km NAM for 3pm Tuesday. Though it's not the most trustworthy model, the fact that it reaches the low 90s gives me a little more confidence that it may reach 90 degrees at Reagan.

18Z 4km NAM forecast for Tuesday at 3pm (Courtesy: WeatherBell)

My limiting factors would be if winds are southeasterly as forecast tomorrow, that may make it a little cooler with winds off the cooler Potomac. Typically southwesterly or westerly winds are better for hotter temperatures at the observation station. Higher dew points in the mid 60s may also hinder it reaching 90 degrees, since it is more difficult for humid air to warm. I guess only time will tell!

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D.C. Area Officially On El NiƱo Watch for Summer

May 10, 2014 - 09:57 PM



These bright red colors represent warm waters in the deep Pacific Ocean, and have climate experts like Mike Halpert on alert.

“As the ocean warms, it typically shifts patterns of tropical rainfall," he says.

We’re officially on El Niño watch, and the chances of it developing by this summer are now greater than 50-percent. El Niño is an ocean and atmospheric circulation that happens every two to seven years. Winds near the Equator in the Pacific weaken, allowing warm water to spread eastward and shift the jet stream that guides weather and storms.

And it could mean serious impacts this winter for Washington, D.C.

“It was just four years ago, the winter of 2009 to 2010, it was a moderate to strong event that folks was I think the snowiest winter on record," says Halpert.

That’s right, Snowmageddon, the monster storm that blanketed the region with two feet of snow happened during an El Niño winter. But El Niño’s influence on the mid-Atlantic is still unclear. While it can increase chances of Nor’easters, other years it has brought little snow to the area.

El Niño is mostly felt in the cold weather months. In the U.S., it can bring wet and stormy conditions along the gulf coast, and warmer, drier conditions to the Midwest. Stronger events are known to cause extreme weather like torrential flooding and mudslides in California.

In fact, an El Niño episode in 1997 was so notorious, it spawned a classic Saturday Night Live skit.

El Niño could also be a good thing and bring some relief to the historic drought in California – it lasts nine to 12 months on average.

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D.C. Race for the Cure forecast Saturday

May 9, 2014 - 08:00 AM

Get ready for a sea of pink along the National Mall tomorrow morning.  It's the 25th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in our Nation's Capital.  It promises to be a positive and uplifting day in hopes of raising awareness and money for breast cancer research. 

Pre-race festivities begin at 6:30am with the event kit pick-up and survival reception.  Our very own Jacqui Jeras will speak at the survival reception and will be in attendance with her mom who is a breast cancer survivor. 

The opening ceremony starts at 7:30am.  Both Jacqui Jeras and ABC7's Alison Starling will emcee the event.  The runners take off at 8am and the walkers at 8:15am. 

Race weather will be a little damp.  You'll want to bring the rain jacket, as there could be a few isolated showers/sprinkles.  The good news is it doesn't look like there will be any widespread, heavy rain to deal with.  Temperatures will start out pre-race in the mid to upper 60s with low 70s expected by the end of the race.

Metro will open at 5am.  The Metro Center, Smithsonian, and Federal Triangle stops will be your best option.  The race starts at Constitution Ave and 15th St. NW. 

Even with a few showers possible tomorrow morning, I don't think it will dampen the mood in D.C. on Race Day.  Tomorrow we fight, to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research.  We come together as a community to offer support to those who have lost the battle, those who are fighting, and for the survivors.  Breast cancer has affected too many of us.  We will find a cure.

Make sure you stop by the ABC7/NC8/Politico tent to say hi and receive a few free goodies.  We'll see you there!

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Hurricane Season Just Around The Corner

May 7, 2014 - 07:45 PM

Just as the days get longer and warmer, the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season will soon get underway. In another three weeks, the Atlantic Hurricane Season will commence. Both the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic tropical seasons continue through the end of November.

Already, the Eastern Pacific tropics have created a stir. A low pressure well south of Manzanillo, Mexico is producing thunderstorms. This system still doesn’t have a well-defined circulation center and upper-level winds will become too strong for development. It is moving towards the Mexico coastline and will produce more rain in southwestern Mexico through midweek.

The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season doesn’t officially begin until May 15 but development has occurred prior to this date. In 2012, Tropical Storm Aletta was the third tropical storm on record to form before May 15.

A few noteworthy storms developed during the 2013 season. Tropical Storm Alvin tied for the second-lowest latitude (or closest to the Equator) tropical cyclone to form in the Eastern North Pacific basin during the satellite era. Hurricane Barbara became the second-earliest hurricane landfall in the Eastern Pacific since records began in 1949. It also was the easternmost recorded landfall point for an Eastern North Pacific hurricane. Meanwhile, Hurricane Manuel was responsible for 123 deaths in Mexico in mid-September.

On average, 15 to 16 tropical storms form across the basin, with the most active portion of the season being September into early October. Nine tropical storms typically become hurricanes while 4 major hurricanes with winds greater than 111 mph occur in an average year. Historically, upper-level winds tend to steer storms away from the U.S., Mexico and Central America coastlines.

Atlantic Storm Names

Here is the list of names on the agenda for the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season.

Eastern Pacific Names

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1 and continues through the end of November. In an average season there are 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. Here is the list of names that will be used for the upcoming Atlantic season.

Atlantic Storm Names

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Best weather related birthday present ever

May 5, 2014 - 08:19 PM

I have long been a nut for thunderstorms. Though I am terrified of lightning and would never think of going outside in a storm they still fascinate me and always will. I especially love viewing thunderstorms and happened to view a storm over Charleston, SC from Fripp Island, SC back on August 22, 2011. I happened to be on vacation, and this happened to be a day before the Virginia Earthquake, and the week of Hurricane Irene which I quickly drove back for.

Thunderstorm over Charleston, SC taken from Fripp Island, SC

The storm I captured (on an iPhone 4) from Fripp was a severe thunderstorm located over the Charleston, SC area which dropped golf ball sized hail over Goose Creek. It just happened to be the perfect setting, with the sun setting and light winds in the area allowing for the perfect reflection on the water. The one bad thing I remember about taking this picture was I ended up with about 40 mosquito bites, which was totally worth it. If you don't think I love this picture, not only did I have one blown up and framed for my mother, but I also have had it as my iPhone background for the past 3 years!

The surprise came this year, as my girlfriend was wondering what to get me for my birthday. Her friend recently started painting and found out she had a knack for it. Not only is Talia Piazza a fantastic artist, but it just so happened she's also beaten breast cancer... TWICE. She's an incredibly tough woman, who my girlfriend met in college and has been close friends with ever since.

Painting of the picture

She ended up painting my photo, which I had no clue was going on. The painting came out amazing, so I of course wanted to share it on the weather blog. I already have it hanging on my wall in my apartment and will definitely have it in my home the rest of my life. I just wanted to share the fantastic gift idea with everyone else out there from one weather nerd to all the others.

Comparison of the painting (top) to my photo (bottom)

To see more of Tia's work, visit her Etsy shop here.

She also just so happens to run a Bake Shop in Pittsburgh, PA with another one of her friends. You can find that here.

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