From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for November 2013

Coldest Thanksgiving in over a Decade!

November 29, 2013 - 05:14 AM
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This Thanksgiving was perfect for hot turkey, warm trimmings and even a fire in the fireplace -- it was the coldest Thanksgiving in 13 years!  Yesterday reached 40 degrees. 

In 2000, the Thanksgiving high temperature only reached 38 degrees.  That makes yesterday's high the coldest Thanksgiving in over a decade!

We're nearing the end of the month and it will end below average in the temperature department.  As of Thanksgiving, November was 2.5 degrees below average.  Another cooler than average day today and tomorrow.  Not only for us in the Nation's Capital, but across the U.S.  Look at all that blue! 

College of DuPage

Quiet weather conditions are also expected to wrap up November, which is great news for travelers returning home after the holiday.  Pretty much rain free across the U.S.

 

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Latest updates on Tuesday's weather and Wednesday's travel

November 26, 2013 - 05:30 PM
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Doppler Radar  |  Stormwatch 7 Facebook  Temperatures

At this point we think the worst of the system will move through tonight as the area of low pressure begins to move up the coast. We have already seen Tornado Warnings in the Florida Panhandle which is helping give an idea just how strong this system is gearing up to be.

HRRR Forecast Precipitation by Wednesday afternoon (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

As we head through the afternoon and evening, rain will continue to fall across the region yet will wait to pick up in intensity until closer to sunset.

There is the chance for 2 inches of rain or more overnight into Wednesday morning as the low moves into the region. The model shown above even brings the chance for closer to 3 inches in isolated spots across the area.

This could lead to some flooding issues but they should be limited since conditions for the month have been so dry.

Small streams and creeks may have some flooding issues but the bigger problem may be limited to ponding on the roadways.

Day 1-2 QPF from the Weather Prediction Center

The tweet above gives a look at the 4km NAM model, which shows the potential for temperatures to really jump during the overnight hours as the low moves over the region.

Warmest temperatures will be east of the low and parts of the Eastern Shore and even Southern Maryland could reach the 60 degree mark overnight (See image below). Areas west of the Metro are expected to hang in the 30s and 40s.

HRRR Temperature forecast for midnight (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

The low will pass by the region overnight and intensify over the Northeast Wednesday. Winds will change from easterly to northwesterly tomorrow and become very gusty through the afternoon and evening.

Winds appear to be the strongest tomorrow with gusts possibly to 45 mph at times. The highest winds should be in higher elevations northwest of D.C. Below is a look at the 850mb winds and temperatures. The winds may be up to 50 knots at that height which could translate down to the surface giving the higher wind gusts.

850mb Winds and Temperatures Wednesday night into Thursday morning

Snow will also be possible as the low moves north of D.C. Cold air will filter in as the winds shift and precipitation should change to snow across the area by tomorrow afternoon.

There is the possibility for some light accumulations throughout the area but they will be very limited in the D.C. Metro because of the wet and warm surface temperatures. Regardless, it will still have the potential to impact travel.

Again, if it snows tomorrow, be especially careful on bridges and overpasses if you happen to be traveling at the time. Light accumulations may be possible in the higher elevations north and west of D.C. Below is a look at total accumulated snowfall from the 12Z ECMWF model, but that doesn't take into account the wet and warm ground which would surely help melt much of the snow on impact.

Snow accumulation forecast from the ECMWF by early Thursday morning (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

Winds will continue to be breezy through Thanksgiving morning but high pressure will move overhead by the afternoon allowing winds to subside. Temperatures look cold Thanksgiving Day with highs in the mid to upper 30s and again on Black Friday with highs again only in the upper 30s.

Related:  Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons may be grounded

It's hard to think this November may go into the books with 4 days with high temperatures in the 30s. Ian Livingston, a colleague and writer for the Capital Weather Gang found that the two day span Sunday and Monday with high temperatures in the 30s hasn't occurred in the month of November since 2000 and the average of the two day span was the coldest in a row in November since 1970!

Guess we'll have to wait and see what the actual Winter brings!

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Winter Weather Advisory for D.C.: Tricky Tuesday travel

November 25, 2013 - 04:17 PM
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Doppler Radar  |  HD Cameras  |  Stormwatch 7 Facebook Page

A Winter Weather Advisory remains posted for Montgomery, Fairfax and Prince William counties and points west through the Shenandoah Valley starting at 4am. The Advisory expires at 1 p.m. closer to the metro area and 4 p.m. for locations farther north and west where cold air may hang on later in the day.

 


Precipitation is expected to overspread the region late tonight into Tuesday morning. Very dry air at the surface will keep heavy precipitation from occurring until the air column saturates later in the day.

At this point, it appears light snow, sleet and freezing rain will become possible by the early morning hours after 4am in the far southwestern suburbs and later closer to the D.C. Metro.

Precipitation totals appear very light through the morning commute, with less than a tenth of an inch (0.10") of liquid equivalent possible by 10am. This would mean that anything that falls will be light in nature during the early morning. This is due to extremely dry air at the lower levels.

Dew points are currently in the single digits and the air will need to saturate in the morning for precipitation to fall. With the saturation occurring, it will help cool the air, thus allowing for the onset of precipitation to be in the wintry form of snow, sleet and freezing rain. The D.C. Metro itself and places east may even experience a light wintry mix at the onset of precipitation but we're expecting a faster transition to rain by the late morning.

Monitor Maryland road temperatures here

Frozen precipitation will change over to rain rather quickly closer to D.C. tomorrow, but may take a little while to change to rain in the western suburbs, particularly west of the Blue Ridge where cold air may pool in the valley through the afternoon.

Regardless, everything will change over to rain late in the day and into tomorrow night. Very heavy rain appears likely through Wednesday morning, with the potential of 2-3 inches of rain or even higher amounts possible.

This may cause some areas of flooding through Wednesday morning so stay tuned to the latest forecasts. A Flood Watch may be posted at some point tomorrow per the latest National Weather Service forecast discussion.

Predicted Precipitation Totals

Gusty winds would be the next threat as the low intensifies over the the Northeastern U.S. Winds may gust up to 40mph+ at times Wednesday evening into Wednesday night. The highest gusts should be in higher elevations north and west of the city.

Thursday and Friday

Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday will be chilly, with highs in the upper 30s each day but also a lot quieter. Skies should be sunny and winds will begin to diminish come Thursday morning. High pressure should make for continued quiet conditions through the weekend.

 

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Thanksgiving 2013 travel could be affected by large storm

November 25, 2013 - 05:40 AM
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Just what the Interstate 95 corridor needs for the days leading up to Thanksgiving -- a coastal storm.  Everything is lining up for wet weather that will likely impact your travel on the roads and in the air. 

Let's start with the two weather systems that will combine to create this messy weather. A cold front will dive south, from Canada, into the central Plains. At the same time, an area of low pressure will develop over the Gulf of Mexico and track up the east coast. 

Here's a visual of these two weather features by Tuesday morning.

Weather Prediction Center

The will be a mainly rain event for D.C. area; however, at the onset and tail end of the wet weather, there is the potential for some mixed precipitation.  Precipitation will start Tuesday morning and move in from southwest to northeast. 

Areas south and west of Washington may see a little freezing rain/sleet/snow Tuesday morning, as the moisture tracks into the area (no accumulation expected). This is a simulation of conditions at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

WxBell

By 10 a.m., most, if not all, of the precipitation will change over to a chilly rain.

WxBell

Rain will continue through the day Tuesday and will become moderate to heavy late in the day and through the first half of Wednesday.  Keep in mind that this moisture will track north into New England for the day on Wednesday. 

College of DuPage

This coastal storm will produce a lot of moisture. Check out these forecast precipitation totals up and down the east coast.

Weather Prediction Center

As I mentioned, most of the precipitation in the D.C. area will fall as a chilly rain. As the moisture wraps up Wednesday evening, enough cold air may spill in, for precipitation to end as a little wet snow. Little to no accumulation is expected at this time. 

The good news is the coastal storm will be a fast mover, so by Thanksgiving Thursday the storm system will be north of Maine.

On the flip side, the bulk of the precipitation will fall on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

If you're flying, you'll want to check frequently with your air carrier for delay and cancellation updates.  You can also check out this FAA website for air travel updates.

Traveling Thanksgiving day will be much quieter, as high pressure settles in.  It will remain dry, but chilly for Black Friday shoppers.

WxBell

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Thanksgiving holiday travel concerns

November 22, 2013 - 01:04 PM
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Remember a few weeks ago, when winter weather was threatening the region nearly 6 days out from the forecast date?

It appears the same type of scenario is happening again, but this time around there is much better confidence for this system to impact the east coast. Let's take a look at the potential impacts next week.

The D.C. area is already expected to experience its coldest temperatures this early in the season in at least 5 years. Cold air will hang around the region this Sunday and Monday behind tonight's strong cold front. High temperatures should only reach the 30s Sunday and near the 40 degree mark Monday.

(Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

Above is a look at the 500mb relative vorticity plot valid this morning. I've circled two areas of energy, one off the coast of Southern California and one over portions of western Alaska.

We'll be watching for the southern cut-off low meander across the U.S. over the next few days and the energy in Alaska move through Canada and eventually to the Great Lakes by early next week.

When these two finally reach the East Coast, it will result in a big trough over the eastern part of the U.S. As this trough develops, a surface reflection of low pressure is expected to develop over the Gulf of Mexico and move east, transitioning to the east coast late Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

Wednesday morning 6hr-precip and MSLP ECMWF Model (WeatherBell Models)
Wednesday morning 6hr-precip and MSLP GFS Model (Nexlab Models)

As you can see from the model guidance above (to be taken with a grain of salt; still 5 days out), an area of low pressure moves along the eastern seaboard which will have the potential to help spread precipitation along the Interstate 95 corridor just in time for everyone to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.

7 Day QPF from the WPC

There have been hints that the precipitation could be heavy, with up to an inch or more possible from late Tuesday through Wednesday. The best timing at the moment looks like it would be from sunset Tuesday to sunset Wednesday, with the system long gone by Thanksgiving Day.

Above is a look at the 7 day quantitative precipitation forecast from the Weather Prediction Center. They are also in agreement that the potential for heavy rain is there, but a sharp gradient exists with the heaviest rainfall possible south and east of town with much less farther north and west of D.C.

Right now, the question remains as to what type of precipitation it would be. There could be some snow, but I think the best chance would be relegated to the higher elevations in the mountains.

This is something we'll need to keep an eye on, but latest forecasts are depicting a sufficient amount of warm air in the lower levels for precipitation to fall as rain. The main problem this system will have is that there won't be a big supply of cold air into it as high pressure will have relocated well off the east coast.

The system is expected to clear out the area on Thursday with partly cloudy skies, cool temperatures in the low 40s and along with breezy winds.

Our team will continue to keep you updated on this situation through the weekend and early next week as new developments arise. Be sure to check watch ABC 7 News into the weekend and check our latest posts here online or on our Stormwatch 7 Facebook page for the latest.

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NOAA Winter Outlook: "Equal chances" for D.C.

November 21, 2013 - 10:58 AM
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With sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific near average for the past 6 months, niether El Nino or La Nina have been prominent and the forecast shows neither is expected to develop over the winter months.

Related: Doug Hill's Winter Weather Outlook

Mike Halpert, whom we have interviewed in previous years for our own winter weather outlook, states why that is so important.

“It’s a challenge to produce a long-term winter forecast without the climate pattern of an El Niño or a La Niña in place out in the Pacific because those climate patterns often strongly influence winter temperature and precipitation here in the United States,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“Without this strong seasonal influence, winter weather is often affected by short-term climate patterns, such as the Arctic Oscillation, that are not predictable beyond a week or two. So it’s important to pay attention to your local daily weather forecast throughout the winter.”

NOAA's Precipitation Outlook for Winter

Above is the precipitation outlook, showing continued drought conditions in the Southwest and drier than normal conditions developing in the Southeast. Areas in the Northern Rockies are expected to experience above average precipitation.

NOAA's Temperature Outlook for Winter

Warmer than normal temperatures are anticipated across the South as well as the far Northeast. Cooler than normal temperatures are expected in the Northern Plains states.

Related Blog: Top 10 Snowiest Winters in D.C.

What does that leave the D.C. area with? Equal chances of everything. NOAA states there isn't a "strong or reliable enough climate signal in these areas to favor one category over the others, so they have an equal chance for above, near, or below normal temperatures and/or precipitation."

NOAA even made a video for the Winter Outlook featuring Mike Halpert.

 

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Coldest air of the season heading for D.C.

November 20, 2013 - 04:33 PM
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A very strong cold front will push through the region this weekend, bringing more than likely the coldest air of the season. If you remember correctly, just 7 days ago on the 13th, high temperatures only reached the 45 degree mark. This time around, highs may not escape the 30s.

A lot of cold air is located over Alaska and northwestern Canada and will spill into the United States over the next few days. It's already in the single digits in parts of Montana this afternoon, but the real cold air in the -20 to -30 range has been hanging out in Canada and Alaska. As you can see in this image, Billings, MT is 47 degrees colder than it was at this time yesterday!

24-Hour Temperature Change for 5pm Wednesday

The cold air is expected to spill into the U.S. by Friday and work its way to the East Coast by Sunday as a cold front moves east and a very strong area of high pressure spills into the Midwest and Northern Plains.

Interactive Alaska Weather Station Map

Temperatures on Saturday ahead of the front will be seasonal in the low to mid 50s, but they should fall behind the cold front and continue to do so through Saturday night. Below is a look at the temperature anomaly Sunday early afternoon, showing temperatures around 20 degrees or more below where they typically are this time of year.

Temperature anomalies Sunday (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

Very gusty winds will accompany the cold air intrusion with the potential for wind gusts to 45 or even 50 mph during the day on Sunday. Combined with temperatures in the 30s, it will make it feel like the teens the majority of the day. The image below is a model forecast of the 850mb (around 5000ft) temperatures and winds. Over the D.C. area, winds are around 50-55 kts at that level, and some of that energy may make it to the surface which would allow for the higher wind gusts in the 45-50 mph range.

850mb Temperatures and Winds Sunday Morning

If Reagan National only reaches the upper 30s for high temperatures Sunday, it will be the earliest time to do so since 2008, when it only reached 37 degrees on the 22nd of the month.

The past two years in 2013 and 2012, high temperatures in the 30s for the first time in the season didn't occur until January 3rd.

Oddly enough, both 2010 and 2009 experienced the 30s for highs on the same date as well, but not until December 6th. I guess we'll have to wait and see how cold Sunday turns out!

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Rare view of the top of the Washington Monument

November 19, 2013 - 04:30 AM
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NOAA's National Geodetic Survey experts measure the peak of the Washington Monument. (Photo: NOAA)

 

The Monument, which was built between 1848 and 1884, is a tribute to George Washington. (More on its history here) Its current official height is 555 feet, 5 1/8 inches from top to bottom.

But, it has been measured several times over the years with different results. For example, in 1998 it was measured at 555 feet, and in 2000 at 555 feet 5 1/2”. So, why the discrepancy?

Settling of the earth could be a factor over the years. After all, D.C. was built on swampy ground. Some question whether or not the earthquake in August of 2011 caused sinking. But, it could also have to do with the technique used for measuring.

Technology allows for much better accuracy and the 2013 measurement will have a margin of error of only 1-2 millimeters.



Measurements from the Ground. (Photo: NOAA)

One known recorded height change was caused by storms over the years. In 1934, it was documented that the aluminum tip had been burned by lightning and was now squared, meaning ¾”-7/8” had been burned off.



November 19, 1934 National  Geodetic Survey. (Photo: NOAA)

The results of the recent measurement will be released in early 2014. Also, in the spring of 2014 the scaffolding will be down and the Washington Monument is scheduled to be open to the public to get that amazing view of our city.

However, the public won’t be allowed to the very top to get the unique view we wanted to share with you today. It is undetermined how long before anyone will be back at the "tip" or when it will be measured again. You may not want to go up there anyway, especially in winter... the top of the Washington Monument is on average 2 degrees Fahrenheit colder than at the base (if you use standard lapse rate of 6.5 degree Celsius drop per 1000 meters of height).

Winds also increase with height. For complete details on the survey, check out more photos and Q & A from NOAA on this link.

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Tornadoes, Tropics and D.C. Wind Gusts

November 18, 2013 - 08:07 AM
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It doesn't happen very often in November, but Sunday's tornado outbreak in the Ohio Valley is a devastating reminder that tornadoes can and do happen any month of the year in the United States. 

 


Preliminary Tornado Reports November 17th

 

The powerful storms spawned tornadoes in 5 states, but the hardest hit city was Washington, Ill. It was rated as a preliminary EF4 tornado with winds of 170-190 mph.

The unofficial tornado count stands at 81. This number will go down significantly though because there are often multiple reports of the same tornado. However, it looks likely that Sunday  will end up in the top three of tornado days in the United States this year. 



Top 3 Tornado Producing Days 2013

There was plenty of warning on the storms, but they moved very quickly at around 55 mph. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. issued a "high risk" of severe storms, something they have only done two other times in November since 1998.

When the cold front knocked on our door, it was the middle of the night, losing some of the prime daytime heating and the storm energy had lifted north.  We ended up with some gusty showers between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Here are a few peak wind gusts from our WeatherBug network.



Weather Bug Peak Wind Gusts Overnight

No damage has been reported in our area as of this writing. Rainfall totals weren't terribly impressive either.  We had .15" at Reagan National Airport.  The cold air that typically ushers in behind a front like this is still back in the Midwest.



Forecast Highs Today

While it will be breezy today, temperatures will remain mild in the 60s for highs.  The cooler air settles in tomorrow with high temperatures near 50 degrees. 

Speaking of extreme weather, I might also want to add that Hurricane Season is still ongoing.



Possible Tropical Development Atlantic-NHC

It officially ends on Nov. 30.  After a very quiet month so far, a subtropical storm Melissa has developed Southeast of Bermuda.  It is no threat to the U.S. To get the latest on Melissa, go to www.nhc.noaa.gov

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Severe weather hits the Midwest, Possible in D.C. area Monday AM

November 17, 2013 - 06:35 PM
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Over 75 tornado reports, 270 wind reports and 40 reports of hail have been made so far Sunday and more are anticipated as this system pushes towards the east coast. Extensive damage has been reported in parts of Illinois including Washington, IL, where reports are coming in of homes being destroyed and potential fatalities.


Above is a look at the Storm Reports from the Storm Prediction Center.

A number of storm surveys will be conducted tomorrow and some were started this afternoon after the storms moved out of the area. From the looks at the tweet above, it appears the tornado that struck Washington, IL was rated at EF4, though I couldn't find anything about it online just yet.

Chicago Area Storm Survey Page 

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Another Blast of Gusty Winds For DC Weather Monday

November 16, 2013 - 05:21 PM
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The weather pattern across the U.S. has been very progressive this month; multiple cold fronts have crossed the country, with warm air in advance in colder winds in their wake.

The next front is organizing in the Northwest and poised to roll through just in time for the morning commute Monday. The upper-level energy from this weather system will push into the Plains Sunday and then lift into the eastern Great Lakes Monday. Ahead of it, there is significant potential for severe storms in the Midwest and Ohio Valley. The Government’s Storm Prediction highlights a moderate potential for damaging thunderstorm wind gusts in the bull's eye seen on the map below.

convective_outlook

The jet stream, or zone of upper-level winds, this time of the year favors strong winds because temperature contrasts in northern and southern latitudes increases, allowing for a faster flow of air and more atmospheric mixing (cold air sinking and warm air rising).

This front will draw upon the fast jet stream winds to produce rain and wind. Looking closer at the data from Reagan National Airport, notice on the image below how winds not far from the surface (5,000 feet) are 57 knots, which translates to about 65 mph. This image shows the atmosphere profile (vertical cross section) of the winds, temperature and dew point in Washington early Monday morning just before the front is slated to move through.

DCA_profile

The cold front will likely cross just as the morning commute is in full swing. Notice the light blue or pink line highlighted in the image below. This shows a sharp pressure rise immediately in the front’s wake. A combination of high winds aloft and a sharp pressure rise will contribute to gusty winds along the leading edge of the front in the showers that move through.

DCA_pressure_rise

While all of the high winds aloft will not translate to the surface, at least half of this momentum will transfer to the ground in the heavier showers. Gusts will likely reach 35 mph in Washington. Closer to the best upper-level support with the front in the western suburbs and where there are elevations closer to that critical 5,000 foot level, gusts of 40-50 mph are likely. Due to these factors, Wind Advisories will likely be issued along and west of the Blue Ridge ahead of the front on Sunday.

lwx_area

If you recall, on November 1, a line of thunderstorms trucked through the Ohio Valley and became a north to south line of showers by the time it reached I-81 and then drove east through the morning. Wind gusts were 35-45 mph and sporadic damage was noted, mainly tree branches down, in Frederick and Carroll County.

Be prepared for a potentially longer than normal commute Monday due to the brief intense rain and gusty winds and it may be wise to set an alternative alarm in case the power briefly goes out in your location overnight Sunday. Stay with ABC7 for the latest forecast and the latest wind-related advisories that could be issued for parts of the region.

The air behind the front initially won’t be very chilly. As a matter of fact, the breezy northwest winds in the front’s wake will downslope, warm off the Blue Ridge (when air compresses it warms up) and overcome the bit of cooling to the post-frontal air, allowing temperatures to actually recover close to 70 degrees in downtown Washington Monday afternoon.

 

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Washington D.C. Snow: Top 10 snowiest winters

November 15, 2013 - 10:29 AM
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Doug Hill's Winter Weather Outlook is tonight at 11pm on ABC 7 News. Be sure to tune in and give us your take on our Stormwatch 7 Facebook Page to let us know if you agree with the winter forecast. We'll be taking a different kind of look into the forecast this winter, so we hope you'll enjoy it.

Take a look at the past 4 winter snowfall amounts at the local airports.

2012-13:  3.1" at Reagan  |  12.7" at Dulles  |  8.0" at BWI Marshall

2011-12:  2.0" at Reagan  |   3.7" at Dulles    |  1.8" at BWI Marshall

2010-11:  10.1" at Reagan  | 12.6" at Dulles  |  14.4" at BWI Marashall

2009-10:  56.1" at Reagan  | 73.2" at Dulles  |  77.0" at BWI Marshall

Does anyone else notice a little discrepancy between the past 3 years and the year before? The region has seen such little snow since the 2009-10 record winter. This has been the story over the past 30 years. At Reagan National, 25 of the past 30 winters have seen below normal snowfall. The average snow at Reagan is 15.4", increasing to 20.1" at BWI Marshall and 22" at Dulles Airport.

Commutageddon snow January 26, 2011

An odd thing to note is 3 of the top 8 snowiest winters have occurred in the past 30 years. So out of the 5 winters that were above average, 3 of those were in the top 8! That includes the 56.1" recorded 4 years ago, the 46" recorded in 1995-96 (remember that???) and the 40.4" that fell in 2003-03. Rather interesting all 3 of these occurred in the past 18 years.

Take a look at the top 10 snowiest winter months at Reagan National Airport.

Top 10 Snowiest Winters at Reagan National

Another interesting note is 5 of the top 10 snowiest months happened in 1921-22 and earlier. Two of top ten occurred within 4 years with the 1957-58 and 1960-61 winters and then of course the 3 in the past 18 years. Accurate records only go back to January 1888.

I did a little more number crunching as I wanted to look into the "average" snowfall numbers. At Reagan National Airport since 1888, there is a 65% chance D.C. will record less than 10.4" of snow or more than 20.4" of snow. This means that the area has only experienced snowfall within 10" of average 35% of the time.

With that being said, the D.C. area experiences feast or famine when it comes to snowfall rather often.

 

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Smoke Hole wildfire in West Virginia only 20% contained

November 14, 2013 - 11:49 AM
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The aptly named "Smoke Hole" wildfire, for where it is located in West Virginia, started last Sunday on private land. The cause for the blaze still hasn't been identified, but it has burned nearly out of control in Pendleton County, WV southwest of Petersburg, WV. The fire is still only 20% contained as of this morning says the U.S. Forest Service due to such dry and windy conditions over the past two days.


View Larger Map

With gusty winds yesterday and low levels of humidity, it has made it hard to try to contain the fire. Winds have subsided today, but humidity levels are still very low leading to extremely dry conditions and plenty of fuel for the fire since the majority of leaves have fallen in the mountains.


Shenandoah Valley Fire (Not associated with the Fire Department) shared this on their facebook page giving an idea of how much help is now coming to the area as now they'll even have air support with a helicopter dropping water over the fire.

Aubrey Urbanowicz (Our colleague who is a Meteorologist in Harrisonburg, VA at WHSV-TV) shared this picture from a viewer the other night along with the dewpoints at the time showing just how dry it has been. Current dewpoints are still only in the upper teens to low 20s, but are expected to rise into the 30s overnight.

The West Virginia Department of Commerce shared this on a webpage dedicated to keeping track of the fire,

"Resources Assigned: The Smoke Hole Fire is cooperatively managed under a unified command structure between the WV Division of Forestry and US Forest Service. Resources include: Two 20 Person Fire Crews, 5 engines, and a helicopter. Franklin, Upper Tract, Seneca Rocks and Petersburg, volunteer fire departments are providing suppression and structural assistance on affected private lands. Additional fire personnel and resources have been ordered and continue to arrive.

Closures: Forest Road 79 is closed to the public. North Fork Mountain Trail is closed at the intersection with the Landis Trail (#502) and south until US Route 33. An area wide emergency closure order will be in place on Wednesday.

 

Information: Cheat-Potomac Ranger Station, 304-257-4488 extension 28."

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Coldest air this early in 7 years; Another cold swing next week?

November 13, 2013 - 11:27 AM
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Reagan National Airport hit 32°F Wednesday morning, which was the earliest the location has reached the freezing mark in the past 7 years. The last time it hit 32°F or lower this early was on Nov. 4, 2006.

There was a chance for temperatures to fall below freezing and even into the 20s, but it looks like winds stayed breezy enough to keep the atmosphere from completely decoupling.

Low temperatures this morning

Other are low temperatures were in the 20s, but could have been much lower if the winds were light. Our region wasn't the only cold area in the country, as nearly the entire continental U.S. experienced the chill last night.

Wednesday night will be just as cold in the city and even colder in the suburbs, with lows in the lower 20s in the outlying suburbs to lower 30s in town. Below is a look at the 4km NAM forecast low temperatures for 7 a.m.  Thursday.

Forecast lows Thursday morning (Courtesy: WeatherBell.com Models)

The region will experience a break in the intense chill over the next few days as temperatures approach the seasonal average Thursday and Friday.

High temperatures may be in the low to mid 60s this weekend ahead of the next cold front which will push through the region Monday.

Forecast 850mb Temperatures and Winds for next Wednesday

The next strong push of cold air will rival this current one, though it is still a week away.

Models are confident at the moment that another arctic cold front will help bring cold air to the area next Wednesday. Don't worry, no chatter of snow this time but it appears it will be a lot like today with highs in the 40s and gusty winds.

I'm beginning to think maybe I haven't missed the cold.

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Track the Capitol Christmas Tree

November 12, 2013 - 12:00 PM
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Did you ever wonder where the Capitol Christmas Tree came from and how it travels all the way across the country to D.C.? Now you can track its every stop as it makes its way across the country. First, volunteers had to wrap the 88-foot long tree and finagle the behemoth which was placed on the flatbed of a tractor trailer after it was originally cut. They then had to build a box around the tree with aluminum and plywood to protect the tree on its journey. In the words of Clark Griswold, "Little full, lot of sap!"

There is a new website which is dedicated to tracking it's movement as it crosses the U.S. here:

http://www.trackthetree.com/

From the Official Website of the 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, they talked about where the tree came from,

"The 2013 88 foot tall Engelmann spruce was in Colville National Forest in northeast Washington State on November 1st, Colville National Forest staff selected several tree candidates and in June the superintendent of the capitol grounds made the final selection of the official 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree.

The tree grew on the Newport District in Pend Oreille County. It was wrapped over a period of three days for its journey and will spend several weeks on the road visiting communities across the country before arriving at the U.S. Capital in time for Thanksgiving."

Path of the Capitol Christmas Tree

Colville National Forest

The Colville National Forest was created on March 1, 1907 by land set aside by President Theodore Roosevelt. The forest consists of 1.1 million acres of land in northeast Washington state and is located north of the Colville Indian Reservation north to the Canadian border. Interesting to note, the forest calls itself home to the last remaining herd of Caribou in the United States.

 

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Coldest air of the season rolls in, but for how long?

November 12, 2013 - 11:55 AM
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A light dusting of snow fell in western Maryland ahead of the cold front. Photo: Weatherbug

The high temperature for Tuesday occurred at 6:16 a.m. with a temperature of 53°F.

This happened just ahead of the strong arctic cold front which helped drop the temperature to 41°F by noon. Temperatures in the outlying suburbs are sitting in the upper 30s and will be there through the early afternoon.

It's not only the temperatures that have changed. The winds have accelerated to 10 to 20 mph out of the northwest with some higher gusts. This will make it feel like the 30s and even upper 20s through the afternoon and evening.

Courtesy: Weatherbell.com Models

Take a look at the forecast low temperatures tonight from the 4km NAM model from WeatherBell.com. Tuesday is forecast to be the first night with temperatures below freezing at Reagan National Airport. So far, the lowest temperature at Reagan has been 34°F which happened on the Nov. 9 The average first freeze at Reagan is Nov. 18, so we're pretty close!

Last year, Reagan National didn't hit the freezing mark until the Nov. 26, and didn't dip into the 20s until Dec. 23!

In 2011, the first day at freezing was the Dec. 23 and the first day with lows in the 20s was the 11th, so it appears this year we'll be ahead. Don't worry, this doesn't have a direct correlation to how much snow we'll see this winter.

The winter of 2009-2010 (record 56.1 inches of snow) didn't observe the first day below freezing until the Dec. 6.

Another interesting thing happened Tuesday speaking of averages. The average high temperature is now 59°F (at Reagan), and average temperatures won't hit 60°F again until late March.

So what about the rest of the week?

This will be a short-lived cold swing, with high temperatures back around average come Friday into the weekend. Beyond that, temperatures are expected to swing well-above normal by early next week. Highs may be near 70 degrees (though more than likely in the 60s) by Monday ahead of another cold front.

Temperature anomalies Monday evening (Courtesy: WeatherBell.com Models)

This is the time of year many people start to get sick so be sure to take care of yourself! Keep an eye on our latest 7-Day Forecast to watch for the next temperature swing.

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Arctic airmass settles Into D.C.

November 11, 2013 - 05:56 AM
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Hope you have your heaviest winter coats, gloves, scarves, and hats ready: beginning tomorrow, you'll likely need it.  A big dip in the jet stream will allow an arctic air mass to settle in.  Check out Monday morning temperatures in central Canada.

That cold air mass will slide south overnight Monday and will greet us Tuesday. Temperatures will moderate a bit, so we are not expecting sub-freezing temperatures; however, highs will only be in the upper 30s to lower 40s and overnight lows will tumble into the 20s. 

Factor in brisk northerly winds, and it will feel even colder! 

Along with the cold air also comes the chance for a little precipitation as the cold front slides through.  This WILL NOT be a big snow-maker in the nation's capital, but a few wet flakes are not out of the question. 

Overnight Monday and early Tuesday, the front may squeeze out a little precipitation that could fall as cold rain or even wet snow.  Precipitation totals will be minimal to even non-existent, so no accumulation is expected.  Also keep in mind how warm ground temperatures are.

Penn State ewall

This further emphasizes the point the StormWatch weather team made last week regarding the chatter about a big snowstorm.  Early last week, computer guidance suggested a coastal low would develop to produce high snow accumulations in our area. 

It's important to recognize how the long range forecasts can change over a span of a few days.

Until then, bundle up and brace yourself for this cold blast!  In fact, Reagan National will likely see it's first day this season of at or below freezing temperatures. 

Check out the forecast lows for Wednesday morning. I'm cold just looking at these numbers!  It will feel even colder than this with brisk northerly winds. 

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Plenty of talk about snow next week

November 7, 2013 - 12:43 PM
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This happens every winter. A potential snow storm develops about 7 days out, a number of people post about the chance of it occurring, and suddenly I get asked about every 10 minutes if it will snow next week. Okay, I understand it comes along with the territory of being a meteorologist, and I don't mind it at all. But I want you to know what we are looking at and what actually needs to happen for a snow storm to materialize.

First things first. Snow in November has been rather absent over the past 16 years. There has been a trace of snow (meaning not even 0.1") recorded in 5 of the past 16 years. The last measurable snow recorded in November was in 1996, when two-tenths of an inch was recorded at Reagan National. The month itself only averages one-half inch, but that doesn't mean it never occurs. Many can remember the Veterans Day storm which dropped 11.5" of snow (still the record for the day and month) back in 1987. This is a giant outlier, however, as in 126 years of record keeping, there are only 15 November months that have recorded more than two-inches of snow.

This incoming system in the middle of next week still has many more questions than answers. Here are a few things we're keeping an eye on and will continue to do so over the next few days through the weekend. We should have a much more solid grasp on what is going to happen by then.

Where is it coming from?

We really like to look at where the energy from a potential storm is originating from, to see if it's logical the system could really come together. The energy with this potential system is moving in from northern Canada. It gets some big time help through a giant ridge setting up over the western U.S. which allows high pressure to dive into the Northern Plains and Midwest. We are banking on this ridging to occur, as if it doesn't, this incoming cold push might not be as potent.

Strong area of high pressure moving into the Plains and Midwest next Tuesday (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

This is expected to bring the coldest air of the season into the U.S. We are currently banking on this to occur, whether there is snow or not. It appears likely it will be cold by Tuesday through Thursday of next week in the D.C. area. Temperatures should be in the 40s Tuesday through Thursday, and could possibly be in the 30s at least in the western suburbs on Wednesday. Low temperatures may fall into the 20s and teens in the suburbs and Reagan could potentially (I really like that word in this blog) see its first day at or below freezing Wednesday night.

Run to run consistency (Or inconsistency)

0Z Model Snowfall Output from the ECMWF, see next graphic below showing just how different (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

Since we are still five to six days out from this system, and the energy is currently located nearly 3000 miles away, there is going to be a lot of variability in modeled outcomes over the next few days. A change in a few hundred miles has incredible impacts on where precipitation would fall, particularly over the east coast where so many other factors come into play.

12Z Model Snowfall Output from the ECMWF, juuust a bit different (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

This very thing has been seen in model runs over the past 12 hours, where D.C. was in the path of incredible snowfall, then the next run is forecast to see much less. This all occurs based on where low pressure develops along the east coast, which is never an easy thing to determine even 2 days out let alone 5. For instance, the latest GFS develops a coastal area of low pressure about 250 miles southeast of the latest European model solution, which in itself over the past 12 hours has developed a surface low off the VA coast, and in the latest just off the NC/SC coast.

Big differences in 0Z and 12Z ECMWF Model Runs, typical this far out (Courtesy: WeatherBell Models)

We have confidence that a cold front will push into the region next Tuesday, the questions lie in what will happen next.

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Storm Chaser Field Trip to WeatherBug HQ

November 7, 2013 - 04:56 AM
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Who doesn't love a mid-week field trip?  I know I certainly do and that's exactly what I got to do on Wednesday.  Our Storm Chaser is ABC7 and News Channel 8's mobile weather unit.  We drive around town to bring you the current weather observations from your neighborhood. 

Wednesday morning I traveled to Germantown, MD to visit the WeatherBug headquarters.  After live weather reports on Good Morning Washington, it was on to the main reason for the trip -- to calibrate the Storm Chaser.  My friend, and WeatherBug meteorologist Jacob Wycoff, assisted in calibrating the weather instruments on top of the truck (that WeatherBug provides).

Our mobile weather unit reads and displays the current temperature, wind chill/heat index, dewpoint, relative humidity, wind direction and wind speed, barometric pressure and rainfall.  It's a great resource that adds to our ability to bring you the most accurate weather forecast.

Not only did we get all of our instruments calibrated on Wednesday, but we also got a tour of the Bug Headquarters (I felt like a kid in a candy store!).  The building is right off of I-270 in Germantown and can be seen from the highway.  Next time you're driving north on 270, look to the right (be aware of the cars in front of you) and you should make out the WeatherBug emblem on one of the large buildings.

The entire third floor is dedicated to WeatherBug.   WeatherBug is a global weather network that provides live weather data and forecasts for over 2.6 million cities worldwide.  Check out this display wall, which allows the meteorologists to analyze current conditions, radar, and live data from all their networks across the globe.

You may have seen the StormWatch7 weather team display weather conditions from across our viewing area via our WeatherBug network.  At each of those locations there are individual sensors that provide live weather data.  Some of these locations also have live weather cameras -- perfect for seeing what it really looks like!

Live Camera at Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA

WeatherBug also has 700 lightning sensors across the globe, which makes it the largest total lightning detection network in the world.   One of the newest additions to the network is weather and total lightning sensors deployed in Guinea, Africa.   This is a huge advancement for a country that is vulnerable to the impact of severe weather (just like everyone else), but up until now, did not have the resources to properly prepare and detect imminent severe weather.

There are many new and exciting projects WeatherBug is working on.  Earth Networks, the owners of WeatherBug, is launching the first global greenhouse gas network.  Over the next five years, Earth Networks will invest $25 million to develop and implement networks that measure environmental factors such as air quality, water quality, wind and pollution.

The headquarters in Germantown has their own unit, in house, that costs around $50,000.  It was really neat to see such a huge advancement in global environmental forecasting and even cooler to see it so close to home!

WeatherBug has partnered with ABC7 and NewsChannel 8 since 2006.  It is an invaluable resource and a great partnership.  Thank you WeatherBug for the fun and educational field trip!

P.S. Guess who's not only on the side of the Storm Chaser, but also in WeatherBug's Headquarters?!  Yep, our very own Chief Meteorologist Doug Hill.

 

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November 2013 weather: Much cooler start to November than October

November 4, 2013 - 01:54 PM
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October started the month with seven straight days with above-average high temperatures. Four of those days were in the mid to upper 80s and two of those days hit the lower 90s. The average high in the beginning of the month in October is 74 degrees which quickly drops into the lower 70s. (See climate normals here)

2pm Temperatures

If you think about it, one month ago on the 4th of October it hit 90 degrees. Today as of 2pm, Reagan National is standing at 47 degrees, so we're only a little over 40 degrees cooler in respect to high temperatures within a months time.

If the temperature doesn't reach 50 degrees at Reagan National today, it will be the coolest day since March 25th when the temperature only reach 39 degrees. The last time Reagan hit 50 degrees for the high was back on April 4th, so this will more than likely at least be the coolest day in seven months.

As far is the next week or two, while we don't see any giant cold spells through the middle of the month, it won't exactly be warm either. High temperatures will be below normal to near normal (November climate normals) in the D.C. area, with some of the warmest weather this Wednesday and Thursday with highs in the low 60s and possibly warm again come the middle of the month.

6-10 Day Temperature Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

One thing is looking for certain, a repeat of the Veterans Day snow storm in 1987 appears very unlikely with the current forecast sunny with highs near 60 degrees.

 

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