From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for January 2013

Moon and Jupiter: A great sight tonight

January 21, 2013 - 03:50 AM

Frigid air is coming in and it will be a chilly inauguration but later this evening, even if the wind picks up and any clouds break up, well worth a quick look outside.  The gibbous moon and the brilliant planet Jupiter will be less than 1° apart tonight. 


  What astronomers call a "conjunction"  Tonight the moon is about 250,000 miles away and Jupiter is about 413 million miles away (almost 2000 times farther away)  yet they will appear to be almost touching in the night sky.


  In fact in parts of the South America the tonight the moon will "occult" the brilliant Jupiter.  Much more about this cosmic event here and here and of course at Sky and Telescope here .Bundle up and enjoy.




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D.C. weather forecast: An arctic blast is on the way

January 19, 2013 - 09:42 AM
*Stay off thin ice and DO NOT attempt to ice fish around Washington*

I often have to travel back to Minnesota to satisfy my hunger for arctic air, that is, until now. Get ready Washington, here it comes! The coldest air in 25 months is set to arrive by Tuesday.

So far this winter at Reagan National Airport (DCA), the coldest temperature recorded was 27° on January 4th, and the coldest high temperature was 38° on January 3rd. Those numbers will likely be crushed as the coldest air in 25 months is expect within a few days. 

By Tuesday and Wednesday the bone chilling air will be in place, and as of now, I'm anticipating highs in the mid to upper 20s with morning lows in the teens and even some single digits by Wednesday morning. Here's my preliminary forecast for Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning:

Forecast Lows Wednesday Morning

The last time the afternoon high dipped this low at DCA was December 2010 when the afternoon high was 27°, and the last time DCA saw 15° was in march of 2009. However, January 2009 featured a low of only 8°, and we shouldn't get quite that cold in the metro area, but it'll still be an eye opener this week.

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Obama Inauguration 2013 weather forecast

January 18, 2013 - 11:01 AM

If you are heading to Barack Obama's second inauguration on Monday, you will definitely want to know how to dress for it. Just a short 4 years ago in 2009 for his first inauguration, temperatures hit a low of 19 degrees and only reached 30 degrees for a high, with a chilly 28 degrees at Noon. With many Americans waiting out on the Mall for hours prior to the start, a number of people came down with hypothermia and had to be sent to first aid tents set up and even to local hospitals. Temperatures aren't expected to be quite as harsh this time around, but they will still be cold.

Here is a look at our forecast timeline for the day.

Weather models are in agreement that a cold front will move through the area this Sunday. Temperatures will remain mild for the end of the weekend, but colder air will begin to push into the region for inauguration day.

Send Inauguration Day weather pictures to our Facebook page!

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D.C. area snow: Timing, location and forecast totals (Live Blog)

January 17, 2013 - 08:00 AM


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11:09pm:  Last post of the night.  No snow this time in D.C., but winter's not over yet.  As always, we'll we back with more live blogs when weather warrents. Goodnight.

10:25pm:  Calvert county has dropped the advisory.  It looks like all the action will stay well South of our viewing area.  In fact, the Eastern shore of Maryland seeing more snow than us here in D.C. 

9:08pm: The only winter weather advisories that remain in effect for the ABC7 viewing area are St. Mary's and Calvert counties in MD.  Even in the advisory area, I do not expect much snow. 

9:02pm:  Sharp cutoff of precipitation extending from the northern Eastern Shore, through southern Maryland, and into central Virginia.  If you're not in an area with precipitation now, don't expect any for the rest of the night.  Moisture moving along the same track, as it moves East over the next few hours.

8:38pm:  Not surprising, the National Weather Service drops the Winter Weather Advisory for Southern Fauquier, Culpeper, Greene, Madison, and Rockingham counties.  The advisory remains in effect over Southern Maryland until 1am.

7:52pm:  Not much new information.  Snow continues over Central Virginia, but still very dry over the D.C. metro.  Spots like Culpeper, Fredericksburg, and southern parts of Charles and St. Mary's counties may see a rain/sleet/snow mix.

6:22pm:  Live Doppler has looked pretty simliar over the past hour.  The only big change noted is the increase in snow intensity South of Fredericksburg.  A few reports of sleet mixing in with some of the precipitation falling over Southern Maryland and the Eastern shore, but see how the D.C. metro remains precipitation-free.

5:55pm:  Still very dry in D.C.  Feeling less confident we'll see much of any precipitation in the D.C. metro.  Temperatures are in the upper 30s to low 40s, but dewpoints are in the upper 20s to low 30s in the metro region.  Basically, drier air equals no precipitation.

5:03pm: Here is a look at the latest MSLP and radar plot from the Storm Prediction Center. The dual surface lows are over South Carolina now with the heaviest snows located in southwest Virginia. One snow report was close to 8 inches in Wise, VA. The low will continue to track into North Carolina through the remainder on the day before exiting off the east coast overnight. Winds will become breezy in the early morning hours before you wake up with much cooler air entering by dawn. Lows should be in the 20s with winds around 10-20 mph leaving chills in the teens.

4:01pm: Surface temperatures are beginning to fall through the region particularly where there is precipitation with 38 degrees now in Fredericksburg, 38 in Stafford and 36 in Orange. A changeover to snow has now occurred in Charlottesville and we believe the same will happen east in the next hour or so. There have also been reports of some rogue snow showers, flurries and some sleet through Northern Virginia.

3:43pm: We've had reports of snow and sleet now in our area as close as Spotsylvania, Charles County and now even as close to the D.C. Metro as Manassas, VA. Keep your reports coming in to our facebook page! Thank you!

3:23pm: You know where else is getting snow? Alabama. How do they get the National Championship and thundersnow within a few weeks time? The doesn't seem very fair. Snow is exiting the Birmingham and Huntsville areas over the next few hours.

3:12pm: Snow!!! At Wintergreen Resort in the mountains southwest of Charlottesville, VA. The rest of our HD cams are a little bare...

2:47pm: Here is a new timeline for this evening through Noon tomorrow. Rain and snow will remain south and end by bedtime tonight. Oddly enough, the worst part of this forecast will be the wind chills tomorrow morning with temperatures in the upper 20s and winds around 10 to 20 mph out of the northwest. Chills will easily be in the teens at times, bundle up! In areas that do see precipitation tonight, watch for some slick spots tomorrow morning.

2:35pm: More advisories and warnings have been dropped by the National Weather Service. The D.C. Metro is currently not under any watches, advisories or warnings. All Winter Storm Warnings have been dropped from the D.C. Metro. Winter Weather Advisories remain until 11pm for Southern Maryland and points west through VA below in purple.

Latest Winter Weather Advisories and Winter Storm Warnings

1:35pm: On the heels of what the Storm Prediction Center is forecasting (see previous post below), this model depicts a very nice graphic of where you will find the heaviest snow totals. Lucky for those snow lovers in the Southwest Virginia where some areas could recieve up to 10" of snow before this is all said and done!

12:54pm: The Storm Prediction Center has actually put of a mesoscale discussion for heavy snow with rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour in parts of the southern Appalachians and Blue Ridge. This is where the heaviest snow will be for this event.

SPC's latest mesoscale discussion for heavy snow

12:07pm: D.C. snow lovers must be living wrong.  Winter storm warnings stretch from Mississippi to southern Virginia. Flurries to a dusting looking more likely in and around the immediate D.C. Metro. - Bob


11:53am: What a cool site this is from You can track snow plows over the past few hours in your location. Great idea!

11:37am: Montgomery and Howard Counties in MD and Loudoun County in VA have been dropped for the Winter Weather Advisory. Here is the new map. The Advisory timing has also been changed once again by the NWS, now from 3pm-11pm.

Winter Weather Advisory from 3pm to 11pm, Warnings still in effect south of D.C.

11:27am: Adam Caskey just had a report of sleet in Fredericksburg, VA come in to his facebook page. Does anyone report the same? Relay to us on our Stormwatch 7 facebook page if you can!

11:20am: Here is a look at the latest Mid Atlantic Radar image showing some regions getting some changeover to the southwest over KY, southwest VA and WV. This will be the area that we will be watching closely as it's on the northern side of the low and will be the region that should scrape the D.C. area this afternoon and evening.

Mid Atlantic Radar as of 11:00am

10:35am: Here is the atmospheric sounding from this morning at Dulles Airport.

Dulles Airport Sounding this morning

There are a couple of interesting things to note on this sounding with some very dry air close to but just above the surface. I have highlighted the freezing line with the red line as the temperature which you can see from 1000mb to 300mb and the green line is the dewpoint temperature which is an idea of how much moisture is in the air.

Closer to the surface (900mb to 800mb) there is a dry layer on the sounding which indicates that even though the surface temperatures are in the low to mid 40s, some major cooling will occur when precipitation actually moves into the region later today. Northwesterly surface winds behind a weak front have also dropped the surface dewpoints since then, so we will take that into account as well. It's only 10:45am right now, and precipitation still really isn't anticipated closer to the D.C. Metro until the afternoon hours, so there's still time but it will still be close.

10:14am: St. Mary's County Schools will be closing 2 hours early today as well. Find the latest information on school closings here and throughout the day in the link at the top of this blog.

10:05am: All Charles County public schools are closing two-hours early today. Afternoon and evening activities are canceled due to inclement weather. Stay tuned to ABC7 News at Noon for any additional closings.

9:31am: I wanted to show some graphics that gives an idea of how close the D.C. area is to actually getting in on some heavy, wet snow. This isn't in the cards today, but it was and will be really close! Here is a look at the 500mb vorticity plot for this evening.

GFS 500mb 0Z Friday forecast vorticity plot

This shows the big "ball" of energy sliding into the Carolinas just to the south of the D.C. area. Even with D.C. not in the crosshairs, very heavy rainfall is still likely as this energy moves through N.C., which I will show you in the next few images. Below is a look at the forecast 6-hr precipitation for the same time period.

GFS 6-hr precipitation and SLP 0Z Friday forecast

The red and pink areas is where there could be up to 1 inch of rain in a 6 hour period of time ending this evening. If you look towards the top of the ellipse I drew over the model depiction, you can see that distinct cut-off which moves right through the D.C. area. Where the greens are located from Fairfax Co. and south as well as Southern Maryland and south is where precipitation is modeled to have fallen by this evening, and therefore by this model will have the greatest likelihood of seeing rain or snow. Now I wanted you to see the HPC Precipitation forecast for today.

Thursday's HPC Precipitation Forecast


This shows how close the D.C. area is to receiving some heavier precipitation. 2.7 inches of rain is forecast to fall in Western North Carolina with a quarter of an inch of precipitation likely in and around Fredericksburg, VA and south. The D.C. area is only along the line of a tenth of an inch of precipitation to a quarter of an inch. This is another strong case for lesser snow totals in the D.C. area today but more south. You can see how close D.C. was though!

9:19am: As far as the timing of the system, the best chance the D.C. Metro will have for snow will be this afternoon through this evening. The Weather Service continues to trim back on the Winter Weather Advisory (which is a good thing) with the timing of the Advisory now from 2pm to 11pm tonight. Accumulations will still be on par with our current forecast snow maps highlighted above.

9:07am: The main snow shield is currently moving through Mississippi and Alabama. As far as snowfall totals in MS, it looks like areas have only seen 1 to 3 inches. This area of snow is west of the low and will not be the snow that affects our region.

8:41am: The map below acutally may need to be tweaked as where it says flurries, there may actually not be any snow at all. There should be a very fine cut-off with this system the farther north you live. Much drier air is located northwest of D.C. with dewpoints in the 20s (as opposed to the 40s just south) as a cold front pushes into the area.

8:33am: Below is the going forecast from our team which shows just a touch of snow for the D.C. Metro later today into this evening and more snow the farther south you live or travel. For those of you "snow chasers" out there, if you'd like to see some snow, the best place to go will be southwest of D.C. south of Charlottesville, VA.

Current ABC 7 snow forecast

7:57am: From ABC 7 Chief Meteorologist Doug Hill's latest forecast update on the weather homepage, "The last time Washington received an inch or more of snow was in January, 2011. And last winter, only 2 inches fell for the entire season. Today we will be on the northern fringes of a developing snow storm. The storm center will stay well south of our area and snowfall in the metropolitan area will be around one inch...2 or 3 inches will be possible across parts of Southern MD and Stafford and Spotsylvania Counties in VA. Much more significant accumulations will fall farther south and southwest in the Old Dominion. Skies will clear overnight. Icy spots are likely then and for the Friday morning commute." 

7:43am: A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the D.C. Metro and a Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the southern portions of the viewing area from 10am this morning through 1am Friday. Here is a look at the warning map put out by the National Weather Service.

Current Warnings and Advisories

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D.C. snow forecast today - How much, when and where (IMAGES)

January 17, 2013 - 05:23 AM

Here's a group of images to help you plan for the day.  It looks as though the D.C. metro area will get just a glancing blow from this storm system, but locations south of the Washington metro area have a higher potential for snowfall.  This will be an afternoon and evening event impacting the drive home with a few slick spots possible around the beltway.




*D.C. METRO AREA* Timeline


*D.C. METRO AREA* Snowfall Odds



Snowfall Forecast






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D.C. Snow: Storm Timeline Map

January 16, 2013 - 07:06 PM

UPDATE (5:08am): Adam Caskey here with an update to the timeline (see small image).  The newest information this morning points toward slightly warmer temperatures during the day and delays the bulk of the precipitation until the second half of the day for the metro area.  It still looks like a glancing blow to the metro area with higher potential south of D.C.

D.C. hasn't seen more than 2 inches of snow in almost two years!  Could this change tomorrow?  It's looking likely a storm system will develop over the Southeast and will bring moisture to the D.C. metro area.  A few RAIN showers for your morning commute, but changing over to snow around lunch time.  Expect a slushy, wet snow for the evening rush.  Here's a nice timeline Bob Ryan put together showing the timing and precipitation type.

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Snow timeline for the D.C. area

January 16, 2013 - 04:38 PM

This storm continues to evolve as new model guidance comes out and the system approaches the D.C. area from the southwest. In reality, the main energy that will strengthen into Thursday's system is still located over the Deep South. Scattered showers will continue to be possible through tonight and we believe will still be the story for Thursday morning's commute.

Beyond that, there are some discrepancies. Rain is expected to change over to snow tomorrow late morning to early afternoon, with it occurring from northwest to southeast as colder air fills in at the surface. By Noon, the changeover should be occurring, and no accumulation is really expected by that time. The afternoon hours will be the primary time period for snow accumulation, with up to a couple of inches possible in parts of the area by the evening rush hour. This could make for a tricky commute home, especially if you live south of D.C., where heavier snow accumulations are forecast.

Snow forecast for Thursday

If you live north and west of the D.C. Metro, there is little to no snow in the forecast, with a trace possible in some locations and 2 to 4 inches still forecast for the D.C. Metro. We are not expecting Commuteageddon 2, which everyone recalls from 2 years ago when everyone got stuck heading home. That is not in the cards tomorrow. With that being said, snow will continue to be possible in the overnight hours before ending early Friday morning.

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Snow in the forecast for the D.C. area Thursday

January 16, 2013 - 10:36 AM
The Winter Storm Watch takes effect on Thursday morning. Photo: Richard Reeve

As of January 15, Reagan National Airport has recorded 0.2 inches of snow so far this winter, which is 4.8 inches below the seasonal average, and January is down 2.2 inches for the month.

These numbers are likely to change, however, with a snow-maker developing for Thursday. An evolving low pressure system looks like it'll take a turn closer to Washington, and with plenty of cold air in place, the region may be in for a messy commute home on Thursday.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the greater D.C. region starting Thursday morning.

This system has been on our radar (figuratively speaking) all week, as it has shown up on every single model run and has been a part of every single forecast. The problem is that earlier this week, this low had been expected to stay south of D.C. with the northern extent of the precipitation to brush Fredericksburg and Southern Maryland.

Since then, there has been a trend in the models to take the main area of low pressure a bit farther to the north.

500mb vorticity plot showing the main energy over the Deep South

As a result the current trend is to push the precipitation northward over D.C., with areas north and west of the city (Frederick, Md. to northern Loudoun County, to Frederick, Va.) not really expected to see much precipitation at all. The D.C. metro area and points south should have some measurable snow to contend with by midday Thursday.

What can be expected Thursday:

The morning commute should be cool with temperatures starting in the mid to upper 30s with spotty light rain showers. Once everyone gets settled in at work and school, it appears the system will start to make its way into the D.C. area and start the change over to snow.

Here's something everyone should take note of: precipitation should start falling in the form of rain in the morning but change to sleet and snow throughout the morning and midday.  The heaviest snow should fall during the afternoon and evening drive home.

Winter Storm Watch issued for Thursday

A cold front will be pushing into the area midday and colder air will be sliding into the region which will help turn everything over to snow. The timing of the change over to snow will vary across the ABC7 viewing area and happen a little later south of Washington. 

There will be a sharp difference in snowfall totals north to south due to a steep gradient in precipitation associated with the low pressure system.  This and the timing of the change over to snow is the biggest forecast challenge at this time.

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James Spann: Communicating Weather-Saving Lives

January 15, 2013 - 12:41 AM

Last week, James Spann, a longtime broadcast meteorologist at ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Ala., received the American Meteorological Society's award for broadcast meteorology. 

James is a leader in broadcast meteorology and an true innovator using every new tool to help the people he serves make the best weather related decisions.

We chatted about his philosophy of weathercasting and what he sees for the future. I think this is a must view, especially for any young person thinking of becoming a meteorologist, or even a television weatherman.

Full disclosure: we work for the same company, but this was the first time we had really met.

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Global temperatures 2012: Warm and Cold

January 14, 2013 - 04:24 PM

Last week plenty of headlines about 2012 being the "warmest on record in the lower 48" and even more dramatic about 2012 being the "hottest year ever"Was it really? Sort of.  Indeed for weather records(1895-2012) last year (for the lower 48 states) was 3.2° above the 20th century average and 1° above the previous "warmest year" of 1998.  Here are the state rankings with many states (but sure not Alaska) recording their warmest year in 100+ years. 


But the temperatures for 2012 in other parts of the world sure were not as high as in the lower 48.  Tomorrow NASA and NOAA will release an analysis of global temperatures for 2012.  Ready for a preview?  Here it is. 


This is the global temperature differences for 2012 from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.  The record 2012 warmth over the U.S. sure shows, but look at Alaska, colder than average and globally, western Alaska may have been below average more than any other area.  Colder than average in Siberia, central Asia and Scandanavia.  But on this analysis, the polar regions, especially  temperatures in the Arctic, were much above average. This past year, in September there was a record low area of the Arctic covered by sea ice so another "warm" year in the Arctic is hardly surprising.  Finally and importantly, while there were sure some cold areas in 2012 across the globe, the continuing trend of greatest warming at highest latitudes, agrees with what some of the earliest, crude climate models were suggesting about 40 years ago.  Observations more and more are supporting theory and simulations of what our future climate might be.  Science works.  Let's see what NASA and NOAA say tomorrow :>)


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Sandy: 4 days in hi res

January 14, 2013 - 12:38 PM

Last week at the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin Texas, there was a terrific town hall session on the forecasts, decisions and impacts of Hurricane Sandy.  A great recap here.  Here is a incredible high resolution GOES weather satellite sequence of Sandy moving from the Bahamas, merging with a strong upper level jet stream and turning left and smashing into the New Jersey coastline.

One of the questions in the question and answer session after the many great presentations was about Sandy and climate change or global warming.  None of the scientists felt a single historic event such as a Sandy could be attributed to climate change, but Dr. Louis Uccellini the director of NOAA's National Center for Environmental Prediction did say that the 1 foot sea level rise in the New York area over the last century, did make the storm surge and impact of a Sandy worse than if there had been no sea level rise.  The rising sea levels in many areas are a major impact of climate change and are making coastal areas more vulnerable to future storms such as Sandy


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Past presidential inauguration weather

January 14, 2013 - 12:30 PM

The National Weather Service office located in Sterling, Virginia (the Baltimore/Washington office) came out with an incredible list of information highlighting all kinds of historical information regarding the weather during past inaugurations. The link to the page can be found here, but I also wanted to highlight some of the information they compiled below that I found rather interesting. Big thanks to the team out there at the weather service, great work!

The first outdoor inauguration was held in March of 1817 when James Monroe was sworn into office. The date was moved to January 20th or 21st in 1937. The climate normals for January 21st in D.C. (this year's inauguration date) are 43 degrees for the high and 28 degrees for the low. The records for the date are 70 degrees in 1959 and -4 degrees in 1985. 1985 was actually the coldest inauguration date in history when Ronald Reagan was sworn in for the second time. The outside temperature at Noon was 7 degrees and the high for the day was only 17 degrees!

According to the National Weather Service, there is a 1 in 3 chance of measurable precipitation on any given inauguration day and a 1 in 6 chance during the ceremony. There is only a 1 in 10 chance of measurable snow on that day and a 1 in 20 chance of snow during the ceremony. There is also typically a 1 in 6 chance that there will be at least 1" of snow already on the ground from previous snowfall, though that doesn't appear very likely this year.

Oddly enough, the coldest and warmest inauguration days belong to Ronald Reagan, with temperatures once again in the single digits for the swearing in in 1985, which had to be held indoors and the parade was canceled with wind chills during the afternoon of 10 to 20 below zero. The warmest temperature recorded was 4 years earlier in 1981 for Reagan's first inauguration when temperatures hit 55 degrees.

Ronald Reagan's second inauguration ceremony had to be held indoors

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D.C. fog, crazy regional temperature spreads: what’s the deal?

January 13, 2013 - 08:03 AM

We’ve had an unusual stretch of weather this weekend with warmer temperatures in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains and cooler weather in the valleys. So, what’s going on with these wild winter temperature swings and why all this fog?

The temperature and moisture profile in our atmosphere is where we need to start. Below is what the atmosphere above us (Dulles International) looks like. There are a few key features that explain the bazaar temperatures and the fog. Notice the area circled on the sounding below. Notice how the lines bend to the right as you go up from the bottom of the sounding. This indicates warming temperatures aloft (or higher in elevation).



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Not the hottest ever; A detailed look into the heat of 2012

January 10, 2013 - 11:00 AM

This article by the New York Times is something that drives me crazy, and I will wager the majority of my colleagues in the broadcast meteorology community feel the same way. Titled, "Not Even Close: 2012 Was Hottest Ever in U.S.," the article highlights the fact 2012 had the highest average temperature since accurate records have been maintained. But the headline hysterically evokes the notion it has never been this warm in the history of the planet. The data itself is correct as provided by the National Climatic Data Center but the headline writer, for the Times, based the headline on favorable media opinion rather than scientific fact. A much better headline is penned by NOAA, "By a wide margin, 2012 was the United States’ warmest year on record", found here (Thanks for the find Brad Panovich).

Related: 2012 Hottest on Record in U.S.

2012 did blow away the previously warmest year on record with an average temperature of 55.3 degrees. The warmest year previously was 14 years earlier in 1998 with an average of 54.3 degrees. The coolest year on record is 50.1 degrees set back in 1917. The records date back to 1895, which gives 117 years of data. Here lies the problem, with 117 years of data apparently stretching to the beginning of time.

2012 Statewide Ranks

Now let me go ahead and state a few things. I do believe the weather has warmed over the past years, but I'm not completely sold on ALL of the ideas and theories behind the global warming argument. Having said that, I'm not a climate scientist and I didn't even take a climate course while majoring in meteorology at North Carolina State University. Weather forecasting is my passion and that is what drives me as a scientist. Do I think climate should be carefully studied to determine if it could predict weather in the future? Absolutely.

I got the idea for the blog while on a conference call with NCDC when they were answering questions for reporters across the country. These reporters were from the AP, NYT and other major news outlets that give the majority of U.S. citizens their daily news. The problem is, almost every one of them asked a question trying to relate 2012 to global warming. At ABC 7, we wrote our own blog on it, and there are some very impressive statistics. We left out the mention of global warming as this brings up far too many questions that even the climate scientists at NCDC tried to avoid answering over the phone.

Here are some climatological tidbits about 2012 you may not of heard nor seen reported, as well as some interesting things to think about given this latest analysis.

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Record Heat in the U.S. for 2012. D.C. Maryland and Virginia were no exception

January 9, 2013 - 08:20 AM

NOAA released its State of the Climate report Tuesday and confirmed that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the contiguous United States. The average temperature was 55.3 degrees and topped the old record by a full degree Fahrenheit. Here is a map of all the states that had above average temperatures.

Heat Rankings 2012

The numbers 0-118 represent the number of years that records have been kept. So, if it says 118, that means it was the hottest. 19 states carry that number on it. 2012 ranked the second warmest in Maryland (117) and Virginia came in with the third warmest (116). For the most part, we fit right in with the majority of the country, Washington Reagan and Dulles also both achieved a record warm year.

The heat was most noticeable in the summer months. 99.1 million Americans (that's 1/3rd of the population) experienced 10 days or more of 100 degree temperatures. Overall there were 357 all time record maximum temperatures broken. Washington D.C. hit 104 on June 29, 2012 and not only was it a daily record, but it was the hottest temperature ever recorded for the month of June. There were only 4 all time record cold temperatures in the U.S. last year.

     In addition to the heat, it was a dry one. 2012 was the 15th driest year on record and by November, more than 60 percent of the country was in drought. Here is a map of rankings for the lower 48 of precipitation. 

Precipitation Rankings 2012


Again, this is based on 118 years of record keeping. Maryland experienced its 38th driest year on record, and Virginia at 29th. The drought was one of the worst in living history and it made the list of our country's billion dollar natural disasters that year. The full report can be read at:  So far, 2013 has started warm as well. No records..... yet.


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January Thaw: How Long The Mild Stretch Will Last

January 8, 2013 - 11:00 PM

What a beautiful and quiet start to the New Year in terms of weather in Washington!  Temperatures have been fairly seasonal to start the month of January, but those temperatures are only going to start to climb.  You've heard of the "January Thaw", but it's not like we've had any bitterly cold air over us in D.C., for a prolonged period of time, this winter.  Milder January temperatures have arrived, though, and they are here to stay.... but for just how long?

Today, Reagan National made it to 53°, as did most of the area.  That's a good 10° above average for this date in January. Take a look at how much warmer it was across the Mid Atlantic compared to average daily highs.


After a dip in the jet stream late in December, the jet stream is now retreating back into Northern Canada and temperatures are slowly rising from South to North.  Milder temperatures will move into the region over the next few days, with the warmest period expected just in time for the weekend.  These are the forecast highs for Sunday over the metro area.

National Weather Service Sterling, VA

So with highs reaching the 60s this weekend, are there any 70s in our near future?  The thermometer climb stops there.  The mild temperatures will continue through the middle of next week and then another dip in the jet stream will deliver another shot at cooler, but closer to average temperatures to our region.  Here's a visual of temperatures across the U.S. Friday of next week (Jan. 18th).  Notice the light and dark blues dropping into the Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, and Northeast.  Yes, the blue means cooler temperatures.  Over D.C., highs Friday afternoon will be back into the 40s.


So if you're itching for late March temperatures, which average the upper 50s to low 60s, enjoy the weekend and early next week.  For those of you ready for more winter in D.C. temperatures, that is also in the near future.  Snow lovers?  I can't say I see anything promising, as of right now, but there's still plenty of time. 

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Beautiful timelapse of the Perseid Meteor Shower (Video)

January 7, 2013 - 11:30 AM

Check out this amazing timelapse that one of our Meteorologist friends Jacob Wycoff from WeatherBug posted earlier today. I couldn't resist sharing it as I'm a sucker for these videos. This was shot in Joshua Tree National Park and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest during the Perseid meteor shower. It was filmed, shot, directed and edited by Henry Jun Wah Lee and you can check out more of his work on

Find out more about meteor showers in 2013

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Weatherfest: What the heck is that?

January 7, 2013 - 05:04 AM


One of the fun events at the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society is what is called a "Weatherfest"  It's a great collection and show of weather experiments, hands on demonstrations open to everyone in the host city as this year in Austin, Texas. 


Doppler on Wheels used to study tornadoes (sorry about the poor focus)

Many  area schools came and plenty of fun exhibits for students


Learn about lightning and earth sciences



Science can be fun with terrific teachers who also travel on ocean research ships.

Next year the AMS Annual Meeting will be in Atlanta in early February.  If you happen to be there come by the Weatherfest 2014. I might see you there        : >)


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Sandy: Top U.S. Disaster in 2012?

January 4, 2013 - 04:45 PM

Today the U.S. House voted today to provide relief funding for the many areas and thousands devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Sandy killed an estimated 125 people and the economic toll from this storm continues to grow with estimates of the total losses now near $50 Billion. In a recent poll we conducted on-line, Sandy was picked as the top weather related disaster of 2012.  


This dramatic before and after imagry along the New Jesery coast captures the power and damage of Sandy.  But the economic impact of the continuing Midwest drought may now be approaching $100 Billion. Here is the latest "drought monitor" and the very dry conditions extend into the Washington area but nothing like what continues in the Midwest. 

ZZZZZThe Impacts of this continuing drought will likely be with us for some time.  Traffic on the Mississippi continues to be very difficult.  Look at the current Mississippi River stage at Memphis. 

.  Sandy sure is one of the worst natural disasters in U.S., but in long term impacts, "The Great Midwest Drought", if the pattern doesn't change and much needed snow and rain fall over a wide area of the country, may be economically more costly than Sandy.


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New Year's Eve on the Sun: Watch this spectacular erruption

January 3, 2013 - 04:51 PM

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this New Year's Eve storm on the sun December 31, 2012.  Watch this graceful twisting eruption.

Here is another NASA image showing the relative size of Earth and the sun.  


That flare is larger than thousands of Earths. Quite a way to celebrate a new year.


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