From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for October 2013

Sun Pillar

October 3, 2013 - 07:35 AM

During Good Morning, Washington today, I noticed what appeared to be the sun almost half way up the horizon around 6:40 a.m.  I had to do a double take, knowing that sunrise wasn't until 7:06 a.m. today. News Channel 8's Brian Van de Graff called up from his studio asking if he was going crazy, or did I see it too?  I told him he wasn't sleep deprived and checked to make sure our Weather Bug camera didn't seize up.  I glanced again and noticed the column of light extending vertically from the horizon.

Sun Pillar as seen from WJLA roof camera in Rosslyn, VA


  Ahhh... a sun pillar!  A sun pillar happens most often during sunrise or sunset.  It is created when the sun's light is reflected in the ice crystals of clouds.  Our clouds today are between 20,000 and 30,000 feet where temperatures are well below freezing, so they consist of ice rather than water droplets.  Ice crystals are more reflective compared to their liquid form of water.  ABC7's Eileen Whelan recorded the timelapse so you could see the entire sunrise.  Thanks, team!!

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D.C. dry spell: Will tropical moisture help end dry spell

October 2, 2013 - 11:31 AM

Over the past four months, Reagan National is down over 4 inches of precipitation compared to what the area typically receives during the period. This is true for the other area observation stations as well. We are trying to find a break in the dry pattern but it's been really tough in the past few weeks.

This week has been no different. Not only is it dry, but also much warmer than normal. Temperatures are running nearly 10 degrees above average and will continue to do so through the weekend.

GFS 12Z Model Forecast for Saturday morning

Taking a look at the forecast this weekend, a potent area of low pressure will affect the midwest and upper plains, possibly bringing the chance for some wet snowflakes to areas such as the Dakotas. This system will move into Canada, but the associated cold front will continue to push eastward into the D.C. area by Monday and Tuesday of next week.

Alright Alex, it's been 3 paragraphs and no mention of a tropical system, what are you trying to sell me here? I'm glad you asked. Tropical Storm Karen has now formed  and if forecast to become a weak Cat. 1 hurricane before landfall.


This would give the potential for some tropical rain around our area by early next week, which we would gladly take. Let me remind you that confidence in this is rather low at this point and as usual, minor changes in the next day or so will drastically change the forecast for next week.

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What can we expect in October?

October 1, 2013 - 06:26 AM

It's hard to believe how fast time is flying by in 2013. I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around it being October already! Oh well, I digress. 

September ended fairly seasonal in the temperature department, but the month finished well below the rainfall average.  In fact, much of the area is now abnormally dry according to the Drought Monitor. Check out the stats for September.

As we head into the month of October, what can we look forward to?  Well, the average high and low temperature drops ten degrees by the end of the month. We also continue to lose hours of daylight. Daylight saving time doesn't end until November 3rd, so we won't officially "fall back" and lose an hour until then. As of October 1st, we have 11 hours and 46 minutes of daylight.  By the 31st, we'll have 10 hours and 34 minutes of daylight. We'll continue losing daylight through the winter solstice on December 21st.

And believe it or not, snow makes a return to our climate data. The earliest snowfall in D.C. is October 5th back in 1892. And remember the rare October snow that greeted DC just two years ago? We had snow-covered pumpkins in 2011. 

No snow in the immediate forecast, in fact temperatures to kick-start the month of October will be well above average with highs in the low to mid 80s. Happy October!

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