From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for July 2011

Full Thunder Moon, aka Hay or Buck moon, rises in D.C. tonight

July 14, 2011 - 03:13 PM
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Tonight’s full moon, if you take all the American Indian names it’s known by and squish them into a metaphorical ball, is like a grass-covered deer running through a thunderstorm. Say hello to July 2011’s only full moon, the Full Thunder Moon, which in other circles goes by the names Full Buck Moon and Full Hay Moon.

The booming, behoofed moon will unveil its full nakedness tonight at 2:40 a.m. The National Weather Service is reporting that the weather will be as perfect as you could ask for, almost Septemberlike in fact, with low humidity and a thin to nonexistent cloud cover. So keep that pot of coffee boiling and don’t forget to wear your aluminum beanie-cap to prevent moon madness.

Curious about the various names for this moon, which is sandwiched between last month’s Full Strawberry Moon (aka the “Hot Moon”) and the upcoming Full Sturgeon Moon (aka the “Green Corn Moon”)?

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Mystery hair investigation near Bethany Beach: Photos released

July 14, 2011 - 12:22 PM
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Just in time for a new Delmarva beach-weather forecast comes this development in the case off the Hair from the Deep.

Earlier, I had written about a fisherman who made the completely unmountable catch of a "palm-size quantity" of foul-smelling hair and fashion accessories while trolling the surf around Delaware's Fenwick Island, an easy beach-bike ride from Bethany Beach. Police have now released photos of those accessories, including hair bands and a shark-tooth necklace, in the hope that someone will know who they belong to.

There have been no updates on whether the hair is definitively human and, if so, what part of the body it comes from. Apparently forensic scientists can derive that latter bit of information by slicing the hair and examining the crosscut shape: scalp hair is more or less round, curved hair is oval and beard strands are triangular.

Another photo of the briny items follows the jump. Anybody who thinks they know whose hair this is should call Delaware police at  302-856-5850, ext. 230, or contact Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333 or tipsubmit.com.

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Cooler weather arrives in D.C., but don't get comfortable

July 14, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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Lines of thunderstorms that strutted in yesterday, poking the Mid-Atlantic with lighting and showers before running out to the ocean, cleared the way for some beautiful high pressure to reenter town for a while. Temperatures today are expected to fall below normal levels into the mid-80s, and lightly clouded skies should take some of the ouch out of walking outdoors, an activity that lately has had many people feeling like bagels dropped into a toaster oven.

That high pressure will stick around and create a blessed gap in the Summer of 2011's nefarious Operation Roast 'Em All. Fair skies, temperatures in the 80s and humidity that's totally bearable is expected to last up to Saturday night. Then, well, things could get sticky and icky again. While our ABC7 extended forecast is smart in not going beyond seven days – it's pretty hard telling what happens that far in advance – a worrisome forecast from the Climate Prediction Center indicates that D.C. is in for some more wretched, above-average heat next week. Check it out above.

And although we don't go beyond 7 days, other sites do. Here's the 10-day forecast from the Weather Channel. Keep checking the forecasts here for the latest on this potential slip back into purgatory.

d.c. weather forecast july 2011 heat

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7.8 billion gallons of rainwater just fell on Fairfax County

July 13, 2011 - 05:31 PM
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Meteorologist Ryan Miller, who forecasts for ABC7 and WTOP, recently found himself wondering about how much rain falls on the D.C. region during a storm. So he set out to find the answer, using today's thunderstorm for the raw data. Here's what he has to say:

The storms were pretty much uniform at one point or another across D.C., Arlington and Fairfax. Based on that, I took the average total rainfall recorded in eight WeatherBug stations across each individual aforementioned county/area.

Based on the average total rainfall from the storm of the past few hours I calculated that:

586,706,268 gallons of rainwater fell in Arlington County with this storm. (Avg rain total of 1.305 inches.)

7,860,555,220 gallons of rainwater fell in Fairfax Country with this storm (Avg rain total of 1.13 inches)

448,158,305 gallons of rainwater fell in D.C. with this storm (Avg rain total of .42. inches)

These calculations were done for these three areas because radar trends this afternoon indicated storm (precipitation uniformity) over the entire locations, where Montgomery County did not have complete storm coverage.

I did this because when people see heavy rain sometimes I hear them say, "That's a lot of water." Well, it is.

If it rains 1 inch of rain over 1 acre of land that would equate to 27,154 gallons of rain. That is how I based my calculations.

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Flash flooding in Northern Virginia enlivens the evening commute

July 13, 2011 - 03:26 PM
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One man's futile attempt to avoid the heavy rain in Rosslyn. Pitiful human! (Photo courtesy of Dan Patrick)

Fffwwwishhh BANG: That's the sound of your car hydroplaning into a Starbucks. The celestial-sized dishtowel that nature is wringing out over D.C. and the suburbs right now has spurred the National Weather Service to issue a Flash Flood Warning for portions of Northern Virginia. (Local radar.) Now is not the time to be stuntin' behind the wheel, unless you drive a pontoon boat.

According to the alert, the areas affected by heavy rain and possible flooding are:

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Natural disasters make 2011 the costliest loss year in history

July 13, 2011 - 02:14 PM
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Even though we're barely halfway in, 2011 has stolen the dubious distinction of being the most expensive year for natural disasters in recorded history. That's according to a statement released yesterday by German insurer/reinsurer Munich Re, which does this sort of grim tally regularly.

A Bunyanesque grab bag of catastrophes makes 2011 the "highest-ever loss year on record," with about $265 billion in economic damages by the end of June. That mountainous figure whups the $220 billion of the previous costliest year, 2005, which welcomed in the amazingly destructive Hurricane Katrina. It's also five times greater than the first-half-year average for the last 10 years.

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11 was responsible for driving the current figure up so high, but disasters worldwide all played their respective parts. And the role of climate change in these disasters should not be discounted, according to Peter Höppe, head of the company's Geo Risks Research. “One factor that stood out was that this year saw the highest sea temperatures ever measured off the coast of Australia, which are contributors to these weather extremes," he said. "Although this is linked to La Niña, temperatures were higher than in previous La Niña years.”

Here are some of the insurer's findings:

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Take a ride through Joplin, Mo., before and after the tornado

July 13, 2011 - 12:20 PM
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Boy, the sky these days sure looks bigger in Joplin, Mo. That exterior renovation, in which many of the town’s trees and 159 souls were removed, comes courtesy of a multivortex EF-5 tornado that visited on May 22. Think Joplin is far along the road to recovery by now? This video might make you reconsider.

The upper slice of the screen shows footage recorded on a drive-through of Joplin’s 20th Street in August. It’s a verdant, pleasant Southern scene. Below that is a horrorscape of imploded houses and denuded trunks recorded just last week, on July 8. The destruction just goes on, and on, and on.

Obviously, rebuilding is going to take considerable time. If you want to chip in, visit our guide to donating or helpjoplinrebuild.com.

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D.C. from space; A collection of photos from the past 7 days

July 13, 2011 - 12:03 PM
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We show the satellite and radar depictions on our broadcasts on a daily basis, but this is something you can actually see in HD quality from your home or office every day via the internet. The Terra and Aqua satellites take pictures of the U.S. once a day and give beautiful high quality images which you can enlarge to 250 meter resolution. Check here to see all of the images.

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The Great Drought of 2011 vs. the 1930s Dust Bowl (PHOTOS)

July 13, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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The Great Drought of 2011/2010 is so bad that the federal government has declared Texas a natural-disaster zone. The press is reporting unnerving scenes: Without rain to wash them away, alkali deposits are encrusting power lines and causing blackouts; cattle herds are being decimated due to lack of feed.

Because many of the states damaged by this drought are struggling for cash, also the case during the Great Depression, it's easy to draw comparisons between the current blight and the Dust Bowl of the "Dirty Thirties." But does anybody really remember what that horrid drought, rife with "Black Blizzards" and "Black Rollers," looked like? Check out these historical images from the collection of the National Weather Service and draw your own comparisons. (LINK TO PHOTO GALLERY.)

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'Dark fireworks' explode on the Sun, June 7, 2011 (VIDEO)

July 12, 2011 - 01:46 PM
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At times, the StormWatch 7 blog is at awe at the stellar quality of NASA’s science writers. Here is one of those instances. The space agency recently posted hi-res footage from the Solar Dynamics Observatory of a curious solar eruption on June 7, previously covered here. Then, physicist/quote-generator Alex Young said, “It looked like somebody had just kicked a giant clod of dirt up into the air and then it fell back down.” (Follow the jump for the video.)

Young is back again to comment on these new views of the eruption, which was unusual for the huge amount of cool (only 20,000 K), dark plasma it blew into space. "We'd never seen anything like it," he says. "Half of the sun appeared to be blowing itself to bits."

The story continues:

Solar physicist Angelos Vourlidas of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC calls it a case of "dark fireworks."

"The blast was triggered by an unstable magnetic filament near the sun's surface," he explains. "That filament was loaded down with cool plasma, which exploded in a spray of dark blobs and streamers."

The plasma blobs were as big as planets, many larger than Earth. They rose and fell ballistically, moving under the influence of the sun's gravity like balls tossed in the air, exploding "like bombs" when they hit the stellar surface.

Some blobs, however, were more like guided missiles. "In the movies we can see material 'grabbed' by magnetic fields and funneled toward sunspot groups hundreds of thousands of kilometers away," notes Young.

Bombs, missiles, spraying streamers – I don’t know whether to send the post’s author, Dr. Tony Phillips, a fan note or duck for cover. Read more about this dark explosion and download the huge-but-worth-it videos over at NASA.

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Pictures of last night's storm

July 12, 2011 - 12:04 PM
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Last nights storms caused all kinds of problems across the region last night. There were over 400 reports of wind damage yesterday from the Storm Prediction Center, with many reports across our region as well. (LINK TO PHOTO GALLERY.) Be sure to send your pictures to iwitness@wjla.com.

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Tubing at Harpers Ferry: A visual guide to the hazards (MAP)

July 12, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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On the Fourth of July, a couple buddies and myself rented a car and took it to Harpers Ferry, W.V., where we snagged some tubes from Butts Tubes (whose home on the web is inexplicably Butts-free). A summer must-do for lovers of aimless drifting and "cold beverages," tubing on the Potomac also carries unique hazards. Let our pratfalls help you during your next inner-tube expedition away from the big city. Print out this map and stick it in your bathing suit, and you may just avoid being scorched to death by solar rays, bashed to pieces in a stone labyrinth or attacked by peevish geese protecting their treasured mound of poop. (A key is located at the bottom.)

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'Hyperthermia Alert' posted in D.C. as the country cooks

July 11, 2011 - 02:50 PM
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It's turning out to be a delicious, flame-broiled day in D.C.

The temperature recently hit 94 degrees at Reagan National, and with dew points around 72 walking outside is like stepping in front of a firehose of burning steam. The District has raised a “hyperthermia alert” and is urging people to take “precautions” because the heat index has surpassed 95 degrees.

Hyperthermia's no joke: As your body overheats and perspires out its precious electrolytes, you can become dizzy and confused (a condition called heat syncope), get heat cramps, swell up into a fuming ball (heat edema) or even have your heart stop beating due to the stress. Hyperthermia is so potent that the condition shares its name with a cancer treatment that uses heat up to 20 degrees above what's beating down on D.C. right now to kill cancer cells. So drink scads of cold water and wear loose-fitting clothes, preferably muu-muus, because in dire times like these we all need a laugh.

But D.C. isn't the only city sweating through an onslaught of fiercely agitated air.

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Rotting human hair found on Delaware beach

July 11, 2011 - 12:42 PM
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human hair found on delaware beach

Flotsam photo courtesy of Flickr user Rev Stan.

You won't find this listed in Alex Liggitt's latest Delmarva beach forecast. This Friday, a surf fisherman landed an unusual and entirely unwanted catch: a "palm-size quantity" of what looked like rotting human hair near Fenwick Island, Del., just a few miles south of Bethany Beach. Tangled up in the hairdo from the deep was a pair of Fossil sunglasses, some hair bands, a shark-tooth necklace and a thriving colony of sea life.

The miffed fisher conveyed the clump to state police, which turned it over to the medical examiner's office to determine if it does indeed come from a human head. Here's the relevant part of the police's press statement, complete with all the unpleasant details you'd expect from such a discovery:

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D.C. weather Monday: The heat will make you want to die

July 11, 2011 - 04:30 AM
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Heat wave? This is more like a heat middle finger.

Abominable air that sticks to the skin like boiling peanut butter has oozed into the District, and god help anyone outside who hasn't been hardened to the pain through years of living in the nation's sixth hottest city. The Folklife Festival organizers are going to have trouble packing up, what with all the desiccated corpses of Midwesterners blowing around the Mall.

But don't worry, it gets worse.

The peak of D.C.'s highest yearly temperatures on average begins July 16 when the normal max hits 89 degrees. But today, we will be getting a jump on 2011's dog days. After an expected hazy dawn the air will percolate up into the mid-90s with a possible heat-index reading near 100 degrees. That's enough to turn jeans into weeping sweat downpipes. A Code Orange air-quality alert is in effect for sensitive individuals thanks to sputtering exhaust pipes clouding up the Beltway.

On Tuesday, the gates of hell open up to create the hottest day this week. Highs could challenge the record of 99 degrees at Reagan National that was set in 1908. The heat index is likely to shoot above 100. You will, only slight exaggeration here, want to die.

“It'll be one of those days when people are moping around and wishing they were somewhere else,” says ABC7 meteorologist Steve Rudin. Make it through Tuesday and there's a cool front coming in mid-week to produce “the most beautiful July weather you'll see,” says Rudin, with low humidity and temperatures in the 80s.

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Is China's coal pollution helping slow down global warming?

July 8, 2011 - 11:00 PM
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We are sweating through the middle of a hot summer once again. What better time to jump back into the climate debate?

A few years back, I wrote a series on the science of climate change and, yes, the third rail some meteorologists refer to as “global warming.” Well, a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences really got the blogosphere fired up – pro and con but unfortunately not much in between – about the climate. In particular, people are arguing about the effect that China’s rapid urbanization and burning of fossil fuels is having on global temperature changes. (Abstract, full paper.)

I think there are several interesting points to be drawn from the study, performed by researchers from Boston University, Harvard and Finland's University of Turku:

1) China more than doubled its consumption/burning of coal from 2004 to 2007. (The last time China’s coal consumption doubled, it took 22 years.)

2) Sulfur aerosol emissions created by burning coal tend to have a net cooling effect on the atmosphere.

3) Before 2002, there was a net worldwide decrease in sulfur emissions, primarily because of clean-air acts and mitigation efforts in the U.S. and Europe.

4) The cooling effects of sulfur aerosols has essentially countered any global temperature rise caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide.

5) This balancing act between sulfur and carbon dioxide, along with the slight decrease in solar energy during the solar minimum and the cool La Nina, meant there was essentially no statistically meaningful change in the global temperature from 1999 to 2008.

Does this mean all the recent scientific observations about humanity’s role in our changing climate have been wrong? Of course not.

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ROOOAR: New footage of the Tuscaloosa EF-4 tornado (VIDEO)

July 8, 2011 - 03:11 PM
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PROFANITY WARNING: This video includes frequent usage of the S, F, and D ("dude!") words.

Troubling footage continues to surface from the mile-wide twister that whacked Tuscaloosa, Ala., in April. Here's a home video that's notable not for scary glimpses of the gray monster but for the ominous audio that preceded it. The tornado lurks in the skyline at the beginning, spinning a hair-raising mobile of airborne debris, but gets closer and closer while it emits a locomotive roar that grows progressively more doom-inspiring. It's a fortunate thing that D.C.-area folks only see these things once in a blue moon.

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D.C. at slight risk of punishing wind, hail, this afternoon

July 8, 2011 - 12:54 PM
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A cold front is thudding into a moist, humid mass of air above D.C. today, creating what could be a copious deluge. The city is right above the northern boundary of a zone of 2.5 inches of expected rain, according to the latest forecast from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. That’s enough liquid to cause concern about sudden, violent flooding, and the region is under a Flash Flood Watch that extends into the night. D.C. itself might get more than an inch of rain. And a newly issued Severe Thunderstorm Watch stands until 9 p.m. (Latest forecast.)

If you’re the gambling type, here are our foul-weather chances, courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.:

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Delmarva Beach forecast for July 9 and 10

July 8, 2011 - 06:31 AM
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As always, be sure to head over to the Delmarva Beach Resource Guide for the latest information on current conditions, radar and satellite imagery, tide charts, fishing reports, webcams and more. Water temperatures this weekend are currently in the low to mid 70s.

Saturday
Partly Sunny, Scattered Showers Possible
84/72

A frontal boundary will be hanging around the east coast through the day on Saturday. It has been a wet week at the beaches, and it finally looks like conditions will improve this weekend, but Saturday will not be the better of the two days if you are heading there for the weekend. The day should start off mostly cloudy but the sun should begin to peek out from behind the clouds by the afternoon hours. Highs should reach the mid 80s with a 30% chance for showers and thunderstorms.

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Train takes an eerie ride through overgrown forest (VIDEO)

July 7, 2011 - 12:18 PM
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Summertime means the explosive growth of all things leafy, bark-encrusted and vine-trailing. If you're running a railroad, now would be a great time to hire crews with pruners and machetes. You know, to prevent derailment.

That message was apparently lost on whoever operates this train line, which goes through a god's-honest jungle so thick that solid ground disappears from sight. The lasting impression is a locomotive lost in the forest, roaming aimlessly to find its tracks.

Where this video was filmed is in dispute; some say Alaska, others the South for what appears to be kudzu hanging in the woods. Here's one guess from commenter Thane36425b:

I'm thinking Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana. The rail companies abandoned a lot of rail in those states decades ago and they are trying to open some back up now that rail freight is doing better against long-haul trucking.

Of course, they also sold a lot of the rail for scrap and even the right of ways. They'll never get all of those back so a lot of the old lines will never come back....

Still, crazy as hell driving a train through there not being able to see the tracks, especially given the little washouts and bowing in the tracks you can see before they reach the thick growth.

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