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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 05/29/2008

Forecast: Warming Up ... to a Severe Saturday?

By Josh Larson

Potential for strong storms on Saturday bears watching

High pressure firmly overhead will allow for milder temperatures today and tomorrow along with plenty of sunshine. However, by Saturday morning, a cold front will approach the region from the north and west. This system has the potential to spawn some strong and possibly severe storms in the D.C. area on Saturday -- so stay tuned.


Sunny. Upper 70s. Today's weather looks sublime for late May thanks to strong high pressure overhead. You can expect abundant sunshine, light winds and low dew points. Afternoon highs will be warmer than yesterday and should top out in the upper 70s in most locations.

Tonight will be clear and pleasant with low temperatures ranging from near 55 in the cooler north and west suburbs to near 60 downtown.

Confidence: High

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend into the start of next week. And In case you missed it, check out our 2008 Summer Outlook.


Mostly sunny & warm. Low 80s. Conditions on Friday will be similar to those today, just a few degrees warmer along with slightly higher (though still not objectionable) humidity levels. Skies should be mostly sunny most of the time, though clouds may increase during the second half of the day, when winds out of the south or southwest may increase to 10-15 mph.

Friday night, increasing clouds along with mild lows, ranging from the mid to upper 60s. A stray shower is possible toward dawn on Saturday.

Confidence: High


Saturday probably won't be a washout. But it may be the kind of day you'll want to keep an eye on the sky, as a cold front coming through could trigger some moderate to severe thunderstorms during the day and into Saturday night. A noticeable increase in humidity will make highs in the 80s feel rather soupy. Confidence: Medium

As the cold front moves away to the south and east, Sunday should bring a decreasing chance of showers, drier air and increasing sunshine with highs around 80. Confidence: Medium

The outlook for Monday calls for partly to mostly sunny skies with highs once again near 80. Confidence: Medium

By Josh Larson  | May 29, 2008; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Threat is still on for Saturday...though LWX has less strong wording than yesterday afternoon. They also mention the potential for limiting instability by clouds early in the day.

SPC now has slight risk out for pretty much a huge area from the NE to the Carolinas and then pretty far to the west as well. From the discussion - they are waiting for better details to pin down higher probs.

All in all...still impressed with the potential, GFS and NAM BUFKIT still show high CAPE values.

Posted by: Kenny L. | May 29, 2008 6:32 AM | Report abuse

39 degrees at 6:45 !!!

The system on Sat. will be another "underperformer" for many, in the rainfall dept., because the flow is too zonal for sig. widespread rainfall.

Considering the sparse rainfall during the past two weeks, I have commenced watering shrubs, flowers and the garden.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | May 29, 2008 7:33 AM | Report abuse

I have a 75 mile bike ride on for Saturday in Winchester in the morning. Any thoughts on whether Winchester is more, or less, susceptible to the thunderstorms than the immediate D.C. area? How about the likelihood of storms after, say 1:00pm than earlier?

Posted by: JimF | May 29, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

And I'm interested in the chances of severe weather on the Bay this Saturday. It appears that some storms are almost certain; it's the intensity of the storms, and the possibility for localized high winds, that I'm concerned about. Any thoughts?

Posted by: ~sg | May 29, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

JimF and ~sg: We can't say where storms are more likely to occur at this point, but I would say timing would most likely be in the afternoon to early evening (earlier west, later east) Saturday. Also, severe storms are not a sure thing... there is just a slight chance they develop. We don't mean to be mongering fear...

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | May 29, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

This morning was amazing. No sweat as I sped-walked to work. Sunshine, cool breeze, Spring at its best. Let's hope the onset of summer continues to be delayed. Usually humidity is more prevalent by late May. woohoo!

Any employers out there change their dress code policies just for summer?

Posted by: Camden, Capital Weather Gang | May 29, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I think the placement of the low (getting locked up in SE Canada) is not super optimal for lots of severe weather here... trend on that level has been worse (for severe lovers) over recent days. One plus is it seems we should have lots of instability, probably the most we've seen this season (if there isn't much morning activity). Further north has better chances for more widespread activity at this point in my opinion.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | May 29, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Also, on "underperformin events".. I'm not sure that means much this month to most viewers of this blog. The DC area has had more rain this month than any going back to June 2006. Just because a model shows precipitation making it over the mountains in widespread fashion a few days from an event only to have very little actually fall does not necessarily characterize an underperformer. Knowledgeable forecasters don't take those outputs verbatim. We could easily slip back into a dry pattern, but complaining about lack of rain right now seems a little peculiar to me.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | May 29, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: NIKKI | May 29, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

lol what??

Posted by: @ nikki | May 29, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

For your information, most of us east coast residents are already in a dry pattern. You don't seem to be aware of the fact that the D.C. area is quite unique to the great majority of the area from Maine to Florida. While the immediate D.C. area has received 3-8 inches above normal rainfall during the past 30 days, my area has received 1-3 inches below average during this same period. Many areas not far northeast or southwest of D.C. are nearly as dry as D.C. is wet. This information is from NOAA.

The only thing "peculiar" about rainfall recently is the fact that D.C. is within a rather small isolated area that has been wet.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | May 29, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

AJ, I think we are probably closer in overall thinking than you'd suspect. The southeast is in a long-term drought, and that's hard to turn around very fast. That said, I think the last few months have featured somewhat beneficial amounts of rain for much of the east, especially central VA and north. Even the link you posted would indicate that the main issues of recent months are centered in the Carolinas down into FL. Many still have 12+ month deficits to overcome, but the recent (several month) trend has been a good one, though that could quickly turn around this summer.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | May 29, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I live in the more immediate DC area, and I still find myself within a day or so of needing to water my lawn and gardens. I really think our soils (particularly the clay soils most of us have in this area) are having trouble recovering from this years-long drought pattern, and are not holding moisture well. I wish I had a degree in soils so I could be sure!

Posted by: Southside FFX | May 29, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

First of season:
National Hurricane Center now issuing advisories on T.S. Alma.

Posted by: Steve, Capital Weather Gang | May 29, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Things have just started to dry out in the LoCo bootheel...if you look at Augusta Jim's map and zoom in on the DC area, I am in one of the purple areas with more than 8 inches above normal for the last 60 days...that said, I watered the tomatoes and peppers yesterday for the first time this season. We could use some "normal" rain events around here - half an inch here, two tenths there, maybe a good inch and a quarter soaker after that...none of this 8 inches in a weekend stuff. With many of the national weather thinkers publicly saying that the Carolinas are likely to see an increase in tropical activity this year, we may be in for a few more of the 3+ inch events over the next few months. Not sure what that does to my tomatoes...

Posted by: Dulles ARC | May 29, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your reply.

I agree when you say that many have received beneficial rainfall in recent months. I received 2.76 inches the past 30 days, compared to 3.53, normal for this period. I have been lucky compared to some close to me. April and May have averaged closer to normal than I have grown accustomed to.

The link that I posted earlier indicates much of New England and the southeast have averaged below normal the past 30-60 days.
The great exception is central and eastern Va. north through D.C. into southern Pa., but this is a somewhat small area in aggregate.

The amounts received in D.C. can be deceiving when simply applying total qp over a 6 month period vs. available soil moisture for plant life during much of this same period. Much of what D.C. and environs received during recent times was lost through runoff, unfortunately. The longterm beneficial impact would have been greatly enhanced if this huge amount of rain had been evenly distributed over several months. If the areas receiving 8 inches above average the past 30 days had received 2 inches above average for the next 4 months instead, they would have been a lush carpet of green during this coming summer without watering.

Posted by: Augusta Jim | May 29, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Augusta i've had enough of your under performing comments

Posted by: Tropical Storm Alma | May 29, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Harpers Ferry is in the dark red on Augusta Jim's map. My hosta garden has never looked better. Nice not to have to worry so much about the well. After the last two drought summers, I cleared a path through trees and brush to my well in case I needed water trucked in. Now I'm worried about the "severe." Sigh. Another white-knuckle night coming soon.

Posted by: tinkerbelle | May 29, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Hubby is flying Sat. at 3pm to Florida. Do you think the predicted thunderstorms will affect the flight????

Posted by: germantown | May 29, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

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