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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 07/ 1/2008

June Recap: Spectacularly Stormy

By Jason Samenow
Storm reports in Md. during June. Courtesy NOAA's Storm Prediction Center

What did June 3, 4, 7, 10, 14, 16, 18, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, and 30 have in common at Reagan National Airport (DCA)?

Thunderstorms occurred on all of these days. In fact, thunderstorms happened twice on June 16, 21, 27, and 30, and three times during the historic June 4 outbreak giving DCA an astonishing 19 thunderstorms for the month. The biggest thunderstorm "drought" lasted only three days. By comparison, June 2007 had only seven storms and two separate weeks when there was no activity.

Keep reading for more staggering thunderstorm statistics from June. Will July start on a stormy note? See our full forecast and our July 4 outlook.

Not only were the storms numerous, but they were also often severe. Seven severe thunderstorm watches were issued for our area and three tornado watches. According to contributor "potomacrvr" on Eastern US Wx Forums, our local National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va. issued 205-210 county/district warnings for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes (which includes the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, central and northern Virginia, and Maryland west of the Bay and east of the Garrett County). Twelve severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for the District alone.

Storm reports in Va. during June. Courtesy NOAA's Storm Prediction Center

These warnings were verified by dozens of severe weather reports. There were more than 380 reports of severe weather in Va. (for the entire state) including 10 confirmed tornadoes and close to 200 hail reports. In Md. (for the entire state), 135 reports of severe weather were logged, equaling the number for June 2004-2007 combined. The District compiled 10 severe weather reports, all from wind damage.

The storms produced heavy rain, but tended to move fast. So the rain totals were not nearly as impressive as May's. Nonetheless, June finished with 4.64" of rain at DCA, roughly 50% above the average of 3.13". For the year, precipitation is running over 9" above average. There's no drought.

While June will be remembered for its thunderstorms, it was also noteworthy for its warmth. It finished 3.5 degrees above average at DCA, becoming the 4th warmest June on record. The temperature reached 90 or higher eight times. The first half of 2008 (January-June) was the fifth warmest on record at DCA.

By Jason Samenow  | July 1, 2008; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Local Climate, Recaps  
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This has been a ridiculous year for severe weather. I actually remember a day when severe thunderstorm watches were rare and a tornado watch was even MORE rare around here. Now they're just as common as those Hazardous Weather Outlooks that we're always under.

That June 4 derecho easily goes down in the top 5 weather events I've ever experienced (of course, that's a pretty short list, but still...). When you have people that have been here for 40+ years saying "I've never seen anything like this before," you know that the storms were unprecedented. My weather radio went off 30 times that day, starting at 2AM with the tornado watch and storms to our south (in culpeper and stafford), then right when I got home the weather radio and radar lit up like crazy, and it was non-stop until late that night. I'll bet you $100 that we don't see a severe weather event like that again for a good 5 or so years.

But hey, the good news with all of this - we don't have to listen to "...We're in a drought, don't use your water...We're in a drought, don't use your water..." for at least another few months, right? ;)

Posted by: weatherdudeVA (Lake Ridge) | July 1, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Was June 4, actually a derecho??? I'm not sure, since there was ABUNDANT ROTATION along the length of that bow echo!!! In addition numerous funnel clouds were sighted.

Generally a "classic" derecho is marked by the violence of its intense STRAIGHT-LINE winds and downbursts. I'd classify that storm as an intense TORNADIC squall line exhibiting derecho-like behavior.

Posted by: El Bombo | July 1, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

El Bombo: You said "TORNADIC squall line exhibiting derecho-like behavior." I think your definition is better, actually. Right after that happened, I did reading into derechos on the SPC page, and most of the derechos that have occurred in previous years didn't have any tornadoes with them. This one had a tornado warning with almost every part of the line. The only reason I've been calling it a derecho is because of the length and bowing of the line...and quite a few people I talked to said that when the storm came through, all you could see was a wall of white (rain) coming at you, and when it got to you, there was an incredible blast of wind that tore everything up. That massive blast of wind was reported by people all over the region when the storms first came over where they lived, including many of the NWS and Weatherbug stations around the area.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA (Lake Ridge) | July 1, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Where are the blue dots in DC? In NW we had cars damaged by fallen branches, power lines down due to fallen trees (roads around Rock Creek Park were closed for a couple of days following one storm), and the National Arboretum lost quite a few of its old and beautiful trees.

Maybe I'm missing the blue dots because the thumbnail image is so small or because technically the maps are of MD and VA. Anyway, I just wanted to represent.

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | July 1, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Laura: We didn't include the DC map because it didn't really illustrate the storm reports well. Those reports aren't included on the Va. and Md. maps but are mentioned in the text.

Posted by: Capital Weather Gang | July 1, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Weatherdude, you have the derecho-like aspects of this system absolutely correct! Actually, the system behaved as somewhat of a hybrid between a classic derecho and a tornadic system. The long-distance bow-echo path(approximately from Cincinnati or farther west to the Atlantic at high speed over a few hours) suggested a derecho, while the preponderance of Doppler rotational signatures along the length of the bow echo suggested a tornadic system. This storm was evidently a rare "hybrid" mesocyclone incorporating some of the most conspicuous features of both a derecho and a tornadic supercell.

It hit my location as a transition from abject calm to a sudden wind gust which kicked up dust, leaves and a spray of rainfall which then lasted as a wall of rain for several minutes until the storm let up. Interestingly, there was little if any power cutoff over the duration of the storm. I experienced a far longer power outage in the storm the night before Memorial Day, 2007 and we also had more outages with the storm of June 16 in the Columbia Pike area.

One interesting coincidence I pointed out earlier about this storm is that it occurred exactly fifty years to the date on the anniversary of the great Colfax tornado outbreak of June 4, 1958 which killed 29 or 30 people in northwestern Wisconsin. That system was evidently a supercell which travelled from the vicinity of Stillwater, MN to the vicinity of Rib Mountain State Park, Marathon County, WI around dinnertime on the night of June 4. Over the length of its path this supercell spawned one F5 tornado and three or four F4 tornadoes across West Central Wisconsin east of the Twin Cities.

Posted by: El Bombo | July 1, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah...I see that now. Thanks!

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | July 1, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah...I see that now. Thanks!

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | July 1, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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