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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 01/ 2/2009

InaugurationCast: Let the Forecasts Begin

By Capital Weather Gang

Testing the limits of long-range predictions

What's better than one Inauguration forecast? How 'bout two? Jan. 2-13, CWG's chief and lead meteorologists -- Jason Samenow and Dan Stillman, respectively -- will provide dueling forecasts for Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. Starting Jan. 14, we'll shift to a single CWG team forecast, in hopes of more confidently honing in on the forecast details. Check back daily for our latest thinking, a look at past inaugural weather, and a sampling of what you, our readers, are predicting.

CWG FORECASTS

Forecasting 18-days out is a bit of a crap shoot, but you can look at some of the large scale patterns and consider how they might evolve to help in developing a forecast. You can also review past years that featured similar weather patterns and examine what the weather was like around January 20th in those years. So I did all of that and drew the following conclusions:

*Chances are good there will be ridge of high pressure over the West coast of the U.S. that will cause most of our weather to come from Canada where it is cold.

*There probably won't be a strong blocking pattern over the Atlantic to hold cold air in place for long periods of time.

*There may be a ridge of high pressure off the Southeast coast that tries to steer some mild air towards our area.

Taking these factors together, I don't think it will be unusually cold or warm. I do think there will be a better than average chance of storminess either just before or sometime during Inauguration Day and precipitation could come in several types.

The Bottom Line...
* Morning low: 28-33
* Swearing In (noon): 32-37
* Daytime high: 36-41
* Weather: Cloudy
* Confidence: Low

Let me start by saying how much I cringe at the misleading implication of forecasts beyond a week that us meteorologists can reliably predict a specific day's weather that far in advance. So you can only imagine how I feel about trying to forecast more than two weeks in advance. That said, I'm game for throwing my forecast out there with the rest of them, as long as we understand this is mostly just for fun until we get a lot closer to the event.

My forecast is based on several pieces of data I studied, a look at the weather in Januarys past, and a bit of gut instinct. With the Climate Prediction Center forecasting below-normal temperatures Jan. 9-15, I'm thinking that by the 20th we'll have veered in the other direction -- above normal. But I also don't see a Januray thaw happening that late in the month, so I won't go too much above normal.

As for precipitation, I'll start the bidding at a 30% chance of rain, with the threat of frozen precipitation staying north and west of D.C. I'm not gonna call for a big winter storm, mostly based on my hunch that an atmosphereic index called the NAO may be in the positive range, after rising from negative toward neutral several days earlier.

The Bottom Line...
* Morning low: 31-36
* Swearing In (noon): 39-44
* Daytime high: 46-51
* Weather: 30% chance of rain.
* Confidence: Low

READER'S FORECAST

toweringqs: 500 mb climo depicts ridge-W...trof-E signature...favorable for 'clipper' systems and / or intrusions of migratory arctic air masses. Closest analog year with this flow regime...as seen on 'Daily Wx Map' archives...is '05.

Event probabilities based on inaugurations past suggest 67% chance for a cloudy sky with noon temp L-M30s.
Chance of precipitation: 10%.
Chance of snow: 5%.
Wind: NW 10.

Note: Readers' forecasts are taken from those submitted in the comments section of our Dec. 30 or Jan. 1 forecast solicitations.

WEATHER OF INAUGURATIONS PAST

Roosevelt, 1937: Noon Temp: 33F. Cold with heavy rainy. Between 11 am and 1 pm, 0.69 inches of rain fell. Some sleet and freezing rain fell in the morning.
-National Weather Service

By Capital Weather Gang  | January 2, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Inauguration, Inauguration Forecasts  | Tags:  dc weather inauguration, inaugural weather, inauguration forecast, inauguration weather, inauguration weather forecast, weather inauguration  
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Next: Forecast: Temperatures Trend Upward

Comments

Fearless forecasters might want to keep in mind the lessons of history:
Great Inauguration Weather Forecast Bust
(There's probably more on this subject in the WaPo archive, but it's practically unusable.)

Posted by: CapitalClmate | January 2, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

one thing for sure....

some of the folks will be uncomfortable .

No umbrellas? No hot drinks?

wall to wall viralcarriers(People)???

Posted by: pvogel88 | January 2, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Note the suggestion of a small circulation center over SE VA...and the E wind at LYH on the first sfc map of Scolnic/s post.

Looks like the beginning of a secondary LOW that was observed off the NJ coast on the 4th.

Posted by: toweringqs | January 2, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Now for "El Bombo's" InaugurationCast:

Background: This is a historic inauguration, perhaps the most notable since that of JFK in 1961, which as old hands know was marked by the sudden and unexpected snowstorm of Jan., 19, 1961.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if a similar snowstorm were to hit us for the Obama inaugural in three weeks. Before that has to happen, though, the pattern has got to change.

If the pattern changes, look for a good snowstorm on Jan. 19th or 20th. If it doesn't and we stay in the same storm-track rut we've been in, look for a pretty good rainstorm, probably beginning as mixed precipitation, and possibly ending in the same manner.

Please note that we have a historic inaugural coming up, so we might have some "historic" weather. Don't look for anything as cold as the second Reagan inaugural in 1985.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 3, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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