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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 06/ 3/2009

Forecast: Storms Later Today Could Be Severe

By Dan Stillman

Cloudy & much cooler tomorrow with showers likely

* Severe T-Storm Watch and Flash Flood Watch in Effect *
* NatCast | May Recap | Climate Change Kills 300K? *


Today: Partly sunny with p.m. storms likely, some could be severe. Mid-80s. | Tonight: Cloudy with storms ending. Low 60s. | Tomorrow: Overcast and cool with showers likely midday through evening. 60s. | A Look Ahead


Every so often a day like today comes along, where all the elements seem to be in place for severe thunderstorms to occur. Indeed, warm and humid air, a cold front nearby and an unstable atmosphere set the stage for strong to severe storms this afternoon and evening. None of this means that severe storms, or even any storms at all, are a sure thing. But chances are good enough that you'd be wise to check back here for updates as the day progresses.

Radar: Latest regional radar loop shows movement of precipitation over past two hours. Powered by HAMweather. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

Today (Wednesday): We're in for a fairly humid day with partly sunny skies through the morning as highs head for the mid-80s. Then, from around 1 p.m. onward, we stand a good chance of seeing showers and thunderstorms at times into the evening. Some storms may be severe with dangerous lightning, damaging winds, hail and heavy rain. Rainfall amounts could total around a half-inch or more. Confidence: Medium

Coverage: Scattered-Widespread

Mammatus clouds, as seen last evening from Glover Park, D.C. By CWG photographer Ian Livingston.

Tonight: The shower and storm threat should diminish after 10 p.m. or so as overnight temperatures drop back to lows in the low 60s under cloudy skies. Confidence: Medium

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend....

Tomorrow (Thursday): A cool flow from the north/northeast brings a dramatic difference in the weather tomorrow with overcast skies and highs only in the 60s. The cooler air will limit the potential for severe weather, but still the midday through evening brings back a good chance of showers with maybe a few rumbles of thunder. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow Night: More showers are likely during the night. Cloudy skies continue with lows in the mid-to-upper 50s. Confidence: Medium


So far, the prognosis for Friday is similar to Thursday: Cloudy and cool with shower chances continuing through the day. For the second straight day, highs could fail to break out of the 60s, with an increasing breeze from the north or northeast making it feel even cooler. Showers should gradually peter out Friday night with lows in the mid-50s (burbs) to near 60 downtown. Confidence: Medium

After the chance of a lingering morning shower, Saturday should turn into a partly to mostly sunny day with lower humidity and highs in the upper 70s to near 80. Mostly clear and comfortable Saturday night with lows in the upper 50s to low 60s. Confidence: Medium

The early outlook for Sunday is partly sunny and a touch warmer with highs into the low 80s. Late in the day a shower or storm might pop up as humidity begins to creep higher. Confidence: Medium

By Dan Stillman  | June 3, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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So ... will we have another Stormy Wednesday, like June 4, 2008, as one of the Gang suggested as a possibility yesterday?

Posted by: Murre | June 3, 2009 6:21 AM | Report abuse


I don't think he said it would be a repeat, just that the severe potential may be the highest since that day.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | June 3, 2009 6:59 AM | Report abuse

CapWx - Any chance of this pattern breaking down in the near future?

I'm beyond done with the monsoon season.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | June 3, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

The HPC is forecasting widespread 2-3+ inches of rain during the next 72 hrs. from west central Va. through the D.C. area. This forecast is generally supported by the 06z models.

Yesterday evening, 1.5" to ping pong ball size (1.58") hail was reported from Orange County.

June may be on the way to averaging above normal precip. Very reminiscent of 2003 when after a very dry 2001-29.00" and 2002-32.78" I had a very wet 2003 at 61.32". The past two years have been dry over much of the region. My total for 2007 was 36.61" and 36.43 for 2008.

It is time for a wet year or two because as I suggested a couple weeks ago, mother nature almost always balances.

The preponderance of guidance indicates an El Nino pattern for this coming winter which also enhances the possibility for a wet winter, especially southern portions of the MA. 2003 is a good example.

67 degrees and bright sunshine at 8 am.

Have a great day everyone!!

Posted by: AugustaJim | June 3, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Murre, as Jason noted, I was not trying to say this would be a repeat. I think there are some similarities to the setup though. Today appears to be a few steps below that at least on paper. June 4 last year was pretty rare around here.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | June 3, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

i've never noticed clouds like those "mammatus" clouds before, but i saw them yesterday. what causes them? is it some unusual conditions?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | June 3, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse


I saw them yesterday up in MoCo, pretty cool stuff. According to the wikipedia article (, it seems that it's not yet known why they form.

Bring on the storms!

Posted by: thornwalker1 | June 3, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Thanks guys, I misread the post. I sure hope we don't have a repeat of June 4.

Posted by: Murre | June 3, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

To go along with the why on the mammatus clouds, why does thunder sound different with each storm? Does it react with the surrounding land masses? The amount of moisture?

It seems like sometimes the thunder drags on forever, other times it's short, and sometimes it's a combination of both.

Posted by: r3hsad | June 3, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Augusta Jim -

The Metro area, for which much of this website covers, has been ABOVE normal precipitation-wise for both 2007 and 2008.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | June 3, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse


A good backgrounder on thunder can be found here... it offers some info on different thunder clap volumes. It has to do with the distance away you are from the storm as well as the length of the lightning discharge.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | June 3, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Last time I saw clouds like that, they weren't clouds. And there were just two of them. Unfortunately, Maud left me 80 years ago.

Posted by: SnowMonsterDC | June 3, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

augustajim, you said,
"The preponderance of guidance indicates an El Nino pattern for this coming winter which also enhances the possibility for a wet winter..."

does that mean lots of snow?! (he asks hopefully...)

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | June 3, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

walter-in-fallschurch, I have not seen them too often in this area. They hung around D.C. for quite a while yesterday under the anvil of the storms to the south. They are often associated with severe weather and quite common in the plains. It was probably the best example of them I've personally witnessed on the east coast.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | June 3, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

According to "The Cloudspotter's Guide" (G. Pretor-Pinney, 2006) mammatus are the "udders" on the bottom of a cumulonimbus (your typical storm cloud) and they "indicate high instability in the air around the top of the cloud. They are associated with particularly violent storms."

It is a great book for weather lovers! In it, there is a story of a someone who had to bail out of his plane at the top of a cumulonimbus and fell through it for HOURS.

Posted by: dstu | June 3, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

you must be remembering something incorrectly re: "is a story of a someone who had to bail out of his plane at the top of a cumulonimbus and fell through it for HOURS."

if he bailed out at 60,000 ft (pretty high) and fell for just one hour, he would have averaged about 11 mph for his entire descent - that's way too slow. that guy, kittinger or something, jumped from around 100,000 ft and fell for less than 5 mins before opening his chute at about 15,000 ft.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | June 3, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

You're calling for rainfall totals today of a half inch or more just like last week when I received 3.75" Could this happen again?

Posted by: steske | June 3, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse


Sure could ... a half-inch is just a base amount that looks easily achievable for many spots. If your spot happens to get a couple heavy thunderstorms then you could easily get much more.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | June 3, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Walter, he was probably referencing this: In 1959, Lt. Col. William Rankin was flying at 47,000 feet when he had to eject from his F8U jet over Norfolk, Virginia due to an engine failure. He parachuted into the middle of a severe thunderstorm that carried him over 65 miles to Rich Square, North Carolina. The trip took over 40 minutes.

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | June 3, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

walter-in-FC: the updraft of winds in the storm cloud kept taking him higher and then pushing him back down. Up, down, up, down for hours. Story starts on pg. 47 in the book.

Posted by: dstu | June 3, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Thanks CWG for the link to the thunderstorm information....very interesting and informative. On another note, it makes my day to hear talk of the snow potential for next winter in the midst of this hot, steamy, stormy yuck (Where's a SLCB when you need one?) As for the potential severe weather today, I vote that if it comes we should, like June of last year, all chant together "Stop, stop, stop!" and I'm sure it will all go away.

Posted by: manassasmissy | June 3, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Storm Prediction Center watching storms entering West Virginia. This could be our stuff later if we dont see stuff pop ahead of it.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | June 3, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

There was an intertesting "mackerel sky" cloud formation this morning; both altocumulus and cirrocumulus at different levels. Probably an indicator of unsettled weather later today.

"Mares' tails and mackerel scales make tall ships pull in their sails." and

"Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, not long wet, not long dry."

Would be interested in an online list or lists of weather proverbs.

After the rain tomorrow and Friday, we won't need any more until Labor Day, even if we stay completely dry. I foresee no chance at all of a drought this summer.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | June 3, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

...And I notice here that AugustaJim is still trying to rain on my trips to the dances...though it's my routine grocery and bank errands, etc. which are being far more rain-impacted these days.

'Tis time for a good dry spell...let's bring on that good ol' Bermuda High!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | June 3, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

ah...parachute was open...i see. i suppose with crazy updrafts and such that could take a while. interesting story. i've always wanted to "skydive". someday...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | June 3, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

a cool thing about those 100,000ft+ jumps is everything is QUIET at first. not enough atmosphere to make "wind". that must be surreal.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | June 3, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

SPC is also liking our area for a watch. No suprise, of course, just passing it along.

Posted by: ParkerGP | June 3, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

El Bombo:
Be very specific with that Bermuda High wish. It has contributed to our wet weather this spring and as we both know, depending on strength and center of heights, can often serve as a guide for moisture or even tropical systems into our area.

85 degrees with bright sunshine at 1:30. Too warm for some outside activities. Where are the clouds when you need heat relief ??

Posted by: AugustaJim | June 3, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm attending the same conference today at George Mason that I attended this same time last year, and isn't it exactly a year today that we had that ferocious round of severe t-storms come blasting through MD, VA and the District around 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon. I'll never forget the radar - it was one GIANT comma-shaped superstorm complex running from like Germantown on down through D.C. and down into the Woodbridge/Stafford area. Called a derochere, or something like that, wasn't it?

Posted by: VAStateOfMind | June 3, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 8 pm

Posted by: AugustaJim | June 3, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Same old, same old, heavy rain in Annandale. Our THIRD storm since 6:00 p.m. sounds to be thundering its noisy way out. Hope that's it for tonight.

Posted by: jhbyer | June 3, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

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