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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 09/30/2009

Forecast: Fall Weather Worth Appreciating

By Dan Stillman

Nice into Friday except a couple showers possible today

* NatCast | UnitedCast | Wear a Condom... Save the Planet? *
* Tsunami Devastates Pacific Islands | NOAA's Tsunami Web site *


Today: A fair amount of clouds. A couple showers. Mid-60s. | Tonight: Mostly clear and quite cool. 40s. | Tomorrow: Mostly sunny. Mid-to-upper 60s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail


I'm a warm weather kind of guy. So every year I resist the change to fall, hoping for one last surge of Indian Summer, and wearing short sleeves when, really, it's too cool to do so. Yet, every year when we get a week like this that screams "fall is here and you better get used to it," I'm reminded how refreshing autumn weather can be. Would be great if we could keep the nice weather (save for today's chance of a couple showers) around straight through the weekend, but that may not be in the cards.

Radar: Latest D.C. area 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): Winds around 10-15 mph out of the northwest won't be as gusty as yesterday. But a fair amount of clouds will still make highs in the mid-60s feel rather cool. Don't be surprised if a couple showers pass through as well. Confidence: Medium

Tonight: Mostly clear and a few degrees cooler than last night, with just about everyone getting down into the 40s for lows, with low-to-mid 40s possible in some of the cooler suburbs. Confidence: High

Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend. Check back later with PM update for the latest on just how cool we'll be tonight....

Tomorrow (Thursday): We'll stick with coolish highs around the mid-to-upper 60s. But this time they'll feel a tad bit toastier thanks to ample sunshine. Throw in a light breeze and we have ourselves what shapes up to be a pretty fantastic fall day. Confidence: High

Tomorrow Night: Partly cloudy and, as it looks now, maybe not quite as cool as tonight. We shoot for lows ranging from the mid-40s (suburbs) to near 50 (downtown). Confidence: Medium-High


Pleasant fall weather continues Friday with partly sunny skies and temperatures, buoyed by an increasing breeze from the south, heading for highs in the 70s. A chance of showers Friday night signals the approach of our next cold front. Confidence: Medium

A second rainy Saturday in a row? Maybe, but there's still a lot of important details to be sorted out. We're likely to have a cold front approaching from the west, but confidence is low regarding how much rain the front will trigger and whether an area of low pressure will develop along the front and enhance the rainfall potential. Breezes from the south ahead of the cold front should push highs into the 70s. Confidence: Low-Medium

I'm leaning toward decreasing rain chances and clearing skies on Sunday. But if the front gets held up -- a scenario that can't be ruled out quite yet -- then clouds and shower chances could linger. Highs should make the 70s again. Confidence: Low-Medium

By Dan Stillman  | September 30, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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I’m on record as saying you guys do a great overall job and we’ve discussed somewhat the limitations of forecasting. But let me sharpen the lens and talk about today’s (Wednesday) forecast. I’ve had my eye on it because we are doing something outside this afternoon and I’m taking some photos. Sunny skies or mostly sunny skies was my hope.

Can you comment on what happened that caused the forecast to go from “splendid sunshine” (Monday with Medium-High confidence) to “a fair amount of clouds will still make highs in the mid-60s feel rather cool? Don't be surprised if a couple showers pass through as well.”

The answer in some ways is “weather happens,” but it might be instructive to take this as an example of what causes a forecast to change from two days out.

As always, thanks (and I'll survive...)

Posted by: jaybird926 | September 30, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

I think Jaybird 926 has a couple of good points. You all do a great job not only in your analysis of our weather but also in the way you present your forecasts. As in the previous comment, I too had outdoor plans (BBQ) for today that were based on your earlier forecast. Looks like our chicken will have to marinate for one more day.

Including a explanation of why a forecast changed significantly in a short period of time would be a great way for us to learn more about our weather. Given the chaotic nature of weather, no apologies needed for getting it wrong now and then. Weather happens. But we've a learning opportunity here and I hope you'll take advantage of it.


Posted by: BruceSorrell | September 30, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

i asked this last week somethime but didn't get an answer (camden did say you'd "rock" the winter forcast).

have you, or anyone else, issued a long-range winter (i.e., snow) forcast for this area for this winter?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 30, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Darn it, I had outdoor plans for today as well. I was kind of counting on the weather that you now describe for tomorrow to occur today. I likewise understand that weather happens, but these shifts from Sunday to Tuesday are quite a bummer.

Posted by: BadMommy1 | September 30, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the feedback on the forecast. Let me start by saying today is not going to be all bad. We will have some sun (it's beaming through my office window right now), maybe just not the "abundant" sunshine forecast on Monday (though we've been forecasting a mix of clouds and sun since yesterday morning). And the shower/sprinkle chances are low. It will be a pretty nice, refreshing afternoon.

Why the small shift from "abundant" sun to just some sun? A weak jet stream disturbance is passing just to our north which early Monday looked like it would be through the region by this morning (and I forecast clouds for late Tuesday night). The timing shifted slightly to during the day today.

-Jason, CWG

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | September 30, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse


The last line in the post in which you commented had your answer: "Stay tuned for our annual winter outlook in October." To be more specific, it will probably come out around Halloween.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | September 30, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I have a weather related question. Who would win in a fight: you guys versus Doug Hill, Topper Shutt and Sue Palka. I'd lay the odds on you guys but Sue seems like she could get nasty!

Posted by: authorofpoetry | September 30, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Author, I smell a new celebrity boxing show...

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 30, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Re: Forecasting comments ... I echo Jason's thoughts. It's also worth pointing out that this can be a tricky time of year for forecasters and users of forecasts, in that the difference in how 60s and mostly sunny feels (quite pleasant) versus 60s and mostly cloudy (rather cool) can have a bigger impact on outdoor plans than, say, the difference between 70s and mostly sunny versus 70s and mostly cloudy, or 80s and mostly sunny versus 80s and mostly cloudy.

We do the best we can do, and hope that our accuracy (while not perfect) and presentation are at least a step above the rest. It's also great to see comment like these because they remind us that folks like you are listening to and making plans based on what we say, which helps keep us on our toes.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | September 30, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I thought the whole week was supposed to be rain-free after last weekend's inundation. The big problem still is Saturday with the much-needed-rain crowd timing their next big deluge for my picnic. If it rains all day, I'll probably just stay home.

Huge earthquakes & tsunamis from Samoa to Indonesia...they might be connected.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | September 30, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

authorofpoetry, I like the idea of a one-on-one: Kim Martucci vs Sue Palka

...BTW in case anyone didn't notice, Tony Pann made his move up the parkway to Charm City official this week; just check DCRTV & the Examiner.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | September 30, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, guys. Don't mean to bust your chops - this whole area and this time of year are frustrating, that is for certain. We used to joke around our place about the 30% chance of rain: 30% used to mean bring an umbrella in the DC area, but 60% means go out with impunity. It's BIZARRE. And there is pretty much always a 30% chance of rain included in all forecasts, so it has come to mean nothing at all.

I do definitely prefer you guys to the TV flock. And I layer up for the difference between 60s and sunny vs. 60s and cloudy (or windy - same deal). But schlepping around small children when the threat of rain reaches a certain level is not for the faint of heart. It's not like they will melt, but they then become uncomfortable and cranky and well, I'm sure you have the picture! And they always try to shed their rain gear and I end up carrying it like some kind of alpaca in mom jeans.

So therein lies the testy response to rain chances changing suddenly. The advanced planning involved in taking my circus on the road works against spontaneous fun.

Posted by: BadMommy1 | September 30, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps people generally get more upset when it rains unexpectedly vs when it doesn't rain despite being in the forecast.

I would think the opposite may be true with snowfall forecasts (people are more disappointed when a forecasted snow misses).

If the above statements are true, do meteorologists let those considerations impact their forecasts?

Finally, what is the preferred past tense of forecast (forecasted or forecast)?

Posted by: spgass1 | September 30, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

oops... sorry, i missed that. a fellow snow lover told me a few days ago he'd heard/read a "good" forcast for this winter. fingers crossed.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 30, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Walter, I think I might've heard some of that on wtop this morning. They said the weak El 'Nino could mean a cold and snowy winter for the east coast.

Matt Rogers appears to agree.

Posted by: spgass1 | September 30, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

here's hopin'

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 30, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

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