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Posted at 8:30 PM ET, 09/29/2010

The calm before the rainstorm

By Jason Samenow

How much rain do you think will fall?

* PM Update: Rain underway, much more coming | Dangerous flooding? *
* Flash Flood Watch thru Thurs | Wind Advisory (eastern counties) *
* Storm Timeline & FAQ | Nicole is no more *
* Outside now? Radar, temperatures & more: Weather Wall *

After some showers in the afternoon, we have a brief in the lull in the rain - auspiciously timed to allow the final home game at Nationals Park this evening. But a massive shield of rain fed by moisture deep into the tropics (cool water vapor loop) lurks to the south.

We're sticking with our prediction for a general 2-4" rainfall event (with some locally higher amounts), but NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center is a little more aggressive: forecasting 3-6" (with some potential for 6-10" totals). The heaviest rain is expected between about 4 a.m and 10 a.m.

How much rain do you think will fall? Vote in the poll below...

By Jason Samenow  | September 29, 2010; 8:30 PM ET
Categories:  Floods, Tropical Weather, Updates  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tropical storm Nicole is no more
Next: Steady rain moves into metro region


so you guys are sticking with the more conservative 2-4" (qpf? is it?) - which means ~14-40" of snow for us?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | September 29, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm still not 100% convinced that DC metro will get the 'copious' amounts of rain that have been forecast by some DC OCM's today.

Doug Kammerer (new OCM on NBC-4) said this would be a 2 part event, with part 1 tonight (1-2 in), and part 2 tomorrow night with 15-30 mph winds (1-2 in). This is completely different from any forecast I've heard so far.

Only thing I'm sure of-- commute to work tomorrow will be a nightmare. The commute home tonight was a royal pain in the ... neck, and the rains hadn't even started!

Still hoping VaTechBob gets the soaker he's been hoping for. I know we could sure use some liquid sunshine in my little corner of the world.

Posted by: southbridgemom | September 29, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Bless your heart, Walter- you're such the optimist for snow!! :o)

Posted by: southbridgemom | September 29, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Its interesting, you look at the "future" radar map, and by 2:00 they're showing the rain really sliding off to the west of us. Basically, if you're in Charlottesville or New Market, you look completely slammed. Through 2:00 am, the DC area metro is looking almost dry.

Is there something we're missing or something in the dynamics that is pushing the line much further west than initial thought?

Posted by: rdidonna1 | September 29, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Everyone do an African rain dance tonight! We need the rain!

Posted by: Yellowboy | September 29, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

THE RAIN - it was to arrive at 9pm. Now it's pushed WAY back to 2AM. The timing alone will cut into totals.

Posted by: LoudounGeek | September 29, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Every time I look at the forecast, it's changed. Every different place I look for a forecast says something different.

I think this truly is one where nobody really knows.

Posted by: mhardy1 | September 29, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

It's a tough forecast, but guidance was laying down a majority of the rain over a 12-16 hr period or therabouts, and we've not yet entered that. Things look generally on track -- yet it is hard to pinpoint the bullseye before it starts. Personally, I went with 2.8" at DCA earlier today in another contest, so I'll stick with that.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 29, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse


We've been pretty consistent all along. We were calling for 1-4" this morning (with some locally higher totals), and are now calling for 2-4" (with some locally higher totals). And ever since yesterday we've said the worst very late tonight and tomorrow morning. We're standing by that.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | September 29, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I totally share southbridgemom's skepticism (and no doubt VaTechBob's) - it's BONE DRY at 9:30 here in SE Fairfax County with rain barely grazing southern VA. One inch, tops in the metro area, maybe 2" if we're lucky. Really do think that HPC and local OCMs predictions are WAAAAY overdone! Someone mentioned "old-fashioned" meterology here yesterday - don't know what that's comprised of, but I think the mets should push back from the banks of computer monitors and resort to THAT for a change....

Posted by: VAStateOfMind | September 29, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Before we all start shouting "BUST" once again, you may want to look here:

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 29, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I voted for 2-3" ...purely wishcasting... I don't want more than 3"

Brian, thanks for the radar link... I bookmarked it.

Here east of Front Royal, it's foggy, drizzling, and 54.9F

Posted by: spgass1 | September 29, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Wilmington, NC has had 14" of rain this week and it's still pouring, so there is apt to be some serious flooding in parts of eastern NC.

Here, I guessed 2-3" and given this satellite image (with heavy rain still to the south of Cuba), that might be on the low side, because is every indication the precip sheild will arc back more NE as the heavy stuff reaches the 38th latitude.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | September 29, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jerry, did you see that Wilmington is threatening to exceed its greatest three & four day totals of rain? I found Jeff Masters' evaluation very good on his wunderground blog. "Epic rain" is quite a scary term. eesh.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | September 29, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Sheesh that radar looks awesome. We're gonna get slammed! I'd say easily 3-4 inches by the time it's all said and done.

Posted by: dcg35 | September 29, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

All quiet here in Forest Glen...moved my car out of my usual parking spot since it normally floods....wishing I had caulked the leaky window sometime in the past.

Posted by: gjjg4dgd | September 29, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse


I didn't catch the on-air forecast you reference. But we've also been seeing the potential two-part aspect of the storm. Except that part 2 late tomorrow (which depends on the initial tropical low surviving and coming up the coast) has looked like it would be mainly toward or along the coast rather than here in the metro area.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | September 29, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

spgass, I'm with you. I just finished spreading 20 bags of mulch in an puny effort to hold my newly cleared slope. The inch in one hour or so the other day filled the retention areas so 2-3 inches will probably overflow those even though I enlarged the upper area. The rest of the slope should stay in place as long as the rain is spread out enough.

Posted by: eric654 | September 29, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse


There is a slight (30% or less) chance the second wave throws rain far enough west that DC gets a little more rain-- but much better chances east of the Bay.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | September 29, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Camden, Sue Palka mentioned some incredible figure for Wilmington, 17" I think.

And THEN, WTTG celebrated Sue's 25 years with the station. Tributes from Bob Ryan, Doug Hill, Topper Shutt, Sue's older daughter, who works in the news department in a station in Greesboro.

She is a very personable, classy woman and like you all, is a reality check, who isn't hesitant to puncture inflated snow balloons.

WTTG really outdid themselves with tonight's tribute to Sue.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | September 29, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

P.S. There's a Sue Palka anniversary page on WTTG's site at

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | September 29, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I am baffled about why we are requested to VOTE on how much rainfall we're going to get. ???????

Posted by: los22 | September 29, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Ruh Roh. Steady rain here in Falls Church. My poll vote of 1-2" looks shaky at this point. Can we get Poll v2.0?

Posted by: KPosty | September 29, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse


Cause it's fun? (at least maybe for some people?)

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | September 29, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

light rain in Forest Glen now....let the games begin!

Posted by: gjjg4dgd | September 29, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Surrounding Richmond to the south, southeast, and southwest, 2-2.5" has already fallen according to doppler radar: - that rain is headed in this direction

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | September 29, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Nice steady rain outside of Ffx City. (I can hear it more than see it, actually.)
Umbrella and rainslicker ready for the wait at the bus stop tomorrow. Lots of puddles tomorrow - and then some - I'm sure.

Posted by: MKoehl | September 29, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm interested in the impact of real rain on our almost drought conditions. What usually happens? Is the rain mostly going to runoff? Does this depend on how the rain is concentrated (in our case 1 day)? Or does these 1-2 inches is enough to penetrate the soil and lawns?

Posted by: jojo2008 | September 29, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Light rain in Ashburn (RT 7/Loudoun County Pkwy area).

Posted by: natsncats | September 29, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Will gladly eat crow if predicted rain fall amounts come true. 3" of rain would b really great 4 my yard, which looks more like a desert.

Posted by: VaTechBob | September 29, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey gang, I wasn't screaming 'bust', but I hadn't seen the rain that was being hyped by OTHER forecasters. Been watching forecasts/radars all day to plan safe errands/travel for my 'still up and coming' 17 yr old driver at home.

Lots of rain here now. Saw the radar, and yep, we got it coming for sure. Looked outside on the way upstairs and my Lyrope are the perkiest I've seen them in weeks.

FYI-- the forecast I saw was on the 6pm news, and was online as well. Spoke to the in-laws last night in Calabash, NC (an hour south of Wilmington), and they've had it for sure. No severe flooding as of then, but haven't gotten updates today.

Be safe out there in the morning -- look for me on I-95 and US-1 towards Belvoir -- I'll be the one sitting in traffic. ;o)

Posted by: southbridgemom | September 30, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

It's been coming down pretty hard here in Del Ray (Old Town Alexandria) for almost an hour now and so far we have picked up .51 of an inch. Based on what I am seeing on radar, and how far down south this slug of heavy rain goes, I would say 3-5" would be a good bet for most places around the DC Metro and the mid Atlantic in general. Should be an interesting next 12-20 hours for sure.

Posted by: KJ71 | September 30, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

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