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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 02/19/2011

Forecast: Hazardous winds raging across region

By Ian Livingston

Wind gusts near 60 mph may cause power outages

List of peak wind gusts from National Weather Service

updated at 9:00 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

3:45 p.m.: Winds continue raging out there - sustained at 20-35 mph, and gusting over 50 mph at times. At 1:54 p.m., there was a 56 mph gust at Nationals Park. And boy is it dry. At 3:00 p.m., the dew point at National Airport was 9 degrees with a relative humidity of 16%. Brush fires have been reported all over the region and smoke has obscured visibility on highways. Portions of I-95 in Prince George's county were shutdown due to the fires, and huge backups have been reported on I-95 south around Woodbridge and toward Dumfries in Virginia related to smoke from nearby fires See: Fierce winds knock out power, fuel brush fires in D.C. area . Winds should gradually start to diminish after dark, but will remain a bit gusty through tomorrow morning.

12:15 p.m.: Winds have frequently gusted past 50 mph across the area so far today. The highest official gusts at regional airports include 44 mph at National, 53 mph at Dulles, and 48 mph at Baltimore-Washington. Other gusts near or past 60 mph have been recorded in D.C. and much of the area. The highest currently listed by the NWS is a 63 mph gust at Flint, in Frederick County, Md. Some power outages and brush fires have also been reported, including a particularly intense one near Odenton, Md. (smoke can be seen on web cams near I-95). In addition to many other trees across the area, the National Christmas Tree has fallen victim to this windstorm.

Today's Daily Digit
 
A somewhat subjective rating of the
day's weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.

 

Above average temperatures and sun still a treat, but wind gusts near 60 mph are problematic.
 
Get the 'Digit' on Twitter

EXPRESS FORECAST

Today: Mostly sunny, very windy. Low-to-mid 50s. | Tonight: Mostly clear, decreasing wind. Mid-20s to around 30. | Tomorrow: Increasing clouds. Upper 40s to lower 50s. | A Look Ahead | Get Express Forecast by E-mail

FORECAST IN DETAIL

It might look nice out at first glance, but winds are rocking throughout the day. Yes, it's been a rather windy winter, yet gusts (already past 50 mph by 9 a.m.) should consistently outdo what we've seen in quite a while. Scattered tree downings and other damage is possible as are power outages and quickly spreading fires. After today, it's more benign for much of the long weekend but shower risks on Monday may transition to snow Monday night.

Snow Potential Index: 4 (↑) - Mon night/Tue a.m. storm increasingly likely, how much rain v. snow and the changeover all in question.

 
The SPI is a daily assessment of snow accumulation potential for the next week on a 0-10 scale. Get the 'SPI' on Twitter
 

Today (Saturday): Temperatures inching through the 40s in the morning and toward the mid-50s during the afternoon are accompanied by increasing northwest winds. They'll be sustained above 20 mph and nearer 30 mph much of the day. Numerous gusts past 50 mph and perhaps some between 60 mph and 70 mph are a good bet. Be careful out there! Confidence: High

Tonight: Winds are still sustained around or past 20 mph in the evening with gusts near 50 mph continuing -- they weaken back toward about 10 mph sustained by sunrise. Skies are clear, and temperatures are chilly, with lows in the mid-20s in the coldest spots to maybe as high as the low 30s downtown. Confidence: High

Does Sunday bring a break in the wind? What about that rain and/or snow chance Monday night into Tuesday?

Tomorrow (Sunday): If it were not for the fact that we were so spoiled by warm temperatures this week, this would look like a decent winter day around here. Skies are mostly clear early, but clouds are on the increase as the day wears on and it could be mostly cloudy prior to sunset. Highs reach the upper 40s to lower 50s, or still a bit above average. Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow Night: A blanket of clouds and winds from the south ahead of a storm system passing to our north mean a fairly mild night. Clouds may drop a few showers as well, but they should be isolated to scattered and mainly north of the area. Lows reach the upper 30s to lower 40s. Confidence: Medium

A LOOK AHEAD

President's Day is likely to be quite cloudy, and the temperature forecast is a little tricky. Warm air tries to surge in between the low passing to our north and a high pressure of the southeast U.S. coast. The opportunity is there, so highs probably top out in the 60s before a cold front moves toward the area late day. There's a risk of showers all day (about 40% early), but increasing heading into evening (50-60%).Confidence: Low-Medium

Monday night starts with rain showers likely (60%) during the evening, and rain wants to transition to snow from north to south during the night. How quick the transition occurs and where exactly the low tracks remain critical locally, but it seems like everyone should see some snowflakes before the precipitation winds down. Confidence: Low-Medium

Tuesday's precipitation should be pretty much gone as the sun rises into the sky, but some lingering snow showers are possible early. Winds are probably a little gusty in the storm's wake, though high pressure wants to build in right away so I don't expect anything major. Temperatures should rise into the mid-30s or thereabouts. Confidence: Medium

By Ian Livingston  | February 19, 2011; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Forecasts  
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Next: After winds & more warmth, could it snow?

Comments

"Hazardous winds?"

You mean they'll be full of buck shot? :-)

Posted by: jaybird926 | February 19, 2011 5:36 AM | Report abuse

Is there any data on the winds early this morning about 2/230/3? Here in kensington,I thought the building was going to blow over.

Posted by: see1 | February 19, 2011 8:32 AM | Report abuse

A 6 seems like a stretch today considering how uncomfortable these winds are today.

Posted by: maymay1 | February 19, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

see1, I don't see anything specific in the area obs around then of note, though it looks like that's about when winds began to gust near 40 mph. Dulles reported sustained winds (probably temporary) of 39 mph last hour! That's right on the cusp of tropical storm force of 40 mph +

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 19, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Ian- Thanks so much for the info-- the winds woke me up and kept me a wake for a bit (probably worrying about power outages--a common event in these parts). I think I'll skip the outside run/walk today!

Posted by: see1 | February 19, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I REALLY dislike the wind. :(

Posted by: ThinkSpring | February 19, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

yeah, yeah... it's windy.

but have you seen the 6z NAM!? tuesday's event is finally close enough to show up at the end of the NAM's run and, boy... me likey! it starts the snow at 72 hours out (earlier than the GFS). this looks so pretty:

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/nam/06/images/nam_pcp_072m.gif

this is what i can see as the snow total from the NAM:

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/nam/06/images/nam_p12_078m.gif

wow! that's 8-12"!

the GFS still gives about 3" of snow, which i'd be happy with - bit 8" would be better!

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/gfs/06/images/gfs_pcp_078m.gif

ian, CWG,
am i reading that right? ian, you pointed me to that model verification website which indeed does show the EURO as veriying better than either the GFS or the NAM. what's the EURO showing for snow (not precip, just snow) amounts?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 19, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Current temp reads 52 degrees, with winds of 28 mph. Why is the "feel like" temp 52 as well? Shouldn't there be a wind chill factor.

Posted by: ADmom | February 19, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone!

The 12z NAM just came in and it's looking as good, if not better than the 06z!!!

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/nam/12/images/nam_pcp_066l.gif

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/nam/12/images/nam_p60_078l.gif

1.0 - 1.25 inches precip... soooo....maybe 10" of SNOW???!!!!???!!!

still nervous that this will fall apart on us, though :-(

Posted by: BobMiller2 | February 19, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like a train out there. NWS wasn't kidding!
Poor trees. Poor, poor trees.

I had some outdoor schemes for today - but no thanks. Will "shelter in place".

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | February 19, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The trees in my neighborhood are huge. I'm on the 2nd floor or the house and they go far above that. It's making nervous sitting here and watching them sway so much. I love to hear the wind, but this is too much.

Posted by: weatherwatcher1 | February 19, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

BobMiller2, it's a warmer run and would be mostly rain, then some sleet and finely snow but only around 0.10" (roughly and inch) of the latter. The model has really bounced around from run to run. I'm waiting for the GFS and later today Dan will have an update on the storm with a quote from me.

Posted by: wjunker | February 19, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Is there a meteorological explanation for why it has it been so windy this year?

Posted by: paperball | February 19, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

i dunno, bob,
i think the 12z NAM is much more in line with the recent GFS runs. here's the 12z NAM at the critical frame where the 6z showed the change-over had already happened. here, it looks like dc is right on the dreaded rain/snow line....

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/nam/12/images/nam_pcp_066m.gif

so, i guess this shows the change-over happening a bit later - i.e. less good-for-snow. dang... i let myself imagine 8".... now it's back down to 3" or whatever.

i guess we need a pro 1) to tell us what this latest run is showing... and 2) to tell us to calm down because it's not gonna happen how these models protray it 72 ours out...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 19, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

oops, thanks wes. i guess i wrote my post while you were writing yours. i'll stick with the 6z NAM, thank you very much.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 19, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Winds currently NW at 36mph gusting to 47mph

This weather blows.

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 19, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

this is what CWG's forecast for tuesday's storm will say later today.

Tuesday, it could rain or snow and we still dont know how much will accumulate.

Posted by: SNOWLUVER | February 19, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

wes, dan, CWG,
i trust that your upcoming update on tuesday's storm will reveal to us the top-secret precipitation amounts (snow, specifically - don't care about rain...) from those EURO bastages?

snowluver,
that DOES sound like what we'll probably hear... but, i'd rather hear an honest update with all the uncertainties communicated than a bastardi-esque wish-cast prediction of a megasnowpocalypsemageddon.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 19, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

there will be no snow worth mentioning. just letting you all know. look at the NWS graphic top right, no more flakes in it. They say the changeover will happen after 1am tuesday morning.

How many late nights have we stayed up waiting for that changeover to occur and it never happen?... Either the temps hover around 32-33 or it briefly snows and just makes the streets wet.

Wes mentioned an inch, id say thats best case scenario. But still doubtful IMO.

Posted by: KRUZ | February 19, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The 12z GFS just nudged it a little further south and a little colder. But still looks like we could get 2-3 inches out of it.

The NWS commentary, although depicting rain, says it could end as snow. They just don't believe it like the rest of us!

Posted by: dsnowman | February 19, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Once again...there seems to be rain in the forecast tomorrow afternoon ... & I have a big dance on the agenda tomorrow night! Seems "much-unneeded..." never quits trying to mess with me. Folks wishing for rain ought to check the Gottaswing and VIP Dances calendars rather than the weather forecasts. Any time I have a big dance to go to, the rain threatens.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 19, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I just watched a 40-50' tall tree fall into the condo across the street here in Cleveland Park. Not sure I've ever seen that happen before.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 19, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey, so, it is REALLY smoky in my South Laurel neighborhood. (Like... seriously.) I can only assume there is a fire somewhere. Is there something I should... do about it?

Posted by: megamuphen | February 19, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm really not liking "blowmageddon" ;-)

It wouldn't be that bad if it would warm up some more...still 50 chilly degrees here in NE Loudoun.

Can you folks in Fredericksburg (where it's 64°) send some of that warm air up here to Loudoun??

Posted by: BobMiller2 | February 19, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

NWS gave us our snow balls back, KRUZ. :-)

(I am assuming the smoke I am seeing here is from the Odenton fire. I'm fairly close to 197 and the BW Pkwy)

Posted by: megamuphen | February 19, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

So...when is the wind suppose to die down?

Posted by: hereandnow1 | February 19, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

@hereandnow1

Winds die down gradually tonight.

@paperball

The winds in Dec/Jan were related to the cold fronts associated with the negative Arctic Oscillation pattern. The winds now are related to the La Nina pattern...

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 19, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

There seems to be numerous fires breaking out around the area. Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties seem to have the worst ones right now.

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 19, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

White House Christmas Tree was snapped by the wind at about 11am this morning. I was there playing in one of the Saturday morning pickup soccer games and heard it.

Not much left besides the stump.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | February 19, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Tree was on the Ellipse.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | February 19, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

There was just a big brush fire here in my neighborhood in the Fair Oaks area caused by the dryness and high winds. I think a tree fell onto a power line which then fell onto some brush and lit a field of tall grass aflame. Flames and smoke everywhere. The field is now all blackened. Police had the road near it closed off and lots of fire trucks there. Near the intersection of West Ox Road and Route 50.

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 19, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

CWG, as always, thank you for being so informative and responsive! (...and here I was thinking we were just cursed...)

But seriously, you are totally awesome and I recommend you every time I have the chance.

Posted by: paperball | February 19, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

95 is closed now in both directions south of 198.

Posted by: megamuphen | February 19, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

On Weather.com it lists the current conditions for my zip code as "Smoke/Windy". I think that's the first time I've seen "smoke" as a Fairfax weather condition. Is the weather station on fire???

Posted by: rwalker66 | February 19, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Here are some of the highest wind gusts from around the region today:

DCA: 53 mph
Dulles: 53 mph
BWI: 49 mph
Winchester: 47 mph
Annapolis: 41 mph
Hagerstown: 45 mph

As of now, according to the NWS, the windiest location is Manassas where the wind is gusting to 51 mph as I type this.

I was out walking the dog earlier and the wind almost blew me over several times. I know I felt gusts of 50 mph+ today.

According to the Weather channel, the current wind gust where I am is around 40 mph, and boy do I believe it!

Posted by: BobMiller2 | February 19, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

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