Strong front, some severe storms racing by
Severe t'storm watch & high wind warning in effect
2:00 p.m. update In a blink of an eye, the storms are pretty much gone for D.C. and the north and west suburbs. But they are now booking southeast, and southern Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties, as well as northern Calvert and Charles counties are under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 2:30 p.m. Wind gusts to 60 mph are possible with these storms.
1:45 p.m. update Hail picture from Twitter follower @fizleglitz from Jessup, Maryland.
1:40 p.m. update: Many reports of hail have come in northeast of the District, including Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring, College Park, Laurel, Columbia, and Baltimore. The good news is that the worst of the storms has passed through these areas. But the storms are now sliding through eastern and southern Fairfax county and the District. Fortunately, the storms are not as strong here.
1:30 p.m. update: A severe thunderstorm warning is now in effect for eastern Montgomery and Howard counties, Anne Arundel county, Baltimore, and northern Prince George's county through 2:15 p.m. The storms scooting through the region have a history of producing small hail and may produce wind gusts to 60 mph.
1:20 p.m. update Some stronger storms have formed along the cold front now headed through eastern Montgomery and Howard county (where pea sized hail has been reported) and extending into central Fairfax county, where the activity is a little weaker. These should push into northwest DC and northern Prince George's county in the next 20 minutes or so. Once these pass by, the rain/storm threat should be done..but the general wind threat will increase.
Keep reading for earlier updates...
1:05 p.m. update Areas of showers/storms are currently scattered throughout area. One is in northeast Montgomery county, another is in Prince George's county and a third is affecting Charles county. Finally, one more line of broken showers and storms lurks to west near the Loudoun and Fairfax county line extending into northern Fauquier county. All of this activity will push east rapidly. While some gusty winds may accompany these storms, none of them appear to be severe and the bigger winds come later.
12:55 p.m. update: Storms are just racing by. Almost through Fairfax county, now in SE DC and well into PG county. Another storm, which may become strong, to move into Charles county and impact La Plata around. Frontal passage follows storms and winds whipping up behind them. A gust of 65 mph was reported in Mineral County WV, a sign of things to come?
12:40 p.m. update: Thunderstorm impacting southern Fairfax county, with some heavy returns around Springfield and just to the south. This activity looks like it will head into Alexandria and then southeast D.C. in the next 20-30 minutes. Strong wind gusts to 40 mph or so are possible as these storms itself. Lighter showers are possible to the north and south of this activity.
12:25 update The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Severe Thunderstorm watch for all but the western suburbs through 4 p.m. (see map). The best chance of severe activity is mainly east of I-95 early to mid afternoon, but some intense activity is currently in Prince William county and extending into southern Fairfax county. Heavy rains and gusty winds to 40 mph are possible with these storms which are extending far enough north that they now do, in fact, look to impact the District in the next 30-45 minutes.
12:20 p.m. update: Is a D.C. split in the works? It remains to be seen if storms extend far enough north to to graze D.C. but the southern suburbs are still under the gun, with gusty showers/storms impacting Prince William county as we speak, including around Manassas. This activity, racing eastbound around 70 mph, may contain winds gusts of 40-50 mph and will impact southern Fairfax county between now and 1 p.m before reaching Charles and southern Prince George's county between 1 and 2 p.m.
12:00 p.m. update: The Storm Prediction Center is now indicating a Severe Thunderstorm Watch may be necessary for D.C. and the eastern suburbs:
SUFFICIENT LOW LEVEL CONVERGENCE IN CONJUNCTION WITH STRONG MID LEVEL FORCING WILL PROVE ADEQUATE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NARROW BAND OF BROKEN SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS NEAR THE I-95 CORRIDOR WITHIN THE 18-21Z [ 1 to 4 PM] TIME FRAME. LATEST THINKING IS DAMAGING DOWNBURSTS MAY ACCOMPANY THIS CONVECTIVE LINE AS IT MATURES OVER THE DELMARVA AND QUICKLY RACES EASTWARDD TOWARD THE MIDDLE ATLANTIC COAST.
Current radar indicates one line of thunderstorms clipping extreme northern Montgomery county is moving off to the northeast. Now the area to watch extends through central Fauquier county and is about to progress into Prince William county before probably working through southern Fairfax county. We'll need to watch if this line of storm extends north and impacts D.C. It could miss but then grow northeastward impacting the eastern suburbs. Is a D.C. split in the works?
11:30 a.m. update: The skies have cleared amazingly in many parts of the region but some trouble lurks to the west as the cold front closes in and showers and storms are popping. A line of showers and storms currently is impacting eastern Frederick county and northwest Loudoun county and may clip extreme northern Montgomery county in the next hour. Some wind gusts of up to 40 mph are possible with these showers/storms. Farther southwest, we need to watch some storms west of Culpeper which should move northeast in the general direction of the metro area (especially southern suburbs) by around 12:30 and 1 p.m. Right now, it looks like the cold front will pass D.C. between 1 and 1:30 p.m. and eastern suburbs by 2:30 or so after which the storm threat diminishes. But then the strong straight line winds really whip up behind the front.
Some good news?: The Storm Prediction Center has reduced tornado odds to 2% (from 5%)
From 10:45 a.m.: The high wind warning remains in effect from 2 to 7 p.m. (and wind advisory from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), for wind gusts as high as 60 mph. Before the "mega-winds" arrive later this afternoon behind the cold front plowing through the region, thunderstorms threaten the region between about 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. The broken line of showers and thunderstorms ahead of the front now in eastern West Virginia and extreme western Virginia is what we need to watch.
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma is now stating there is a "slight risk" of severe thunderstorms across the metro region, noting the possibility of damaging winds and even an isolated tornado in possible thunderstorms:
GIVEN THE VERY STRONG SHEAR EVIDENT IN 12Z [7 AM] OBSERVED AND MODEL FORECAST SOUNDINGS ... THE POTENTIAL WILL EXIST FOR LOW-TOPPED SUPERCELLS WITH A RISK FOR DAMAGING WIND GUSTS AND PERHAPS A TORNADO OR TWO. THE COLD FRONT AND ANY ASSOCIATED SEVERE WEATHER THREAT SHOULD MOVE OFFSHORE BY LATE AFTERNOON OR THIS EVENING.
SPC indicates there is a 15% chance of damaging winds and a 5% chance of a tornado in the slight risk area.
One of the limiting factors for these storms is the lack of day time heating and sunshine. However, we're currently seeing some clearing and breaks in the clouds (cool satellite image) in spots and temperatures climbing to near 60. That may help destabilize the atmosphere some, fueling potential storms. The best chance of severe storms is east of I-95 where more heating/destabilization is likely to occur.
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