Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Winter Storm Sequestration: Washington, D.C., Snow Bust -OR- Avalanche on Mount Romney

Updated at 4:00PM 3/6/2013 (See below)

Descending over the snowy Wasatch Range into Salt Lake City International Airport, March 2, 2013. Wendy took this picture on her trip to Utah to see her brother.


OK, it wasn't QUITE the "weather day to remember" I had ni mind as the snowfall failed to materialize in the D.C. area in any meaningful way. Below is the weather e-mail that I sent out to the various informal mini-weather email groups I keep about today's embarrassing snow bust.

Let me just say that the main one (Andrea's group) were very nice about it, gracious, not like those in Wall-P's group way back when in the 1990s and early 2000s, when it was always about belittling others and being career and money crazed and worshipful of anyone in power back in the heady days of "the Washington Consensus." All that aside, it is still embarrassing.

Indeed, now I know how M. Wade Tipamillyun feels after ANY of his unfunny standup comedy routines.

The email is below (with time corrected to 1PM from 1AM). The pictures and captions are included in this entry just to break up the text with some visuals.


Still hanging onto a snowy fantasy: Winter storm warnings continue for most of the region including the immediate D.C. area as shown on the Sterling LWX CWA map webpage updated at 1:46PM EST, March 6, 2013.


UPDATED 4:00PM 3/6/2013: The revised LWX CWA map shows the massively reduced snow-related weather advisories.

This map was updated at 3:44PM 3/6/2013.


Yes, it would appear that this whole thing was a major D.C. area snow bust.

The models were relentlessly and consistently wrong, most notably the NAM and Canadian and also the GFS in last night's run. And in my 25 years of watching Bob Ryan on TV (historically on channel 4 and now channel 7), I never saw him buy into an event as strongly as he did last night with 10"+ for D.C. proper just hours before the forecasted onset of the event, only to have it fail to pan out.

The snowfall forecast map updated at 12:39PM March 6, 2013 through 6AM tomorrow. Let it go already.


UPDATED 4:00PM 3/6/2013

Now this is more like it ... Here is the same map but updated at 3:39PM and extending through 11AM tomorrow. This is far more realistic, including the prominent "hole" in accumulation over D.C. proper.


I guess it was just too warm and always was going to be ... Perhaps a flag should have been the lack of a source of Arctic air and instead sufficiently cold air that had to be generated by the storm itself. This is hard to do in March, and perhaps the MOS numbers showing temps around 37F should have been followed more closely by the NWS. But it is hard to forecast against model run after model run that is showing you a specific outcome, especially with just hours to go and the event on your doorstep.

At this point, I don't want to call it a complete bust yet because there is 6+ inches of snow on the ground in the far western D.C. suburbs and there is a vigorous storm just off the Delmarva with bands of precipitation still moving toward the west. A quick burst of heavy snowfall is not out of the question to coat the ground even inside the warmer D.C. Bubble.

Dover AFB (DOX) NWS radar in enhanced base mode reflectivity, 1:43PM EST March 6, 2013.


Regardless of what happens in the next 8 to 12 hours, and irrespective of the fact that we are still at 1PM nominally in a winter storm warning for the entire D.C. area with "4 to 6 inches" predicted even in downtown D.C. and "6 to 8 inches" in the immediate western suburbs, I am not going to send any additional weather updates. I think this was enough of a waste of everyone's time. My apologies.

By the way, THIS is why I never actually pursued meteorology as an actual profession.

Unlike being a political pundit where the personality type tends toward megalomania and lack of any embarrassment if one is spectacularly wrong, as someone who thinks of himself as scientifically minded, I find this stressful and somewhat embarrassing.



OK, that's all for now. I think it's time to find a dark bar (maybe Chadwicks in Friedship Heights). I'm probably not going to update this blog until either Thursday or Friday night.


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