Friday, May 24, 2013

D.C. Actual Weather Update -OR- Why the KDCA Climate Station Really Sucks

**Updated 12:37AM 6/6/2014: See below.**

The SunTrust Bank building at Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., 5:59PM May 24, 2013.

This thermometer invariably reads very high, especially on hot summer days. The 55F it was showing (which was about accurate) was very uncharacteristic and welcome for a late May day. Oh, yes, this is actually a very nice building with an old-style ornate interior that is NOT all massive plexiglass and prison-like. Imagine that.


Before posting my Friday night musical interlude -- although truth to tell, I'm not really sure what songs/videos to post tonight -- I want to complain about my pet local weather peeve: The utter sh!tty worthlessness that is the Reagan Washington National Airport climate (or "weather") station, abbreviated KDCA.

Once again, we had dramatic weather in the D.C. area, and once again, sh!tty KDCA basically missed it all.

As brief background, KDCA is one of the three main regional civilian airport National Weather Station (NWS) climate stations in the "immediate" Washington and Baltimore area. The other two are Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport climate station (KBWI) and Washington Dulles International Airport climate station (KIAD).

Above is the sh!tty KDCA located at the southeast corner of National Airport near the Potomac River.

KDCA is also one of the worst spots in the region to record snow, cold temperatures, heat wave temperatures, and pretty much anything else down there a few miles south of downtown D.C. on the tidal scuzzy Potomac River.

The small yellow marker in this image shows the location of the KDCA climate station.


I've written about this issue a number of times over the years, and have linked to Capital Weather Gang blog entries about it. However, I don't feel like going into much detail again, nor do I feel like finding all the entries. It's Friday night and I'm doing my laundry and want to post my FNMI before I head out to No. 9 and/or Nellie's and/or some other place(s).

The central fountain at Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., 6:00PM May 24, 2013. The wind was gusty and cool at this point under the gray skies -- it was perfect Seattle weather.


I WILL link to this CWG entry about all the malfunctions at the NWS in the past week in this era of severe budget constraints. I would add that these are budget cuts and austerity in the era of what Paul Krugman never tires of noting is wholly unnecessary, counter-productive, and destructive austerity. Such austerity is what the Neo-Confederate GOP seeks in order to destroy the social safety net and New Deal. And it is what Prof. Krugman calls the "Very Serious People" (centered at The WaHoPo Editorial Board) urge in the name of deficit hysteria for "entitlement reform" as a backdoor way to transfer all that Social Security money to billionaire corporate oligarchical and Wall Street sky-trillion dollar criminals.


Anyway, long story short, a rather strong cold front blasted through the area last night with drenching thunderstorms. Here is the surface weather map as of 5PM this evening for the U.S. East Coast:

NWS surface map valid at 21Z (5PM EDT) May 24, 2013. The cold front has already swept well offshore.


In terms of regional rainfall, here are some representative numbers from several of the other NWS climate stations between 2PM yesterday and 10AM this morning:

KBWI: 0.89"
KIAD: 0.49"

KCHO (Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Airport): 1.15"
KDMH (Maryland Science Center): 1.10"
KMTN (Baltimore / Martin State Airport): 0.61"
KCJR (Culpeper County Airport): 0.58"
KSBY (Salisbury-Wicomico County Regional Airport): 0.54"

As for useless, worthless KDCA ... drum roll ... 0.17"

Now it is true that other NWS Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) sites in the region came in with low numbers, to wit:

KFDK (Frederick Muncipal Airport): 0.15"
KHGR (Hagerstown Regional Airport): 0.06"
KNAK (U.S. Naval Academy): 0.06"

Now I will say that these wholly automated ASOS sites do not always give good numbers.

Nevertheless, this is just another example of how sh!tty useless is KDCA as a climate station. It is forever unrepresentative of the area -- probably due to some combination of bad location and faulty equipment.


[Section on man who oversees observations at KDCA and LWX meteorologists omitted.]

Oh, yeah, I forgot to include this map initially:

This is the LWX radar estimate of precipitation for the 12 hour period from 638AM EDT to 641PM EDT May 23, 2013. Click on image for larger version.


Yours truly riding the Metrorail at 7:52PM May 23, 2013. I was on train from Smithsonian ("Smif-soh-NEE-un") to Farragut West and seated in a bulkhead seat.


This low precipitation total was all particularly frustrating and galling to me for two reasons ...

First of all, I was caught in that deluge last night right here in the District walking from the YMCA after the gym, on a route up 17th Street, stopping at the Safeway, and continuing to my apartment by 16th and U Sts. NW.

I was able to put my cellphone and wallet in my bookbag, and carry the bookbag on my back under my fleece jacket. I also did NOT have my computer with me. I was in a hurry to get to the Safeway before it closes at 11PM.

I was drenched.

So I can tell you that it rained mightily for about 20 minutes here in D.C. proper around Dupont Circle -- I would estimate 3/4" to 1" of rain actually fell. Getting all this rain and not "getting credit" for it in the "official" D.C. record is flippin' annoying.

The triangular green lot between 16th and New Hampshire Avenue NW on the southwest side of the intersection, Washington, D.C., 10:41AM May 24, 2013. I walked to Dupont Circle before going to work today to go to the bank.


**Updated 12:37AM 6/6/2014: Content removed.**

Brilliant roses growing in the small yard of 1915 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 10:41AM May 24, 2013.


Secondly, the weather this Friday was absolutely Seattle beautiful -- a real treat for late May. The weather was cool, breezy, overcast, with intermittent light showers, and temps. in the upper 50s Fahrenheit, although naturally hateful KDCA just HAD to reach 60F this afternoon rather than staying in the 50s. F/K U, KDCA.

Tonight is party cloudy distinctly cool, not the usual disgustingly hot, humid, and stagnate and smelly the way it usually is in D.C. from late May to mid September.

A man walking his dog next to the S Street dog park along New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 10:45AM May 24, 2013.


Anyway, KDCA's sh!tty and unrepresentative numbers aside, the two-fold takeaway for this Memorial Day weekend is:

(1) There WAS in fact substantial amount of needed and beneficial rainfall last night no matter what flippin' KDCA "officially" said; and (2) the weather for the next few days look to be delightfully cool under mostly sunny skies in the day and clear skies with highs around 69F and lows around 47F.* Oh, and (3), what we really need are a series of observations for a region that are averaged together, not some unrepresentative granular point.

The NWS forecast for Washington, D.C. Click on image for larger version.


*This means KDCA will necessarily reach 70F for at least 1 hour and not fall below 50F tomorrow.

OK, that's all for now. At this point, I'm unsure if I'll have time to post a FNMI. I may just instead post a "Juke Box Saturday Night" equivalent.


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