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Record low tornado count so far for 2014

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 07:59:00 EST
Jacqui Jeras

Severe weather season should be in high gear this time of the year with a significant increase in the number of tornadoes reported in the United States starting in April. Not only has it been a slow month for tornadoes, it's been an extremely slow year. In fact, Greg Carbin, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma City, says that 2014 has the lowest number of tornadoes on record through April 21st with only 20 reports.




(2014 Tornado Count- Storm Prediction Center)




On average, the U.S. will experience more than 100 tornadoes from January through mid-April. Another bright note on the quiet severe season, so far there have been no tornado-related deaths reported in the country. A cooler spring in the eastern U.S. and the jet stream pattern have suppressed storm development in the plains where most of the tornadoes hit this time of the year.




(Probability of Severe Storms in April- SPC)



In the D.C. region, we have seen one twister so far in 2014.  A rare February tornado tracked from Compton, Md. to Cove Point, Md. on the 21st. It was an EF0 tornado on the Enhance Fujita Scale with maximum winds of 80mph, and it did cause some structural damage. Typically, our area peaks with tornado activity and severe storms in June and July.




(Probability of Severe Storms June/July- SPC)



Atmospheric conditions will be changing this weekend as a potent storm moves out of the Rockies and into the Plains and that could rock our quiet spring. 




(Sunday GFS Computer Forecast- WeatherBell)



A significant outbreak of severe weather will be possible Saturday through Monday.




(Severe Weather Threat Area Saturday through Monday)



As of this writing, while we do expect to get some rain from that system next week,  severe storms are not anticipated in the Mid-Atlantic.









Lyrid Meteor Showers Peak on Earth Day

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:27:00 EST
Jacqui Jeras

One of the oldest known meteor showers will be featured in the sky this week, peaking tomorrow (Tuesday morning) which also happens to be Earth Day. The Lyrid meteor showers may be visible all week long, but you could see as many as 10-20 "shooting stars" an hour in the pre-dawn hours on April 22nd. The meteors originate from the comet Thatcher and appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra near the bright star of Vega. The meteors may be visible very low in the northeastern sky starting at 10 p.m. tonight. The meteor shower will be at its highest point in the sky around dawn.




Unfortunately, some clouds and a bright waning gibbous moon will compete along with city lights and make make it difficult to see many of the meteors. Luckily, one feature of the Lyrids, according to Earth and Sky, is that one quarter of them are expected to have persistent trains, a long gas trail that appears as a lengthy streak in the sky.

Here's our WJLA Futurecast cloud cover for 4a.m. on Tuesday. 


(Computer Model Cloud Simulation)


Expect partly cloudy skies, so it shouldn't be completely clouded over and you should be able to see something in the night sky. If you don't think it's worth the early wake-up call with the moon and clouds tomorrow, you should be able to see a few shooting stars each night the rest of the week.  Or you can watch it online from our friends at NASA on this link.

Boston Marathon Weather: Looking Spectacular

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 07:10:00 EST
Chad Merrill

As 36,000 runners race from Hopkinton, Mass., to downtown Boston in a 26.2 mile venture, the weather will be picture-perfect.
Following the tragic events that unfolded last year, there are many mixed emotions amongst runners this year for the 118th Boston Marathon. Fortunately, though, the weather will cooperate.

Temperatures this morning in the upper 30s will rebound to the middle 40s by the time the first wave of runners hit the pavement at 8:50 a.m. EDT. Sunshine will get filtered through mid and high clouds with temperatures warming to the upper 50s by the time the runners finish the 26.2 mile dash through Boston. Although the Southwest to Southeast breeze will be light at 5 to 10 mph, local effects between buildings will create a headwind and tail wind at times.

The weather today is right on cue with mid-April weather in Boston. The average low is 41 degrees and high is 56 degrees. The temperatures last year were right in line with mid-April climate averages in Boston but two years ago brought record heat. The high temperature reached 87 degrees on April 16, 2012, with nearly 2,000 runners seeking medical attention due to the weather conditions.

The race in 1905 was the hottest on record since the race started in 1897. The following is a recollection of temperatures during race day.


Based on the sample size below, the average temperature on race day is 63 degrees.


ABC7 would like to wish all runners the best of luck this year! Click here < http://watchlive.baa.org/> to watch the Boston Marathon live!

The marathon always takes place on Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts. This commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first battle in the American Revolutionary War. Another part of the tradition is the Boston Red Sox home game on the third Monday in April.

Each year, the Red Sox play at home on Patriots’ Day at 11:05 a.m. EDT. This allows spectators to watch the ball game and then head to the finish line to cheer on the majority of the runners that will be finishing the marathon at this time.

D.C. pollen count well below average heading into Easter weekend

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:05:00 EST
Alex Liggitt

Susan Kosisky, who is the Chief Microbiologist at the US Army Centralized Allergen Extract Lab here in the D.C. area supplies the region with the daily pollen counts. So far this year, pollen counts have been well below average because of the cooler than average weather.

With temperatures in the 70s and 80s just last week from the 10th through the 15th of April, tree pollen started to spike. The highest tree pollen count of the Spring was noted on Monday at 1058 grains per cubic meter. This was short-lived though, as a strong cold front not only brought with it a few inches of rain, but also sleet, snow and cold temperatures Tuesday through today.

The count fell considerably with numbers under 100, which is still in the moderate range, but rather low compared to the average. As Kosisky put it,

"The count was predictable after the cold, rain and even snowflakes of the day before. We should be counting snowflakes instead of pollen grains this tree season! Daily average for the 3rd week in April is 953 grains/cubic meter."

2014 Tree Pollen vs. Avg (Credit: Susan Kosisky)

Above is a look at the average tree pollen count going into the Spring in blue and a look at what our area has experienced this year in red. There have been a few spikes, but for the most part have really been held in check.

Largest tree pollen counts 1998-2012

From 1998 through 2012, tree pollen numbers have typically spiked in the month of April. The earliest was March 28, 2012, which also happened to be the hottest month of March on record in D.C., when it was an astounding 10 degrees above normal for the month.

It's currently the 18th of April, and our highest tree count so far is 1058, so unless this year goes down like 2000 where the highest count was slightly above 1400, we unfortunately still have a ways to go.

Wild weather topples trees onto homes, cars

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:52:09 EST
Roz Plater

(WJLA) - It’s suddenly cold and wet, with sleet coming down in parts of the DMV area. D.C. resident Rud Nast even found an unpleasant surprise after coming home from work:

"I just came outside to go to dinner, and found my car with a tree on top of it."

His car's roof is smashed and the windows are shattered:

"I'm going to put this tarp on top to try to keep the water out...make sure if there's anything valuable, get it out," he said.

Nast's car was one of three in the line of fire on 29th Street near Woodley Avenue on Monday, as a large tree came crashing down in the late afternoon. After hours of wind, rain, and a saturated ground, neighbors here told us this was an accident waiting to happen.

"All these trees on 29th Street going down to Calvert are all on the side of a steep hill -- and they're all in danger of falling over," said area resident David Arens.

"We're very careful about parking our car on the street because the trees are very old and the slope seems very unstable," added Victoria Mizzi.

The weather was toppling trees all around – another one flattened a car on 31st Street in Northwest, shutting down traffic in both directions. And in Kensington, a massive tree sheared off a chimney and brought down utility lines as it crashed into a home. Fortunately, the homeowner says his wife escaped without injury.

"Sounded like a bomb...very loud crack, scared the cat, scared her and all the neighbors I've talked to," said homeowner Michael Lathan.

And it wasn’t just the trees – there was a lot of water coming down – and fast. It caused flooding all along Rock Creek Parkway near Beach Drive, right at the height of the evening commute home.

Storm topples RVs near Mississippi's Gulf coast

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 06:56:25 EST

GAUTIER, Miss. (AP) - A storm barreled through Mississippi Gulf Coast communities, damaging or destroying about a dozen RV trailers at one campground, downing trees and power lines and cutting electricity in some areas.

The storm blew through the Santa Maria RV Park in Gautier at around 8 p.m. Monday, knocking some trailers off their blocks and overturning or destroying others.

The roads leading up to the RV park were littered with debris, and none of the street lights were working. Despite the widespread destruction in the park, only two people were injured, neither seriously, television station WLOX reported.

Park resident Harrold Robbins said he and his girlfriend Debbie Dales were getting ready for bed and he was at the front end of the camper they share when the wind hit.

"The front end flipped," he said after returning from a hospital where he was treated for bumps and bruises and Dales got stitches to her head. "It launched me back into the back end. Then it flipped over on the other side and came back up in the air and landed on our car."

Jessica Cook said she looked out her window after getting the alert that the storm was approaching and said to herself, "Well, that looks a little bad." She said that when the debris hitting the trailer got bad, she grabbed her son and they huddled together with his father.

"We were just holding each other and telling each other we loved each other because it was that bad," she said.

Cook said her home was knocked off its blocks, but her next-door-neighbor's was completely destroyed and he was pinned under it. She said the fire department managed to free him and he was taken to a hospital.

The National Weather Service doesn't think it was a tornado, meteorologist Robert Ricks told the Sun Herald.

"It was straight-line winds of about 50 mph and none of the RVs were tied down," Ricks told the paper. "In talking with emergency management personnel, there were no power lines down. It appears to be because of the straight-line winds in an RV park configuration without tie-downs."

Jay Huffstatler, a Red Cross official, told WLOX that all of the displaced RV park residents apparently had somewhere else to spend the night.

Keith Davis, the police chief in nearby Moss Point, said there were downed power lines and trees there. He said one power line caught fire but it was quickly extinguished.

A severe thunderstorm warning had been in effect in advance of a strong cold front moving into the region.

Lunar eclipse tonight: Will we be able to see it in D.C.?

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:53:00 EST

It's a full moon tonight as well as a lunar eclipse. Unfortunately for us in D.C. and our neighbors up and down the east coast, it will be too cloudy to get a glimpse of the eclipse. 

It will still be a sight for our clear weather friends in the rest of North America. Check out this map where the eclipse will most visible.


Lunar eclipses only occur when there's a full moon. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is directly opposite the sun and passes into Earth's dark shadow. The eclipse will begin by 12:53am EDT and will continue through 4:34am with the "totality" phase occurring around 3:06am.

(Fred Espenak)

At the time of the eclipse, the moon will take on a reddish hue. This is because of Earth's atmosphere. The suns' rays will pass through our atmosphere scattering the light, which is the same phenomenon that gives us colorful sunrises and sunsets. Space.com has an even more in-depth explanation of lunar eclipses, if you want to read more. 

(R.G. Meier / Shutterstock)

Even though we in D.C. won't be able to catch sight of the lunar eclipse from home, NASA will live stream the eclipse beginning at 10 p.m. tonight. You can also check the planet Mars' approach, which is the closest the planet's been to Earth since 2008.

This lunar celestial phenomenon will be the first in a series of four eclipses, also called a "lunar tetrad." The next will occur on October 8th 2014, the next April 4, 2015, and the final September 28, 2015.

(F. Espenak / NASA / Goddard Spaceflight Center)

D.C. area residents enjoy the warm weather

Sun, 13 Apr 2014 20:42:25 EST

As the temperatures soared to summertime heights today, people across the D.C. area drank in sunshine and long overdue heat.

Any open space, no matter how far from water, looked a bit like a beach today.

ABC7's Stephen Tschida got out and visited with people enjoying the weather.

Picture Perfect for the Cherry Blossom Parade

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 05:10:00 EST

The cherry blossom festival culminates Sunday. And what perfect weather to compliment the pink and white blossoms that line the Tidal Basin! 

Yoshino cherry blossom trees reached peak bloom Thursday with 70% of the blossoms open. The National Park Service forecast the peak bloom to arrive between April 8th and 12th. They were spot on!  Just as the weather turned warmer and brighter, the blossoms responded and are now out in their full glory.

(Courtesy Navin Sarma Photography)

If you haven't made it down to the Tidal Basin to take in the sights, you still have time - but the sooner you arrive, the better. The National Cherry Blossom Festival continues through the weekend with the Cherry Blossom Parade taking place Saturday morning. Check out meteorologist Alex Liggitt (driving StormChaser7) and Brian van de Graaff and Joe Witte waving from out of the sunroof while Adam Caskey greets the crowd from atop of the roof!


The parade is from 10am through noon Saturday and takes place along Constitution Ave from 7th to 17th streets, NW. The parade will feature giant helium balloons, elaborate floats, fourteen marching bands, and big name performers. Among the celebrities that will be in town are American Idol season 12 winner Candice Glover and pop artist Aaron Carter. The forecast for the parade couldn't be better!


The rest of the weekend will be just as nice with plenty of sunshine and even warmer highs for Sunday.

A strong front moving through Tuesday will likely bring heavy rain and wind that could bring down most of the blossoms. Enjoy the cherry blossoms while they're out and share your pictures with us! Click this link to find out how to share them with the ABC7 Storm Watch team. 

Special thanks to Brian van de Graaff for the help with this blog!

2014 Hurricane seasonal forecast posted by CSU team

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:43:00 EST

The first hurricane forecast of the season was put out today from Dr. William Gray and Dr. Philip Klotzbach, who lead up the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University. The announcement was made from the National Tropical Weather Conference this morning in San Padre Island. Meteorologist Nate Johnson from WRAL in Raleigh, NC is at the conference and has been live-tweeting the announcement. Be sure to follow him for the latest from the conference.

The forecast is for a quiet season this year with only 9 named storms, 3 becoming hurricanes and only 1 major hurricane. An average hurricane season features 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. They site one reason for fewer predicted in 2014 being the developing El Nino pattern, which can lead to increased vertical wind shear in the tropics which hinders tropical cyclone development.

Other features such as cooler than normal sea surface temperatures will also be a big factor in the tropical season ahead. Dr. Klotzbach wants everyone to remember though that it only takes one bad storm to make for a terrible hurricane season. 1992 only had one major hurricane, and it happened to be Hurricane Andrew. They've given the various probabilities of a landfall below.

You can follow along with the conference by searching the hashtag #tropicalwx on twitter. Find the full detailed forecast from the Colorado State University team here.

Send us your Cherry Blossom photos

Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:04:00 EST


With the Cherry Blossoms blooming this week, we know a number of you will be heading down to the Tidal Basin this week and weekend. We would love if you would share your photos with us so we can share them here online and possibly on air throughout the day on ABC 7 News and Newschannel 8.

This picture was taken by our very own Photojournalist James Joslyn this morning in the fog and mist. The next chance for rain in the 7 Day Forecast looks to be Friday night into Saturday morning.

Photo by James Joslyn - ABC 7 Photographer

There are a number of ways you can submit them. You can of course send them to iwitness@wjla.com, which is always accepting weather photos of all kinds. You can also share your photo to our Facebook page above, or any of our Twitter accounts below.

@DougHillABC7               @JacquiJeras

@SteveRudinABC7         @EileenABC7

@ABC7Brian                    @LaurynRicketts

@AdamCaskey               @AlexLiggitt

@DevonLucie                  @MikeSABC7wx

We'll be sure to share or retweet your pictures!


D.C. cherry blossoms: Days away from peak bloom

Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:14:00 EST

After a long, snowy, chilly winter, D.C. 's favorite festival shouldn't disappoint. The National Park Service posted this morning that the cherry blossoms are now at the "Puffy White" stage as of this morning. That means peak bloom is 4-6 days away!



(Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms)


It felt like it would never get here. The cooler than average March in D.C. had some (including me) wondering if the early prediction of peak bloom on April 8-12 would have to be pushed back. Luckily, it looks like the experts were right on track. Still, there are questions of weather the next few days will impact the petals or viewing.

Monday will be a wet one with up to an inch of rain possible, so not the best weather to get out there to view the blossoms. 


(Monday rainfall)


Tuesday will be drier, but rather breezy, so we will have to keep an eye out for how the wind will impact the blooms. Right now my thinking is that the blooms aren't quite far enough open for the wind to have a big impact or knock down many petals. Wind will be from the West on Tuesday at 10-15 mph, but a few gusts could reach 20 mph. Conditions will become more tranquil midweek with increased sunshine.

A cold front will pass late Friday or early Saturday and could squeeze out a few showers. So, if I had to pick a day this upcoming week for the best possible viewing and color with sunshine and calm conditions, it would be Thursday. Here's the 7 day forecast:


(Seven-day forecast)


We would love to hear about your experiences at the Tidal Basin checking out the blossoms. Post your photos on the Stormwatch7 Facebook page. You can also post them to my personal facebook page or twitter account and we might just use them on Good Morning Washington. For a list of Festival Activities, click here. Enjoy!!!

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