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They're Baaack!

Steve Scolnik @ 3:45 PM

After a brief respite, the humidity was back in full force yesterday, along with those late-day showers and storms. The heaviest activity was south of the immediate metro area, but I drove through a heavy downpour crossing Old Georgetown Rd. just north of I-270 around 5:45.

I would have to add my skepticism to the question of the reported official high temperature of 95 degrees yesterday, although it does perfectly verify my forecast from the day before. Here is the sequence of hourly readings at National from noon through 6 pm: 91, 89, 89, missing, 95, 88, 88. The reports from National have frequently contained the "$" symbol for "sensor needs maintenance" lately, and that was the case at 4pm when the 95 degree temperature (35 C) was reported:
KDCA 211951Z 24007KT 9SM FEW045 SCT120 BKN250 35/19 A2995 RMK AO2 SLP142 T03500189 PNO $

Today has been more of the same, although the storm activity is less intense, at least so far. As of 4pm, the only large areas of storms in Virginia or Maryland were southwest of Charlottesville. At 4:45, radar showed an area of moderate to possibly heavy rain between the Beltway and Wheaton from Connecticut Ave. to New Hampshire Ave. Nearly all reporting stations were at 90 degrees or above.

There is still a 30% chance of showers or thunderstorms through tonight, lows in the mid 70s. Tomorrow will be less humid with highs around 90.

Tropical Topics

Back in the tropics, literally within hours of the demise of Emily, we got Tropical Storm Franklin. The storm has strengthened gradually, reaching an estimated maximum of 50 mph early this afternoon. Considering the small size and relative weakness of the storm, its track continues to be quite uncertain. The latest numerical model output this afternoon supports the current official track from the northern Bahamas toward the northeast in the general direction of Bermuda, but the possibility of looping back toward the southeastern U.S. coast cannot be ruled out.

Pesty weather

Also back, and in the largest numbers in about 2 decades in the Washington area, are Japanese beetles. Apparently, the critters love the tropical weather we've been experiencing, and they have been feasting on the roughly 300 species of plants they like to munch on. In the words of a University of MD entomologist, "It's a big beetle party right now."

Broadcast News: NOW for something not completely different

The PBS series NOW takes up the issue of political control of science tonight. The program features an interview with the insider who blew the whistle on White House interference with climate change reports: "In the report, government insider Rick Piltz says that Philip Cooney, a lawyer and former energy industry lobbyist, was making changes to reports on behalf of the White House and that it was part of a pattern to downplay the effects of global warming." The show is on WETA, channel 26, at 8:30 and on WMPT, channel 22, at 10.

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