top border

Please note, not all links may be active. This site is a snapshot of an earlier time.

Warm Welcome for Woolly Bear

Dan Stillman @ 12:03 AM

If you're looking to avoid heavy jackets and high heating costs, then this is the forecast for you. Warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected to stick around through the weekend.

A weak cold front that passed through during the overnight hours will likely make today our coolest of the next several days. Look for lots of sunshine and highs in the mid 60s, followed by lows tonight in the low-to-mid 40s in town, upper 30s in the suburbs.

Tomorrow, winds from the south will warm high temps to around 70. And on Friday, strong southerly flow will boost temps even higher, with highs reaching the mid 70s. Not as cold Friday night, with lows in the upper 40s in town and low 40s in the 'burbs.

The unseasonably warm weather (our average high is 62) will continue over the weekend. Expect highs in the low-to-mid 70s and lows from the upper 40s to low 50s. While I think we will see a decent amount of sunshine on Saturday and Sunday, an approaching cold front could give us clouds at times and a slight chance of a shower.

Fuzzy Wuzzies Make Winter Forecast

Move over Punxsatawney Phil. Groundhogs aren't the only animals in the business of weather forecasting. Woolly bear caterpillars are predicting a mild winter.

The Associated Press reports that kids participating in a contest sponsored by the Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack recently collected about 20 of the fuzzy creatures, often seen this time of year as they search for a place to hibernate for the winter. Legend has it that the more brown there is on the black-and-brownish-red caterpillars, the warmer the upcoming winter will be.

According to the contest judges, the caterpillars collected were mostly brown, suggesting a relatively warm winter. But the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., rains on the parade of folklore believers everywhere with this straight-shooting analysis of the woolly bear's prognosticating ability.

For a more scientific preview of weather during the next few months, check out's winter outlook.

Picture courtesy Ohio State University.

Gratuitous Forecaster Bashing

Judging by her article in yesterday's Hilltop, the Howard University student newspaper, I'm guessing Jana Homes would trust caterpillars over meteorologists no matter what the season. "Is a Mid-Atlantic weather man nothing more than a hypothesis creator?" she asks before she warns to "never trust a weather man between Northern Virginia and Southern Pennsylvania."

I love a good dressing down of meteorologists (even though I am one) as much as the next guy. The only problem in this case is that Homes uses this week's mild temperatures as evidence that "the weather here is just too unpredictable to try to predict." That would be a great argument if the warm conditions were a complete surprise, but as far as I can tell this week's weather is playing out almost exactly as forecast.

Two other Hilltop articles from yesterday also had a weather focus -- this one on winter fashion trends and this one on warm indoor activities for the winter.

Spooky Skies

Scientists believe the fireballs seen in the sky on Halloween night by residents from D.C. to Richmond were burning meteors. Channel 4 has put together a slideshow of comments from people who saw the bright lights in the sky. To view the slideshow, go the Channel 4 article and then click on the "Viewers Report Sightings" link.

The article notes that "officials said it's rare for so many people to see the same thing on the same night." But in a Richmond Times Dispatch story, a museum scientist says that when fireballs are seen, they are usually seen by hundreds of people at a time.

I would guess the weather and the holiday had a lot to do with the large number of sightings. Clear skies plus lots of kids and parents out trick-or-treating equals many potential skywatchers.

Observations from the Left Coast

Spent some vacation time in Southern California last week and noticed some interesting similarities and differences between the weather there and here.

Just as the Washington area experienced an extended period of cool and cloudy weather in early October caused by onshore flow from the Atlantic, the Southern California coast spent much of late October under the influence of a persistent marine layer (scroll down to 15th question for explanation) caused by onshore flow from the Pacific. The result was a visit marred by cloudy and cool conditions that even seemed to have the local TV forecasters down.

Speaking of TV mets in California, they don't have it as easy as some might think. Here in D.C., we usually get one 5-day or 7-day forecast that covers the entire metro area. But in SoCal there can be an incredible variety of conditions across relatively short distances. There, the typical TV weather segment includes forecasts for four distinct geographic locations: coast, inland, mountains and desert.

Guess Mid-Atlantic forecasters don't have it so hard after all.

Comments are closed for this archived entry | Link | email post Email this post