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Steve Scolnik @ 4:50 PM

The Afternoon Update is back, having waited out Thursday's ice and rain storm in Raleigh. Despite rain nearly all day and temperatures in the 40s, the rapid clearing Thursday night produced some of the same black ice effects there as occurred in the Washington area Friday morning.

Today's weather map shows much calmer conditions, with high pressure dominating the entire country east of the Rockies. The focus of activity has shifted to the West Coast, where an ice storm in Oregon disrupted transportation in the Portland metro area yesterday and forced the closure of 50 miles of highway I-5.

Here in the Washington DC metro area, the passage of a very weak trough this morning has shifted the winds to a more northerly direction and reinforced the cold air, despite an abundance of sunshine. After a weekend in which both days averaged exactly "normal", today's temperatures are running several degrees cooler, struggling to reach 40 around the region at mid afternoon. This means today will not join Friday as the second day this month with above-average temperatures.

Surface weather map above at 10am this morning from NWS/NCEP/HPC

Tonight and Tomorrow

Temperatures tonight will drop to the low 20s in the city, ranging down to the mid teens in the colder 'burbs. Tomorrow will be sunny and cold, with highs around 40.

Climate Corner

In our last episode, we chided Papa WaPo for virtually ignoring the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal, but last Sunday they finally published an article on the subject in the lead position on page A1, "U.S. Won't Join in Binding Climate Talks". As climate-change deniers are fond of repeating, association doesn't imply causation, but we'd like to think they were responding to the criticism.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) reported today on a study which shows that most of the top 10 feet of Arctic permafrost will disappear by the end of the century. The results show that
"over half of the area covered by this topmost layer of permafrost could thaw by 2050 and as much as 90 percent by 2100. Scientists expect the thawing to increase runoff to the Arctic Ocean and release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. The study, using the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model (CCSM), is the first to examine the state of permafrost in a global model that includes interactions among the atmosphere, ocean, land, and sea ice as well as a soil model that depicts freezing and thawing."
A paper describing the research appears in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.

Photo courtesy Vladimir Romanovsky, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, via NCAR.

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