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Who Can Stop What Must Arrive Now?

Matt Ross @ 1:00 AM

Forecast and a Peek at April

Today will be partly cloudy with a 50-50 chance of some light showers this afternoon/evening and highs near 60 degrees. Drier conditions are on tap for the rest of the week with temperatures nearing 70 degrees on Thursday and Friday. A storm system Friday night into Saturday may bring us some much needed rain. After its passage temperatures will moderate Sunday into next week with highs near normal in the low 60s.

April continues our trend where the monthly deviation of temperatures is less, therefore one can have a bit more confidence how the month will turn out at the end. However, as we can get snow in April as well as hit 90 degrees, the trip through the 30 days can be rocky with sometimes frequent oscillations from warm to cool and back again. We start off the month with highs averaging in the low 60s and end with average highs in the low 70s. Other than the very warm April of 2002 when temperatures neared or exceeded the 90 degree mark several times, our Aprils over the last 10 years have been typically average. Look for that trend to continue this year with April and May. While one may average below and one above, both should be reasonably near normal, especially when you average the two. In my opinion in the current atmospheric pattern, we are unlikely to see back to back cold months or back to back warm ones. This trend may even continue into summer. Stay tuned for more on that and an official summer outlook coming this spring.

Heavy snowshowers fell Saturday near Hot Springs, VA with some of the higher peaks getting over a foot

March Recap

I know we have a few days left, but I figure by next week, everyone will be ready to look ahead and put this winter behind us. March 2006 will most be remembered for the early heat wave and the lack of rain. As of press time, we are still sitting at a paltry 0.04" of rain for the month. As we still have rain possibilities today and later this week, we could add to it, but we still have a great chance of setting the record for the driest March. Pretty amazing, since we set a record for the driest September last fall. We will continue to keep you updated on the possibility of drought conditions developing as we head toward the summer. March is likely to finish just slightly above normal temperatures for the month. This despite the fact that through last night, 20 out of 26 March days were below normal. We can thank the March 9th-14th heat wave for that, as temperatures during that span averaged 17 degrees above normal. In our winter outlook, we called for March to be our coldest month at 2 degrees below normal. The heat wave put the knife in that prediction, although as we will only "bust" by 2-3 degrees, it is our 2nd best month in an absolute sense. As most of the month has been cool, I think we did an ok job with our call from 5 months out. I'd give us a C+ for March. See below for a review of our entire winter outlook.

Review of 2005-06 Winter Outlook

As these outlooks are done well in advance of winter, there comes a good deal of uncertainty. Long range forecasting is improving, but has a long way to go. Within the context of reasonable expectations based on the current state of these forecasts, I think we did pretty well this winter. The recap of March is of course above, and you can reread the other individual month recaps here: December, January, February. The grading for the individual months was primarily based on temperatures, and we self-graded as follows:

December: C
January: B-/C+
February: A/A-
March: C+

Overall we will finish the winter at about +1.5 degrees, almost entirely on the shoulders of the near record warm January. As we predicted a normal to just slightly below normal overall winter, we missed a bit on temps. However we did pretty well on the overall feel and progression, getting the cold period from late November to late December right, making January our warmest month with the possibility of a blowtorch, and correctly predicting the return to colder temperatures for February and March. Taking into account all factors I would give us a B-/C+ for the temperature aspect of the outlook.

Our snowfall forecast was as follows:

Snowfall across the region:
DCA: 16"-19"
Dulles(IAD): 24"-27"
Loudoun Co./Northern Montgomery Co.: 25"-30"
Outside the Beltway(Fairfax, Rockville, Mclean, Silver Spring): 20"-25"
Inside the Beltway(DC/Arl/Alex), PG Co.: 15"-20"

This was a mixed result forecast. The airports finished with 13.6"(DCA), 14.1"(IAD), and 19.6"(BWI). Our call for inside the beltway was pretty much spot on, with decent calls for DCA and outside the beltway. Our forecasts for IAD, and the outlying suburbs were substantially higher than what fell except for high spots and those that were in jackpot areas for the February 11-12 event. Overall, instead of receiving slightly above average snowfall as we forecast, most of the area saw slightly below average snowfall. Overall, I would grade us a B-/C+ for snow.

Taking into account snowfall, temperatures, and other miscellaneous factors, we get a B-/C+ for our 2005-06 winter outlook. Better than a flip of a coin or a magic 8-ball, yet we look forward to improving upon that for next winter and beyond.

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