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O Water, Where Art Thou?

Dan Stillman @ 11:15 PM

Seasonal temperatures and little precipitation are making this one of the more pleasant Augusts in recent memory, save for the torrid heat wave that began the month. There are growing concerns, however, about the lack of water, and rain chances are once again few and far between in the forecast through the weekend.


Forecast Confidence: High-Very HighVery warm, not too humid. Mostly sunny with highs near 90. Like yesterday, there will be a touch of humidity in the air, but it should be tame compared to the mugginess we often see this time of year. Tonight, partly cloudy with the slightest chance of a passing sprinkle. Lows near 70 in town, mid 60s in the burbs.

Altocumulus clouds yesterday in Capon Springs, W.V., by photographer Kevin Ambrose.


Forecast Confidence: Medium-HighNot quite as warm ... isolated shower? We'll see a bit more in the way of clouds, but still partly sunny with a high in the mid 80s and humidity in the moderate range. A frontal boundary sinking toward us from the north could produce an isolated shower or thunderstorm in the afternoon or evening, but I'd put the chances at only 20 percent. Overnight, partly cloudy and a continued slight chance of a shower or storm, lows in the mid-to-upper 60s.


Forecast Confidence: HighMore humid. Like Thursday, partly sunny with highs in the mid 80s, possibly upper 80s. But this time a breeze out of the east will likely increase humidity levels. It wouldn't be impossible for a renegade shower to pop up in this sort of air mass, but I also wouldn't bet on it. Overnight, lows in the mid-to-upper 60s.

The Weekend

Forecast Confidence: Low-MediumThe August we know but don't love? The models are in disagreement regarding the exact position and strength of high pressure that will be centered to our northeast. One scenario would give us hot and humid conditions with highs near 90. The other would be cooler -- mid 80s -- and only moderate humidity. In either case I'd put the chances of an afternoon or evening shower or thunderstorm at 20% for Saturday (though even that may be a bit generous) and 25% for Sunday. Overnight lows will be warm, from 70-75.

Josh should have a better handle on the weekend forecast, along with his "Larson's Long-Range," in tomorrow's post.

The D-Word Returns

U.S. Drought MonitorYou may remember that drought was a concern just before the flooding rains of late June left many areas waterlogged. But those rains left as quickly as they came, and the well has runneth dry ever since. As a result, drought fears are starting to surface once again as river levels drop and crop growth is stunted.

While precipitation at Reagan National Airport remains almost 4 inches above normal since the beginning of the year, it is just over 1.5 inches below normal since July 1. Dulles is slightly below normal for the year, with a deficit of .13 inches. The biggest loser is BWI, now almost 6 inches below normal since Jan. 1.

Pictured: Yellow shading represents "abnormally dry" conditions, the least severe category on the U.S. Drought Monitor, courtesy the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Tropical Season Comes Back to Life

Way out in the Atlantic, Debby has become the fourth tropical storm of what has so far been a fairly quiet season. The National Hurricane Center is predicting a northwesterly track in the general direction of Bermuda. The future is still uncertain for Debby as to whether she'll eventually curve to the north and east, away from any significant land masses, or whether she'll take a more westerly track and threaten the Caribbean and/or U.S. mainland.

Hat Trick for Patrick Michaels

Pat MichaelsThe state of Virginia has no problem with University of Virginia professor Patrick Michaels wearing two hats -- that of state climatologist and global warming skeptic. But it does want to make sure that he never wears both hats at the same time. The governor's office has asked Michaels not to represent himself as the state's climatologist when expressing his views on global warming. Complicating the matter is his right to academic freedom and the research funding he receives from the energy industry.

In response to all this, Michaels is quoted as saying that when he provides "expert opinion in a private forum, I've always said it's not an opinion of the commonwealth of Virginia or of U.Va. but are the remarks of a faculty member given under the traditional protection of academic freedom." Meanwhile, a spokesman for Gov. Timothy Kaine says, "We have no reason to doubt his word on that. ... But that has been a source of confusion from time to time and the history has been murky."

Pictured: Patrick Michaels, courtesy the Cato Institute

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