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Goodbye, Ernesto ... the Rain and Wind Subside

Jason Samenow @ 6:00 AM

Ernesto's wind and rain will gradually diminish early Saturday. In his wake, conditions should get better and better throughout the holiday weekend...


Forecast Confidence: Medium-HighDreary morning, sun emerging late? Overcast skies in the morning and lingering light rain should gradually give way to some sunshine and warmer temperatures by late in the afternoon. Highs will be in the mid 70s. Overnight, expect partly cloudy skies, and lows 60-65 (suburbs-city). Conditions should be fine for the Terps home opener at 6pm versus William and Mary, with temperatures falling from the low 70s into the upper 60s.

Tomorrow and Labor Day

Forecast Confidence: HighPartly sunny and pleasant. We'll be under the influence of weak high pressure building in from the west. Expect a mix of sun and clouds both days, with comfortable humidity, and highs near 80 degrees. Overnight lows should be 59-64 (suburbs-city).

Ernesto Recap, and Forecast Evaluation

Rainfall amounts across the DC area as of press time, looked to be exactly within the range of's forecast of 2-5". All in all, this was a pretty successful forecast.
  • We got the timing correct: We correctly predicted the rain would begin around dawn Friday, with the heaviest rain and strongest winds in the evening.
  • We got the impacts right: We forecasted the possiblity of scattered, but not widespread power outages due to winds sustained of 20-30mph with higher gusts -- which verified. We also correctly predicted there would NOT be severe storms and tornadoes.
  • We missed the track by about 60 miles: The storm tracked about 60 miles east of where we anticipated. This resulted in reduced rainfall amounts in the mountains (1-3"), and more near the bay (4-5"+). For the immediate DC area, the track further east meant rainfall totals were in the 2-3" range, as opposed to 4-5". But our forecast of 2-5" accounted for the possibility of a minor track deviation, so the shift east did not affect our forecast.
The broadcast meteorologists and National Weather Service had mixed results:
  • Doug Hill and Sue Palka should be commended for correctly suggesting the storm might track east of DC. However, they still went a little high on their rainfall amounts, predicting 3-6" for the metro area.
  • Bob Ryan incorrectly predicted more of a westerly track, and also was too high on his rainfall total predictions. He called for 4-5" in the immediate area (1-2" too high), and 6"+ to the west -- which was a bust -- since amounts greater than 1-3" were isolated.
  • Topper Shutt made one of the more bizarre forecasts, suggesting rain might last into Sunday morning -- which probably won't be close.
  • In its usual style, the National Weather Service predicted too much precipitation -- going with 4-8", twice as much as what fell.
At the end of the day, we should be thankful for Ernesto. As the National Weather Service said in its Friday evening discussion:


  • Hurricane forecaster Bill Gray of Colorado State has again downgraded his prediction for the number of tropical systems. He's now calling for a slightly below-average year, with five hurricanes instead of the seven previously forecast.
  • Hurricane John (in the Pacific), with 110 mph sustained winds, has been pounding the Mexican Baha peninsula.

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