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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 07/29/2011

The eerie parallels between Snowmageddon 2010 and Sweat Ceiling 2011


Both the Sweat Ceiling heat wave, and the record Snowmageddon blizzard led the Drudge report, linking to the Capital Weather Gang (Drudgereport.com)
*The crippling Snowmaggedon blizzard of February 5-6, 2010 and its encore Snoverkill (February 9-10, 2010).

*The punishing Sweat Ceiling heat wave of July 21-23, 2011, and its second act - Sweat Ceiling, part II (now).

At face value, these two extreme events (or series of extremes) could not contrast more. But it may surprise you how much these Washington, D.C. weather behemoths share in common. Consider all of the following striking similarities....

* Extremes bred extremes. It was snowy before Snowmageddon and hot before Sweat Ceiling. Preceding Snowmageddon during the winter of 2009-2010, we had Snowpocalypse in December (which dumped 16-24”) and some smaller snowstorms in late January and early February. Preceding Sweat Ceiling, we had our third hottest June on record and 11 of the first 13 days of July were 90 or higher.

* Both events were well-forecast five to seven days in advance. Sometimes, but not always, large-scale extreme events are highly predictable (read a post by Steve Tracton for more on this) days ahead of time. This was the case for both Snowmageddon and Sweat Ceiling.

* Both events were featured on Drudge report, with links to the Capital Weather Gang! (see above)


Left - radar image from Snowmageddon as it formed over the south central U.S. (Intellicast.com). Right - the Sweat Ceiling heat dome as it formed over the south central U.S. (weather.unisys.com)
* Both historic events were fueled by the Gulf of Mexico, with origins in the south central U.S. Snowmageddon developed over the south central U.S. from a strong wave along the southern branch of the jet stream, gaining energy from the moisture rich Gulf of Mexico. Sweat Ceiling also has roots over the south central U.S. as a large, hot area of upper level high pressure. The oppressive humidity drawn into this heat dome came from the Gulf of Mexico.

* Both set all-time records at Dulles airport, but fell short at National. Snowmageddon dumped 32 inches of snow at Dulles Airport, the most on record, but just 18 inches at Reagan National, barely making it into the top 5. Sweat Ceiling produced an all-time record high of 105 at Dulles, but just 102 at Reagan National, not even a record high for the date.

* Both were followed by a sequel, adding insult to injury . Snowmageddon was followed by Snoverkill, which dropped 8-20+ inches of snow across the region on February 9-10. And now, a week after Sweat Ceiling I, we have Sweat Ceiling II, bringing a second dose of record heat to the region.

* Both sequels - smaller in scale - were slighly more difficult to predict and impacted fewer people.

* Both events contributed to monthly/seasonal records. Snowmageddon and its prior/subsequent snow events helped produce D.C.’s snowiest winter on record. Sweat Ceiling and its prior/subsequent hot days will lead to the hottest July on record in D.C. The hottest summer on record? TBD.

If I were to note one major difference between these events, it would be the impact they had on the region. Clearly, Snowmageddon caused more disruption, literally shutting down the city for days, causing power outages, etc. Heat waves, while serious in terms of their effects on human health just cannot pack the same punch as snow storms.

That notwithstanding, who knew two extreme weather events in different seasons could be so similar?

Let’s hope the similarities continue. Following Snoverkill, hardly any snow fell the rest of the 2009-2010 winter and we had a mild March. Wouldn’t it be nice if our streak of 90-degree weather ended and we had a cool August? Don’t bet on it...

Can you think of more similarities between these events? Want to note some differences? Comment below....

By  |  11:15 AM ET, 07/29/2011

Categories:  Capital Weather Gang, Snowmageddon, Extreme Heat, Latest

 
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