PM Update: Intense winds pummel D.C. area as power outages grow; frigid by morning (LIVE UPDATES)

** Wind advisory through 11 a.m. Thursday | Fire weather watch Thursday for counties west of I-95 **


The Capitol dome briefly went dark Tuesday night. (C. Hudson/For The Post)

10:30 p.m. update: Raging winds including a 61 mph wind gust at Dulles Airport continue to hammer the area. Power outages across the region remain just over 50,000 according to the latest numbers. Temperatures have nosedived into the 30s in many spots and, remarkably, wind chills are now in the 20s! Some day we’ll look back on this winter and laugh?

Scroll down past the updates for the forecast through tomorrow and beyond…

 

9:50 p.m. update: The National Weather Service reports the following wind gusts: 66 mph in (Flint, Frederick County), 61 mph (Martinsburg, WV), 55 mph (Dulles), 54 mph (Germantown), 53 mph (BWI), 49 mph (DCA). Here is the full list. Meanwhile area power outages are over 50,000 according the Washington Post outage tracker. As we’ve noted before, good idea to charge your phone if you still have power, though winds gusts should ease a touch heading after 11 p.m. or so.

9:20 p.m. update: And it’s not just the wind gusts that are impressive. The sustained winds are strong too, ranging from around 20 to almost 40 mph. See map below. Also, @TWCBreaking reports a tree has crashed into a house in Bel Air, Md., causing structural damage.

 

9 p.m. update: Latest wind gusts include 47 mph at National, 51 mph at Dulles and 45 mph at BWI, as well as 57 mph at Camp David, Md. Temperatures are plummeting, down into the 40s now including 41 at Dulles. WeatherBug reports wind gusts of 63 mph at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, 60 mph at NIST in Gaithersburg and 58 mph in downtown Baltimore. Power outages are growing too. BGE reports over 12,000 out, while Pepco has over 4,000 in the dark, and Dominion has over 15,000 out in Northern Va. For a time, the exterior lights were out at the U.S. Capitol, though now appear to be back on, as seen in the series of tweets below.

 

 

 

8:15 p.m. update: Reports of power outages and power “flickers” are increasing across the area (see Maryland as an example). Weather modeling indicates winds could continue to increase through around 11 p.m. or midnight — staying strong thereafter but perhaps peaking in that period. It might not be a bad idea to charge up devices just in case, though we don’t anticipate widespread major outages.

 

 

 

7:15 p.m. update: Once the rain clears, get ready for a wall of wind and rapid temperature drop over the next several hours (between now and midnight or so). Behind the front – which is crossing I-95 right now with the line of showers and storms – pressures rise dramatically. This will lead to a burst of wind. Gusts may reach 45-55 mph, possibly leading to some power outages.

Writes Facebook reader Eric Might in Martinsburg: “[T]he winds have REALLY cranked up! I’m pretty sure the Big Bad Wolf is outside my front door…”

In the comment area below, reader KJ71 in Purcellville writes: “The winds hit like a wall and its gusting 50+ easily. … The winds are shaking the entire house and sound like a freight train. Very violent winds for it being clear and partly sunny.”


Pressure rises in last hour indicated by red contours

Expect temperatures, meanwhile, to nose dive from around 60 now, into the 30s by midnight. Whereas it was around 60 degrees at 7 p.m., wind chills in about 12 hours will be in single digits in many areas.

Note: The severe thunderstorm watch has been cancelled.

6:50 p.m. update: The rainbows as the showers/storms exit have been more impressive than the storms themselves. A great view of a double rainbow from northern Virginia:

 


Radar & lightning: Latest D.C. area radar shows movement of precipitation and lightning strikes over past two hours. Refresh page to update. Click here or on image to enlarge. Or see radar bigger on our Weather Wall.

6:35 p.m. update: The showers and storms have done their best D.C. split impression, with the heaviest activity north and south of the Beltway. The heaviest activity is around Columbia, Md. and Mt. Vernon, Va. moving towards northern Anne Arundel County and southern Prince George’s County, respectively. All of this activity should shift east of I-95 by around 7 p.m., and east of the region (over the Chesapeake Bay) by 8 p.m. It remains sub-severe.

6:20 p.m. update: Showers/storms are really moving and are already inside the Beltway and into the District. None of the storms are severe. The strongest activity is well north of town – north of Rockville – from around Laytonsville to Eldersburg.

6:05 p.m. update: An area of strong thunderstorms extends from northwest Montgomery County through northern Carroll County. Expect very gusty winds in this area and in areas to the east in northern Montgomery, Howard and Baltimore counties over the next 30-60 minutes. To the south, the activity is weaker and scattered. This broken area of showers and storms should move into Rockville and Fairfax by around 6:15 p.m and inside the Beltway around 6:30 p.m.

5:40 p.m. update: Storms have advanced east, entering western Montgomery and central and eastern Loudoun counties. They vary in intensity from rather weak to vigorous – but are sub-severe at this time (no active warnings). From the looks of radar, the weakest part of the line may pass through the immediate metro area, with the strongest storms north of the city. So we may be looking at a D.C. split scenario, when these storms coming through between 6 and 7 p.m.


Radar snapshot from 5:30 p.m. (RadarScope)

5:15 p.m. update: Generally, the broken line of storms entering the region appears shy of severe levels. However, a fairly intense storm is about to hit Frederick, Maryland and may produce some strong winds over 40 mph. Meanwhile, some dramatic rainbow photos have come in – resulting from some light showers ahead of the main line.

 

 

5:03 p.m. update: The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for the region until 10 p.m. The primary concern is the potential for damaging wind gusts. The storms are already moving into western Frederick and Loudoun counties and should pass through the immediate metro area between 5:30 and 7 p.m., exiting the eastern suburbs shortly thereafter.

From 4:15 p.m.: It’s already been a wild day as a strong low pressure system passes by to our northwest and north. Winds have gusted as high as 48 mph at Dulles this afternoon, with gusts well past 30 mph most spots, and we’re just getting started when it comes to that. Temperatures which made it up into the mid-60s and around 70 this afternoon are just hours away from plummeting as strong winds take a turn from the south to a much colder northwesterly direction. In between, isolated severe wind gusts are possible as a line of showers (some rumbles?) moves through early this evening.

Through Tonight: The line of gusty showers, with perhaps some rumbles, pushes into western parts of the area by 5 p.m. or so and rapidly progresses east. It should reach the immediate D.C. area around 6 p.m. before exiting into the bay around 7 p.m. With gusts already reaching the 30-45 mph range out ahead of the line, isolated severe winds (defined as 58 mph+) are possible — though not too likely — with it as it passes. Sustained winds should pick up behind the line, ranging from 25-40 mph at peak, with gusts past 55 mph possible into the overnight. Winds may wane slightly by morning, but only down to about 20-30 mph sustained, with gusts past 45 mph possible.

Temperatures tumble through the night, with lows reaching the 20s most spots, ranging from around 21-29 or so. Keep an eye out for icy spots thanks to the quick freeze following evening rain, though strong winds should help dry surfaces well.


Wind chills at 8 a.m. Thursday as predicted by this morning’s GFS. (Weatherbell.com)

Tomorrow (Thursday): Back to winter we go, but at least it’s mostly sunny. Bundle up, then bundle up again for the morning. Wind chills likely wind up in the single digits and teens. As whipping winds from the northwest continue, daytime highs eventually reach the near 30 to the mid-30s range in general. There’s an outside shot D.C. could reach the upper 30s, but don’t hold out too much hope. Well below normal in the mid-50s either way! Winds remain strong, around 20-30 mph sustained, perhaps peaking again in the midday to early afternoon. Gusts past 40 mph remain possible.

See Dan Stillman’s forecast through the weekend. And if you haven’t already, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter . For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock.


Developing strong low pressure to the northwest of the D.C. area this afternoon. (SPC)

Major snow to the north: The storm system passing by is causing more than just our local severe weather threat and strong winds. Up to the north it’s a full-fledged blizzard in spots like Buffalo, New York, where visibility as low as 1/16 mile has been reported this afternoon. The storm is expected to dump more than 2 feet of snow in its maximum band. Some of the heaviest snow is likely to fall in the ski resorts of New England, which is sure to cause smiles among fans of fresh powder up there.

 

 

 

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Jason Samenow · March 12, 2014

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