Capital Weather Gang: Lipman

Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 11/19/2012

Does a cold November into December mean a cold winter? An extreme example of the opposite

Temperatures so far this month have averaged 4 degrees below average in Washington, D.C. year. Around this time of year, especially when cold weather occurs, we often hear people say something like, “If it’s this cold now, how much worse will the rest of the winter be?”

By Don Lipman  |  10:30 AM ET, 11/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, History

Posted at 11:18 AM ET, 11/05/2012

Will weather affect Election Day results for President and Congress?

The latest weather maps show relatively quiet weather across much of the U.S. Election Day. It is is unlikely to have a meaningful effect on outcomes this year.

By Don Lipman  |  11:18 AM ET, 11/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, U.S. Weather

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 09/17/2012

Red sprites, blue jets, and elves: What are these mysterious, elusive phenomena?

Today, although still quite enigmatic and elusive, red sprites, and their cousins, blue jets, and elves, are revealing some of their secrets.

By Don Lipman  |  12:00 PM ET, 09/17/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, Science, Thunderstorms

Posted at 09:45 AM ET, 08/23/2012

All Shook Up!... One year later, a look back at the August 23, 2011 East Coast earthquake

One year ago, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered near Mineral, Va., about 80 miles southwest of Washington, caused damage in D.C. and was felt from southeast Canada to Florida, and from the East Coast westward to the Mississippi River.

By Don Lipman  |  09:45 AM ET, 08/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Lipman, Latest, Environment

Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 07/18/2012

Cool thoughts: awaiting an epic swim across Lake Michigan by local couple

In mid-August, at the 50-mile wide mid-point of Lake Michigan, a once-local couple now living in the Grand Rapids, MI area, will attempt a staggering 30-35 hour swim across the lake, one never before accomplished by a husband-wife team. Jeff Tow, who, as a youngster, swam competitively in Montgomery County, MD, and his wife Sara, have been preparing for this swim all their lives.

By Don Lipman  |  10:49 AM ET, 07/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, U.S. Weather

Posted at 12:42 PM ET, 06/21/2012

Hurricane Agnes: A look back after 40 years

Just as the Watergate scandal was unfolding, residents of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast would have to deal with a tropical system that had formed over the Yucatan Peninsula on June 14th. That system, dubbed Agnes, would later cause some of the worst flooding ever recorded in the region’s, particularly Pennsylvania.

By Don Lipman  |  12:42 PM ET, 06/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Tropical Weather, Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 04/25/2012

Was Monday’s return to winter unusual? A history of snow in April in Washington, D.C.

Now that (some of us) have had our little flirtation with winter, I thought it might be interesting to compare the recent April nor’easter with Aprils past.

By Don Lipman  |  10:50 AM ET, 04/25/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Local Climate, History, Lipman

Posted at 10:36 AM ET, 04/11/2012

The weather during the Titanic disaster: looking back 100 years

This week marks the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Thought to be almost unsinkable, the flagship of the White Star Line struck an iceberg and sank about 375 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia—about the latitude of Providence, RI. As is well known, the much-storied disaster took the lives of about 1,500 passengers and crewmembers, almost two-thirds of the total complement of 2200. But what were the weather conditions preceding, at the time of, and following, the great disaster and did they contribute in any way to what happened, or how it happened?

By Don Lipman  |  10:36 AM ET, 04/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 01:10 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Toughest places to forecast weather: a match for Washington D.C.?

From trying to nail down the rain-snow line in winter to predicting the timing and location of pop-up thunderstorms in summer, the fickle nature of D.C.’s weather presents problems for even the most seasoned forecasters. What forecast challenges do other regions contend with? Are they as difficult as Washington, D.C.’s?

By Don Lipman  |  01:10 PM ET, 02/28/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, Local Climate, U.S. Weather

Posted at 10:40 AM ET, 02/27/2012

Washington D.C. weather: Is it a forecasting nightmare?

Whether it’s extreme heat, extreme cold, blizzards, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, droughts, floods, or just plain high winds, Washington experiences an incredible range of weather conditions. But is D.C. weather really more difficult to forecast than elsewhere or is that just an urban myth, perpetuated by mean-spirited cynics?

By Don Lipman  |  10:40 AM ET, 02/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, Media, Local Climate

Posted at 01:49 PM ET, 01/18/2012

Nome weather-related crisis averted, for second time in history

If you’ve followed the struggle by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Russian tanker Renda to re-supply Nome, Alaska with badly needed fuel oil, you know that a crisis appears to have been averted. Ironically, exactly 87 years ago—in 1925--during a similar Alaskan January*, another crisis in Nome was narrowly averted—this one of a medical nature. It was called the “Great Race of Mercy,” the hastily arranged rescue operation to save Nome from a potential diphtheria epidemic.

By Don Lipman  |  01:49 PM ET, 01/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest, U.S. Weather, Lipman

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 12/30/2011

The snows of yesteryear; major winter storms of the 1700 and 1800s

As the winter unfolds, it appears (at this point) that it may not be particularly bountiful, snow-wise. That said, I thought some of the snow-lovers out there might be interested in a chronology of some our past—very distant past—December and January storms, as they affected the greater D.C. area.

By Don Lipman  |  11:15 AM ET, 12/30/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 10:38 AM ET, 11/16/2011

Britain’s snow blitz: does it mean anything for the future, both there and here?

No doubt many of you have seen stories during the last few years about the repeated episodes of cold and snow in Western Europe-- and particularly Britain. Last December, some called it the snowiest winter in 25 years and the coldest in over 100 years. On average, Britain’s winter climate is mild and has been so for many decades, probably since the end of the “Little Ice Age” in the 1800s. So what’s going on? Is the Gulf Stream changing?

By Don Lipman  |  10:38 AM ET, 11/16/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Lipman, International Weather

Posted at 11:23 AM ET, 11/02/2011

Do October and November snow signal a snowy winter?

OK, so we had some snow in parts of our area last month (just a trace at Reagan National and .6 of an inch at Dulles), now that it’s November, we could have some more. Time will tell. (I don’t do the forecasting on this blog.) But what does October snow mean, if anything, for the rest of the winter as a whole? Curiosity got the best of me and, although it’s been done many times before, I decided to do some of my own research.

By Don Lipman  |  11:23 AM ET, 11/02/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Winter Storms, Local Climate, Lipman

Posted at 11:02 AM ET, 10/19/2011

Franklin’s storm: How Benjamin Franklin discovered how storms move

In October, 1743, Franklin, who was probably one of the most “reasoned” people of his time, had a huge opportunity to put his reasoning skills to the test. On the night of October 21st of that year (November 1st by our current Gregorian calendar)--some 268 years ago--an event occurred which cast a whole new light on the movement and structure of storm systems in the Northern Hemisphere (and the world). Previously, it had always been thought that storms came from the same direction as their surface winds, so it came as a great surprise to Benjamin Franklin when, as a result of a simple astronomical observation and a twist of fate, that this was not the case.

By Don Lipman  |  11:02 AM ET, 10/19/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 01:07 PM ET, 08/24/2011

A day to remember: August 28, 1963 - what was weather like for MLK dream speech?

August 28, 1963, 48 years ago this Sunday, will long be remembered as a watershed day in American history, when up to 250,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was then that Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Most people present in Washington, D.C. on that epic day believe they can remember what the weather was like. Or can they? This is where the picture becomes a little murky.

By Don Lipman  |  01:07 PM ET, 08/24/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 07/21/2011

Bull Run battle 1861: As hot then as now?

On July 21, 1861, about three months after the beginning of the Civil War, the first major battle was fought between poorly trained Union and Confederate troops. The battle, an early victory for the Confederacy, was said to have been waged during a “hot and sultry” period. It was said to be so hot that, by the time hostilities began, bodies of slain troops at the earlier (July 18th) battle site of Blackburn’s Ford were said to be bloated and “unrecognizable.” But just how hot was it during that fateful period and how did the weather compare to the heat wave now enveloping D.C .(and much of the country)?

By Don Lipman  |  11:30 AM ET, 07/21/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest, Lipman

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 06/01/2011

Old “Ben” and his Franklin lightning rod

As most of us know, Ben Franklin had a childhood fascination with electricity, performing early experiments with static electricity and later, the Leyden jar, a device that “stores” electricity (a capacitor). Eventually, he performed his famous kite experiment, in which he supposedly flew a kite into a thunderstorm and held a metal key on the other end to test his theory that lightning was a form of static electricity. Or did he? Unfortunately, we don’t know for sure. Franklin was very diligent about recording all of his important activities in his diary, where there is no mention of that experiment. Nevertheless, whether Franklin himself actually performed the experiment or not, he was able to greatly benefit from what was learned and subsequently invented what he called the “Franklin rod,” a device to help protect structures from lightning-caused fires.

By Don Lipman  |  12:00 PM ET, 06/01/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman, Thunderstorms

Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 05/17/2011

Airline safety: Is the fear of a lightning strike warranted? JetBlue plane struck

On December 8, 1963, a 5-year old Boeing 707 Pan American World Airways jetliner crashed near Elkton, MD, killing a total of 73 passengers and 8 crew members. The plane, en route from Puerto Rico, had stopped at Baltimore and was on its initial approach to Philadelphia, the final destination. Since thunderstorms were in the vicinity, it was thought that lightning had caused the vapors in a reserve fuel tank to explode. Before you come to the conclusion that lightning represents an extreme hazard for commercial aviation, you should know that that accident—almost 50 years ago--represents the last time that lightning was responsible for commercial U.S. airline casualties. A very good record indeed! Nevertheless, lightning does strike airliners all the time.

By Don Lipman  |  02:00 PM ET, 05/17/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Lipman, Latest, Science, Thunderstorms

Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 03/22/2011

Meteorological vs. astronomical winter

Now that we’re really done with winter (but not necessarily winter-type weather)--both meteorologically (December 1-February 28) and astronomically (December 21-March 20)--I thought I’d compare the two for the 2010-11 winter season, focusing mainly on temperatures. Bear in mind, however, that in the future, when most statistics are gathered, they will refer to the meteorological season, the official standard of the National Weather Service (NWS) as well as some other countries such as Australia and Brazil.

By Don Lipman  |  10:30 AM ET, 03/22/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Lipman, Local Climate

Posted at 05:58 PM ET, 03/07/2011

Was this winter really that windy in Washington?

I don’t know about you, but I thought that this past (meteorological) winter, although not particularly snowy around here, was brutally windy on many days, perhaps more so than in many years. But perceptions are often wrong, particular when it comes to the weather, so I decided to do a little research. Was I right or am I just getting older so that I can’t take those “hold-your-hat-down-days” any more?

By Don Lipman  |  05:58 PM ET, 03/07/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, Local Climate

Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 09/22/2010

Into the fog: when the weather was a secret

"Umpires have called the game for reasons I cannot speak of..." Can you imagine listening to a football radio broadcast and hearing the above words? In the third chapter of his book, Secrets of Victory: the Office of Censorship and the American Press and Radio in World War II, Michael S. Sweeney says that's exactly what happened sometimes during WWII ball games when foul weather was the culprit.

By Don Lipman  |  10:45 AM ET, 09/22/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Lipman, Lipman