3:40 p.m. (final) update: Rain and severe thunderstorms are over for the evening in the immediate metro area, and the severe thunderstorm watch has been canceled west of I-95. Severe thunderstorms with damaging wind and quarter-size hail continue to move east through our far southeast suburbs, and should end there by 4:30 p.m.
The temperature dropped 10-20 degrees behind that line of storms and winds are gusting to 45 mph at National Airport. Ahead of the front, temperatures were in the mid-70s. Behind it they have fallen to the low to mid-50s.
3:30 p.m. update: Thunderstorms have ended for the western suburbs and most of the Beltway. Areas to the south — parts of Charles, southern Prince Georges and Calvert — are now under a severe thunderstorm warning instead of a tornado warning. Wind gusts have caused damage in this storm and there is still pea-sized hail.
Lots of rainbows came out after the rain was done!
3:05 p.m. update — A TORNADO WARNING has been issued for parts of Charles, southern Prince Georges and Calvert counties. This means you need to get indoors right now. This warning is because the radar shows rotation in the storm, though a tornado hasn’t been spotted yet. It’s likely that if there is a tornado, you won’t be able to see it because of all the rain and hail.
This is a dangerous situation — please take shelter.
2:55 p.m. update: The strongest storm (by far) is rolling into Charles County right now. A long period of hail is likely and some of it could be quite large. Gusty winds are likely and may even cause some branches or small trees to come down.
Check out the hail reports from Stafford County:
2:45 p.m. update: Most concerned about this storm in our far southern suburbs. It’s starting to take on a “bow echo” shape which means strong winds are pushing it along, and they may cause damage. Bring in your porch furniture and get indoors ahead of this storm so you don’t get hurt by blowing objects.
2:37 p.m. update: A new severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for the southern Beltway area and Southeast D.C. You may see some hail in these areas and even gusty winds. Time to go indoors!
2:31 p.m. update: Overall, storms are weakening as they move toward the Beltway. Still expecting heavy rain, lightning. Hail possible, damaging winds seem unlikely at this point. The strongest storm is down in the southern suburbs, where so much hail fell that it coated the yards in white!
2:21 p.m. update: We have three active warnings in the D.C. region. This strong line of thunderstorms is moving east toward the immediate metro. So far we haven’t seen reports of damaging wind, but there has been lots of hail. The rain is torrential and the lightning is frequent.
Storms will arrive in the immediate metro in the next 30 minutes.
2:15 p.m.update: Readers confirmed that hail is falling in this severe thunderstorm over Frederick, which is moving northeast. Damaging winds are possible and at the very least, the rain will be torrential.
2:05 p.m. update — The first severe thunderstorm warning of the day is for Prince George’s — way out in front of the main line of thunderstorms. This guy is moving to the northeast toward the southern suburbs of Baltimore. Looks like it might have some decent-sized hail in it and gusty winds are likely.
1:45 p.m. update — Storms and downpours are forming over the immediate metro, but the strongest storms have yet to arrive. We’re watching one storm that’s particularly strong down by Charlottesville. We saw reports of large hail in this one and it’s beastly on radar. This storm is moving northeast toward D.C., but we’re not sure if it will reach the metro yet.
The atmosphere over the D.C. is ripe for thunderstorms this afternoon. Temperatures reached the mid-70s this afternoon and upper level winds are conducive for storm development. A strong cold front is moving in from the west, which is taking advantage of the warm, humid environment and triggering thunderstorms in the Mid-Atlantic.
The Storm Prediction Center put us in a “slight risk” for severe weather and issued a severe thunderstorm watch until 8 p.m. This watch means severe thunderstorms are possible and you should pay attention to your preferred weather source in case a warning is issued.
Isolated, damaging wind gusts are the main threat this afternoon. The intense high-level winds means a few of the storms may become very strong with rotating updrafts (ie. supercells). There is a slight chance of large hail. Tornadoes are possible but not likely. Flash flooding is not likely since the storms are moving pretty fast and atmospheric moisture is not that high.
We want to emphasize that storms are not a sure thing this afternoon. By late-February standards, the setup and environment is impressive, but if it were May, this probably wouldn’t be a big deal.
We expect to see showers and thunderstorms merge into a line over the western mountains by mid-afternoon and then spread eastward, perhaps intensifying over the metro. Forecast radar shows a long squall line sweeping eastward from Ontario to southern Virginia. It looks like this model is suggesting that when the squall line reaches the DMV, thunderstorms may become more intense and isolated in nature.
The Storm Prediction Center’s slight risk highlights a 2 percent chance of tornadoes, 15 percent chance of damaging wind and 5 percent chance of hail probability.