The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

First round of storms exits D.C. area, second evening wave probable

Heavy rain and isolated damaging wind gusts are possible tonight

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Radar courtesy MyRadar | © OpenStreetMap contributors

Today’s weather key points

  • A line of strong thunderstorms swept through the region between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. causing widely scattered tree damage. It prompted a tornado watch and several tornado warnings but tornadoes have not been confirmed.
  • A second round of storms is probable this evening between 7 and 11 p.m. It could contain heavy rain and some damaging wind gusts. A flood watch is also in effect through this evening.
  • The forecast through the holiday weekend can be found by scrolling down beneath the storm updates.

Severe storms, isolated tornado risk in Mid-Atlantic on Friday

Storm updates

4:20 p.m. — Second wave unlikely as intense as first

The latest model projections sugget this evening’s wave of storms — timed between 7 and 11 p.m. — probably won’t be quite as intense as the first wave.

For more information and the updated forecast through the weekend, see: PM Update: Scattered storms this evening, with heavy rain possible

2:05 p.m. — After first round of storms, all eyes on probable second wave tonight

The first line of storms has quickly departed the area after causing a few reports of tree damage, but nothing particularly widespread. Below, you can see the reports of tree damage as well as the severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings that were issued:

The second wave of storms, expected tonight, could be just as, if not more, intense than the first. Short-term models project it passing through the area between roughly 7 and 11 p.m. from west to east, probably in the vicinity of the Beltway around 8 or 9 p.m. It could contain very heavy rain, damaging winds, hail and — again — the possibility of some tornado activity.

Stay tuned for our PM Update, publishing late this afternoon — for more details.

1 p.m. — Storms exiting Beltway, entering Baltimore; tornado warning for northern Anne Arundel County

Radar shows storms barging into the Baltimore area while extending south to around Huntingtown in Calvert County. Severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect all along the line. Over the next 30 to 45 minutes, where torrential rain and damaging wind gusts are possible.

Rotation detected on radar has prompted a tornado warning in northern Anne Arundel county until 1:15 p.m — seek shelter in this zone:

Storm activity will clear much of the the region by around 2 p.m. Already the tornado watch has been discontinued west of Fairfax County and will be allowed to expire at 2 p.m. elsewhere.

However, more storms are probable this evening and will provide an updated forecast for those in our next update.

12:38 p.m. — Olney to Columbia tornado warning discontinued but new tornado warnings in Howard County

Radar is detecting very subtle areas of rotation prompting tornado warnings in Howard County along the leading edge of the line of storms that stretches from Westminster to Waldorf. Presently there are two tornado warnings covering sections of central and southern Howard County. Seek shelter at the lowest level of a strong building, away from windows if in this zone, until the warnings expire.

12:19 p.m. — Tornado warning from Olney to Columbia until 12:45 p.m.

Radar shows an area of rotation near Olney, moving northeast at 45 mph. The rotation is not particularly strong but, out of an abundance of caution, seek shelter in the lowest level of a strong building, away from windows, if in this zone. Radar does indicate strong gusts of winds in this area, irrespective of whether there is a tornado.

12:15 p.m. — Storms entering District, warning remains in effect until 12:30 p.m.

Gusty storms have entered northwest Washington and will hit downtown momentarily. The storms extend to the northwest along Interstate 270 through Frederick and to the south through Prince George’s and Charles counties into Virginia’s Northern Neck.

Severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect all along this line of storms although instances of damaging winds will probably be more isolated than widespread. Still, best to stay indoors until they pass — which takes about 40 minutes or so in any area.

12:04 p.m. — Reston to Potomac tornado warning discontinued

The rotation in the storm has weakened but a severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect for most of the Washington area. Storms could still unleash damaging wind bursts as they pass.

11:57 a.m. — Tornado warning from Reston to Potomac until 12:15 p.m.

Radar indicates an area of rotation near Great Falls - pushing northeast at 40 mph. The rotation is not particularly strong but - out of an abundance of caution - seek shelter at the lowest level of a strong building, away from windows if in this zone.

11:50 a.m. — Severe thunderstorm warning for much of D.C. area until 12:30 p.m.

Storms have arrived in the western part of the Washington region, stretching from roughly Frederick, Md. to just south and east of Fredericksburg, Va. Sweeping east at 35 mph, they’ ll enter the Beltway a little after noon.

The storms have prompted severe thunderstorm warnings for much of the region until 12:30 p.m.:

As they pass, they’ll contain heavy downpours, gusty winds and a bit of lightning. A few bursts of damaging winds are possible but should not be widespread.

11:20 a.m. — Severe thunderstorms entering Loudoun County; tornado warning southwest of Fredericksburg

Radar shows the line of storms from roughly Hagerstown to Richmond. A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for western Loudoun County and northern Fauquier County until 11:45 a.m., including Purcellville and Middleburg. Meanwhile a tornado warning is in effect just southwest of Fredericksburg until 11:30 a.m. and includes the Spotsylvania Courthouse.

These storms should approach the Beltway just after noon.

10:05 a.m. — Storms entering north central Virginia; damage reported between Roanoke and Lynchburg

Storms have hit Charlottesville and extend as far north as Front Royal and should reach Fauquier County in a bit an hour. The storms are most intense in south central Virginia, where warnings are in effect.

These storms do have a history of producing some damage. Earlier this morning, a possible tornado between Roanoke and Lynchburg damaged 20 homes and destroyed 2 mobile homes in Bedford County.

9:15 a.m. — Storms moving into Central Virginia

Radar shows a line of storms moving through west central Virginia and will be moving into the Charlottesville area over the next half hour. Severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect for a large part of this line south of Albemarle County with a tornado warning just southeast of Danville near the N.C.-Va. line. These storms are moving northeast at 45 mph and will enter Washington’s southwest suburbs by around 11 or 11:30 a.m., reach the Beltway a little after noon and then pass through our eastern suburbs between around 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.

We may have an extended break from storms duirng the afternoon hours before more storms develop this evening.

If you have flights at D.C. area airports today, be prepared for delays and cancellations:

6:40 a.m. — Tornado and flood watches issued for area

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for much of the region until 2 p.m. Storms in southwest Virginia have already exhibited some signs of rotation and prompted tornado warnings in that region. These storms — which may intensify — should reach the Washington area between around 11 a.m. (in our southwest areas), around noon in the Beltway area and 1 p.m. east of Interstate 95 and toward the Bay.

The storms will be capable of torrential rain, lightning, damaging wind gusts, hail and perhaps some quick-hitting tornadoes in a few spots.

“A gradual ramp-up of thunderstorm intensity and coverage should continue through the remainder of the morning,” the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center writes. “A few tornadoes and scattered damaging to locally severe gusts are possible.”

Remember that a tornado watch means ingredients are in place for the possible development of tornadoes; they are not a guarantee. However, if a tornado warning is issued for your location, it means a storm capable of producing a tornado is imminent or that a tornado has been detected. In a warning situation, take shelter in the lowest level of a strong building, in an interior room away from windows.

In addition to the severe thunderstorm and tornado risk, multiple rounds of heavy downpours could lead to flooding in some areas prompting a flood watch. One to two inches of rain could fall in a short time and some areas could see in excess of three inches from the combined rounds of storms.

“Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations,” the Weather Service writes.

Remember that if water is crossing a road, do not attempt to drive across it as the water level is difficult to judge. Turn around, don’t drown.

After the midday wave, scattered storms will be possible in the late afternoon hours, with a possible final round near or after sunset. These additional storms could also be severe.

Detailed forecast from 5 a.m.

Today’s daily digit

A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 0 to 10.

3/10: Hard to grade higher. Storms aim severe weather threats at the region: damaging winds, isolated flooding, large hail and even a tornado or two. Less sunshine equals less powerful storms.

Express forecast

  • Today: Strong to severe storms possible. Highs: Mid-70s to near 80.
  • Tonight: More strong storms; evening flooding? Lows: Low to mid-60s.
  • Tomorrow: Clearing morning, mainly sunny afternoon. Highs: Mid-70s to around 80.
  • Sunday: Mostly sunny. Highs: Low to mid-80s.

Forecast in detail

Remember when staying weather-aware today, have more than one source for your severe weather warnings. Much of the East Coast has the chance of storms into tonight, with multiple severe threats possible. After a bit more unsettled weather tomorrow, our skies clear nicely for Sunday into Memorial Day as heat returns.

Get our daily forecasts on your Amazon Alexa device.

Today (Friday): Showers are possible almost anytime. Storms may begin moving in during the afternoon. Any sunny breaks in the clouds only heat and bubble up more instability — fuel for later storms to be strong to severe. The more clouds the better, as far as I’m concerned — lower the severe storm chances. More sun increases chances that we see damaging winds, large hail and even a couple of tornadoes. Muggy mid-70s to near 80 (sunniest spots) is our high temperature range. Southerly winds could gust to around 20 mph even outside of storms. Confidence: Medium-High

Tonight: Gusty showers and storms may last past midnight. Heavy rain may cause localized flooding, especially if storms repeatedly track over the same area and drop 2 inches or more of rain, rather than the nearly 1 inch expected for most spots. Low temperatures bottom out in the low to mid-60s. Confidence: Medium-High

Follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates. Keep reading for the forecast into next week …

Tomorrow (Saturday): Skies are partly sunny, with clouds tending to dissipate during the day. A scattered shower or storm can’t be ruled out during the afternoon. Slightly humid high temperatures aim for the mid-70s to around 80 degrees. Westerly breezes try to stay under 10 mph. Near dawn, gaze east, to catch the conjunction of Mars and Jupiter. Confidence: Medium

Tomorrow night: Shower chances disappear through the evening hours. Otherwise, skies slowly clear. Low temperatures aim for the upper 50s to low 60s. Confidence: Medium

Sunday: Skies may stay mostly sunny, so grab that sunscreen! High temperatures readily warm with the strong May sunshine, heading up into the low to mid-80s with humidity under control. Confidence: Medium-High

A look ahead

Sunday night: Skies should stay mostly clear. Low temperatures enjoy fairly calm winds and clearer skies — cooling more readily when this happens — heading down into the low to mid-60s. Confidence: Medium

Seasonably hot temperatures near 90 to mid-90s are back for Memorial Day into Tuesday. Humidity tries its best to stay moderate — so we may thread the needle for beach weather while not overly sweating away from the water! Skies should remain more sunny than not for those barbecues, too. We’ll keep you posted if anything changes. Confidence: Medium

Weekend Beach Forecast

N.J./Del./Md. beaches: Thunderstorm chances Friday/Saturday (strong Friday night?), mostly sunny Sunday/Monday. High temperatures in the mid- to upper 70s/low temperatures upper 50s to low 60s. Wave heights 1 to 3 feet and water temperatures range from 60 to 70.

Va./N.C. beaches: Scattered storms Friday/Saturday (strong Friday night?), mostly sunny Sunday/Monday. High temperatures in the low 80s/low temperatures in the mid- to upper 60s. Wave heights 1 to 3 feet and water temperatures low to mid-70s.

Read more about Capital Weather Gang’s confidence rating.

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