Strong storms will temporarily shut down the heat in Washington DC with heavy rain and strong winds

Afternoon temperatures approaching the 90s, rising humidity and an approaching cold front set the stage for a significant thunderstorm threat in the Washington area late in the afternoon. -noon and evening Wednesday. While extreme weather is unwelcome, any rain associated with it is essential.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed the area under a Level 2 out of 5 Severe Weather Risk. Storms could produce heavy rain, dangerous lightning, wind gusts near or above 60 mph and large hail reaching 1 inch in diameter. There could be more than one series of storms, with several inches of rain and localized flooding possible in locations that experience multiple storms.

Storms could move from west to east as early as mid- to late afternoon. All storms during this time period have the best chance of becoming severe, but it is unclear how many storms will develop. There is greater confidence in more storms Wednesday night, but it is less certain that there will still be enough energy in the atmosphere for them to be strong to severe.

  • Hourly: From mid-afternoon until Wednesday evening, with several possible tours:
    • 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Isolated to scattered strong to violent thunderstorms.
    • 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.: Scattered storms likely, some possibly strong to severe.
    • After 3 a.m.: risk of weaker and more persistent showers and thunderstorms.
  • Duration: 30 to 60 minutes, except longer in the event of several storms.
  • Most likely impacts: Frequent thunderstorms, isolated and devastating wind gusts, heavy rain, hail.
  • Possible impacts: Isolated flooding; numerous devastating gusts of wind; large hail; a brief, weak tornado.
  • Keep an eye on: Storms that could dump 1 to 2 inches of rain in just an hour or two; arc-shaped storms on radar that generate localized wind gusts near or above 70 mph.

Wednesday’s scenario includes an approaching cold front in the lower atmosphere and a disruption of upper flow, both resulting in an unstable atmosphere across the mid-Atlantic.

Weather models suggest the possibility of two or more separate rounds of showers and storms.

The first batch is less certain. It could develop over high terrain to the west or along a slight wind shift downwind of the Appalachians, perhaps around 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., with storms possibly passing near the Beltway and the Interstate 95 around 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Further storms are likely later Wednesday evening, ahead of the front. This could last for several hours, with the heaviest rain and strongest thunderstorms moving in between 9 p.m. and midnight, and persistent rain continuing into the night.

The extent to which the atmosphere destabilizes, making it conducive to severe storms, depends in part on the amount of cloud cover during the afternoon. But there’s a good chance that a moderate amount of “storm fuel” will develop, given the intense heat and abundant humidity in the atmosphere. The strengthening of winds at altitude could favor the organization of storm cells into clusters with a longer lifespan, particularly in the evening.

Major hazards include pockets of damaging winds caused by downbursts, which are thunderstorm winds that blow downward and then disperse when they reach the ground. Intense lightning will also accompany any powerful storm.

The repeated passage of storms over several hours could lead to some flooding, particularly in the evening. About 2 to 3 inches could fall in some areas. It is also not excluded that neighboring places will end up being drier.

June precipitation is about 3 to 4 inches below average, less than 25 percent of what is typical in Washington, D.C. and the South, during what is typically one of the wettest months in the year. Drought returned to the region last week and is likely expanding due to recent hot and dry conditions.

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