May 14, 2018

Severe Thunderstorms Likely in the D.C. Area This Evening


A line of severe thunderstorms is making its way toward the Washington D.C. and Baltimore metro areas and should arrive in the area around the end of rush hour on Monday, May 14. There is an enhanced risk for severe weather across much of the Mid-Atlantic ahead of the squall line moving southeast out of the Ohio Valley. The greatest threat this evening will be damaging straight-line winds.

The severe weather over the past few days has been the result of a stubborn stationary front that's hung around the area since the end of last week. The front has moved back and forth over the past few days, but it's been remarkably stationary even for a stationary front. This boundary served as the focus for several rounds of severe thunderstorms this weekend and it's set the stage for yet another burst of activity this afternoon.

An enhanced risk for severe weather—a three on a scale from one to five—exists across much of the Mid-Atlantic on Monday evening. The greatest hazard within the significant risk area is damaging straight-line winds. There's also a risk for tornadoes and isolated instances of large hail.


A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect ahead of the squall line. The watch mentions the chance for straight-line wind gusts up to 75 MPH, isolated large hail, and possibly a few tornadoes. Straight-line winds can cause as much damage as a weak tornado, downing trees and power lines and damaging roof, winds, and siding on homes and businesses.

While this system won't be a repeat of the derecho of 2012—that day saw the perfect mix of ingredients during a brutal heat wave—it's important to treat any threat for severe weather seriously. If you're under the threat for severe weather, it's a good idea to make sure you don't have anything loose outside that can become a projectile in high winds. It's also wise to stay away from parts of the house where tall trees or big limbs could pose a threat to your safety if they fall.

Stay aware of your surroundings this evening and make sure you always have a way to get warnings the moment they're issued.

[Satellite: NOAA | Maps: Dennis Mersereau]


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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