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October 29, 2004

The snowiest November

November arrives Monday - the first month of the season that can bring Baltimore enough snow to shovel. Here are some of the numbers the National Weather Service has compiled for Baltimore:

9.7 " - The snowiest November on record, in 1898.
8.4 " - The snowiest November day, Nov. 30, 1967.
6.0 " - Snowiest November day in recent memory, the 1987 Veteran's Day Storm.
0.6 " - Average November snowfall in Baltimore.

12 degrees - The record low for November, Nov. 30, 1929.
18 degrees - The earliest sub-20 day, Nov. 12, 1957.
86 degrees - The record high for November, Nov. 1, 1950.
Nov. 28 - The first day the normal low goes below freezing.

Posted by Admin at 5:56 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Rainy Election Day forecast

The forecasts are starting to appear for next Tuesday, which, if you haven't been paying attention, is Election Day. AccuWeather expects gray skies in Baltimore, with rain possible, highs in the low 60s and gusty winds.

The National Weather Service says there's a chance of showers, under mostly cloudy skies, with a high near 66.

Gray skies, rain or showers are also forecast in such key "battle ground" states as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Florida. Sunny, or at least just partly cloudy skies are on tap for New Mexico and Iowa.

Posted by Admin at 11:02 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 28, 2004

Eclipse photos are in !

Anybody see the eclipse? Share the experience. Leave a comment here.
If you missed it, the first pictures from last night's full lunar eclipse are already posted on the Web. One of them is a beautiful, blood-red image from Joe Webster, shot from Annapolis.

After a sunny day and a very promising, clear night at the start of the eclipse, high, thin clouds moved over the moon from where I stood north of Baltimore. Once the eclipse was total, the dimmed moon alternately vanished and reappeared through gaps in the clouds. We gave up around 10:45 p.m. But when I stuck my head out the door at 11:45, the moon hung nearly overhead - big, bright and rosey.

A few neighbors and dog walkers stopped by for a look through the telescope. Some seemed pretty impressed. A few were baffled. Science teachers have their work cut out for them.

Posted by Admin at 10:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Events
        

October 27, 2004

Eclipse webcasts, just in case

The National Weather Service is still forecasting "partly cloudy" skies in Baltimore for tonight's total lunar eclipse, which begins at 9:14 p.m. EDT. But if the skies look murky where you are, there will be several webcasts available. The observing sites are scattered across the globe, so skies are bound to be clear for some of them. For the links, click here.

Posted by Admin at 10:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

October 26, 2004

First -ever World Series eclipse

If the clouds part in St. Louis Wednesday night, players and fans could be witness to a sports and astronomical first. Sky & Telescope Magazine quotes astronomer and meteorologist Joe Rao saying this would mark the first time a total eclipse of the Moon will be visible from a major league ballpark during a World Series game. Such a coincidence, Rao assures us, is not likely to happen again until the second half of this century. One wonders what sort of a fate this darkening of the moon might portend for the Bosox.

Posted by Admin at 6:32 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Events
        

Tornado report and pictures

The National Weather Service has posted its preliminary tornado report and damage photos, assembled after scores of twisters swept Virginia and Maryland Sept. 17 with the remnants of Hurricane Ivan. It's quite comprehensive, and some of the pix are amazing. Click here to see it.

Posted by Admin at 12:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Can high tides trigger earthquakes?

Scientists at the University of California have found a link between high tides and earthquakes along certain types of faults. It looks like the added stress of high water can push an already-stressed fault over the edge. Read about it here.

Posted by Admin at 12:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Research
        

October 25, 2004

"Partly cloudy" for Wednesday's eclipse

Forecasters expect "partly cloudy" skies Wednesday evening in the Baltimore area. That should give us a fair shot at seeing the total lunar eclipse, which is due to begin at 9:14 p.m. It's the last visible here, in its entirety, until 2008. For today's story in The Sun's Med-Sci section, click here. Here's a photo gallery of past lunar eclipses. If the weather looks dicey here, I will post a list of websites here Wednesday that plan live webcasts of the eclipse. Stay tuned.

Posted by Admin at 12:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Full moon + Atlantic storm = high tides

A big storm in the western Atlantic, coupled with a lunar tides (the moon will be full Wednesday evening) are driving water higher along the coast and along the Chesapeake this week. Forecasters are also warning of big surf and rip currents on the ocean beaches. Here's the advisory issued this morning:

...LOCAL MINOR TIDAL FLOODING POSSIBLE AT THE TIME OF HIGH TIDE...

TIDE LEVELS IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY...TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER...AND OTHER
RIVERS THAT FEED THESE TWO WATERWAYS WILL BE RUNNING ONE TO TWO FEET
ABOVE NORMAL TODAY. AS A RESULT...LOCALIZED FLOODING OF LOW LYING
AREAS WILL BE POSSIBLE DURING THE TIME OF HIGH TIDE. ROADS...PARKING
LOTS...SIDEWALKS...AND FIELDS MAY BE COVERED BY SEVERAL INCHES OF
WATER.

HERE ARE SOME HIGH TIDE TIMES MONDAY...

ON THE TIDAL POTOMAC...
IN ALEXANDRIA...640 AM AND 706 PM.
AT AQUIA CREEK...512 PM.
AT SAINT MARYS CITY...1237 PM.

ON THE CHESAPEAKE BAY...
AT SOLOMONS ISLAND...1251 PM.
AT CHESAPEAKE BEACH...244 PM.
ON SEVERN RIVER ANNAPOLIS...358 PM.
AT FELLS POINT BALTIMORE...545 PM.
AT HAVRE DE GRACE...320 PM.

THE NEARLY FULL MOON IS CAUSING ASTRONOMICALLY HIGHER TIDES. IN
ADDITION...A LARGE STORM IN THE WESTERN ATLANTIC HAS PREVENTED WATER
TO DRAIN OUT OF THE BAY. CONDITIONS SHOULD RETURN CLOSER TO NORMAL BY
MID WEEK.

RESIDENTS AND BUSINESS OWNERS IN THE AFFECTED AREA SHOULD BE PREPARED
FOR HIGHER TIDE CYCLES TODAY. TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS TO KEEP
WATER OUT OF BUILDINGS...AND MOVE PROPERTY STORED NEAR THE WATERS
EDGE TO HIGHER GROUND.

Posted by Admin at 10:42 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 22, 2004

Blame dammed air for dreary weather

Drive west across the mountains and you'll find sunshine. Drive to northern New Jersey or the Outer Banks of N.C. and there's sunshine, forecasters say. But from PA to VA and here in Mobtown it's day after day of thick clouds, dark and dreary drizzle. Brian Guyer, a National Weather Service forecaster at Sterling, says the clockwise circulation around high pressure in southeastern Canada is blowing winds off the Atlantic and into our region. The damp air runs upslope into the Appalachians, cooling, forming a dense overcast on the eastern side of the mountains that condenses into fog and drizzle. Until the winds shift, it's stuck there. Meteorologists call it "damming."

"What we need is some front to come blowing through and sweep away the moisture and clear the atmosphere," he said. There is a cold front on the way, but the air behind it is neither dry nor clear. It will bring more rain Saturday night into Sunday, followed by "mostly cloudy" weather the balance of the weekend. It says "partly cloudy" for the start of next week. But that, Guyer says, may be wishful thinking. Dammed indeed.

Posted by Admin at 9:19 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 21, 2004

Now, it's east wind, high tides

This just in from the National Weather Service:

"Persistent northeast wind flow the last couple of days has resulted
in tides about one and a half feet above normal in the Chesapeake Bay
and the tidal Potomac. Northeast winds averaging 10 to 15 mph are
expected to persist through Saturday. This will result in tide levels
to run about 2 feet above normal tonight through Saturday over the
Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac. This will result in some minor
tidal flooding in the more prone areas."

High tides...

Baltimore... 215 am Fri... 231 PM Fri... 320 am Sat.
Washington DC... 321 am Fri... 407 PM Fri... 433 am Sat.
Annapolis... 1211 am Fri... 1227 PM Fri... 116 am Sat

Posted by Admin at 2:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Laser images of Ivan's destruction

The U.S. Geological Survey has published images of coastal damage wreaked in Alabama last month by Hurricane Ivan. They include before-and-after shots of destroyed beachfront buildings in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Pine Beach, and of barrier islands cut through and overwashed by the storm's waves and tides. The set includes both photos and survey images shot using airborne laser altimeters.

Just click on the link above, then go to the second paragraph and click on any of the linked image descriptions there. You can then toggle between the before and after views. Fascinating, and very scary if you own beachfront property somewhere.

Posted by Admin at 2:19 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)
Categories: Cool sites
        

October 20, 2004

East wind, rain

"East wind, rain" was the coded Japanese radio message that launched events leading to the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor nearly 63 years ago. It's also the dreary forecast for today. East winds off the Atlantic are bringing mist, rain, drizzle, gray skies and cool temperatures to the coastal states from Virginia to New Jersey. Not very pleasant but, all in all, way better than waking up to torpedo planes and dive bombers.

Posted by Admin at 10:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 19, 2004

Forecasts via cell phone

Need a weather forecast NOW? The Weather Channel is launching a new service that will send a 36-hour forecast to your cell phone. Just send your ZIP code (or any ZIP code for which you need the forecast) via text message to 42278 (4CAST). In a few seconds your phone will ring (or chirp, or warble, or whatever it does) to signal an arriving text message. The incoming message will give you a terse forecast, plus the temperature for the next day and a half. I tried it yesterday. Here's what it said: "TOD (for "today") Few showers, 62F; TON (tonight) Showers 53F; TOM (you get the idea) AM showers, 60F."

It's pretty thin gruel for 75 cents, but if you need information that badly, maybe it's worth it.

Posted by Admin at 1:50 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

2004-2005 Snowfall Forecast

AccuWeather has issued its winter weather forecast for Baltimore and the rest of the nation. It calls for normal to "slightly above normal" accumulations in these parts, with considerably more in the central Appalachians (not too awfully far away). At BWI, that means about 18 inches and up.

The commercial weather service company, based in State College, Pa., is also forecasting colder-than-normal temperatures - perhaps 2 degrees below normal here - and an early start to our winter misery. "I believe that the Northeast will have a cold winter, and that is not good news for energy consumers in that area," said Joe Bastardi, the firm's senior meteorologist.

For AccuWeather's map of expected snowfall and temperature trends for this winter, click here.

Posted by Admin at 11:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Orionid meteor shower

Skywatchers are hoping the rain clouds will clear by Thursday night, as forecast, so we can glimpse part of the Orionid meteor shower. The two-night peak runs Wednesday and Thursday nights, with anywhere from 15 to 30 meteors per hour. But it's an extended shower, active with fewer meteors from Oct. 2 through Nov. 7. So any clear night in the next week or two, in a dark location, will do. The Orionids occur as the Earth zips through the debris train left by the passage of Halley's Comet. The best time to look is after 10 p.m., as Orion is rising in the east. Orionids are very fast - 41 miles per second. Some are bright, and about half leave persistent trails.

Posted by Admin at 10:52 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

October 18, 2004

The sun goes "spotless"

NASA reports that the sun was totally free of sunspots on Oct. 11 and 12. It's the second time that's happened this year, and scientists say it signals an approaching "minimum" in solar activity sometime in 2006, about a year early. It also means an early maximum in solar activity - probably in 2010 - and all the accompanying threats to communications satellites and to astronauts. For the full story, click here.

Posted by Admin at 5:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

No hail, no sleet on I-95. It was "graupel."

Several poor souls caught in that wild storm on Interstate 95 at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday described the ice that pelted their windshields as "sleet." The National Weather Service called it "pea-sized hail." But meteorologist Jeff Warner, of Penn State Weather Communications, said it was neither. He called it "graupel." Whatever it was, it combined with rain, sun glare and steam rising off the pavement to turn the highway into a demolition derby - at least 17 multi-car collisions, involving more than 90 vehicles. Several people were injured, but thankfully, there were no fatalities.

Warner said hail forms in thunderstorms when ice crystals high in the atmosphere contact super-cooled water. The water turns to ice and the hail stone grows. It grows until it's too large and heavy to stay aloft in the storm's powerful updrafts. The storm on Saturday, Warner says, wasn't a thunderstorm.

Sleet forms in winter when a warm air mass runs up and over a cold air mass. As its moisture rises, it cools, forming snowflakes, which fall toward the surface. When they hit the warm air layer, however, the flakes melt. Then, as they hit the cold air near the surface, they refreeze and form hard ice pellets. None of that applied on Saturday, Warner said.

Graupel is sometimes called "soft hail." It forms in strong cold fronts, like the one on Saturday. The air above 5,000 feet was near freezing, he said, and snow formed. When it reached warmer air below about 5,000 feet, the flakes partially melted and stuck together. Caught in updrafts, they merged with water droplets and formed a sort of "soft" or "squishy" ice pellet.

Warner said State College, Pa. also saw an intense graupel shower at about 3 p.m. Saturday. It's fairly common in the lee of the Great Lakes when intense cold fronts sweep off the lakes but it's not yet cold enough to cause "lake effect" snows. It's much more unusual this far south and east.

He called Saturday's event a "typical autumn cold front with a sharp temperature gradient." Winds at Martin State Airport at 3:45 p.m. were out of the southwest at a lazy 7 mph, with temps at 63. Two hours later the winds were from the west at 15 mph, with gusts to 26, and temperatures had fallen 13 degrees, to 50.

At BWI, temperatures fell 11 degrees - from 61 to 50 during the same period, with a peak wind gust of 31 mph.

Posted by Admin at 1:47 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Events
        

October 15, 2004

50th Anniversary of Hurricane Hazel

Fifty years ago today, on Oct. 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall in South Carolina. If you're old enough to remember it, leave a "comment" below and share your recollections.

The storm's center tore inland from Myrtle Beach, passing to the west of Baltimore and driving a storm surge up the bay that triggered flooding much like that delivered by Isabel in September 2003. The Baltimore Evening Sun reported the next day that eight people had died in Maryland, with scores injured in what it described as "one of the most severe storms ever to lash the state." Tides rose 7 feet above normal, swamping bayside homes and islands. Winds in Baltimore reached 73, with gusts to 84 mph. Trees toppled. Eastern Shore boats, barns, piers, coops and fishing shacks took a beating. Phones and power went out, and trains were stopped by landslides. Ninety-five people died in the storm's path from South Carolina to Canada. For a detailed storm summary, click here, and scroll down to No. 7.

Posted by Admin at 3:07 PM | | Comments (32)
Categories: Events
        

Severe storms possible today

This just in from the National Weather Service:A STRONG COLD FRONT WILL BE CROSSING THE BLUE RIDGE FROM THE WEST
EARLY THIS AFTERNOON...APPROACHING THE CHESAPEAKE BAY BY EARLY
EVENING. THUNDERSTORMS MAY DEVELOP ALONG THIS COLD FRONT...SOME OF
WHICH MAY BE SEVERE WITH DAMAGING WINDS. ISOLATED BRIEF TORNADOES
CANNOT BE RULED OUT THIS AFTERNOON SHOULD THUNDERSTORMS DEVELOP.

Posted by Admin at 11:08 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 14, 2004

NASA looks at Mount St. Helens

Cool airborne images of a very hot Mount St. Helens caldera just went online. Shot in both visible and infrared wavelengths, they show the glow of the lava that's oozing up onto the growing lava dome inside the volcano's crater. The site also has a view from space.

Posted by Admin at 5:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool sites
        

Hate snow? Love Maryland?

If you hate snow, but don't want to move out of Maryland, the National Weather Service offers a map of the 30-year-average annual snowfall that could guide your relocation decisions.

Best Bet: Crisfield, or someplace nearby on that peninsula jutting into the Chesapeake in southwesternmost Somerset County. Average annual snowfall: less than 10 inches. Snowiest place to live: Eastern Garrett County. Average annual snowfall: more than 80 inches, and as high as 104 inches per year.

In the Baltimore area, settle down beside the bay (12-15 inches). Avoid northern Carroll County (36 inches). Baltimore County offers the widest range of choices, from balmy Sparrows Point to the tundra northwest of Middletown, in the remote Hereford Zone.

Posted by Admin at 4:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

AL Series rainout?

The weather forecast for Boston Friday looks dicey at best, threatening a rainout for the scheduled 3rd game of the AL Championship series between the Yanks and the Red Sox. There's a storm system headed that way from the Deep South, and AccuWeather is predicting "thundery rains" and "downpours" for Beantown by Friday. Saturday looks better. Boston probably needs the rest anyway.

Posted by Admin at 10:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

October 13, 2004

New moon, partial solar eclipse

The new moon occurs at 10:47 p.m. EDT tonight (Wednesday), when the moon slides directly between the sun and the Earth. That's also the moment when the moon will begin to move in front of the sun for the second partial solar eclipse of the year. (The first, April 19, was visible from part of Antarctica and southern Africa.) This one will be visible from Japan, eastern Siberia and Alaska. The deepest part of the eclipse will occur in Alaska around 6 p.m. local time, with 93 percent of the sun's disk covered as it sets in the southwest. The eclipse reaches a max of 50 percent in Hawaii today at 5:15 p.m. local time. (The link takes you to a photo taken at sunset by Eric Salituro, with the sun partially occulted by the moon.)

As the moon moves along in its orbit in the next day or so, and the first gleam of the young crescent appears, it will mark the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.

Posted by Admin at 6:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

There goes the sun

Well, it was sure nice while it lasted. Rain - moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Matthew, if you can believe it - move into the region today. The clouds have chased off the fine October weather we've enjoyed. The first 12 days of October brought only one rainy day and two rated "cloudy." That's left us an inch short on precipitation so far this month. But relief is here. A series of rainmakers will move through starting around noon today, with more off and on tomorrow and Friday. The weekend looks cool, partly cloudy and too breezy to rake leaves. So, go for a walk in the woods, or curl up with something warm and read a book.

Posted by Admin at 10:33 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 12, 2004

Hurricane Isabel on Storm Stories tomorrow

Thursday's Storm Stories program (8 p.m.) on the Weather Channel will focus on Hurricane Isabel, whose record storm surge caused extensive damage along the bay shore in Maryland.

The program follows one Tuesday night which retold the story of the March 6 Seaport Water Taxi accident in Baltimore Harbor that claimed five lives. Here's how the Weather Channel's Web page pitched the program:

"Extreme Weather Week: Seaport Taxi Tragedy
"A powerful squall is speeding toward the Baltimore City Harbor as visitors await the arrival of the 'Lady D' water taxi. The storm and the 'Lady D' arrive in the harbor at the same time. The 'Lady D' is overturned in the 36 degree water of the harbor."

There were interviews with friends and family members of some of the people who died, with survivors, and with several of the Naval Reservists and Baltimore Fire Department divers who pulled the victims from the cold harbor water. The film makers interlaced news footage and still photos of the accident and rescue efforts, with segments using actors and lots of jerky, hand-held camera work. But they stayed away from questions about whether the Seaport Taxi operators should have kept a closer watch on the approaching weather and pulled their boats off the water sooner.

Posted by Admin at 4:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Yanks, Sox and Nicole

Baseball fans headed for Yankee Stadium tonight for the AL Championship Series opener should pack a warm coat and a thermos of something hot. The forecasters say winds will be blowing today at 15-20 mph, with gusts to 28 as the circulation around the now-extra-tropical remnants of TS Nicole continue to draw strong NW winds down from Canada. The wind should calm down to about 6 mph, with gusts to 15 mph by gametime just after 8 p.m. But the temperatures will sink to about 59 degrees, and slightly cooler by 10 p.m.

Posted by Admin at 11:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 11, 2004

The Perfect Storm 2 ?

AccuWeather is reporting that Tropical Storm Nicole will bring high winds, heavy surf, rip currents and high seas to New England and Atlantic Canada this week. They're comparing it to the "Perfect Storm" in 1991 that sank a Massachusetts fishing boat and its crew and led to a book and movie by the same name.

Posted by Admin at 5:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Clear skies at Mt. St. Helens

The clouds and rain have cleared from Mount St. Helens, and the US Forest Service Volcano Cam is working again. Nice pix of the steam venting from the lava dome at this hour.

Posted by Admin at 1:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool sites
        

Rain, please

I got my car washed over the weekend, figuring that would make it rain. BWI has had barely a quarter-inch of rain in the past two weeks and my lawn is turning brown and dusty. Our last big dousing was on Sept. 28, when the last of the Tropical Storm Jeanne blew through with almost 1.4 inches at the airport. The forecast gives us a 40 percent chance of showers Wednesday night when a weak cold front is due. In the meantime, the National Hurricane Center says the breezy conditions on the bay this weekend were due in part to strong circulation around Tropical Storm Nicole, now situated north of Bermuda. That storm is now headed for Nova Scotia.

Posted by Admin at 10:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

October 8, 2004

Tropical Storm Matthew aimed at ... Florida!

This just in from the National Hurricane Center:

.THIRTEENTH TROPICAL STORM OF THE SEASON FORMS IN THE WESTERN GULF
OF MEXICO...

INTERESTS THROUGHOUT THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO SHOULD MONITOR THE
PROGRESS OF MATTHEW.

AT 4 PM CDT...2100Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM MATTHEW WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 24.2 NORTH... LONGITUDE 93.8 WEST OR ABOUT
260 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF BROWNSVILLE TEXAS.

MATTHEW IS MOVING TOWARD THE EAST NEAR 10 MPH. A TURN TO THE
EAST-NORTHEAST IS EXPECTED OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 40 MPH...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT
24 HOURS.

Posted by Admin at 1:49 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Snow on Oct. 10 !

I'll bet that got your attention. But it's true. This Sunday, Oct. 10, is the 25th anniversary of the earliest measureable snowfall on record in Baltimore. A cold rain the night before, which postponed the 1979 World Series opener at Memorial Stadium between the Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates, turned to snow overnight. An official total of 0.3 inch of wet snow was recorded at BWI before it ended. There was more accumulation to the north and west of the city. It coated grass and trees and stuck to roads in Carroll and northern Baltimore counties. The Evening Sun story by Nick Yengich and Wiley Hall 3rd that afternoon said more than 80,000 BG&E customers lost power during the storm as heavily laden trees, many still in leaf, sagged and snapped power lines. Baltimore County closed seven schools when they went dark. We survived. But the Orioles lost the Series, 4-3.

Posted by Admin at 10:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Volcano Cam

You can keep your own watch on Mt. St. Helens, from the comfort of your computer chair, via the U.S. Forest Service's Volcano Cam. Sometimes it's clouded in, fogged in or obscured by raindrops. And sometimes there are flies crawling on the lens. But hey, you don't have to worry about being buried in ash.

Posted by Admin at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool sites
        

October 7, 2004

Drought in the West linked to climate warming?

Folks in much of the American West are suffering through their 5th year of drought. It may get worse. Scientists led by Columbia University's Earth Institute say the Western states may be particularly prone to drought during periods of warming climate.

Using tree ring data and other indicators of ancient climate change, the researchers studied cycles of aridity in the western U.S. over the past 1,200 years. They found a 400-year period of dry weather and extended drought in the West from AD 900 to 1300. That corresponded with the "Medieval Warm Period" which saw unusual warmth in much of the Northern Hemisphere. Their conclusion, to be published in the journal Science: "Any trend towards warmer temperatures in the future could lead to a serious long-term increase in aridity over Western North America."

Co-author David Meko, of the University of Arizona, said the lengthening drought in the West today "pales in comparison with some of the earlier droughts we see from the tree-ring record. What would really put a stress on society is decade-long drought." And that possibility becomes a potential reality in a world increasingly affected by greenhouse warming, the study said.

Maybe this is why Ted Turner has become Nebraska's largest landowner. Those vast tracts provide grazing for Turner's buffalo. But they also stand atop one of the world's richest deposits of groundwater - the Ogallala aquifer. Smart.

Posted by Admin at 4:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Research
        

Heat on, costs up

Woke up today to the sound of my heat pump churning - the cheapest, most inefficient model our builder could find. It was 38 degrees outside my window. The low at BWI just before dawn was 42 degrees. It was 43 in Bel Air, 41 in Westminster and 34 out in Garrett County.

The U.S. Energy Department says we should expect residential heating costs this winter to jump 28 percent. Depending on what you burn to heat your place, that's somewhere between $133 (gas) and $270 (oil) more, on average, than we spent to heat our digs last winter. And you can bet on paying even more if we get an unusually cold winter this year. Blame the soaring price of oil, which has nearly doubled since last winter. Natural gas is up sharply too - 15 percent. Propane is up 21 percent. There goes my pay raise.

Posted by Admin at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

October 6, 2004

Rains send record flow to the Chesapeake

The U.S. Geological Survey says heavy rains from last month's tropical storms sent record streamflow gushing into the Chesapeake. Water volume entering the bay in September was the highest since records began in 1937 - averaging 116 billion gallons per day, more than four times normal. The mouth of the Susquehanna saw the highest monthly flow in 67 years - averaging 113,800 cubic feet per second.

The Chesapeake's "water year" - the 12-month, October-to-September period hydrologists use to compare year-to-year data - ended in September with the third-biggest streamflow on record, averaging 74.9 billion gallons a day. That's 48 percent above normal !

Biologists will be watching closely to see how all that sediment and the nutrient load will affect bay life.

Posted by Admin at 6:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Cold, but no records

Another gorgeous autumn day today in Mobtown. The clear skies helped temperatures cool overnight to the lowest lows so far this season. The mercury dipped to 38 degrees at BWI. That's 10 degrees below the normal low for Oct. 6, but still 5 degrees short of the record low of 33 degrees for the date, set in 1965.

Obviously, it was colder to the north and west: 37 degrees at Westminster; 34 outside my window in Cockeysville, and 32 degrees in Garrett County.

And there's more of the same in the wings. It may not quite reach 70 degrees today at BWI, but the prognosticators see nothing but sunny skies, highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s and 50s straight through the weekend. I may have to ask my editors for a mental health day this week.

Posted by Admin at 10:45 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers
        

October 5, 2004

Iridium flare tonight

These cold, clear nights are great for stargazing. Or in this case satellite gazing. For weatherblog fans in the Baltimore area, there's a great opportunity tonight just after 8 p.m. to spot an Iridium flare. That's a bright glint of sunlight reflecting off the shiny antennas of one of the constellation of Iridium telephone satellites in polar orbits around the Earth. At 8:12 p.m., look about halfway up the sky over the southeastern horizon and watch for the sudden appearance of a white light. It will flare up to become the brightest thing in that part of the sky, then fade away just as quickly. You have to be alert, and scan that part of the sky a bit to catch it. It doesn't last long. This time it's Iridium 84, launched Nov. 6, 1998 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. For more Iridium predictions for your location, visit Heavens Above, program it for your town, and click on Iridium flares. If you miss tonight's show, look in the same spot tomorrow night at 8:06 p.m. for Iridium 12.

Posted by Admin at 1:20 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Frost on the pumpkin tonight

It's Oct. 5. Do you know where your windshield scraper is?

The National Weather Service has issued frost advisories for tonight from the northern and western suburbs of Baltimore and Washington westward to Allegany County. The boys in Sterling say that means it will get cold enough to form frost instead of dew on exposed surfaces - like pumpkins, flowers and windshields. After Oct. 15 they don't bother with such advisories, figuring the growing season, and the risk to growing things, is over. The forecast low for BWI tonight is 41 degrees. But Hunt Valley will reach 37. (It doesn't have to get to 32 degrees to form frost. Something about saturated vapor pressure. Don't ask.)

There's a freeze warning out in Garrett County, where the low could dip to 30. Not that those hardy, just-barely Marylanders would notice.

Posted by Admin at 10:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

October 4, 2004

Throw another dog on the bed!

Yikes! It's only the first week of October and the first frost and freeze warnings of the season were posted for Maryland tonight. BWI should only fall to 50 tonight (and 43 tomorrow). But Garrett County is looking at a freeze warning and a low of 32 degrees both nights. Frost warnings are up for Allegany, Washington and Cecil counties, too. I've already pushed the thermostat switch from "Cool" to "Heat." I expect I'll hear it kick on tonight.

You don't want to hear this, but the earliest freeze at BWI was 31 degrees on Oct. 4, 1974 (exactly 30 years ago). The earliest measureable snow was 0.3 inch on Oct. 10, 1979.

By the way, did anyone spot that gorgeous three-quarter moon rising Sunday night about 10 p.m.? Just about drove off the eastbound Inner Loop admiring it.

Posted by Admin at 7:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

October 1, 2004

Hurricane humor from Florida

This just in:

Top Ten Reasons Hurricane Season is Like Christmas
10. Decorating the house (boarding up windows)
9. Dragging out boxes that haven't been used since last season
(camping gear,flashlights, etc.)
8. Last minute shopping in crowded stores
7. Regular TV shows pre-empted for "specials"
6. Family coming to stay with you
5. Family and friends from out-of-state calling
4. Buying food you don't normally buy .... and in large quantities
3. Days off from work
2. Candles
And the number one reason Hurricane Season is like Christmas ... At
some point you know you're going to have a tree in your house!

Posted by Admin at 12:32 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

A new tropical storm?

Lisa has graduated to hurricane status this afternoon, with 75 mph sustained winds. But she appears to be heading resolutely north and east across the Atlantic, a concern only to shipping and fishes.

Now, the National Hurricane Center has begun watching a new area of thunderstorms in the south-central Caribbean south of Jamaica. It's not well organized yet, but forecasters are saying that conditions for its slow development will improve as it approaches the western Caribbean. If it gets its act together and reaches tropical storm force, it will become the 13th named storm of the season - Matthew.

Posted by Admin at 12:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Try to remember....

... the kind of September... Well, the weather stats are in for September 2004. And with all the news about hurricanes and their remnants, and flooding in the region, we had 22 days without measureable precip. BWI actually wound up slightly drier than normal. Rainfall totalled 3.94 inches, four hundreths shy of the 30-year mean. The wettest day was Tuesday, when the remains of Jeanne dropped 1.39 inches at BWI.

Somehow, the airport managed to dodge the worst of the rains that fell all around us. Martinsburg, W.Va. clocked a whopping 7.77 inches of rain in September - 4.25 inches above normal. And Wilmington, Del., had 9.31 inches. More than half of that (5.72 inches) fell from Jeanne on the 28th, shattering the previous record of 1.32 inches for that date.

The month just past was also 2 degrees warmer than average at BWI, at 69.4 degrees, according to the data on the Sterling Forecast Center's website.

Posted by Admin at 10:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        
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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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