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November 30, 2004

High winds due Wednesday

Watch out for rolling garbage cans and flying blue bags. Arrival of a cold front will bring high winds to the region, with gusts of more than 46 mph possible. Here's the latest advisory from the Sterling, Va. forecast office:

A HIGH WIND WARNING IS IN EFFECT FROM HIGHLAND COUNTY
VIRGINIA...PORTIONS OF EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA...AND ALLEGANY COUNTY
MARYLAND. WIND GUSTS IN EXCESS OF 58 MPH ARE POSSIBLE LATE THIS
MORNING AND THIS AFTERNOON.

A WIND ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR MUCH OF CENTRAL MARYLAND...NORTHERN
VIRGINIA...THE PANHANDLE OF WEST VIRGINIA...AND THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA. WIND GUSTS OVER 46 MPH ARE POSSIBLE THIS AFTERNOON.

GALE WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT FOR THE POTOMAC RIVER AND MARYLAND
SECTION OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY.

Posted by Admin at 4:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Did solar weather kill satellite?

Did a blast of electro-magnetic energy from the sun knock out Intelsat's Americas 7 (formerly Telstar 7) communications satellite on Sunday? Intelsat says the satellite, launched in 1999 to a geostationary orbit 22,300 miles high, went silent at 2:30 a.m. EST (7:30 Universal Time). They blamed "a sudden and unexpected electrical distribution anomaly."

The outage temporarily affected some TV, Internet and data customers from Canada to Latin America. Operators quickly switched the services to another satellite.

Satellite owners don't like to admit their expensive birds are vulnerable to "space weather," but it's easy to speculate about a connection between the failure and the jolt from the sun sensed by the NOAA Space Environmental Center's magnetic instruments at about the same time Americas 7 was lost. Hits of this magnitude have been associated with past electrical failures on geo-stationary satellites.

Posted by Admin at 11:33 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Hurricane season ends; T.S. Otto born

The 2004 hurricane season ends at midnight tonight, but not before the arrival of Tropical Storm Otto, the 15th named storm this year. The Atlantic gale 800 miles east of Bermuda was declared a T.S. by the National Hurricane Center this afternoon. Here's the advisory:

"TROPICAL STORM FORMS ON LAST DAY OF HURRICANE SEASON...

SATELLITE DATA AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT THE LOW
PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC HAS ACQUIRED THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF A TROPICAL STORM.

AT 4 PM EST THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM OTTO WAS LOCATED
NEAR LATITUDE 31.8 NORTH...LONGITUDE 51.0 WEST OR ABOUT 810
MILES...1300 KM... EAST OF BERMUDA.

OTTO IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTH NEAR 5 MPH ... 7 KM/HR...AND A TURN
TO THE NORTHEAST IS LATER TONIGHT OR EARLY WEDNESDAY.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 45 MPH... 75 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT
24 HOURS.

TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 230 MILES
...370 KM FROM THE CENTER.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 997 MB...29.44 INCHES."

Here's what Otto looks like from space. Look for the spiral of clouds east of Bermuda.

The official June-through-November season notwithstanding, Atlantic and Caribbean tropical cyclones can pop up whenever sea and atmospheric conditions are ripe. Three percent of named storms have occurred "out of season", mostly in December or May. Otto would appear to be a hazard only to shipping.

Posted by Admin at 10:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

November 29, 2004

National Hurricane Center wants your help

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center have worried for some time that the public takes too literally the forecast track maps they publish as storms approach the coast.

The maps show a storm's forecast track as a bold black line, embedded inside a sort of teardrop shape which suggests the range of possible tracks a storm's center might take during the following five days or so. That range grows more uncertain at longer intervals from the time of the forecast.

But meteorologists fret that too many people interpret that bold black centerline as THE forecast storm track, giving it more certainty than forecasters can rightly claim. And because the line is so narrow, it may raise the risk that people on either side of it will relax, or delay storm preparations, even though they remain at considerable risk from hurricane-force, or tropical-storm-force winds.

So, the National Hurricane Center has come up with two prototype alternatives to the old graphic scheme. One simply removes the black centerline, leaving a series of most-likely locations for the storm center, and an "area of uncertainty" - the same teardrop-shaped "bubble" denoting where the storm might go. The other replaces the old graphic with a series of circles encompassing all the most likely locations for the storm's center in the succeeding days.

The NHC is inviting public comment on all three designs. One of them will be adopted for use during the 2005 hurricane season, which begins June 1, 2005.

To me, simply eliminating the centerline, while leaving the dots representing the most likely locations for the storm's center, doesn't solve the problem. The mind's eye can easily connect the dots and sketch in the missing line. The empty circles work better for a storm that's moving fairly steadily, suggesting a wide range of possibilities. But they fail with storms like Jeanne that meander for days in the same region of ocean. It becomes a jumble of circles and conveys much less information.

But that's just me. Have a look, see what you think, come up with something better, and send your ideas along to the NHC.

Posted by Admin at 3:54 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

Decem-brrrrrr arrives Wednesday

OK, it's not always cold in December. Twenty years ago, on Dec. 29, 1984, the mercury at BWI rose to a sizzling (for December) 77 degrees. But December usually brings Baltimore its first real blast of winter weather.

The deepest one-day snowfall in December at BWI was an 11.5-inch storm on Dec. 17, 1932. The snowiest December occurred in 1966, when 20.4 inches piled up at the airport. Normal snowfall for the month, however, is a paltry 1.7 inches - barely 10 percent of the average annual accumulation of 18 inches.

It can get plenty cold in these parts in December. The record low for the month was minus-3 degrees Fahrenheit, a mark not equalled since 1880. Average daily highs in December sink from 51 degrees to 42 degrees by month's end. The average lows are all below freezing, dropping from 31 degrees on the 1st, to 24 degrees by the 31st.

Recent daily records set in December: Record highs of 73 degrees and 75 degrees were set on Dec. 1 and 5 (respectively) in 2001. Record lows of 13 degrees and 6 degrees were set barely a year later, on Dec, 6 and 7, 2002. How quickly we forget.

In fact, the last two Decembers were very snowy for Baltimore: 9.7 inches at the airport in 2002, and 9.6 inches in 2003.

Winter officially arrives with the winter solstice, occurring this year at 7:40 a.m. on the 21st. After that, the pale winter sun begins creeping northward again each day, gradually lengthening the days and shortening the nights. A reason for optimism at the depths of the cold and darkness.

Look for the full moon on the 26th, known as the Long Night Moon. And the Geminid Meteor Shower, at mid-month, should be good this year. Watch this space for more.

Posted by Admin at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

November 24, 2004

And then a better weekend

Once all this rain and misery has passed, forecasters see a pretty nice weekend. Here's some of their thinking:

"FINALLY...A WELL DESERVED BREAK FROM THE GLOOMY CONDITIONS OF THE
PAST FEW DAYS. DRY BUT CHILLY CONDITIONS EXPECTED THURSDAY NIGHT TO SATURDAY AS A CANADIAN HIGH BUILDS IN. SKIES WILL START OUT SUNNY FRIDAY MORNING BUT EXPECT MID-HIGH CLOUDS TO ADVANCE RAPIDLY THROUGH THE DAY AS A BROAD SOUTHWEST FLOW.

"ANOTHER COLDFRONT FROM THE MIDWEST/UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY WILL BRING A CHANCE OF RAIN SATURDAY NIGHT. LATEST MODEL GUIDANCE IS NOW IN GOOD AGREEMENT WITH THE TIMING OF THIS SYSTEM. COLDFRONT EXITING THE AREA SUNDAY MORNING WITH SEASONABLE TEMPS.

"INTENSITY/TIMING AND TRACK OF THE NEXT STORM REMAINS VERY UNCERTAIN
AT THIS MOMENT. EXTENDED GUIDANCE BRINGS ANOTHER SHOT AT
SOME PRECIP WEDNESDAY. PRECIP TYPE MAY BECOME AN ISSUE FOR SOME PARTS OF OUR AREA. FOR NOW JUST WENT WITH RAIN. STILL PLENTY OF TIME TO WATCH IT."

Precipitation type Wednesday is an issue? Could that mean the season's first snow?

Posted by Admin at 7:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Rain, fog, thunder ... Are we there yet?

Could it get any worse than this? Only if it started snowing. Here's the bad news from Sterling:

... Unsettled conditions will continue to impact Holiday travel...

A storm system over the Ohio River valley will continue to intensify
as it moves into into Pennsylvania tonight... reaching northern New
England Thanksgiving day.

Rain will continue to overspread northern Virginia... the eastern
Panhandle of West Virginia and much of Maryland tonight. Strong
thunderstorms may develop later this evening in response to the
strengthening upper level system... and linger into the early morning
hours of Thanksgiving. If any severe storms develop... it will likely
be east of the Blue Ridge mountains... including the Washington and
Baltimore metropolitan areas and extending as far southward as
Charlottesville.

Rainfall amounts have generally averaged less than a quarter of an
inch... with some local amounts of around half an inch. Additional
rainfall amounts of half an inch to three quarters of an inch can be
expected for the duration of the weather system. Flooding conditions
are not expected... however ponding of water on roadways and in low
lying areas will be likely.

A cold front associated with the storm system will move east through
the mid Atlantic states Thanksgiving morning. Much colder air will
settle over the region behind the front... allowing temperatures to
begin falling during Thursday afternoon. Winds will become northwest
at around 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph possible.

Low temperatures Thursday night are expected to be 15 to 20 degrees
colder than tonight. Another cold night will be on tap for Friday
night before temperatures slowly moderate through the remainder of
the weekend.

If you will be traveling ... allow extra time to reach your
destination as this weather system will affect the entire East
Coast. If driving... use caution on interstates and Highways as they
will be wet from the rain.

Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio and other local media outlets for
further details or updates.

Posted by Admin at 3:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

November 23, 2004

Staying home? Be thankful

Forecasters are expecting miserable weather and plenty of exasperating delays for many Thanksgiving travelers who head out on Wednesday this week. Here's the advisory from the NWS at Sterling:

"...UNSETTLED CONDITIONS WILL IMPACT HOLIDAY TRAVEL...

A STORM SYSTEM OVER TEXAS WILL INTENSIFY OVER THE NEXT TWENTY FOUR
HOURS AS IT MOVES INTO THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY WEDNESDAY
MORNING...INTO PENNSYLVANIA BY WEDNESDAY EVENING...AND INTO NORTHERN
NEW ENGLAND THANKSGIVING DAY.

LIGHT RAIN...DRIZZLE AND LOCALLY DENSE FOG WILL CONTINUE ACROSS THE
REGION TONIGHT INTO EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING. WIDESPREAD HEAVIER
RAINFALL WILL BEGIN TO INCREASE OVER SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA WEDNESDAY
MORNING AND OVERSPREAD THE REMAINDER OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA...THE
EXTREME EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA PANHANDLE...AND MUCH OF MARYLAND LATER
IN THE DAY. THE HEAVIER RAINFALL WILL BEGIN TO MOVE OFFSHORE EARLY ON
THANKSGIVING DAY...WHILE LINGERING LIGHT RAIN WILL NOT END UNTIL THE
AFTERNOON. LIGHT SNOW OVER THE HIGHER ELEVATIONS MAY ALSO BE POSSIBLE
EARLY ON THANKSGIVING MORNING.

WHILE FLOODING IS NOT EXPECTED...THE RAIN WILL SLOW DOWN HOLIDAY
TRAVEL AT TIMES. PONDING OF WATER ON ROADWAYS MAY BECOME PROBLEMATIC.

A COLD FRONT ASSOCIATED WITH THE STORM SYSTEM WILL MOVE EAST THROUGH
THE MID ATLANTIC STATES ON THANKSGIVING MORNING. A MUCH COLDER AIR
MASS WILL SETTLE OVER THE REGION BEHIND THE FRONT...ALLOWING
TEMPERATURES TO FALL LATE THANKSGIVING DAY AND NIGHT. BRISK NORTHWEST
WINDS OF AROUND 15 MPH CAN ALSO BE EXPECTED. LOW TEMPERATURES
THURSDAY NIGHT ARE EXPECTED TO BE 15 TO 20 DEGREES COLDER THAN THE
PREVIOUS NIGHT. ANOTHER COLD NIGHT WILL BE ON TAP FOR FRIDAY NIGHT
BEFORE TEMPERATURES SLOWLY MODERATE THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THE
WEEKEND.

IF YOU WILL BE TRAVELING ...ALLOW SOME EXTRA TIME TO REACH YOUR
DESTINATION AS THIS WEATHER SYSTEM WILL BE AFFECTING THE ENTIRE EAST
COAST.

Meanwhile, bad weather is already causing headaches in Texas and California.

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

November 22, 2004

Rain may clear by Thanksgiving

That's a pretty crummy forecast ahead for the week. But there's hope that Thanksgiving will look better. Chances for rain run from 40 percent to 60 percent at BWI as a cold front makes its way across the country this week. Storms along the front will be producing snow and rain, depending on how close you are to the front and the cold air behind it. No danger of snow here, but moisture drawn north and east from the Mississippi Valley will make for a gray and damp week. For now, forecasters at Sterling have the rain past and gone by Thursday. But there seems to be some squishiness about the timing. Rain might linger into part of the big day. A breezy day seems a given as the front passes by.

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

November 18, 2004

Looking DOWN on the Northern Lights

A few of us were lucky enough to see the Nov. 7 display of Northern Lights from the ground. Here's how they looked from space. The picture was shot by a military weather satellite operated by the Meteorological Satellite Applications Branch, Air Force Weather Agency.

In addition to the auroral display, this image shows city lights all across the eastern United States. Imagine how much money we would save if we used half as much light by eliminating the half we aim up into space. Think about it, and if you want more information, visit the International Dark Sky Association Web site.

Posted by Admin at 4:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

November 16, 2004

New England snow seen from space

Remarkable satellite imagery shot on Sunday shows snow in New England and upstate NY, and rain runoff flushing sediment into Lake Erie. The
picture was taken by the international TERRA Earth-observation satellite. Maryland and the Chesapeake are at the center of the image. To zoom in a bit, place your cursor over the picture and then click on the box that appears at lower right.

The picture comes from an air quality "Smog Blog" maintained by folks at the University of Maryland Baltimore County who work with Terra. Smile. You never know when someone's taking your picture.

Posted by Admin at 4:28 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Cool sites
        

November 15, 2004

More Leonid meteors due Friday

The first wave of the 2004 Leonid meteor shower wasn't expected to be very impressive, and it wasn't. Observers in Howard reported good weather but a disappointing display.

Jerry Persall, of the Howard Astronomical League said: "Two of us kept a ninety-minute watch this morning, Thursday, November 17,
2004 from 1:00-2:30 a.m. and saw only about six ... It was a disappointing display in spite of the fact that it was not uncomfortably cold and it was absolutely clear and still, no wind and no twinkling. And no clouds! An absolutely perfect scenario for watching the Leonids that failed to show up in number."

Glad I stayed in bed.

The weather forecast is not promising, but astronomers say we may get a second chance to see some Leonids early Friday, the 19th, as the Earth plows through a separate trail of debris left by comet Tempel-Tuttle on its 1333 passage 'round the sun. If they're right, there should be another Leonid peak in the early morning hours - between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., depending on who's doing the predicting.

The Leonid meteor shower occurs each year around this time as the Earth - making its way around the sun, encounters the trail of dust left by Tempel-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 33 years.

The tiny particles strike the Earth's atmosphere at 44,000 mph, creating a bright streak of light as they vaporize. Often they leave trails in the sky that persist for several seconds. And occasionally the Leonids produce brilliant "fireballs," that barrel across the sky to the whoops and gasps of observers.

Leonid meteors are named for the constellation Leo. Observers noticed long ago that if they traced the track of each meteor back across the sky, the lines all seemed to converge on Leo. The reason, of course, is that the Earth at this time of year is orbiting in the direction of Leo. The meteors seem to be emerging from that direction because that's where we're headed. They're like a swarm of bugs slamming into the Earth's windshield.

So, forget sleep. Dress warmly, pack something hot to drink. And get yourself outside after 11 p.m. (that's about when Leo rises in the east-northeast) or between 2 a.m. and dawn, when Leo is high in the sky. (Because the forecasts are iffy, the times are less important than just being out there.) For the best view, find a dark place in the country and a wide view of the sky. Spread a blanket or open a beach chair and allow 15 or 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. And enjoy.

Posted by Admin at 10:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

November 14, 2004

Dry skies, wet month

Boy, you couldn't ask for a nicer weekend. Clear, dry skies and dark, starry nights. But on paper, November 2004 is already a wet one. Heavy rains on just two days at BWI - the 4th (1.82 inches) and the 12th (1.74 inches) - have already pushed the month's total well over 3 1/2 inches, with 2 1/2 weeks to go. Normal rainfall for November is just 3.12 inches.

The rains on the 4th made that the wettest Nov. 4 on record in Baltimore, breaking the 1.76-inch mark set in 1976. This was the third wet November in a row, following a string of four really dry Novembers, from 1998 through 2001, when less than 2 inches fell. Which proves once again that weather is hardly ever "normal." The norms are just the accumulation of extremes.

Posted by Admin at 11:03 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

November 12, 2004

Storm clouds on Uranus

Yes, there's weather on Uranus, too. Astronomers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison have turned the giant Keck Telescope in Hawaii on the 7th planet from the sun, and captured these images of bright white cloud tops above the blue Uranian atmosphere.

Posted by Admin at 10:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

November 11, 2004

Readers' weather photos invited

The "Photo Galleries" corner of The Sun's new weather page, Marylandweather.com, invites readers to submit their weather-related photographs for posting on the Web site. Snowstorms, funnel clouds, flooding, lightning, sunsets or other dramatic cloud formations, oddities - anything weather-related will be considered for posting.

We'll even consider other sky phenomena, such as Nov. 7th's rare Northern Lights display, eclipses or meteors. We've opened the feature with several pictures of the aurora, taken by Maryland readers in Mt. Airy and Timonium, including three by WMAR-TV Channel 2 weatherman Norm Lewis.

We request that images submitted for posting be appropriate for publication, timely and Maryland-based. All photos will be reviewed for suitability before being accepted and published. Please include the photographer's name, the date, time and place where the picture was taken, and, if possible, details on the equipment and camera settings you used.

To submit images, you'll need to register first. Follow the directions, fill out the forms. When you're done, you will be able to upload your digital images.

Many thanks for your interest.

Posted by Admin at 9:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Readers' weather photos
        

November 10, 2004

Morning glory

The slim crescent moon overtook Venus in the morning sky today. If you've been sleeping in all week and missed the moon, Venus and Jupiter in their pre-dawn dance, here's a photo from India of the moon closing on Venus. The three will met again next summer - in the evening sky.

Posted by Admin at 1:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

November 9, 2004

Veteran's Day Snowstorm

Anybody remember the Veteran's Day Storm of 1987? Thursday is the 17th anniversary. The NWS forecast called for mixed rain, sleet and wet snow, with little or no accumulation. But the storm slowed down, cold air moved in, and the snow began accumulating. It piled up all day, a foot or more in some locations around Baltimore. The snow came with thunder and lightning. Traffic snarled, schools and Laurel racecourse closed, and the airport shut down to let the plows clear the runways.

The Sun and Evening Sun reported that two motorists died - one when his car struck another on an icy I-70 bridge. He got out, and when a third car began skidding toward him, he leaped over a guardrail, falling 35 feet to his death. Twenty cars and trucks slid into each other on I-395.

Snow emergencies were declared in 17 counties.

Traffic slowed to a crawl around Washington, too. Here is the NWS account of the storm from its Maryland Winters history page:

"November 11, 1987: The Veteran's Day Storm will not be forgotten by many Washington area travelers. Almost a foot (11.5 inches) fell at National Airport. Prince Georges County, MD was hard hit with up to 13 inches of snow falling in a short amount of time. It caught motorists off guard and stranded cars on the Capitol Beltway. There were so many cars that snow plows could not get through to open the clogged arteries. Cars littered the roadway for more than 24 hours. The event precipitated the development of the Washington Metropolitan Area Snow Plan to facilitate preparedness and response to future storms.

"This storm struck before the days of lightning detection networks and Doppler weather radar. When thunderstorms began dumping heavy snow over the Fredericksburg VA, forecasters had no idea. The storm moved northeast across the southern Metropolitan area (Prince Georges County). It was not until the fast accumulating snow hit Camp Springs, where at the time the Weather Forecast Office was located, did forecasters realize what was happening."

Posted by Admin at 4:14 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Cold and colder

The mercury sank to 31 degrees just before dawn this morning at BWI. It was plenty cold, but no record. The record low for this date at the airport is 25 degrees, reached most recently just last year. But for those who could brave it, the cold, crystalline skies made for a very starry night, with a gorgeous view of Venus, Jupiter and the crescent moon over the eastern horizon just before dawn.

There are hard freeze warnings out for tonight all over Maryland, including downtown Baltimore and Washington and the southernmost counties on both sides of the Chesapeake. The forecast low at BWI is 27 degrees, close to the 24-degree record low for the 10th of November - also set last year.

Other overnight lows from around the state: 28 degrees at Frederick Airport; 21 at Randolph Field in Garrett County; 30 in Cumberland and 32 in Aberdeen. And 24 on the thermometer this morning outside my bedroom window in Cockeysville.

Posted by Admin at 10:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

November 8, 2004

Hard freeze coming

Time to bring in the plants. There is a freeze warning out tonight for most of Maryland west of the bay, the first of the season. The cities of Baltimore and Washington are excluded for tonight, but a hard freeze will settle in Tuesday night that will include the cities, too. Westminster won't get out of the 40s Tuesday, and nighttime temps will drop to the mid-20s. Here's the NWS warning:

COLD HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE REGION WILL PRODUCE A PERIOD OF FREEZING
TEMPERATURES EARLY TUESDAY MORNING.

THE AREA AFFECTED INCLUDES EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA... MARYLAND WEST OF
THE CHESAPEAKE... AND NORTHERN AND NORTHWESTERN VIRGINIA.

THE EXCEPTIONS WILL BE IN EXTREME DOWNTOWN WASHINGTON AND
BALTIMORE...SAINT MARYS COUNTY MARYLAND... AND NEARSHORE LOCATIONS TO
THE BAY AND TIDAL POTOMAC...WHERE TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO STAY A
FEW DEGREES ABOVE FREEZING.

A HARDER FREEZE IS EXPECTED FOR THE ENTIRE REGION TUESDAY
NIGHT...INCLUDING DOWNTOWN BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON...AS HIGH
PRESSURE BUILDS OVERHEAD AND WINDS CALM.

A FREEZE WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN FREEZING TEMPERATURES ARE FORECAST TO
THREATEN OUTDOOR PLANTS. THOSE WITH AGRICULTURAL INTERESTS IN THE
WARNED AREA ARE ADVISED TO HARVEST OR PROTECT TENDER VEGETATION.
ALSO, POTTED PLANTS NORMALLY LEFT OUTDOORS SHOULD BE COVERED OR
BROUGHT INSIDE AWAY FROM THE COLD.

Posted by Admin at 5:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Northern Lights dazzle Marylanders

Photos just in! A blast of atomic particles and magnetic energy blown off the sun late last week reached Earth last night, creating a spectacular display of Northern Lights as far south as Maryland, North Carolina, Colorado and Oklahoma. The photos are already on the Web, including some shot in Maryland. The aurora alert has been extended into tonight as more solar debris is set to arrive. Here's an image of the eruption last week that caused all the fuss. (It's the flare at the center of the photo.)

Posted by Admin at 10:31 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Observer reports
        

November 5, 2004

Winds clear skies for planet-watching

Friday's blustery winds sure cleared the decks. Winds peaked at 24 mph at BWI, and gusted to 32 mph during the 7-8 a.m. hour, then gradually calmed throughout the day. They ushered in clear, dry skies, and stripped the trees of leaves. That makes it perfect for seeing the dazzling conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in the pre-dawn eastern skies.

I had an elderly gent call me today at the paper. He said he was up early Friday, couldn't sleep. He sat down by his window and thought he was seeing things - two bright lights in the east that didn't move like airplanes. As he watched, they seemed to fade and wink out - first one, then the other - as it grew light outside. He thought he was "going crazy." Then he read the story on the Maryland page and understood. The brighter light was Venus, the dimmer one Jupiter.

People need to stop and look up more. Weather or no, there's always something to see in the sky, and something to learn. Maryland skies should remain clear for planet-watching through Tuesday and maybe Wednesday.

Venus will continue to drop a little lower in the sky each morning, putting more distance between itself and Jupiter. But they will remain a lovely sight into December. Best times to look are between 5 and 6 a.m. On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings the crescent moon will join Venus and Jupiter. Don't miss them.

Posted by Admin at 6:06 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Woolly Bears release winter forecast

Forget all the supercomputers and meteorology degrees at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. The folks at the Hagers-town Town and Country Almanack still rely on woolly bear caterpillars to bolster their long-range forecasts for the approaching winter. The 22nd Annual Woolly Bear Report is just out, and it looks like this:

Based on a survey of 100 caterpillars submitted to the almanack's editorial offices, "the consensus is that the first part of the winter beginning in mid-November through mid-February will be normal or average. The remaining portion of the winter will be very mild."

This is determined by noting the relative widths of the black bands at the front and rear of the caterpillars' bodies. (The middle band is a rust or orange color). Taken together, the 100 caterpillars' front bands (representing the first part of winter) looked "normal," the editors said, meaning that they took up about a third of the critters' body length. The back bands (representing the latter part of winter) were "very small," signifying a mild finish to the season.

Makes perfect sense to me. Of course, the killjoys at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have another take on it all.

The 2005 Hagers-town Almanack's regular progostication, too, calls for an average winter, with 42 inches of snow around Hagerstown. December, it says, will be the snowiest month. In fact, the almanack's chief conjecturor, Mount St. Mary's College instructor Bill O'Toole, expects the first snowstorm on Dec. 11. Bought your shovel yet?

Posted by Admin at 10:34 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Forecasts
        

November 3, 2004

Isabel forecasts critiqued by NWS

Storm surge forecasts during Hurricane Isabel gave property owners too little information, according to an internal critique just issued by the National Weather Service. The Sept. 2003 flooding caused extensive damage in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Fells Point and in many exposed bayside communities. To read the full Isabel "service assessment" click here.

Posted by Admin at 7:20 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

November 2, 2004

Planetary spectacular

I'm not a morning person either, but if skies are clear in the hours before dawn, no one should miss the gathering of planets now underway in the east. For the next few mornings, Venus and Jupiter - the two brightest planets in the night sky - will slip to within a half-degree of each other above the eastern horizon. (The astrologically inclined might interpret this as symbolizing two leaders, coming very close to each other in the first week of November.)

Where skies are clear and the view toward the east is open, you can't miss them. No need for a telescope; these are naked-eye planets. But binoculars will enhance the view. Venus is the brighter of the pair. They'll be at their coziest Thursday and Friday mornings. On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, the 9th and 10th, they will be joined by the slender waning crescent moon - a startling sight for early eastbound commuters. As the days go by, Venus will sink closer to the horizon each morning, passing dim Mars on Dec. 9.

For more, visit Sky & Telescope magazine online.

Posted by Admin at 10:31 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

November 1, 2004

A very dry October

October ended yesterday 1.72 inches short of normal rainfall for the month. The scant, 1.44-inch total made it the 4th-driest October at BWI in 25 years. All four of those very dry Octobers have occurred in the last six years.

But with a weekend as gorgeous as this one was, who cares? The high at BWI yesterday was 76 degrees - just a degree shy of tying Oct. 8 as the warmest day of the month. Balmy air, clear skies and a fresh breeze to fill the air with falling leaves made it a great day - and night - for Trick or Treating.

Temperatures for the month averaged 55.4 degrees - exactly normal. The low at BWI was 33 degrees, way back on the 18th. We had measureable precipitation on 13 days, including a 12-day stretch in the middle of the month with only two rain-free days. On the other hand, we went from the 3rd to the 12th with no rain at all.

October ended on a gusty note. The wind howled in the trees Sunday and thinned out the turning leaves. Average wind speed at BWI was 9 mph, with gusts to 31 mph.

Posted by Admin at 10:24 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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• Weather news

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• 2011 stargazers' calendar

• Become a backyard astronomer in five simple steps

• Baltimore Weather Archive
Daily airport weather data for Baltimore from 1948 to today

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Sterling Forecast Office

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Washington Post weather blog

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Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Local observations by volunteers

• Weather Bug:
Webcams across the state

• National Data Buoy Center:
Weather and ocean data from bay and ocean buoys

• U.S. Drought Monitor:
Weekly maps of drought conditions in the U.S.

• USGS Earthquake Hazards Program:
Real-time data on earthquakes

• Water data:
From the USGS, Maryland

• National Hurricane Center

• Air Now:
Government site for air quality information

• NWS Climate Prediction Center:
Long-term and seasonal forecasts

• U.S. Climate at a Glance:
NOAA interactive site for past climate data, national, state and city

• Clear Sky Clock:
Clear sky alerts for stargazers

• NASA TV:
Watch NASA TV

• Hubblesite:
Home page for Hubble Space Telescope

• Heavens Above:
Everything for the backyard stargazer, tailored to your location

• NASA Eclipse Home Page:
Centuries of eclipse predictions

• Cruise Critic: Hurricane Zone:
Check to see how hurricanes may affect your cruise schedule

• Warming World:
NASA explains the science of climate change with articles, videos, “data visualizations,” and space-based imagery.

• What on Earth:
NASA blog on current research at the space agency.
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