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February 28, 2005

Road conditions will deteriorate

The National Weather Service says driving will become more hazardous this afternoon and evening as the snow continues to fall and temperatures begin to drop. Here's the word from Sterling:

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 AM EST TUESDAY...

"MODERATE SNOW WILL CONTINUE THIS EVENING. A TOTAL OF 3 TO 6 INCHES OF
SNOWFALL IS EXPECTED ALONG I-95...INCLUDING THE WASHINGTON DC AND
IMMEDIATE BALTIMORE CITY METRO AREAS. ACROSS THE OUTLYING AREAS NORTH
OF BALTIMORE AND NEAR THE BLUE RIDGE IN VIRGINIA...4 TO 8 INCHES OF
SNOWFALL IS EXPECTED WITH 5 TO 9 INCHES ACROSS THE CHARLOTTESVILLE
AREA. THE SNOW MAY CHANGE TO LIGHT FREEZING DRIZZLE LATE IN THE
EVENING.

"AS THE EVENING PROGRESSES...ROAD CONDITIONS WILL DETERIORATE AND
BECOME VERY SLICK. MOTORISTS SHOULD EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION WHILE
TRAVELING THIS EVENING."

Here are the accumulations so far today. Unless you're in western Virginia, none of it is very impressive given the buildup this storm received. And it doesn't seem to be slowing folks down. With traffic lightened by closings and early trips home, highway speeds are extraordinarily high in the region for this time of day on a weekday.

Posted by Admin at 4:59 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Slow development, mild temps keep roads wet

Meteorologists this afternoon are saying the unexpectedly slow development of this snowstorm, coupled with relatively mild temperatures at the surface, have kept the region's roads mostly wet today. So far.

For a "classic" nor'easter, they say - the kind that typically produces our heaviest snowfalls, low pressure centers in the upper and lower levels of the atmosphere need to come together. With this storm, the surface low developed off the southeast coast, while the upper-level low lingered out west over the Great Lakes. And they were slower than expected to move toward each other.

The result has been the late arrival of the snow, and less intense snow than might otherwise have developed. That allowed time for the solar radiation, some of which does penetrate the cloud cover, to nudge temperatures to the freezing mark. Coupled with all that salt - our cars are a mess - it has kept the streets and highways mostly clear of accumulating snow.

That may not last. The forecasters say the upper-and lower-level lows are beginning to get in step with each other, and there are some heavy bands of snow still to push through the region. And as temperatures fall this afternoon and through the rush hour, the heavier snowfall could begin to stick, slushing up the roads and making things a bit dicier.

All of which goes to suggest that an early departure from work might help some of us avoid a more difficult commute later. On the other hand, if everybody pulls out early at the same time ...

Posted by Admin at 2:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March brings promise of Spring

Once this snow is over Marylanders can really start thinking of Spring. Although the Vernal Equinox won't arrive until 7:33 a.m. March 20, the meteorological Spring begins tomorrow.

In Baltimore, average high temperatures rise from 49 degrees to 59 degrees in March. The average lows creep up above freezing - from 29 to 38 degrees. It's a month of transition, of course. It can get much warmer, and colder. The record high for March in Baltimore is 90 degrees, reached in 1945. Anyone remember that day? The record March low was 5 degrees, recorded in 1873.

It can also snow. Although the average snowfall for March is just 2.4 inches, back on March 29-30, 1942, Marylanders were surprised by a Palm Sunday Storm that dropped 22 inches of heavy, wet snow on the city. Parts of western Maryland saw three feet.

Here's the NWS account of that storm:

"March 29-30, 1942: The Palm Sunday Snowstorm dumped the state's heaviest March snow on record in Maryland. The storm began as rain but changed over to a wet heavy snow. The snow stuck to power lines, trees and shrubs damaging them under its weight. Many of the fruit trees had begun to blossom.

"Over 20 inches fell over northern Anne Arundel, Howard, Southern and western Baltimore County, Carroll County, eastern and northern Frederick County, and north-central Washington County. Maximum amounts reported were 31 inches at Clear Springs (just 12 days earlier the temperature had reached 79?F here), 32 inches at Westminister, 30 to 36 inches at State Sanatorium (Frederick County) and 36 inches at Edgemont (Washington County).

"Baltimore City received its greatest snow in 20 years with 22 inches measured. Hagerstown and Westminister reported 22 inches in 24 hours. Frederick had 17 inches in 24 hours. Washington, DC received a total of 11.5 inches of snow."

Posted by Admin at 12:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Where's the snow? Where's the rain?

The impact of the present snowstorm will depend a lot on how close the rain/snow line gets to the major metropolitan region. Right now it's raining in Salisbury, Norfolk and Richmond, and snowing, lightly, at BWI, Reagan Airport, Dulles and Quantico, Va. Here is the rundown on what's happening where.

For now, NWS is still predicting 3-6 inches in DC., PG County, Arundel and southern Baltimore County. But north and west of there - in Northern Baltimore, Frederick, Harford and Carroll, they're looking for 6 to 10 inches.

Posted by Admin at 11:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Ivan's tornadoes
        

Big snow? Or big dud?

First flakes were flying in Towson by 9:40 a.m. today. That seemed quite late given the forecasts yesterday of a post-midnight start and an inch of snow by morning. But it's coming down pretty fast right now (10:45 a.m.).

Before the snow got rolling this morning, fellow weather blogger David Gerstman slid out on a limb and predicted this whole storm might fizzle. He is looking at radar images that seem to have all the clouds and moisture moving out to sea off the Carolinas. Water vapor images might suggest the same.

My guess is that when the low intensifies out there, like most Nor'easters this one will spin up and throw a lot of new energy and moisture into the machinery, and move it back onshore on the backside of the storm - from the northeast, of course.

We'll see. But locations to our south and west are already reporting significant accumulations. Staunton, Va. has had more than 6 inches.

Posted by Admin at 10:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

February 25, 2005

Our snowstorm, seen from space

The Smog Blog folks at UMBC have posted new pictures, of the snow-covered Northeast. They were shot late this morning by NASA's Terra Earth-observing satellite. One of the pictures is a closeup of Maryland. Click on either one for a larger version. Some of all that white stuff is departing clouds. But much of it is snow on the ground. No hint of humans, much less all the disruption such storms cause.

Posted by Admin at 5:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Thunderstorms and lightning ... on Saturn !

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured images of a giant thunderstorm on Saturn. Lightning from the storm is producing static on radios on the spacecraft that are tuned in to the ringed planet. The storm has been dubbed "The Dragon Storm" because of the odd shape is takes in infrared images.

Posted by Admin at 2:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Space weather
        

Thursday's snowfall map is out

The National Weather Service's Sterling, Va. forecast office has posted an experimental map showing region-wide snowfall accumulations from Thursday's storm. Looks like Arundel takes the prize this time. For a look, click here.

Posted by Admin at 12:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Nor'easter due Monday with ... more snow?

Don't put the shovel away just yet. The National Weather Service is watching the development of a coastal storm that could come swirling up the coast late Sunday or early Monday, bringing snow, possibly mixing with rain lasting into Tuesday.

Here's the current discussion from the Sterling forecast office, slightly edited to remove abbreviations:

"ALL EYES NEXT FEW DAYS WILL BE ON POTENTIAL COASTAL STORM EXPECTED
TO DEVELOP THIS WEEKEND OVER THE SOUTHEAST US. MODELS CONTINUE TO
ADVERTISE A NOREASTER AS A SOUTHERN STREAM TROUGH EJECTS FROM NORTHERN MEXICO.

"PRECIPITATION LOOKING MORE LIKELY SUNDAY NIGHT-MONDAY AS STORM TRACKS NORTHEASTWARD ALONG THE COAST. PRECIPITATION TYPE DEPENDENT ON EVENTUAL TRACK OF SURFACE LOW WITH SNOW LOOKING MORE LIKELY WEST OF THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS. RAIN/SNOW MIX EAST.

"FOR NOW, WILL CONTINUE WITH GENERAL MENTION OF RAIN/SNOW FOR ALL AREAS GIVEN THE USUAL UNCERTAINTIES THIS FAR OUT. CONTINUED BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES NEXT WEEK WITH DEEP EAST COAST TROUGH EXPECTED TO REMAIN IN PLACE."

As usual, AccuWeather has a somewhat more hysterical take on what we're in for, using words like "great storms," "explosive" and "whopper."

That would be OK by me. One more snow day for Baltimore County this winter and I win a free dinner from a certain county high school teacher. I'm thinking thick steak.

Posted by Admin at 9:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

February 24, 2005

Roads may get slick as temperatures drop

Relatively mild temperatures, coupled with salting, have helped many roads stay snow-free through much of the day. That may soon change. The National Weather Service is warning that falling temperatures this evening may allow more snow to accumulate on the roads, making things slippery. Sidewalks and steps, too, I would guess.

Here's the word for the Baltimore metro area:

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 AM EST FRIDAY...

SNOW WILL CONTINUE THRU THE AFTERNOON AND INTO THE EVENING BEFORE
TAPERING TO FLURRIES. AN ADDITIONAL FOUR INCHES OF ACCUMULATION IS
POSSIBLE AFTER 2 PM...FOR A STORM TOTAL OF 4 TO 8 INCHES ON UNPAVED
SURFACES.

TEMPERATURES WILL SLOWLY DROP THIS EVENING. THAT WILL ALLOW FOR SOME
ROAD ACCUMULATION TO DEVELOP. ROADS WILL BECOME MORE HAZARDOUS.

And here are the latest accumulation numbers for the region.

Posted by Admin at 6:24 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Snap a great snow photo? Beam it up !

MarylandWeather.com welcomes readers' photos to our Photo Gallery. Just click here, then click on "Register" . Follow the directions and upload your images. Be sure to include information on when and where the picture was taken. All submissions are screened for appropriateness and posted as soon as they're cleared.

Posted by Admin at 3:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Readers' weather photos
        

Six inches already in La Plata

La Plata, in the heart of Maryland's Tornado Alley, takes the prize for deepest accumulation so far from the current storm - six inches reported before noon today. Churchton, in Anne Arundel COunty reported five inches. Here is a list of accumnulations reported around the region.

The weather service says that despite the snow, temperatures are warm enough that, in combination with road salt, accumulations on the roads in the Baltimore metro area are being held down. Outside The Sun's windows, at least, traffic is moving well on the Jones Falls Expressway. For more on road conditions, click here.

Click here for the latest warnings and advisories.

Posted by Admin at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Complex snow forecast for region

Maryland is a small state, but it has to be one of the toughest places to predict the impact of winter storms, given our geography, temperature ranges and the vagaries of storm tracks. Today's warnings and advisories are a case in point. Here is a sampling of the prognostications in effect for Central Maryland just before dawn this morning.

CARROLL, FREDERICK, HARFORD, NORTHERN and SOUTHERN BALTIMORE: MD-
...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS CANCELLED...
...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 AM EST FRIDAY...

EARLY THIS MORNING PERIODS OF LIGHT SNOW IS EXPECTED. SNOW
ACCUMULATION OF 1 TO 2 INCHES IS POSSIBLE THROUGH MID MORNING.

PERIODS OF LIGHT TO OCCASIONALLY MODERATE SNOW WILL CONTINUE
THROUGHOUT THIS AFTERNOON. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATION THROUGH LATE
AFTERNOON IS EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM 3 TO 5 INCHES.

SNOW MAY END FOR A TIME LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING...BUT
AN UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCE MOVING ACROSS THE REGION COULD PRODUCE AN
ADDITIONAL 1 TO 2 INCHES OF SNOW LATER THIS EVENING.

STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 7 INCHES IS EXPECTED BEFORE
THE PRECIPITATION ENDS BY 1 AM ON FRIDAY.

ANNE ARUNDEL, HOWARD, MONTGOMERY, PRINCE GEORGES:
...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS CANCELLED...
...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 AM EST FRIDAY...

THIS MORNING PERIODS OF LIGHT SNOW ARE EXPECTED. SNOW
ACCUMULATION OF 1 TO 2 INCHES IS EXPECTED THROUGH MID MORNING.
TEMPERATURES THIS MORNING ARE EXPECTED TO HOVER AROUND FREEZING.

PERIODS OF LIGHT TO OCCASIONALLY MODERATE SNOW...POSSIBLY MIXED WITH
SLEET..
.WILL CONTINUE THROUGHOUT THIS AFTERNOON. TOTAL SNOW
ACCUMULATION THROUGH LATE AFTERNOON IS EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM 3 TO 5
INCHES. IF MORE SLEET MIXES IN...AMOUNTS WILL BE LESS.

SNOW MAY END FOR A TIME LATE THIS AFTERNOON INTO EARLY EVENING... BUT
AN UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCE MOVING ACROSS THE REGION COULD PRODUCE AN
ADDITIONAL 1 TO 2 INCHES OF SNOW EARLY THIS EVENING.

STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 7 INCHES IS EXPECTED BEFORE
THE PRECIPITATION ENDS BY MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.

IN NORTHEASTERN MARYLAND, CECIL, KENT,

THE WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT ...

TRAVEL WILL DETERIORATE RAPIDLY DURING THE MORNING RUSH IN MARYLAND,
SOUTHERN DELAWARE AND SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY. ... DRIVING CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN DEGRADED FOR THE
THURSDAY EVENING COMMUTE.

A TOTAL OF 5 TO 9 INCHES OF SNOW IS FORECAST BY THE TIME THE STORM
EXITS LATER TONIGHT. WHILE SNOW IS EXPECTED TO FALL THROUGH A GOOD
PART OF THE NIGHT...THE HEAVIEST SNOW SHOULD BE DONE BETWEEN 6 AND 9
PM THIS EVENING.

CALVERT, CHARLES, ST. MARYS:

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM EST THIS EVE
NING...

LIGHT SNOW WILL START OFF THIS MORNING AND CONTINUE DURING THE DAY.
AT TIMES SNOW WILL MIX WITH OR CHANGE TO SLEET. SNOW ACCUMULATION OF
1 TO 2 INCHES IS POSSIBLE THROUGH MID MORNING.

TOTAL SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS ARE EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM 2 TO 4
INCHES... EXACT AMOUNTS WILL DEPEND ON THE TRACK OF THE
STORM WHICH WILL DETERMINE HOW MUCH SLEET MIXES IN TO HOLD DOWN
ACCUMULATIONS... AND HOW MUCH PRECIPITATION IN GENERAL MOVES THIS FAR
NORTH WITH THE STORM.

You get the picture. Add in western Maryland and the lower Eastern Shore, and the picture gets even more complex. So, no matter how much snow you have to push off your car for the slog home tonight, hats off today to the folks in Sterling.

Posted by Admin at 10:23 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

February 23, 2005

NE Maryland warned of 4-9 inches

The NWS forecast office in Mt. Holly, NJ has gotten the jump on forecasters for our area, issuing a winter storm warning for parts of New Jersey, Delaware, SE Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland. They're expecting 4 to 9 inches of snow tomorrow. Here's the meat of the warning:

"...WINTER STORM WARNING THURSDAY INTO THURSDAY NIGHT FOR 4 TO 9
INCHES OF SNOW...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR
DELAWARE, NORTHEASTERN MARYLAND, SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL NEW JERSEY,
AND SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA. SNOW DEVELOPING AROUND OR SHORTLY
AFTER SUNRISE THURSDAY OVER SOUTHERN DELAWARE AND THE NORTHEAST
MARYLAND SHORE WILL SPREAD NORTHEASTWARD DURING THURSDAY MORNING.

THE WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE FOLLOWING COUNTIES...

IN PENNSYLVANIA, PHILADELPHIA, DELAWARE, CHESTER, MONTGOMERY, AND
BUCKS.

IN NEW JERSEY, MERCER, MONMOUTH, OCEAN, BURLINGTON, CAMDEN,
GLOUCESTER, SALEM, ATLANTIC, CUMBERLAND, AND CAPE MAY.

IN DELAWARE, NEW CASTLE, KENT, AND SUSSEX.

IN NORTHEASTERN MARYLAND, CECIL, KENT, QUEEN ANNE'S, CAROLINE, AND
TALBOT."

Looks like our prognosticators at Sterling, Va. are waiting until 9 p.m. to change the watch to a warning and update their accumulation prediction.

Posted by Admin at 4:11 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Yes, Maryland, that was an earthquake

A barely-perceptible tremor twitched the Chesapeake Bay region at about 9:22 a.m. today. The quakelet was rated a 2.0, considered "very minor." About 1,000 such quakes are recorded every day around the world.

At first, the US Geological Survey put the epicenter about 15 miles southeast of Dundalk, and 3 miles beneath the bay. Later, they revised it farther north and west, to a location in Baltimore County, near the intersection of Dundalk and Holabird avenues, and about 6 miles beneath the surface.

For more information, and an opportunity to report anything you felt at the time to government geologists, click here.

Also, please leave a comment here and describe what you felt. The tremor was rated at 2.0 on the Richter scale, too weak for most of us to feel. The scale is logarithmic, meaning that each whole number increase represents a 10-fold increase in the energy released. So a 2.0 quake has one ten-thousandth the power of a 6.0.

Posted by Admin at 11:05 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Events
        

February 22, 2005

Weather Service ups chance of snow Thursday

The National Weather Service has cranked up its estimated snow chances for Thursday to 50 percent. Our fate is far from sealed, especially north of Washington. But a strong flow of cold air and a increasingly significant patch of moisture from the south are converging on the region.

The forecasters in Sterling have boosted their earlier snow forecasts from "slight chance" (20 percent) Thursday and "scattered snow showers (30 percent) Thursday night to a more definitive "snow," with probabilities at 50 percent. Here's the bet-hedging advisory out this afternoon:

"...WINTER WEATHER POSSIBLE THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT...

"COMPUTER MODELS INDICATE THE POSSIBILITY OF WINTER WEATHER IN THE MID
ATLANTIC STATES THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT. MOISTURE IS FORECAST TO
MOVE INTO THIS REGION FROM THE GULF STATES BY THURSDAY MORNING.
DURING THE SAME TIME PERIOD...COLD AIR WILL SURGE IN FROM THE GREAT
LAKES.

"SNOW IS LIKELY FROM CENTRAL VIRGINIA TO THE WASHINGTON DC METRO AREA
FROM THURSDAY MORNING TO EARLY FRIDAY MORNING. AREAS NORTH OF THE DC
AREA WILL HAVE A GOOD CHANCE OF SNOW.
A LIGHT ACCUMULATION OF SNOW
IS POSSIBLE WITH THIS EVENT...HOWEVER COMPUTER MODELS HINT AT THE
POTENTIAL FOR A MORE SIGNIFICANT WINTER WEATHER EVENT. STAY TUNED
TO
NOAA WEATHER RADIO AND LOCAL MEDIA FOR UPDATES ON THIS SITUATION."

Meanwhile, Accuweather says "it could get nasty," with travel delays. But they're not clear yet either on the impact for Maryland. This whole mess may stay to our south.

It reminds me of Johnny Ketchum, a character who once worked in the old Evening Sun newsroom. One day Johnny answered the office phone and, after a brief conversation with the caller, turned to his boss and announced, "Ed, it's your brother or somebody else."

Well, as Johnny might say, "Ed, we're going to get snow Thursday, or something else."

Posted by Admin at 5:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

A lean year for snow, but more due

If this were a "normal" season for snow we would be closing in on 15 inches by now. Alas, (or "fortunately" if you hate the stuff) we have had barely half that. There's a chance to pick up a bit more this week, as more cold air approaches from Canada and a storm system moves in from the south and west.

The forecast for BWI calls for a "slight" (20 percent) chance of snow Thursday, with scattered snow showers possible (30 percent chance) Thursday evening. Friday also hints at a slight (20 percent) chance of snow showers in Baltimore.

We'll be lucky to get more than a few tenths of an inch out of it all. That won't do much to raise the season's snow tally: 7.9 inches thus far. By the end of February (which is also the end of the three-month meteorological "winter") we should have accumulated 15 inches of snow according to the 30-year averages.

Truth be told, those averages are inflated by the occasional February "whopper." Only two of the last nine Februaries have exceeded the 30-year average. Those were the in 2003 (40.5 inches) and 1997 (7.1 inches). Many will remember the snowy Februaries in 1979 (33 inches); 1983 (27 inches) and 1996 (19 inches).

March averages 2.4 inches of snow. Four of the last nine Marches have exceeded that average.

Posted by Admin at 1:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

February 18, 2005

Life on Mars? Not so fast, says NASA

NASA is scrambling to deny a Web report that NASA scientists had found evidence of life in Martian caves. Here's the original story from Space.com


Here's the denial from NASA, issued today:

RELEASE: 05-052

NASA STATEMENT ON FALSE CLAIM OF EVIDENCE OF LIFE ON MARS

News reports on February 16, 2005, that NASA scientists from Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., have found strong evidence that life may exist on Mars are incorrect.

NASA does not have any observational data from any current Mars missions that supports this claim. The work by the scientists mentioned in the reports cannot be used to directly infer anything about life on Mars, but may help formulate the strategy for how to search for martian life. Their research concerns extreme environments on Earth as analogs of possible environments on Mars. No research paper has been submitted by them to any scientific journal asserting martian life.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

For more information about NASA's Mars programs on the Web, visit:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/

Posted by Admin at 2:22 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

A snowy suckerpunch

So where did THAT come from? The National Weather Service forecast for Baltimore Thursday night called for "mostly cloudy skies with a slight chance (10 to 20 percent) of snow showers until early morning." They expected "no accumulation."

Well, when I woke up this morning the clock radio was yammering about traffic "chaos," 16 accidents on the Beltway near I-795 and jackknifed tractor trailers. We switched on the TV to discover that Baltimore County had closed the middle and elementary schools (a snow day for my wife). My deck was white and there was a layer of fluffy white stuff on my car. What happened?

John Darnley, a meteorologist at the NWS forecast office in Sterling, Va., said the overnight forecast had it just about right. The combination of a deepening low spinning counter-clockwise off Nova Scotia, and a building high-pressure system over the northern Great Plains was driving cold air southward out of Canada, over the eastern Great Lakes and into the Middle Atlantic region.

Because the winter has been unusually mild, Lake Erie remains largely ice-free, and the cold air crossing over it was picking up lots of moisture, and dropping it as "Lake Effect" snow over the mountains. Forecasters at Sterling last night didn't expect much, if any of that snow to reach our area.

And they were partly right. "We just had a trace of snow last night from 3:30 to 4 (a.m.)," Darnley said from Sterling, near Dulles Airport. Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties weren't so lucky.

The weather off Lake Erie, Darnley said, "had picked up enough moisture and transport winds strong enough that it pushed it farther south. Normally, lake effect snow makes it to Pittsburgh and maybe Garrett County Maryland and West Virginia." But not this far, at least not this late in the season, when the lakes are supposed to be frozen over, sealing in their moisture.

Anyway, some snow made it through on northwest winds direct from Erie and Pittsburgh to Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties. When it arrived, it fell on residual moisture from rain earlier in the week, and on roads washed clean of the leftover road salt that might have prevented an icy buildup. Early commuters mashed the snow into a slick, black, icy paste, and chaos ensued. There were dozens of spinouts and collisions, long traffic backups and many school closings.

And there's more winter precip in the forecast for Sunday. See below.

Posted by Admin at 11:03 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

More winter weather due Sunday

As if this morning's snow showers, slick roads, cancelled classes and traffic chaos weren't enough, the National Weather Service is warning of more wintry weather this weekend. Looks like a mix of rain and snow. Here's the advisory:

"...WINTER WEATHER POSSIBLE SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND SUNDAY NIGHT...

"AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE WILL MOVE FROM THE CENTRAL PLAINS SUNDAY TO
THE LOWER GREAT LAKES BY MONDAY MORNING. A WARM FRONT EXTENDING
SOUTH FROM THIS LOW WILL BRING PRECIPITATION ACROSS THE REGION
SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING. MEANWHILE...HIGH PRESSURE TO THE
NORTH WILL INITIALLY KEEP COLDER AIR IN PLACE. AS A RESULT...AS
PRECIPITATION BEGINS TO FALL SUNDAY...IT WILL START OUT AS MIXTURE
OF RAIN AND SNOW.

"SOME SNOW WILL BE LIKELY SUNDAY NIGHT...UNTIL TEMPERATURES WARM AS
THE WARM FRONT CONTINUES NORTH. EVENTUALLY...TEMPERATURES WILL WARM
UP ENOUGH FOR ALL PRECIPITATION TO CHANGE OVER TO RAIN.

"THE EXACT EVOLUTION OF THIS EVENT IS NOT YET CERTAIN. THE STORM
TRACK AND TIMING WILL ULTIMATELY DETERMINE HOW MUCH PRECIPITATION
WILL FALL...AND WHAT FORM IT WILL TAKE. ONLY THEN CAN ANY POTENTIAL
ACCUMULATIONS BE ESTIMATED.

"AREA RESIDENTS SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS
AS THE EVENT DRAWS CLOSER."

Posted by Admin at 10:34 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

February 17, 2005

Glaciers shrink at, well, a glacial pace

There's a reason that any sort of slow change is called "glacial." The big ice rivers move so slowly it's often hard for humans to perceive what's happening. Fortunately we have photography to fill in for absent memories. Here is a set photos on a BBC Web site that illustrate how climate change is affecting parts of our planet, often in ways we can't easily perceive.

Posted by Admin at 3:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Jupiter rising

As fine a sight as Saturn has been, rising high in the evening sky each night amid the brilliant winter constellations, it will be nice to have another bright planet to gape at on these crisp, starry February evenings.

Giant Jupiter is returning to the evening skies this month, rising in the east south-east between 9:30 and 10 p.m. The big ball of gas - 11 times the diameter of Earth - is also getting bigger and brighter as we circle around in front of it. It's now about 443 million miles away.

We're approaching opposition on April 3, when Earth will be directly between the sun and Jupiter. It's our closest approach of the year - "only" 415 million miles - and it will be the best time to have a look through a telescope. No telescope? Try a good set of binoculars. You should be able to see up to four of Jupiter's moons lined up like tiny stars on either side of the planet.

For guidance on where to look and when, go to www.heavens-above.com Follow the instructions for selecting your location, and click on the "whole sky chart" for a star map. It will show you where Jupiter is, and can be adjusted for any hour, any day.

Posted by Admin at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

February 16, 2005

Cold front passes, mercury heads south

After two days of sunshine and springlike highs in the 60s, the weather systems are on the move again and we're headed for more typical February weather. Today's cold front arrived just after noon and the temperature began falling from the day's high of 63 degrees at BWI.

As unseasonably pleasant as they were, neither Tuesday nor Wednesday approached a record for the dates. Tuesday's high of 62 was short of the 76-degree mark reached on Feb. 15, 1954. Today's high of 63 degrees fell 12 degrees shy of the 75-degree record, also set in 1954.

So far this month only four days have averaged below normal. February is running nearly 5 degrees warmer the 30-year norm.

Posted by Admin at 3:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

February 15, 2005

Another balmy winter day in Baltimore

The sun is shining and it's 62 degrees at BWI. Just another balmy winter afternoon in Bawlmer. (It was 59 earlier at the Science Center, beside the water.)

This winter has seen days reach into the 60s in all three months. But today's springlike weather is no record. The warmest Feb. 15 in Baltimore was in 1954, when it was 76 degrees at the airport.

So far, this month is averaging 38.1 degrees, more than 4 degrees above normal. But while it seems remarkable, in fact five of the last 10 Februaries in Mobtown have been that warm or warmer, most recently in 2002, when we averaged 39.1 degrees.

So put the top down, throw open the windows and enjoy. Baltimore is the new Savannah. (At least until another rainstorm moves through on Wednesday and returns us to more seasonable temps on Thursday. )

Posted by Admin at 4:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

The Big One began two years ago today

The great President's Day Weekend Storm of 2003 was well underway on this date two years ago. Before it was over, the four-day event produced 28.2 inches of snow at the airport - the greatest accumulation on record in Baltimore. That February ended with 40.5 inches of snow, the snowiest February on record here, and the winter concluded with 58.1 inches, the second-snowiest ever after the 62.5 inches that fell in 1995-96. (By comparison, this winter has generated just 7.6 inches of snow at BWI.)

Here is a list of the region's worst snowstorms.

Here is a map of the official accumulations.

Got a favorite memory of that paralyzing storm? Drop a comment here and share it.

Visit The Sun's photo gallery and scroll down to the February 2003 gallery of images from the massive storm and its aftermath.

Posted by Admin at 12:34 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: History
        

February 14, 2005

Storm brings more than a quarter-inch of rain

Many locations have seen more than a quarter-inch of rain already from the storm that moved in overnight. It's the first significant precipitation we've had in February, which is half over today. And the forecasts suggest it will continue into the late evening. For real-time rainfall amounts across the region, click here.

Posted by Admin at 2:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Ask Mr. Weatherblogger...

Arrived back on the job on this sleety, rainy morning to an emailed question from MarylandWeather.com reader George Brauer. He writes: "Could you explain in layman's terms Barometric pressure and Dew point and what it does to the weather."

I'll try, with help from Walter Lyon's book, "The Handy Weather Answer Book."
First, barometric pressure:
This is simply the pressure exerted at the Earth's surface by the weight of all the air directly above us. Although we live at the bottom of this ocean of air, we're rarely directly aware of how it presses on us. But we can sense it when we ride up or down in an elevator in a tall building. As we zip higher into that ocean of air, there is less and less air above us, so the air pressure - or barometric pressure - goes down. We feel it as pressure - actually, reduced pressure - on our eardrums, and we swallow or yawn to get them to "pop." What we're really doing is struggling to equalize the air pressure on the inside and the outside of our eardrums. It happens again when we descend, as the volume of air above us, and the pressure it exerts on us, go up.

The first instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure was invented in 1644 by Evangelista Torricelli, a student of Galileo. Scientists learned that barometric readings rise and fall with the passage of weather systems. It's usually measured in inches (or millimeters) of mercury, a reference to instruments like Torricelli's that used a column of mercury in a glass tube as a measuring device. Most modern barometers have other kinds of sensors, but we still mostly use "inches of mercury" as our common reference.

Stormy weather is usually associated with low atmospheric pressure - that is, less air weighing down on us. Clear, sunny (or starry) weather is associated with high atmospheric pressure. So, in the days before electronic communications and weather satellites, when the barometer began to fall, weather prognosticators learned to expect increasing clouds and perhaps precipitation or stormy weather in the next few days. Likewise, when the barometer was rising, they could predict that the bad weather would clear. From most perspectives, the higher the reading, the nicer the weather. The lower the pressure, the more dangerous the storm.

The average barometric reading at sea level is 29.92 inches of mercury. (It's lower at locations with elevations above sea level, since there is less air overhead weighing down on the instruments.) The highest reading ever noted was 32.01 inches of mercury at a spot in Siberia. Very cold locations tend to have higher barometric readings because cold air is denser than warm air, and therefore it weighs more.) The lowest reading ever was 25.63 inches, in the eye of Typhoon Tip, which struck the Philippines in October 1979.

Got it? Okay. Now dew point.
The dew point is expressed as a temperature reading, and it indicates the temperature at which dew will form, wetting the grass and cars. What's really happening is this: The atmosphere always contains some amount of water vapor, or moisture. How much it can hold depends on the temperature. Warmer air can hold a lot more water vapor than colder air. So, as the temperature drops overnight, it will sometimes reach its "dew point" the temperature at which it can no longer hold all its water vapor, causing some of it to condense on exposed surfaces as "dew." The same thing happens in summertime, when we carry a glass of iced tea outside. Because the temperature of the glass is cooled by the ice inside it, the cold glass then cools the air adjacent to it below its dew point. Baltimore summertime humidity being what it is, the chilled air around the glass can't hold all its moisture, and dew forms on the glass. We say it "sweats," and when you take a drink, the moisture rolls down the surface of the glass and into your lap.

In a daily forecast, a high dew point - one close to the real, or ambient temperature - suggests a chance of dew, or fog, or rain, since it's possible a small drop in temperature could cause the moisture in the air to condense and make things wetter. On the other hand, a low dew point, or a wide gap between the dew point at the ambient temperature, suggests the air is dry, and unlikely to produce dew or fog or rain.

Bottom line: high, rising barometer and low dewpoint suggest sunny, dry weather; low, or falling barometer and high dewpoint predict cloudier, wetter weather.

For a case in point, just take a look at the two-day weather data for Sunday and Monday at Baltimore (BWI). In the temperature columns, you can see the dew point ("Dwpt") readings rising closer and closer to the "Air" temperature. At the same time, in the column labeled "Weather," the description of actual conditions at BWI gets wetter and wetter, until it is foggy and misty and rainy. You can also see that the wind shifts to the East, bringing in more Atlantic moisture, which also explains why the moisture in the air, and therefore the dew point, were rising.

Posted by Admin at 10:40 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Ask Mr. Weatherblogger
        

February 11, 2005

Still wet, and there's more en route

The U.S. Geological Survey has released its monthly report on streamflow and water tables in Maryland during January. The persistently wet weather that ended the 2001-2002 drought in the autumn of 2002, has continued through 2003, 2004. Last month saw water levels maintaining their normal to above-normal readings. Heavy rains Jan. 14 caused some flooding and set new streamflow records for the date in Maryland.

Baltimore's reservoirs, which had fully recovered from the drought by May of 2003, have barely budged since. And they're calling for more rain early next week. So you can wash the car and quaff that Baltimore tap water without guilt. Skol!

Posted by Admin at 11:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

February 10, 2005

Try Valentines Day under the stars

Treat your Sweetie to a peek at the stars and planets on Valentine's Day evening. The Maryland Space Grant Observatory at the Johns Hopkins University will be open to the public on Valentine's Day if the weather is clear.

They will be open from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., and anyone can stop by during that time. The event is free. They're also open each Friday evening, weather permitting. More information about the observatory can be found at the link above, or by calling 410-516-6525.

Posted by Admin at 2:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Indonesian quake deadliest in 449 years

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 9.0 earthquake that triggered the tsunami in southern Asia in December was the deadliest since the 16th century. Here's the top of their news release, just out today:

"According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 2004 was the deadliest year for earthquakes since the Renaissance Age, making it the second most fatal in recorded history, with more than 275,950 deaths reported from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26.  The total death toll for earthquakes in 2004 was 276,856; less than 1,000 casualties occurred around the world prior to the Indian Ocean event.

"On Jan. 23, 1556, a magnitude 8 earthquake killed an estimated 830,000 people in Shansi, China.  Tangshan, China, is the site of the quake where 255,000 fatalities were reported in 1976 when a magnitude 7.5 temblor hit the area on July 27."

Posted by Admin at 2:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

February 9, 2005

We welcome your comments

New security measures here apparently have been blocking Blog readers from filing comments for some weeks. It's fixed, now, we hope. We welcome your contributions and apologize for any frustration it's caused.

Posted by Admin at 9:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Notes to readers
        

2004 was fourth-warmest year since 1890s

Global temperature readings from NASA's Earth-observing satellites have revealed that 2004 was the fourth-warmest year since record-keeping began in the 1890s. The only years warmer than last year were 2003, 2002 and 1998. Global warming at work? There doesn't seem to be much doubt about that. It's the cause, and mankind's share of the blame that everybody's fighting about. Read more here.

Posted by Admin at 9:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

February 8, 2005

New moon today marks the Chinese New Year

The Chinese Year of the Rooster begins today - on the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21). For more than you ever wanted to know about how this works, click here.

Posted by Admin at 6:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

UMBC discovers the air we breathe

The Smog Blog folks at UMBC who frequently post wonderful satellite images of Maryland, which we happily link to here, have a camera trained on the skyline northeast of their Catonsville campus. On "good" days it sees the clear blue skies above Mob Town. But Monday it snapped a photo of the nasty air we breathe all too often. It may have seemed Web-worthy to the folks out at UMBC. But to long-time Baltimoreans, the ugly smudge emerging from the old Beth Steel complex at Sparrows Point is as familiar as the Domino Sugar sign.

It wasn't too many years ago that the plant was one of the state's biggest employers and worst polluters. Maybe, even in its post-bankruptcy, tragically depleted incarnation, it still ranks among the dirtiest industries in the state, despite the old Beth Steel having paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in government fines in its day, and spent millions trying to clean up the steel-making process. The expense may have helped to cement their failure. Making money by making steel is a dirty business.

Purchased from bankruptcy by International Steel Group, the old mill still employs something like 2,500 people. The place was sold again last fall to the international steel giant Mittal Steel, which will be based in The Netherlands. It seems much has changed at The Point. But not the purple plume.

Perhaps a dirty skyline is the color of money, and the price we pay to keep 2,500 Marylanders employed, and steel production in America. Or maybe we would all be better off if Mittal moved production to China, and Sparrows Point were redeveloped for cleaner industry, or condos and marinas and sushi bars. Comments anyone?

Posted by Admin at 11:35 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

February 4, 2005

Where did that snow come from, anyway?

Okay, so it wasn't much of a snowstorm. But it was beautiful as it fell. It made the place look lovely at daybreak today and, best of all, it was a wintry surprise that caused little disruption.

So where the heck did it come from? The forecasts for Thursday had called for a little bit of snow across southern Maryland - Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties. But Washington and Baltimore weren't supposed to see anything. Then the morning and midday forecasts began to suggest a chance of snow in the city. Then came warnings about slippery spots on the homeward commute. It was snowing in Washington by 2 p.m., and by 3 p.m. Baltimore looked like one of those snow-filled glass paperweights.

In the midst of it all, the forecasters at Sterling said it would taper off by 5 p.m. But it kept on snowing - big, fat flakes on the slow ride home, and it was still snowing in Cockeysville at 10 p.m.

So, what happened? Blame a stubborn "blocking pattern" a thousand miles out in the Atlantic, and an unexpected injection of energy into our storm from another one in the Ohio Valley, says Geoff Cornish, a meteorologist with the Penn State Weather Communications Group.

Our storm developed as a low pressure center in the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas. It gained strength and moved across the Southeastern states, riding the southern branch of the jet stream.

"I imagine most forecasters thought this would pass as a relatively weak low pressure system and quietly pass of the Carolina coast," Cornish says. "I got the impression it did behave as forecasted in the Blue Ridge and the Carolinas. It was just in the northern fringe where many of the forecasts didn't work out as well as expected."

A second low had moved along the northern branch of the jet stream from north of Minnesota into the Ohio Valley. That system injected new energy into "our" storm, moving the snow zone north into the metropolitan areas and intensifying it.

At the same time, Cornish said, another area of low pressure far out over the Atlantic that had been stationary for most of the week, began to push westward. "So we had two different disturbances converging," he said. The low from the east smushed into our storm and forced the air at the collision point to rise. He compared it to toothpaste in the center of a tube that's squeezed from both ends at once.

The rising air meant mixed precipitation for southern New England and Long Island early Friday.

"It was a little bit bizarre, but certainly not unprecedented," Cornish said. "The atmosphere does these things whenever you get into a blocking pattern. Computer models don't always handle blocking patterns all that well."

Posted by Admin at 6:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Sunshine and starshine this weekend

The clouds are dissipating, the snow is melting and we're all headed for a great weekend weatherwise. High pressure and southwest winds will nudge highs into the 50s through the weekend and well into next week - 5 to 10 degrees above normal. The lows will be above normal, too, generally in the upper 20s.

The night skies will clear, too, for the weekend. Look for the moon to pass just beneath Mars, low in the east about an hour before sunrise Saturday morning.

Better yet, sleep in. It's Saturday and you deserve it. Instead, step outside Saturday evening and take a gander at Saturn, still brilliant high in the sky northeast of Orion. You can find it with the help of a sky chart.

Saturn is currently about 758 million miles away. The Cassini spacecraft is still circling up there, having dropped its Huygens probe last month onto the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

Posted by Admin at 12:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

February 3, 2005

Surprise snowfall brings up to 5 inches

Parts of Virginia got 5 inches from this little dusting. Parts of Baltimore and Carroll counties saw 3.5 to 4 inches. Here are some preliminary accumulations from around the region.

Posted by Admin at 6:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Wet snow should taper off by 5 p.m.

Never mind what they said yesterday. The snow the weather service forecast for Southern Maryland, that was supposed to stay to our south today, has headed this way after all. They reported light snow at both Washington airports at 2 p.m. It started in downtown Baltimore around 3 p.m., and is snowing hard at 3:35 p.m. Here's the advisory:

...MODERATE TO HEAVY WET SNOW TO AFFECT THE AFTERNOON COMMUTE...

MODERATE TO HEAVY WET SNOW WILL AFFECT THE WASHINGTON AND BALTIMORE
METRO AREAS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS AFTERNOON WITH VISIBILITIES AS
LOW AS QUARTER OF MILE POSSIBLE. AN INCH OF SNOW CAN BE EXPECTED ON
GRASSY AREAS WITH A COATING POSSIBLE ON ROADWAYS. MOTORISTS ARE URGED
TO EXERCISE CAUTION ON OVERPASSES AND BRIDGES WHICH COULD BECOME
SLICK. SNOW WILL TAPER OFF BY 5 PM.

Posted by Admin at 2:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

This crazy weather....

Well, it's actually been pretty normal around these parts lately. But 2004 saw all kinds of wacky weather around the world. The National Climatatic Data Center has assembled the most significant events into a fascinating map, highlighting droughts, floods, snowstorms, heatwaves and more. It's worth a look. (If the map appears too small to read, rest your cursor over it, and then click on the enlargement icon that appears at lower right.)

Posted by Admin at 11:21 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool sites
        

February 2, 2005

Snow-covered Maryland; a portrait from space

NASA's Aqua Earth-observing satellite has sent back another beautiful photo of a snowy Maryland, shot Tuesday from orbit. Looks like the upper Eastern Shore has more snow on the ground than counties west of the bay. Plenty of ice in the creeks, too. Thanks to the Smog Blog folks at UMBC. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

Posted by Admin at 10:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

February 1, 2005

January ends with split personality

Like the two-faced Roman god of gates and doorways (Janus) for which it was named, January ended overnight with a split personality - extraordinarily mild for the first two weeks, followed by bracing cold and snow for the balance.

Temperatures at BWI averaged 33.9 degrees, more than a degree-and-a-half above normal. The high point was 70 degrees on the 13th. The low was 9 degrees on the 24th. Quite a spread. On balance, we saved about 4 percent on our heating demand for the month, although higher fuel prices no doubt erased any real cash savings.

The month also ended wetter than normal, with 3.75 inches of melted precipitation. That's about a quarter-inch more than normal for the month. Most of the moisture fell in overnight downpours on the 13th and 14th - a bit more than 2 inches.

The airport recorded 7.6 inches of snow, more than an inch above the January norm. Most of that - 4.5 inches - fell on a Saturday, the 22nd.

For the full report, click here.

Posted by Admin at 10:56 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)
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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