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March 30, 2005

Deluge, delayed

Recent rains have swollen the Susquehanna River and forced the operators of the Conowingo Dam to open more crest gates. 15 of the 40 gates are now open and minor flooding is expected in Port Deposit and Havre de Grace.

You can keep an eye on conditions at the dam with this site from the USGS.

Posted by Admin at 9:28 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Flooding
        

March 28, 2005

Flood watch, round 2

Today's heavy rains have prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flood statement for our region. Up to 2 inches of rain could fall before the system clears out tomorrow morning.

You can keep an eye on rainfall totals here.

Posted by Admin at 12:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Flooding
        

March 24, 2005

Wednesday was wettest March day on record

Preliminary readings from the rain gauge at Baltimore-Washington International Airport make Wednesday the wettest March day since record-keeping for Baltimore began in 1871.

Data posted by the National Weather Service's Sterling, Va. forecast office put the total at 2.56 inches, falling between about midnight and 6 p.m. Here are the closest contenders:

March 23, 2005 ... 2.56 inches
March 2, 1994 ... 2.48 inches
March 13, 1993 ... 2.45 inches
March 23, 1991 ... 2.36 inches
March 26, 1978 ... 2.31 inches
March 11, 1936 ... 2.10 inches

I find it interesting that the four wettest March days in the past 134 years have all occurred in the past 15 years. Global warming theory predicts that a warming planet would be expected to produce more extreme weather events - heavier rain and snow events, more severe droughts, floods, etc.

Whatever one's opinion on how much of the planet's warming can be blamed on human activity, there is little debate among scientists that it is warming. And perhaps days like Wednesday will become more common. Your thoughts?

Posted by Admin at 10:23 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers
        

March 23, 2005

Hurricane maps won't feel winds of change

Heavy destruction outside the forecast paths of last year's Florida hurricanes led the National Hurricane Center to consider ways to change its graphics to stress both the uncertainty of the predictions, and the potential for damage far to either side of the central path.

But after consulting with the press and the public, forecasters have decided to stick with the old design. The rest of us will just have to understand that these storms don't always go where they seem to be pointed, and that damage can be terrible far from the storm's center.

Here's the story.

Here's the Weather Service release, with sample graphics.

And here are the Atlantic storm names for the coming years.

Posted by Admin at 6:16 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

Two inches of rain swells streams

Today's rainstorm has dropped well over 2 inches of rain across much of the Baltimore region, effectively erasing the rainfall deficit for 2005. Creeks and rivers are on the rise, in some cases to record levels for the date. Check our White Marsh Run.
Here are some rainfall readings for the metropolitan counties.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood statement for all of Central Maryland, warning residents to avoid high water.

Snap any good high-water photos? Post them to Readers' Photos. Click here, register and follow instructions for uploading your images to the site.

Posted by Admin at 4:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Drenching rains across the region

But then you already knew that. The rains began at BWI after midnight. And by 10 a.m. the rain gauges there had clocked in more than 1.5 inches.

By 11 a.m., accumulations in parts of Baltimore were approaching 2 inches.

It was falling as hard as .44 inch an hour on my rain gauge in Cockeysville, although most of the time it was closer to a quarter-inch an hour in the early morning hours.

And the creeks are rising. White Marsh Run, in White Marsh, rose nearly 4 feet this morning, swelling from about 6 cubic feet per second to more than 2,000 cf/s. That set a new record for the date.

The Gwynns Falls was also setting records. It was flowing at more than 900 cf/s at Villa Nova, in Baltimore County, up from 25 cf/s before the rains came.

We'll get a break tomorrow, but there's a threat of rain in the forecast for Friday and through the weekend.

Posted by Admin at 11:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

March 22, 2005

Ask Mr. WeatherBlogger

We recently had this question forwarded to us from an email correspondent, "malkix": "At noon in late December the sun's angle above the horizon was about 30 deg., today (March 16) about 45 deg. What will it be in late June?"

The sun's apparent angle above the horizon depends on several factors: the Earth's tilt on its axis (about 23 degrees); the time of year, and the observer's latitude, or distance from the equator. (Baltimore is situated at slightly less than 40 degrees North latitude.)

Jim O'Leary, director of the Davis Planetarium at the Maryland Science Center did the math and came up with these numbers: In late December in Baltimore, around the time of the winter solstice, the sun appears only about 27 degrees above the horizon at noon. In late March and late September, around the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, it stands about 50 degrees above the horizon - a bit more than halfway up the sky. And, at the summer solstice, late in June, it will be about 73 degrees above the horizon.

For more reading, try this site.

Posted by Admin at 2:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Ask Mr. Weatherblogger
        

A 900-foot blimp for weather forecasting?

Scientists and engineers at Purdue University are developing an unmanned, helium-filled aircraft that would hover for a year above 65,000 feet to do survellance work and weather forecasting. The huge craft - four times the length of the Goodyear blimp - would run on solar power and fuel cells. (Purdue's prototype is just 19 feet long.)

Higher than airplanes, lower than satellites and more durable than weather balloons, such devices might provide meteorologists with data they can't get today. But can they hold their positions amid the harsh conditions and winds at such high altitudes? Here's the story.

Posted by Admin at 1:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Research
        

Enjoy the sunshine; rain on the way

Find a sunny sidewalk cafe for lunch today, for the 55-degree high and sunshine won't last. (C'mon, Europeans eat outside in colder weather than this. And we settled a wilderness!) The National Weather Service says there's a strong chance (80 percent) for rain after midnight tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. We'll get a break Thursday, but face more drippy weather Friday and into the weekend.

But it doesn't seem like any of this precipitation will do much for us. Maybe a half-inch in all. And we're three weeks into a month that's seen just four small precipitation events. We're off the pace by more than 2 inches for March, and more than three inches for the year.

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

March 21, 2005

Floods threaten Hungary, Central Europe

Melting snows in Central Europe are posing flood threats to Budapest, Hungary, and along more than 500 miles of the Danube. Here's the story.

Posted by Admin at 7:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Killer tornadoes rake Bangladesh

Just as the United States enters its spring tornado season, there's a reminder from Bangladesh of just how devastating these twisters can be. Here's the story.

There were severe thunderstorm warnings posted today in north-central and northeast Texas. And while Maryland is far from the midwestern Tornado Alley, we are no strangers to these terrifying storms. torms. College Park, in Prince George's County, and LaPlata, in Charles County, are all too familiar with the death and destruction they can bring. Here is a shot of the LaPlata storm after it moved out over the Chesapeake Bay.

Posted by Admin at 10:08 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

March 18, 2005

Road salt under scrutiny in Maine

The use of road salt to keep roads clear during winter storms has increased dramatically in the past 50 years. Plenty of us are old enough to remember when road crews spread sand or cinders to keep plowed roads passable. And if they used salt at all, it was mostly on hills. If you had to get around in those days, you put snow tires or chains on your car.

I can remember being towed behind a neighbor's car on a tobaggan. The roads were all snow-covered for days after a storm, and it didn't seem like such a big deal, at least not to a kid. Of course, it was dangerous and stupid, but it was a heck of a lot of fun.

The increased use of road salt has often come under fire from environmentalists who worried about damage to roadside trees, and about all that salt running into nearby waterways. And now scientists in Maine have begun to look more closely at the issue. They say they don't advocate banning it. They just want to know more about how it's affecting the environment. Here's the story.

Posted by Admin at 5:40 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Weekend rains are welcome

The weekend forecast calls for a chance of rain each day, and every drop of it will be welcome. First, it won't be snow or ice. But second, we're running a precipitation shortfall of nearly three inches so far this year.

January produced a small surplus of .28 inches. But February fell 1.36 inch short of the norm. And March so far is 1.81 inches behind the pace.

There's no shortage in the region's reservoir system, of course. It's been full since May of 2003. But it would be nice to moisten up to soil for spring planting. Besides, there are still a lot of cars out there covered with road salt that could use a good soaking. Mine included.

Posted by Admin at 5:08 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Third-coldest March on record ... so far

Even with temperatures warming a bit, into the low 50s, this remains a very chilly March. In fact, more than halfway through the month, we are still averaging well below normal, which is about 44 degrees at BWI.

So far this month, the average temperature at BWI is just 36.6 degrees. And that makes this the second-coldest March in 45 years. Only March of 1960 was colder, averaging just 33.4 degrees. Only four other years have recorded a March that averaged below 40 degrees: 1996, 1993, 1984 and 1965.

Take an even longer view and March 2005 ranks as the third-coldest since record-keeping began in 1871, after 1960 and 1885 (35.4 degrees). Of course, with 13 days still to go, and the likelihood things will warm up as we get closer to April, the running average will almost surely rise, and March 2005 may quickly fade into obscurity.

On the other hand, we've had only two days all month with average temperatures above normal. And the forecast doesn't offer much hope that temps will not continue to lag the average highs, which have reached 55 degrees.

Let's hope the law of averages takes charge soon. We're overdue for a stretch of nice, balmy weather.

Posted by Admin at 10:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

March 17, 2005

Killer storm strikes Philippines

The unusual typhoon struck during the islands' dry season. Hurricane-force winds capsized a ferry and toppled trees. Here's more.

Posted by Admin at 11:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

March 16, 2005

Back to normal, at last

After nearly three weeks of abnormally cold weather, the forecast through early next week is finally beginning to look almost normal. The highs will creep from the low 50s into the upper 50s by Sunday or Monday. With enough sunshine, we might even touch 60 in some spots. There's a fading chance of showers for the weekend, but we can forget about the snow showers forecasters had been hinting at.

We'll take whatever moves toward spring weather we can get. In the past 20 days at BWI, average temperatures have risen above normal on just two occasions. There were also two days that matched ther 30-year norms. The rest - 16 days - were colder than normal fore the dates.

The normal highs at this time of year are rising past 55, and the normal lows have finally topped the freezing mark.

Spring, of course, arrives officially, at 7:33 a.m. on Sunday. Not a moment too soon. Saw my first crocus blossom this morning, and a crow flying by with nest material in his (her?) beak. Whew! We made it.

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

March 15, 2005

Sunrise, sunset, 12 hours apart Wednesday

No, the Vernal Equinox doesn't occur for a few more days - at 7:33 a.m. on Sunday, the 20th. But, officially at least, day and night will each last almost exactly 12 hours on Wednesday.

The official sunrise for Baltimore will be at 6:16 a.m., and sunset will occur at 6:15 p.m. From here on out, until Sept. 25, the days will be longer than the nights.

These dates don't match the dates of the equinoxes because of the way official sunrise and sunset times are calculated. For a full explanation, visit Sky & Telescope's website.

Posted by Admin at 6:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Drought, heat wave feared in France

A long period of abnormally low precipitation across France is raising fears that this year might look like 2003. Drought in that year led to more than 14,000 heat-related deaths. Here's the story.

Posted by Admin at 2:22 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Ask Mr. WeatherBlogger

A few days ago, we answered a reader's query about whether the apparent dearth of acorns in Maryland last fall might have been the result of some weather phenomenon. We consulted with forestry experts at the Department of Natural Resources and they said there was indeed a notable scarcity of acorns. It was significant enough to impact the state's annual harvest of acorns for cultivation at the state nursery in Preston.

The DNR's Mike Galvin said oak species normally produce large acorn crops every 2, 3 or 5 years, depending on the variety. In between, the acorn drop can be very small. And last fall, he said, many oak varieties in Maryland shared an "off" year.

Well, two readers wrote to attribute the scarcity to the arrival late last spring of the 17-year cicadas. After the adults emerge, they fly into the trees and mate. And soon the females are busy slicing into the twigs at the ends of many tree branches and depositing their eggs in slits cut into the bark. That causes a very noticeable die-off at the branch ends. And it could conceivably affect the development of acorns.

It sounded reasonable to me, too. But Mike Galvin reports that cicadas likely had little or nothing to do with the subsequent acorn crop.

"The location of the cicadas and the incidence of the dearth of acorns was not coincident," he said. "We had cicadas in some places that we didn't have an (acorn) issue, and we didn't have cicadas in some places where we had an issue."

"If there were any cause and effect, this (cicadas) was not seen to be the main factor," he said.

He did allow that last year's weather may have played a role, at least in not triggering heavy acorn production. He confirmed what I had been told years ago - that when oaks are under stress, as in a drought year, they will often produce an especially heavy acorn crop. It's an adaptation apparently designed to ensure that even if the tree itself is killed, it's gene line will be more likely to survive if there are a gazillion extra acorns out there for squirrels to bury.

The oaks, he said, "will produce heavily when under stress. And when they're not, they will allocate resources to vegetative production. Last year we weren't in a drought year, and we had great rainfall ... so the trees should have had a pretty good year and not been under stress." Hence, more leaves to rake and fewer acorns.

Posted by Admin at 10:09 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Ask Mr. Weatherblogger
        

March 14, 2005

On a clear day, you can see Maryland

On one of the brightest, clearest days we've seen in a long while, NASA's Earth-orbserving Aqua satellite looked down on Maryland at about 1:30 p.m. today and shot a terrific portrait of the state in mid-March. Not a cloud anywhere to obscure the view. Just a little snow in the Blue Ridge of Virginia, the brown of late winter, with a gray-brown smear of civilization along the Baltimore-Washington-Wilmington corridor.

Click on the left-hand photo to enlarge it. Thanks to the Smog Blog folks at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Posted by Admin at 6:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Remembering the 1993 "Superstorm"

It didn't set any snowfall records in Baltimore, but the two-day "Superstorm" of 1993, which ended on March 14, was one of the largest and most intense on record for the East Coast. It dropped a foot of snow in the city - the snowiest March in the past 40 years. And it set a new record low for barometric readings in Baltimore - 28.51 inches.

AccuWeather mapped the storm this way.

Here's how the National Weather Service remembers it:

"The Superstorm of March '93 was named for its large area of impact, all the way from Florida and Alabama north through New England. The entire State of Pennsylvania was buried under 1 to 2 feet of snow. Even Alabama saw as much as 13 inches. The storm was blamed for some 200 deaths (many, heart attacks from shoveling the heavy snow). It cost a couple billion dollars to repair damages and remove snow.

"In Florida, it produced a storm surge of 9 to 12 feet that killed 11 people (more deaths than surges from Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew) and it spawned 11 tornadoes. As the storm's center crossed the Mid-Atlantic region and the Chesapeake Bay, weather stations recorded their lowest pressure ever (Baltimore = 28.51 inches).

"This storm was not ... the storm of the century for Maryland, but it wasn't a wimp either. Unlike most nor'easters that move up the coast, this storm took a more inland track across Southeast Virginia and the central Chesapeake Bay. It brought rain and winds to the Maryland Eastern Shore with minor flooding to counties along the east side of the Bay.

"However, in western Maryland, it dumped between 1.5 to 2.5 feet of snow. Piney Dam in northeast Garrett County recorded another 31 inches of snow after recording a record 42 inches just 3 months earlier during the Dec.10-12 Great Nor'easter. Winds produced blizzard conditions with snow drifts up to 12 feet! Hagerstown received 20 inches of snow (its fourth greatest) and winds gusting up to 55 mph caused whiteout conditions and severe drifting.

"Interstates shut down. Road crews had to stop blowing for a period of time because it was too dangerous and the wind would just blow the snow back onto the road. Shelters opened for nearly 4,000 stranded travelers and those that left without heat and electricity. The National Guard was called to help with emergency transports and critical snow removal.

"Oxon Hill recorded 8 inches of snow; 13 inches fell in the District and within the beltway; and 18 inches north and west of the city in Frederick County.

"Baltimore had 12 inches with greater amounts to the north and recorded a wind gust to 69 mph on the 13th. Eleven people died in Virginia, one in the District, and one in Maryland during and immediately following the storm. Snow removal and clean-up costs were estimated at $16 million in Virginia, $22 million in Maryland, and half million dollars in DC."

Posted by Admin at 1:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: History
        

Clear night for stargazing

The forecast looks good for stargazing tonight. Clear skies (and cold temperatures, sorry) should give us all a chance to see Mercury, along with a nice, slim crescent moon just four days past new. Look for elusive Mercury just above the western horizon within the hour after sunset, which occurs at 6:13 p.m. EST. It's the brightest star-like object in that part of the sky, and this is our best chance to see it, conveniently, in the evening sky this year.

The crescent moon will be just below the Pleiades star cluster tonight, and edging closer. In a few more days it will be unusually high overhead, nearly at the zenith. Here's why.

There are also two other planets that can be easily found tonight. Saturn is very high in the sky, just a bit southwest of the zenith (directly overhead) at 10 p.m. Face south. Look straight up for the twin stars of Gemini - Castor and Pollux - and you'll find Saturn, a bit yellower to the eye, just to the two stars' lower right. If you have access to a telescope, Saturn and its rings are always a thrill. No one forgets their first view of the iconic ringed planet. And it's amazing to think that we have a spacecraft - Cassini - now circling Saturn. And Cassini's lander is sitting on the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Who could have imagined such things just a few short decades ago?

Also in the sky tonight will be the solar system's largest planet, Jupiter. It rises in the evening and by 10 p.m. is the brightest object in the sky, except the moon. Look for it above the eastern horizon. With a good pair of binoculars, you should be able to see as many as four of Jupiter's largest moons, lined up in a row like tiny stars on either side of the planet.

Jupiter is nearing opposition on April 3, when it will be directly opposite the sun from our perspective on Earth, rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. It's Jupiter's biggest, brightest and closest appearance of the year.

Posted by Admin at 10:40 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

March 11, 2005

Ask Mr. WeatherBlogger

Larry Triplett, of Pasadena writes: "I wondered if the near total lack of acorns this past Fall was in any way a weather event?"

An astute observation, Larry. In fact, Mike Galvin and his colleagues at the Urban and Community Forest Program (Maryland Department of Natural Resources) were talking about just that very question recently. "Your reader has a keen eye," he told me. "It's something we experienced all over the state."

Every fall, he said, the forestry folks spread out across Maryland to gather up seeds dropped by a variety of native shade trees, including oaks, ash and black walnut. They're sent to the state nursery in Preston, in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore. There, they're planted and cultivated to produce seedlings for reforestation work.

But last fall there was a notable scarcity of acorns. White oaks, northern and southern red oaks - none of them had produced much of a crop. And it has certainly put a crimp in the diets of the state's deer and squirrels and bears. It also forced the forestry folks to seek acorns from out-of-state suppliers in order to get enough seeds for the state nursery.

Weather can affect acorn crops. A severe and prolonged drought, I'm told, can prompt some oaks to produce especially heavy loads of acorns, apparently an adaptation designed to assure that the species survives, even if the individual tree dies from a lack of water.

This time, however, weather probably did not play a role, Galvin said. All else being equal, oaks produce acorn crops in cycles. Depending on the variety, they tend to drop bumper crops every two, three or five years, with scant production in the "off" years.

Last fall appears to have seen a coincidental convergence of "off" years for all oak varieties in Maryland. "There was a dearth of acorns across the state, of different oaks," Galvin said. There was no weather event that caused it, he said, and "there wasn't any significant oak mortality or disease around."

The good news is we're all likely to be swimming in acorns next fall. Maybe that will keep the deer out of the garden.

Posted by Admin at 6:32 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Ask Mr. Weatherblogger
        

The Eye of God

Check out NASA's astronomy Picture of the Day. It's a shot of the Ring Nebula (M57), the billowing remnants from the explosion of a dying star some 2,000 light years from Earth. It was taken in infrared light by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope, one of NASA's Great Observatories. Eerie, isn't it?

Posted by Admin at 11:25 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

A wet weekend on tap

Wintry weather will hang around a while longer, from the looks of the forecast. Just be thankful you don't live in Garrett County, where they're forecasting another 5 to 7 inches today. Even Allegany is looking at 3 to 5 inches today on the western ridges.

As for us lowlanders, we can expect snow showers and rain showers off and on all weekend. The strongest threat, if you can call it that, is tonight. There's a 50 percent chance that we'll see snow, but less than an inch. The chances slip for the balance of the weekend, but there's still a 20 percent chance of snow or rain showers Saturday and Sunday before noon. We might see some clearing after that, and a chance, though probably not a great one, to see Mercury after sunset. (See previous post.) Daily highs this weekend will remain about 10 degrees below normal for this time of year.

So far, March as a whole remains unusually cool. They're running 5.6 degrees below normal at BWI. We've had only two clear days among the first 10, and just three with above-normal temperatures. Enough with the lions. When do the lambs arrive?

Posted by Admin at 11:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

March 10, 2005

This weekend is best time to see Mercury

The tiny planet Mercury - orbiting as it does so close to the sun - is always the most elusive of the five planets in our solar system that are visible to the naked eye. It's only visible when its orbit has carried it nearly as far as possible to one side of the sun or the other as seen from Earth. That means we can get a glimpse of it just above the sun after the sun sets in the west, or before it rises in the east.

And even then observers have to contend with dust and humidity, mountains, buildings and trees that often obscure the view close to the horizon.

This weekend offers one of the best opportunities this year to spot Mercury. It's near its greastest evening "elongation," or separation from the sun. That means it lingers longer (40 minutes) in the western sky after sunset, before following the sun below the horizon.

The immediate weather forecast is not very promising. It may not clear enough for a good look until Sunday night. But as soon as evening skies clear, find a spot with a good view of the western horizon and have a look. For the next week or so Mercury should remain the brightest star-like light low in the western sky in the hour after sunset. After that it will dim quickly and vanish from view.

For more information, and some sky maps to guide your pursuit of swift Mercury, click here.

Posted by Admin at 3:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Calling all weather buffs

Now is your chance to become an official, though volunteer, weather spotter for the National Weather Service's SKYWARN network. The service is recruiting new members. Sorry, no secret decoder rings involved. But you'll attend a basic-training "boot camp," and learn how to provide valuable and timely weather data to the forecasters in Sterling, Va. who issue all the weather alerts, warnings and forecasts for Central Maryland.

For more information on what's involved and how to register, click here.

Posted by Admin at 12:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Six inches of snow due ... in Garrett Co.

A winter storm watch was issued early today for far-western Garrett County. The snow is expected overnight tonight. That's no big deal for the hardy Garrett folks, and good news for weekend skiers. Here's the advisory from the weather service:

...WINTER STORM WATCH FROM 1 AM FRIDAY UNTIL 7 AM SATURDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PITTSBURGH HAS ISSUED A WINTER
STORM WATCH FOR PRESTON, TUCKER, AND GARRETT COUNTIES.

SNOW IS EXPECTED LATE TONIGHT THROUGH EARLY SATURDAY MORNING.
ACCUMULATIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BE 6 INCHES OR MORE, ESPECIALLY
ON THE RIDGE TOPS. DRIVE CAREFULLY.

Posted by Admin at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March 9, 2005

Winds topped 40 mph; more snow due

The cold front that rushed into the region Tuesday pushed peak wind gusts at BWI to more than 40 mph late in the day. The gusts reached 43 mph between 3 and 4 p.m., and surged again to 40 mph between 9 and 10 p.m.

Temperatures at the airport plunged from 60 degrees at 3 a.m. Tuesday to a low of 19 degrees by 5 a.m. today, a drop of 41 degrees in 26 hours. For details, click here.

More cold and snow are due. Here's the forecast advisory:

"SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS ARE EXPECTED ALONG AND WEST OF THE ALLEGHENY
FRONT. LOCAL ACCUMULATIONS AROUND AN INCH ARE POSSIBLE. THE SNOW
SHOWERS SHOULD DISSIPATE BY LATE AFTERNOON.

"WIND GUSTS UP TO 30 MPH ARE EXPECTED TODAY ACROSS THE OUTLOOK AREA.
WIND CHILL VALUES THIS MORNING MAY HOVER AROUND ZERO IN A FEW
LOCATIONS. BUNDLE UP TO PREPARE FOR THE FRIGID WEATHER.

"TWO WEAK STORM SYSTEMS WILL PROVIDE CHANCES FOR SNOW THURSDAY NIGHT
AND FRIDAY...AND AGAIN SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY. MINOR ACCUMULATIONS
WILL BE POSSIBLE...PARTICULARLY IN THE HIGHER TERRAIN."

Posted by Admin at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Mount St. Helens appears quiet for now

The mountain's crater was only steaming a bit this morning in the U.S. Geological Survey's "volcano-cam" image. But check back from time to time and you may catch it erupting. The mountain sent steam and ash billowing 30,000 feet into the sky yesterday, triggering an aviation alert. That forced airliners to fly around the gritty clouds to prevent the ash from entering and damaging their turbines.

Posted by Admin at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

March 8, 2005

Category 5 cyclone heads for Australia

Cyclone Ingrid is bearing down on the northeast coast of Australia. Queensland is bracing for 155 mph winds. Read more here.

March 10 update: click here.

Posted by Admin at 4:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

High wind warnings posted

Along with the snow, the cold front crossing Maryland today will usher in high winds, gusting to 50 mph. There are gale warnings on the Bay and storm warnings offshore - posted when winds are forecast to exceed 55 mph.

Here's the wind advisory posted for our region until 7 p.m.:

"THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A WIND
ADVISORY FOR EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA...CENTRAL AND WESTERN
MARYLAND...CENTRAL AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA...AND THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA.

"NORTHWEST WINDS WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE THIS AFTERNOON AS A STORM
SYSTEM OFF THE DELMARVA COAST INTENSIFIES. SUSTAINED WINDS OF 20 TO
30 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH GUSTS AS HIGH AS 50 MPH. WIND SPEEDS
ARE EXPECTED TO GRADUALLY DECREASE DURING THE EVENING...BUT STILL
REMAIN NOTICEABLE WITH GUSTS TO 30 MPH TONIGHT.

"BE SURE TO SECURE ALL LOOSE OUTDOOR OBJECTS SUCH AS GARBAGE CANS.
ALSO...REMAIN ALERT FOR BLOWING AND FALLING DEBRIS. STAY TUNED TO
NOAA WEATHER RADIO FOR WEATHER UPDATES."

Posted by Admin at 10:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Snowstorm: All bark, no bite

4:30 p.m.: It looked bad out there for a few hours, but forecasters assured us it wouldn't amount to much. And they were right. Skies are clearing off, and here are some reports on accumulations. Damascus, in Montgomery County, takes the prize at 3.5 inches. The roads stayed clear.

The cold front pushing into the region dropped temperatures 22 degrees in 6 hours at BWI - from an unseasonably mild 60 degrees at 3 a.m. to 38 degrees by 9 a.m. And the numbers are still falling, headed for the teens over night.

By 9:30 it was snowing in Cockeysville, and by 10:30 it was snowing hard in downtown Baltimore. Thankfully, paved surfaces were too warm after yesterday's 69-degree high. Here's the snow advisory issued this morning for central Maryland, and it pretty much hit the nail on the head:

"...SNOW ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON...

"A STRONG COLD FRONT WILL CONTINUE TO PUSH EAST OF THE REGION. BEHIND
THIS FRONT TEMPERATURES WILL TUMBLE...FALLING AS MUCH AS 20 DEGREES
IN ONE HOUR. PRECIPITATION WILL QUICKLY CHANGE TO SNOW AND BECOME
HEAVY. A THREE HOUR PERIOD OF HEAVY WET SNOW IS EXPECTED WITH ONE
INCH OR TWO OF ACCUMULATION...MAINLY OVER GRASSY SURFACES.
VISIBILITIES COULD DROP AS LOW AS A QUARTER MILE. SNOW WILL END FROM
WEST TO END AND PUSH EAST OF THE REGION BY 4 PM."

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

March 7, 2005

High of 69 no record; wind, rain, snow next

Today's high temperature of 69 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Airport made for a great March day, but it won't go down in the record books. The record high for a March 7 was 76 degrees, set back in 1974.

Here are today's highs from elsewhere around the region:

72 degrees at Richmond, Va.
71 degrees at Norfolk, Va. and Frederick, Md.
70 degrees at the Inner Harbor, Reagan National Airport, and Charlottesville, Va.
68 degrees at Dulles International and Salisbury, Md.
59 degrees at Annapolis

Things will go sharply downhill from here. Here's the bad news from Sterling:

"..BLUSTERY WEATHER ON THE WAY...

"THE WEATHER IN MARCH IS USUALLY VERY CHANGEABLE...AND TOMORROW WILL
BE NO EXCEPTION. TODAY'S TEMPERATURES IN THE 60S WILL MELT AWAY AS A
COLD FRONT PUSHES INTO THE MID ATLANTIC REGION AFTER MIDNIGHT. THE
FRONT WILL REACH THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AFTER SUNRISE...AND COLD AIR WILL
BEGIN RUSHING INTO THE REGION. TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO FALL
RAPIDLY THROUGH THE 40S AND INTO THE 30S DURING THE MORNING HOURS.

"IT WILL BE WINDY ON TUESDAY. WINDS WILL TURN TO THE NORTHWEST AND
BLOW AT 20 TO 30 MPH...WITH GUSTS TO 40 MPH DURING THE AFTERNOON.
WIND CHILLS WILL FALL INTO THE LOWER 20S DURING TUESDAY AFTERNOON.

"WITH THE COLDER AIR MOVING INTO THE AREA...OVERNIGHT RAIN IS EXPECTED
TO BEGIN MIXING WITH SNOW AFTER SUNRISE...AND THEN CHANGE TO SNOW
BEFORE COMING TO AN END IN THE EARLY AFTERNOON. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT
THE SNOW MAY WHITEN THE GROUND...BUT PAVEMENT TEMPERATURES WILL BE
WELL ABOVE FREEZING...AND THE SNOW WILL NOT STICK TO ROADWAYS."

Posted by Admin at 6:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Space Station flyover Tuesday night

It will be cold and blustery, and partly cloudy skies could interfere. But there will be a very nice flyover by the International Space Station Tuesday evening, visible from the Baltimore region.

Look to the west-southwest at about 7:29 p.m. for a bright, steady, star-like light, moving briskly toward the north-northeast. At 7:32 p.m., it will be 54 degrees above the northwestern horizon - more than halfway up the sky. A minute later, at 7:33 p.m., it will disappear in the north-northeast as it passes into the Earth's shadow.

The space station is currently manned by a two-man crew. Astronaut Leroy Chiao, 44, the commander, and cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov, 40, flight engineer, have been aboard for nearly 145 days. Their craft is currently flying at 17,225 mph, about 225 miles above the Earth's surface.

Times and directions can vary considerably with the viewer's location. For regular flyover predictions for your community, go to www.heavens-above.com You can track the station, and other key satellites here.

If you miss this pass, there will be another almost as good on Thursday evening beginning at 6:49 p.m. in the west-southwest. Check Heavens Above for details for your location.

Posted by Admin at 11:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Nice, but it won't last

The thermometer in my car was already in the 60s at 9:45 this morning. And a forecast high of 65 at BWI was topped at lunchtime. That's more than 15 degrees above normal for the date.

So get outside, hit the sidewalk cafes for lunch and soak it up. Because it won't last.

These mild southwest breezes will give way overnight to an approaching cold front bearing gusty northwest winds, rain, colder temperatures and maybe even snow showers by Tuesday afternoon. The high Tuesday should be in the 40s, falling to the 30s on Wednesday, with an overnight low of just 16 degrees Wednesday into Thursday. Temps will stall almost 10 degrees below normal for Thursday and Friday.

Who said April is the cruelest month?

Posted by Admin at 11:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

March 4, 2005

Dry February cuts water flow to Chesapeake

The U.S. Geological Survey reports this afternoon that the scant precipitation during February - 1.36 inches below normal at BWI - cut monthly stream flow from the Potomac Basin into the Chesapeake Bay to below normal for the first time since the summer of 2002, during the historic drought. Total flow to the bay was below normal for the first time since last summer.

Here's their monthly report.

Posted by Admin at 4:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drought
        

Blame Greenland for the cold weather

Stubbornly cold weather in Maryland can be blamed on something called the "Greenland block," according to forecaster st AccuWeather. A high pressure center over the icy landmass of Greenland has been preventing the orderly progression of weather systems out of our region, they say. That's keeping us in the cooler.

Yesterday's high of 33 degrees at BWI was 16 degrees below normal. And we still haven't gotten out of the 30s today. The average high temperature for March 5 (tomorrow) at BWI is 50 degrees.
The forecast promises a high of just 43, with snow or rain thrown in for good measure. In fact, there's way too much snow mentioned in the forecast, well into next week. Nothing menacing. Just miserable. Just March.

Posted by Admin at 2:46 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March 3, 2005

High of 33 In March? Are we still in Baltimore?

Today's high of 33 degrees at BWI was more than 10 degrees below normal for this time of year. In fact, it's about what you'd expect in January ... in Albany !! So what's the deal here?

Fact is, it's been unseasonably cold for days - since Feb. 24, before last week's snowfall. The forecast suggests a slight warmup - into the low 40s for the next few days, which would still be 6 or 7 degrees below normal for early March.

Oh for those balmy days in the 60s and 70s - back in January and mid-February.

Posted by Admin at 7:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Glories of the cosmos available online

No matter how you feel about the value of sending astronauts to service the Hubble Space Telescope one more time and extend its life, no one can seriously dispute the beauty and importance of the portraits the orbiting observatory has made of the heavens over the years.

The Space Telescope Science Institute today released the latest in its monthly series of Hubble Heritage images. As Hubble pictures go, this shot of an irregular galaxy is not as astonishing as many others have been. Compare it to this shot of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). But it's an opportunity to turn Weather Blog readers on to the amazing gallery of Hubble images that are available on the Web.

Starting today, we will provide our readers with links to the latest Hubble Heritage Project images as soon as they are released. In the meantime, take time to explore what's already been posted in the Heritage Gallery.

These are sights no human had seen is such glorious detail before Hubble was launched in 1990. The Sun doesn't publish many of them. They don't reproduce well on newsprint, and color is not always available on the pages where astronomy stories usually run. But they look great on a computer screen. So enjoy them. You paid for them. And it's your universe.

(After clicking on the image you want to see, you can click on the "caption" tab to read an explanation.)

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

March 2, 2005

Sunny here. Snowy out west.

So long as you're not out on the bay battling today's gales, things look pretty nice out there today in Central Maryland. Not so in Garrett and Allegany counties, where lake effect snows are still falling today. Check out this flaky forecast for McHenry, Md. And this one for the Cumberland area.

Posted by Admin at 12:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

March 1, 2005

And you thought our weather was nasty...

Check out the reports from Europe, where record cold, snow and high winds are making life miserable for millions.

Things aren't so great in the Cook Islands, out in the South Pacific, either.

Posted by Admin at 6:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Our reservoirs: Still full after all these years

The drought of 2002-2003 drained area reservoirs to historic lows, and they did not begin to recover until the fall of 2002. By late spring in 2003, thanks to persistent rain and snow, they were full again. And they have remained so ever since, even during the summer and fall of 2003 and 2004, when they would normally have been expected to make seasonal declines.

The Baltimore Department of Public Works has produced some interesting charts and graphs on the state of the reservoirs. It's a pretty hefty file, but here it is: Download file

Posted by Admin at 4:13 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Drought
        

Monday's snowfall mapped and measured

The National Weather Service has released its measurements of the snowfall from Monday's storm. Frostburg, Cumberland, Parkville and Jacksonville got the most in Maryland.

The NWS has also mapped the accumulations. You can run your cursor over the map and identify the locations that reported each measurement. Looks like Churchville, Va., drew the long straw for the Sterling forecast area. They got 11 inches.

Here's CNN's take on what the storm has done to those in its path today to our north and east.

Posted by Admin at 2:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February was dry. Really.

Count on a rush on windshield-washer fluid this week as the region splashes its way past the remains of Monday's snowstorm. Hard to believe amid all this slop that February was dry, on average. But it's true.

The second month of the year ended last night with just 1.66 inches of precipitation. That's 1.33 inches below the 30-year norm for Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Much of that moisture fell as snow - 9 inches by the time the clock struck midnight last night. And most of that - 5.2 inches - piled up during last Thursday's storm.

This relatively snowy February (the 30-year average is 6.4 inches) brings the total for the three-month meteorological winter to 16.6 inches. That's a bit higher than the average accumulations for December, January and February. But it's still 1.6 inches short of the 18.2-inch annual norm for BWI, which includes all months. (March averages 2.4 inches at BWI, so don't pack up the shovel just yet. See below for the March numbers.)

February was also milder than normal in Mobtown. Temperatures averaged 36.7 degrees, or 1.2 degrees warmer than the norm. The warmest day was the 16th, when the instruments at BWI recorded a high of 63 degrees. The coldest was the 2nd, when the mercury sank to 14 degrees.

The winter's been mild on the whole. And that's saving us money. We're running about 5.8 percent behind the norm for heating degree-days so far, a measure of demand for heating energy.

Posted by Admin at 10:38 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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