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July 29, 2005

Violent sunspots could affect spacewalkers

An active sunspot group that has been blasting solar particles into space from the far side of the sun, will soon be pointed more nearly in Earth's direction. Here's a movie of one of the eruptions, shot by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. This one was directed away from the Earth. Those aimed at us, if they're powerful enough, can cause radio interference, satellite damage and disruptions of electrical power grids.

These "coronal mass ejections" can also be a radiation hazard for exposed astronauts. If the sunspots stay active, they could crimp NASA's plans for three upcoming spacewalks by Discovery astronauts.

The "extra-vehiclular activity" is currently planned for Saturday, Monday and Wednesday mornings. If solar storms threaten, NASA can be expected to cancel or postpone any spacewalks and order astronauts to take cover in well-shielded portions of the space station.

Speaking of the International Space Station, here's a cool picture of the station as it flew in front of the sun this week, as seen from Athens, Greece.

Posted by Admin at 6:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Space weather
        

Rain on its way

No need to water the tomatoes. Rain chances are up to 60 percent for today and tomorrow. Here's the word from the National Weather Service, good for all of Maryland west of the Bay and east of Garrett County:

"AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE WILL MOVE INTO VIRGINIA LATER TODAY. THIS
WILL SPREAD SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS INTO THE REGION...ESPECIALLY
LATE TODAY AND TONIGHT. THERE WILL BE A THREAT FOR HEAVY RAIN MAINLY
ALONG AND EAST OF THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS. PONDING WATER OR
LOCALIZED FLOODING COULD OCCUR...FROM LATE TODAY INTO TONIGHT"

Posted by Admin at 12:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 28, 2005

How we looked from space

Here's an amazing view of Maryland and much of the rest of the East Coast, taken from space Tuesday as we all sweltered in 90-plus heat, humidity and haze. Click on the link, just below the picture, that loads the full image. The red dots are fires.

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

July ending hot and wet

OK, so we have another three and a half days to go. But it's already clear that July will end next week on the very wet side of the ledger. The airport has recorded 7.91 inches of rain this month. That's more than 4 1/2 inches above normal, and the wettest July since ... well, last year. But it's been the third-wettest July since the official station of record moved to BWI airport in 1950. And, it's the sixth-wettest in the last 100 years, the 9th-wettest since record-keeping began in 1871.

Most of the rain fell on just three dates: the 8th (1.89 inches), the 15th (1.04 inches) and that deluge on the 16th (2.79 inches), which was a record for that date.

Anyway, here's the lineup, subject to change if we get another blast of rain between now and midnight Monday night, which is becoming more likely.

YEAR July rainfall
1889: 11.03 inches
1905: 10.65
1945: 9.68
1884: 9.43
2004: 8.69
1887: 8.32
1960: 8.18
1906: 7.96
2005: 7.91

As for temperatures, the next few days will surely lower the month's average. But at this moment (through Wednesday) we're running 2 degrees above the 30-year average for Julys. BWI averaged 78.5 degrees. That's pretty unremarkable, having been beaten six times in the last 15 years.

We had 12 days in the 90s, and that's not likely to change before Monday night. No heat records were broken, but we suffered through one six-day stretch of 90+ days, including four straight with highs of exactly 90 degrees. That's the most 90+ July days since 2002, when there were 19.

The high for the month, which should hold, was 96 degrees, reached yesterday (July 27). The low, according to the weather service, was 60 degrees, on Sunday morning, the 24th, which I can't remember at all.

Posted by Admin at 10:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

July 27, 2005

Farewell to the heat

Today's high temperature of 96 degrees at BWI made this the hottest day of the recent heat wave, and the entire summer so far. It was also the hottest day in Baltimore since Aug. 19, 2002, when it was also 96 degrees at the airport. Good riddance. Bring on the rain.

Posted by Admin at 6:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Severe T-storms crossing Maryland

5:54 p.m.: The Weather Service is issuing severe thunderstorm warnings ahead of a storm now crossing Maryland ahead of a cold front. The warnings have been issued for Baltimore, Frederick and Montgomery counties. Watches are posted across most of the rest of the state.

Storms are crossing Carroll County, headed for the greater Baltimore region. Here's the radar image. And here's a wider view.

Just to give you an idea of what's happening, it's still 98 degrees in downtown Baltimore at this writing, but the storms and the passing cold front have already dropped temperatures in Westminster, Frederick and Hagerstown to about 81 degrees. It fell 18 degrees in 40 minutes in Westminster. Be careful out there.

Posted by Admin at 5:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

37 inches of rain in 24 hours

That's nearly a year's worth of rain for Baltimore, and it all fell on Mumbai (Bombay), India in just 24 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ninety-nine people have been killed, buildings have collapsed and landslides have been reported. The historic rains - the heaviest ever recorded for India - have flooded streets waist-high and done significant damage to livestock and other property.

July 28: The news from Mumbai only gets worse. Here is an updated news story.

It may not be a symptom of global warming. After all, records are made to be broken eventually. But it sure is consistent with predictions for more extreme weather events around the world, such as the record drought and heat now scorching parts of Western Europe (see earlier posts), and melting arctic ice. Anyone have any thoughts about the significance, if any, of such events?

Posted by Admin at 5:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Severe thunderstorm watch

The National Weather Service has posted a severe thunderstorm watch for the entire state east of Garrett County until 10 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) as a strong cold front approaches from the northwest. The front will relieve our high temperatures once it pulls through. But in the meantime it's 96 at BWI and worse - 98 - at the Maryland Science Center. Radar shows some thunderstorms moving through Washington County, headed toward the Chesapeake Bay.

You can see the dramatic shift in the weather west of the front. It was 94 degrees just before 4 p.m. today in Harrisburg, Pa., and 77 degrees at State College, just 62 miles away to the west.

Posted by Admin at 3:38 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Hope is on the way

It's going to be 81 and rainy today - in Pittsburgh. That's no comfort if you're not going to Pittsburgh. And it will be insufferably hot again today in Baltimore. But the Pittsburgh forecast is a foretaste of what's working its way toward the Chesapeake today, behind a slow-moving "cold" front. You can almost see it on this map, showing cool weather (white) to the west, and heat advisories to the east (orange and purple) and rain storms in between along the front (beige).

Garrett County is already feeling some relief, with a high today of 83 and rain. The front will bring us relief from the heat and humidity by tomorrow. Finally.

In the meantime, the Baltimore forecast calls for highs today near 100 degrees at the airport. Excessive heat warnings are posted for the urban centers, with heat advisories up for the suburbs. Pushing yourself to exercise or work outdoors in this kind of heat is not a sign of character. It is a sign of stupidity. Heed the warnings and go someplace where it's cool. Chill out. This will all pass by soon enough.

Showers and thunderstorms, some with heavy rains, are due in this afternoon and this evening as the front pushes through. We should begin to feel some relief as the clouds move in and cut off the sunshine. Here's the advisory:

"Expect scattered to numerous showers and
thunderstorms to develop along and ahead of this cold front late
this afternoon and evening. Some of these storms could become
severe with the primary threats being damaging winds... very heavy
rains and frequent cloud to ground lightning. The best chance for
severe weather is between 5 PM and midnight early Thursday."

Finally, from here on out, the average daily highs at BWI start to decline. After peaking at 88 degrees for the past week or two, the long-term (30-year) averages drops to 87 degrees for this date (July 26). The cool-off continues until January 5th.

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

Forecasters watch the tropics

The National Hurricane Center is watching two more tropical disturbances in the Atlantic. Neither is well organized yet, but both could eventually become the next tropical storms of the season. Here is the advisory:

"A LARGE TROPICAL WAVE LOCATED ABOUT 1000 MILES EAST OF THE WINDWARD
ISLANDS IS PRODUCING A LARGE AREA OF CLOUDINESS AND SCATTERED
SHOWERS. THIS SYSTEM HAS CHANGED LITTLE IN ORGANIZATION OVERNIGHT.
HOWEVER... SOME SLOW DEVELOPMENT IS POSSIBLE OVER THE NEXT COUPLE
OF DAYS AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH.

"ANOTHER TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED ABOUT 550 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF
THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. ASSOCIATED THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS BECOME
A LITTLE LESS CONCENTRATED OVERNIGHT... BUT GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF
THIS SYSTEM IS ALSO POSSIBLE OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT MOVES
WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH."

Here's a NOAA satellite image showing concentrations of heavy rains where these storms are developing.

The next two storms to reach tropical storm force - 39 mph or higher - will be named Harvey and Irene. (I think I used to have neighbors named Harvey and Irene. Or maybe not.) They would be the eighth and ninth named storms of the season. The National Hurricane center has predicted a total of 12 to 15 named storms during the 2005 hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30.

Posted by Admin at 10:16 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

July 26, 2005

Heat falls short of warnings

As suffocatingly hot as it was today, it looks like the high temperatures have fallen short of some of the direst predictions. Yesterday's forecasts warned of highs of 95 or 97 degrees. There were a few mentions this morning of 99 or even 100 degrees.

But the actual high at BWI will likely stick at 94 today, despite strong sunshine all day. (It's the 11th day in the 90s this month, and the warmest at BWI since Aug. 22, 2002, when it was 94.) The Science Center, in downtown Baltimore, reached 97.

With heat index predictions falling short of earlier expectations, the National Weather Service cancelled many of its "excessive heat" warnings for Wednesday, except for downtown Baltimore and Washington. And heat advisories will likely be cancelled later today for communities west of the mountains.

This is the beginning of the end of the heat wave. Wednesday should bring a "cold" front from the northwest, with clouds and cooler temperatures - the mid-80s - by Thursday.

Posted by Admin at 6:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

The Sponge Moon of Saturn

Star Wars fans will remember the Forest Moon of Endor. Well, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, still orbiting Saturn after more than a year, has photographed Hyperion, the Sponge Moon of Saturn. The weird surface suggests cave-like holes in the meteor-pummeled moon. George Lucas would have a ball with this one.

And while we're on Saturn, here's another very cool picture from Cassini, showing the planet, its rings, and the moon Tethys.

And finally, a new photo from yet another Saturnian moon, Enceladus. It's the closest Cassini has gotten to any moon of Saturn, and shows some very curious markings on the surface. NASA says they're scars from recent tectonic movements in the moon's crust. But they look like the tracks of herd animals to me. 8-)

Posted by Admin at 3:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

July 25, 2005

Summer's hottest days

As my nephew Peter used to bleat, 'It's Haaaaahht..." And this week looks to be the hottest of the summer so far. Tuesday's forecast of 97 degrees at BWI would make that the hottest day since Aug. 14, 2002, when it reached 98 at BWI.

4:15 p.m.: The NWS has scaled back its temperature forecasts for Tuesday, to 95 degrees. If that proves accurate, it would be the hottest day at BWI since Aug. 19, 2002, when it was 96.

Relief should move in sometime Thursday, as a "cold" front from the northwest pushes through and drops daytime highs to the lower 80s.

That was a pretty nifty line of thunderstorms that moved through the Baltimore region between 4 and 5 a.m. today. Almost constant thunder and a terrific lightning display. It dropped almost 4/10ths of an inch of rain at the airport.

How hot is it? Here's how NWS foecaster Andy Woodcock is handling the question this week (edited by me to clarify Andy's abbreviations):

"WE'VE BEEN GETTING A LOT OF CALLS ON THE HEAT - "HOW HOT IS IT? IS
THIS A RECORD?"

"IT IS HOT, BUT NOWHERE NEAR A RECORD. I USED "NUMBER OF DAYS GREATER THAN 95 THRU TODAY" AS MY LITMUS. FOR BOTH DCA (WASHINGTON NATIONAL) AND BWI THE RECORD YEAR WAS IN 1991. AT BOTH STATIONS THAT YEAR MAY AND JUNE ALSO HAD SOME VERY HIGH TEMPS. RECORD NUMBER OF DAYS FOR JULY FOR BOTH SITES WAS IN 1993. LAST TIME 100 WAS REACHED IN BALTIMORE WAS JUL 4, 2002. DC AUGUST 2+13, 2002.

"BUT THE HEAT WILL BE ON IN THE MID ATLANTIC THRU MIDWEEK. MY EYES CAUGHT THE "80" FOR AN OVERNIGHT LOW ... FOR DCA. WITH ALL THE HUMIDITY CURRENTLY IN MID-AMERICA MOVING THIS WAY THERE WILL BE LITTLE RELIEF TUESDAY NIGHT.

"WHILE TUESDAY LOOKS TO BE THE HOTTEST DAY, I BELIEVE WEDNESDAY WILL ALSO BE UP THERE ... A COLD FRONT IS APPOACHING THE AREA...BUT FRONTS OFTEN SLOW DOWN AT THIS TIME OF YEAR..AND JET STREAM IS RUNNING SW-NE ACROSS CANADA. I BELIEVE MAIN TEMPERATURE LIMITER WOULD BE CLOUDS DEVELOPING AHEAD OF THE FRONT.

"BUT FINALLY..BY THURSDAY...FRONT SHOULD BE SOUTH OF THE AREA BRINGING COOLER TEMPS... RIGHT NOW I'M THINKING THE WEEKEND SHOULD BE QUITE NICE - ... MOSTLY SUNNY DAYS...HIGHS MID-80S."

Posted by Admin at 12:31 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Ask Mr. WeatherBlogger

Carmen Cianelli, of Havre de Grace, writes: After a tropical or hurricane forms, what determines its course? I tried the web site for weather questions, but to no avail.

Dear Carmen: Tropical storms and hurricanes - collectively referred to as tropical cyclones - are like leaves floating in a stream. They are steered by the weather systems around them. You might say they "go with the flow." For a fuller explanation from the National Hurricane Center's "frequently Asked Questions" page, click here.

Posted by Admin at 11:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Ask Mr. Weatherblogger
        

Franklin and Gert weaken

The sixth and seventh tropical storms of the season are weakening, but some threats remain. Franklin is headed out into the Atlantic. It's faded, with top sustained wind sof just 40 mph, and its movement has become somewhat erratic. But Franklin remains a threat to interests in Bermuda.

Gert, a big mass of rain and storms in the northwest Caribbean last week, reached tropical depression status on Saturday. Soon after, it moved to the Bay of Campeche and was upgraded to the seasons's 7th tropical storm. On Sunday it moved inland over northeastern Mexico with top sustained winds of 40 mph and heavy rains.

Here is the advisory on Franklin, the strike probabilities and a satellite image.

Here is the advisory on Gert, the strike map and satellite image.

And for now, there's no other action in the tropics. The next storm on the list? Hurricane Harvey !

Posted by Admin at 11:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

July 22, 2005

Huge fire in drought-wracked Spain

Much of Europe is suffering through record heat and drought, the worst since World War II. Now wildfires in Spain have merged into a huge blaze near the Portuguese border, forcing evacuations. For more, click here.

Posted by Admin at 3:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drought
        

More heat, humidity, storms on tap

And the heat goes on. We've already reached 90 today, and there's more to come in the week ahead. Here's the latest hazardous weather advisory for the Baltimore area:

"IT WILL BE A HOT AND HUMID AFTERNOON ACROSS THE REGION...
PARTICULARLY IN THE URBANIZED INTERSTATE 95 CORRIDOR. HEAT INDICES
WILL REACH THE MID 80S TO MID 90S WEST OF THE BLUE RIDGE...AND WILL
TOP OUT IN THE MID TO UPPER 90S TO THE EAST. AROUND
FREDERICKSBURG...WHERE A HEAT ADVISORY HAS BEEN POSTED...THE HEAT
INDEX WILL REACH 100 DEGREES.

"A COLD FRONT IS EXPECTED TO MOVE OVER THE EXTREME EASTERN
PANHANDLE OF WEST VIRGINIA...MUCH OF MARYLAND AND NORTHERN
VIRGINIA LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND INTO THE EVENING HOURS.
THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING GUSTY WINDS AND HEAVY
RAINFALL. THERE COULD BE LOCALIZED WIND DAMAGE OR FLOODING OF SMALL
STREAMS AND POOR DRAINAGE AREAS.

"SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY

"ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE ONCE AGAIN EXPECTED BY MONDAY AND
TUESDAY. THE WARM TEMPERATURES AND INCREASING HUMIDITIES WILL
COMBINE TO PRODUCE HEAT INDICES NEAR 100 DEGREES."

Ahh, July in Bawlmer...

Posted by Admin at 3:16 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

TS Franklin revs up

The sixth named storm of the season was spinning across the Bahamas today with top sustained winds of 50 mph. Tropical Storm Franklin is not much of a storm yet, and it doesn't appear to be a threat to the mainland U.S., or to Tuesday's planned launch of the shuttle Discovery. But it is evidence that this continues to be an active Atlantic season, as predicted.

And now the National Hurricane Center has begun watching a large area of rain in the northwestern Caribbean. It is only a rain threat at this point for places such as Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and western Cuba.

Here are the advisories. Here is a satellite image. And here is a strike probability map for Franklin.

And here is a remarkable color satellite photo of the U.S. east coast from Maine to Florida. Shot yesterday, it shows a stormy Franklin and sunny Maryland all in the same view. Just click on the photo to enlarge it.

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

July 21, 2005

Busted! String of 90-degree days ends

Thursday's high of 92 degrees has ended the remarkable string of four straight days with highs of exactly 90.

My query to Steve Zubrick, science and operations officer at the Sterling Forecast Office of the National Weather Service, has put this little statistical fluke into perspective.

I asked Steve when the last time was that Baltimore recorded four days in a row with the same daytime high, they put their people on the case, and discovered this was the first time it's occurred in almost eight years. Here's the full text:

Frank,

The last time Balt had 4 days with the same Max Temp was the 4 days ending August 7, 1997 when BWI measured 4 consecutive days of 83 degF.

Curiously, for BWI/Balt., there has never been more than 4 consecutive days in a row when the MAX temp. has been the same.

A query of our database through June 30, 2004 (not 2005!) and since 1870, showed 12 times when BWI/Balt. had 4 days in a row where the Max temp was the same:

Max T of 84 for the 4 days ending 9/10/1921
Max T of 88 for the 4 days ending 8/17/1932
Max T of 68 for the 4 days ending 10/21/1937
Max T of 46 for the 4 days ending 3/7/1940
Max T of 67 for the 4 days ending 3/20/1943
Max T of 95 for the 4 days ending 6/17/1945
Max T of 89 for the 4 days ending 7/11/1951
Max T of 51 for the 4 days ending 1/14/1961
Max T of 32 for the 4 days ending 12/28/1966
Max T of 85 for the 4 days ending 8/14/1969
Max T of 86 for the 4 days ending 8/8/1996
Max T of 83 for the 4 days ending 8/7/1997

There seems to be a slight preference here for this phenomena to occur during the warm, summer months. We have not done a similar search for any other nearby cities (e.g. DCA), or parameters (e.g. Min Temp, precip, etc.).

Steve Z

PS...thanks go to our ITO (Steve Listemaa) for finding this out!

Posted by Admin at 3:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

90 our high for 4 straight days

Now THAT has to be some sort of record. I've looked back through 2000 and could not find another stretch at BWI when the daytime high was identical for four straight days. A fair number of triples, but not one quadruple. Does anybody else have access to daily BWI data prior to 2000?

The lows were nearly the same, too - 73 to 75 degrees. That made the daytime average for all four dates 5 or 6 degrees above the averages for July 17-20.

The forecast calls for highs today and tomorrow near 90 again. Could we possibly extend this curious streak?

There's a bit of "relief" on tap for the weekend, with sunny skies and forecast highs of 88 degrees - still warm, but about average for this time of year. Then the 90s return next week.

Posted by Admin at 11:03 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Emily fades, new storm forms

With Emily fading to a tropical depresion over NE Mexico, posing mostly a heavy rain threat, forecasters have begun to watch a new batch of bad weather forming southeast of Miami, in the area of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas.

Here's the advisory:

"TROPICAL WAVE IS PRODUCING CLOUDINESS AND THUNDERSTORMS OVER
HISPANIOLA....THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS...THE SOUTHEASTERN
BAHAMAS...AND ADJACENT WATERS OF THE WESTERN ATLANTIC OCEAN. THIS
ACTIVITY HAS BECOME A LITTLE MORE CONCENTRATED THIS MORNING JUST
NORTHEAST OF THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS...ALTHOUGH THERE ARE NO SIGNS
OF A SURFACE CIRCULATION AT THIS TIME. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE
GRADUALLY BECOMING MORE FAVORABLE...AND SLOW DEVELOPMENT OF THIS
SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT MOVES GENERALLY
NORTHWESTWARD ABOUT 15 MPH. AN AIR FORCE RESERVE UNIT
RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO INVESTIGATE THE SYSTEM
THIS AFTERNOON...IF NECESSARY."

Here's a satellite image of the new weather system.

If it gets organized, it could become the 6th named storm of the young season, Franklin.

3:55 p.m.:
Ship reports suggest the storm is orgnaizing and may soon become a tropical depression or storm.

5:30 p.m.: Tropical Depression Six was declared this afternoon. Here's the advisory.

Posted by Admin at 9:52 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

July 20, 2005

Nineties ... again

The thermometer at BWI topped out at 90 degrees again yesterday. That's the third day in a row, and the fifth so far this month. In fact, the last three days have been nearly identical - 90 for the high, and 74 or 75 for the low. One is tempted to give the remote station a helpful kick.

The high was also 90 degrees on July 1 and July 11. Only the 12th, when it reached 92, has managed to break the 90-degree barrier. And we haven't busted through 92 degrees at BWI in more than two years - not since June 26, 2003, when it was 93 degrees.

The last time we broke 95 was on Aug. 19, 2002, when it was 96. And the last time the airport touched 100 degrees was way back on July 4, 2002.

Today's forecast calls for highs again near 90. Friday and Saturday offer a break of sorts, in the 80s. But then the 90s return, with a predicted high of 95 on Monday.

It's plenty hot, of course. But then again, it's July in Baltimore. The normal daytime high for this week is 88 degrees. So far we're averaging just 1.6 degrees above the 30-year norm.

Posted by Admin at 11:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Emily crosses the coast

The center of Hurricane Emily, packing top sustained winds of 125 mph and a massive storm surge, crossed the Mexican coastline this morning. Forecasters said the storm would dissipate over northern Mexico in the next 36 hours, but not before dropping huge amounts of rain. The dangers of flash flooding and mudslides in the storm's path were high.

Here is the latest advisory.

Here is a recent satellite image.

Posted by Admin at 11:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

July 19, 2005

More temps in the 90s

And those are just the overnight LOWS. We're talking about Phoenix, AZ, where the highs this week have been stuck in the 100s and the overnight lows look like our summertime highs. Check out this forecast.

People out there are used to hot, but not THIS hot. Here's the top of the story from the Arizona Republic:

"Eleven deaths in Phoenix are being blamed on a heat wave that has hammered the Valley with searing temperatures and days of excessive-heat warnings. All but two of the victims were homeless people. The other two were elderly women.

"The latest victims include two homeless men and a woman in her 70s, whose decomposing body was found in her central Phoenix house. Police spokesman Detective Tony Morales said the cooling system in the house either wasn't on or wasn't working. One of earlier victims was an 81-year-old woman.

"The high Tuesday was forecast to be 113 degrees..."

Whew! Baltimore hasn't had a 100-plus day in more than three years. So why do people move to the Southwest?

Posted by Admin at 7:33 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Emily gains strength, heads for Mexico

Hurricane Emily, the fifth named storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, took northern Mexico into her gunsights today. She was expected to make landfall overnight just south of the Texas border. Hurricane warnings were posted for northeastern Mexico and parts of the south Texas coastline.

7:00 p.m. EDT: The storm strengthened today over the warm waters of the Gulf, with winds increasing from 90 mph to 125 mph, according to the 6 p.m. advisory. That makes Emily a Class 3 storm again, after being knocked down to Category 1 (75 mph) status while crossing the Yucatan Peninsula.

Here is the latest advisory. Here are the strike probabilities. And here is a satellite image.

Here's a remarkable shot of Emily from the International Space Station.

The good news is there's no sign yet of the next storm in the season's lineup - Franklin.

Posted by Admin at 11:27 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

July 18, 2005

Heat advisory extended

The heat advisory for the region has been extended through Tuesday.

The only relief in sight is a weak cold front that forecasters expect will slip through the region on Wednesday. That may dry things out a bit, but temperatures will still creep into the 90s through Thursday.

Then, more rain chances with some temperature relief before the mercury heads back to the 90s Sunday and Monday.

Posted by Admin at 5:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Deadly drought stalks France, Spain

Record heat and drought are ravaging crops, threatening the elderly and sparking deadly brush fires in France, across the Iberian peninsula and in North Africa. Now there's a plague of locusts, too. For more, click here.

Posted by Admin at 5:34 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Drought
        

Emily fades to 75 mph

Once a 140-mph threat, Emily's power has been sapped by her encounter with the Yucatan peninsula. But forecasters say she may strengthen again to major hurricane status before making landfall in northern Mexico or southern Texas. Here's the latest bulletin.

And here are the strike probabilities. And the satellite image.

Posted by Admin at 3:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Heat warnings today

With temperatures headed for the 90s again, and humidities to match, we're in for another stifling July day. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory, effective across the region through early evening.

"THE COMBINATION OF WARM TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITIES WILL
CONTINUE THROUGH THE FIRST PORTION OF THE WORK WEEK. HEAT INDICES
ARE EXPECTED TO REACH THE 100 DEGREE MARK THIS AFTERNOON AND TUESDAY.

"A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES
AND HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT
INJURIES ARE POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY OUT OF THE
SUN...AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS.

"DO NOT KEEP CHILDREN OR PETS IN CARS WITH WINDOWS ROLLED UP...EVEN
PARTIALLY. TEMPERATURES INSIDE A CAR WITH WINDOWS UP CAN REACH
OVER 150 DEGREES QUICKLY...RESULTING IN HEAT STROKE AND DEATH."

Posted by Admin at 1:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Emily as reminder: get flood insurance

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is already a busy one, fulfilling forecasts issued earlier this year. We have seen five named storms already this year, a record. It should serve as a reminder to Marylanders in flood-prone neighborhoods (and others in harm's way) that homeowners' insurance does not cover storm flooding. You need to apply for federal flood insurance. Here is a reminder from the Federal Emergency Management Agency:


"Today, in the wake of recent and devastating hurricanes, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) urges homeowners, business owners and renters to learn the basics about flood insurance. New policies carry a 30-day waiting period, so it’s important for consumers to act quickly and ensure coverage. The 2005 Hurricane Season has only just begun. The time to learn about flood insurance is now.

"NFIP’s FloodSmart campaign wants everyone to know that:

* You CAN get flood insurance in most communities nationwide.
* You CAN get flood insurance if you live in a floodplain or high-flood-risk area or if you live outside a floodplain, or a low-to-moderate flood-risk area, - and at lower cost.
* You CAN get flood insurance if your property has been flooded before.
* You CAN get flood insurance from insurance agents in your area.
* You CAN buy flood insurance even if your mortgage doesn't require it.

"Consumers can visit www.FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 to learn their individual risk and find an agent near them to discuss their protection options."

Posted by Admin at 12:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

New rain record at BWI

The thunderstorms that lingered over BWI on Saturday helped push the 24-hour rain total there to 2.79 inches. And that established a new record for the date. The prior record was 1.32 inches, set in 1972.

Posted by Admin at 12:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

July 15, 2005

Planets in alignment

And, for your weekend enjoyment, here's a gorgeous view of all the rocky planets of the inner solar system (except Mars, which is in the morning sky). Enjoy.

Posted by Admin at 7:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Emily looks like trouble

Although her top winds have slacked off a bit, Hurricane Emily remains a dangerous storm, with maximum sustained winds of more than 100 mph, and a good chance to strengthen again. Hurricane warnings are out for Jamaica, and tropical storm warnings for the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. If she continues on her current track, it looks like big problems ahead for the Yucatan, and the Gulf shores of southern Texas and northern Mexico.

Here is the latest advisory. Here's a 3 p.m. satellite image. And here are the strike probability maps.

To track Emily over the weekend, go to the Nat'l Hurricane Center site.

Posted by Admin at 11:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Showers bring BWI an inch of rain

The showers and thunderstorms have been widely scattered, but some of us are getting some precipitation. The instruments at BWI clocked more than an inch yesterday and early today. The forecast calls for more rain chances well into next week.

Forecasters say any breaks in the clouds could heat the air enough to spark convection and the development of thunderstorms. But the clouds - remnants of Hurricane Dennis - look pretty solid from here. Yesterday's high got stuck at 85 degrees, and we're still seeing 70s this morning.

Posted by Admin at 11:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

July 14, 2005

Dust devils on Mars

Motorists driving across the High Plains or the American Southwest are familiar with dust devils. As the sun heats the air above the dusty surface of the Earth, the air begins to rise. As it does, it begins to spin, carrying dust high into the air in a sort of mini-tornado. They can get quite tall, and are often visible for miles.

Well, it happens on Mars, too. Scientists have been spotting them for years in photos shot from Mars orbit. And now NASA's twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are also sending back photos of the dust devils that routinely swirl past them as the sun heats the barren plains around them.

Here's a fascinating article from NASA about the phenomenon. It includes a little movie clip of a dust devil spinning past the rover's camera.

Posted by Admin at 6:18 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Emily bounces back

Hurricane Emily, which seemed to have faded late yesterday, has bounced back today as a Category 2 storm with winds near 100 mph. Forecasters say there is a likelihood the storm will strengthen further to a dangerous Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds of 111 to 130 mph, as it moves steadily west-northwest across the Caribbean.

5:30 p.m.: Emily today grew into a Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds near 115 mph. Here is the 5 p.m. advisory.

And here are the current strike probabilities.

Emily is the 5th named storm of the still-young season. It's the first time on record that five storms have reached tropical storm strength this early in the season.

Posted by Admin at 12:55 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Showers and thunderstorms ...

... and more showers and thunderstorms, as far as the forecasters can see. Frederick County has already been soaked today, and there's more to come. Just look at this forecast.

We can blame a soggy tropical air mass, a weak frontal boundary and plenty of instability. Slow-moving weather systems means the storms that do bubble up could drop prodigious amounts of water on some locations.

Today's cloudiness is keeping temperatures nice and mild. But look for more 90-plus heat and humidity by next week.

The Doppler radar that serves the Baltimore region from Sterling, Va., is still down for servicing. But they expect it back shortly - hopefully in time to track any storms that develop this afternoon.

Posted by Admin at 12:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 13, 2005

What happened to REALLY hot weather?

OK, so it's been pretty warm and humid lately. But not like in the old days, like, way back in 2002. In the Summer of '02 Baltimore suffered through 19 days with high temperatures of 95 degrees or higher. In all, that ferocious "summer" produced a staggering 48 days of 90-degree-plus weather, starting with two 90-plus days in April.

But where did it all go? In checking a curious statistic first unearthed by Capital Weather in reference to Washington's dearth of really hot weather, I've found that Aug. 19, 2002 - nearly three years ago - was the last time Baltimore-Washington International Airport recorded a high of 95 degrees or more. It was 96 that day. Since then we have had 37 days that have reached 90 degrees or more, but not one of them has made it to 95.

Capital Weather's researchers found Washington has run through an astonishing 48 days in the 90s since Aug. 19, 2002 without once reaching 95.

Here's the rundown for BWI:

In 2002, after Aug. 19, there were 3 days in the 90s, none warmer than 94.

In 2003 the airport clocked in 14 days of 90-plus weather, but none warmer than 93.

In 2004, the airport saw 11 days in the 90s, but none hotter than 92.

And so far this summer we've already had 9 days that reached 90 degrees, but none more than 92.

Baltimore hasn't seen a 100-degree day since July 4, 2002, when it was exactly 100. You can look it up.

Of course, now that we've written about it, the jinx is broken and it will be 98 for the rest of the summer. Sorry.

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

Emily threat fades ... for now

Tropical Storm Emily is still bearing down on the windward islands, but it has not strengthened as forecast and all hurricane warnings have been downgraded to tropical storm warnings.

The storm is not to be trifled with. It's bringing 60 mph winds, 1 to 3-foot storm surges and 3 to 6 inches of rain. But dry air to its north appears to be sapping its strength, forecasters say. Unless it encounters more favorable conditions after crossing the islands and moving into the Caribbean Sea, it will not grow to hurricane strength.

Here is the 2 p.m. advisory, and a bit of the forecasters' discussion.

Posted by Admin at 4:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Storms, torrential rains possible

High humidity and strong solar heating raise the chances for thunderstroms this afternoon and for the next several days. The slow-moving storms could drop torrential rains, raising the risks of local flooding. Here's the rundown from the National Weather Service.

"THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR MARYLAND WEST OF THE
EASTERN SHORE INCLUDING THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AND EAST OF GARRETT
COUNTY...EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA...NORTHERN AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA...
WASHINGTON DC AND THE TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER.

"TODAY AND TONIGHT

"SCATTERED TO NUMEROUS THUNDERSTORMS ARE FORECAST FOR THIS AFTERNOON
INTO THE EVENING. TORRENTIAL RAINFALL COULD OCCUR WITH THESE
STORMS...WHICH COULD CAUSE LOCALIZED FLOODING PROBLEMS.

"THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY

"THERE WILL BE CHANCES FOR STORMS EACH DAY IN THIS PERIOD. TORRENTIAL
RAINFALL COULD OCCUR...WHICH MAY POSE A THREAT FOR LOCALIZED
FLOODING ONCE AGAIN."

Posted by Admin at 11:34 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Do you trust weather forecasts?

Most Americans say they check weather forecasts, but they don’t put much faith in them, an Associate Press-Ipsos poll has found. About a third say they think the weather forecasts in their area are accurate, but half say just “somewhat accurate,” and the remainder say the forecasts are off the mark.

What do you think? Seems to me just common sense to take a weather forecast with a grain of salt, and plan for contingencies - take an umbrella.

Weather is the result of the confluence of many variables - many we understand, most we don't. The National Weather Service uses some of the most powerful computers in the world to take those variables, turn them into mathematcical formulae, and predict the most likely outcomes. And their accuracy has been improving measurably. But it's still predicting the future. And humans have never been very good at that.

Posted by Admin at 11:22 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 12, 2005

Why Dennis let the Gulf Coast off easy

Here, from the National Geographic, is an explanation for why Hurricane Dennis seemed to fade just before landfall along the Gulf Coast, after seemingly threatening a calamity. Sometimes, the dice just fall your way.

Posted by Admin at 6:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Great week to spot Int'l Space Station

It's going to be a great week, weather permitting (and those prospects look pretty poor) for spotting the International Space Station from Baltimore.

With the planned launch of the shuttle Discovery this afternoon, making the first shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster in 2003, the papers and TV will be filled with news from space.

It may all seem very remote. And it is, in a way. But few people realize they can see the International Space Station, directly, with their own eyes and from their own backyards when the orbital mechanics are right. And with luck, we may get to see not just the station this week, but the shuttle Discovery as well.

For the next week, the station will be visible in the Maryland sky during a series of a dozen or so evening flyovers. Information on when and where to look can be found online at www.heavens-above.com No need to register. Just follow the instructions to SELECT your location, and the program will take you to a page where you can click on "ISS" and generate the predicted times and directions for each night's pass.

If Discovery launches on time, at 3:51 p.m., the best times to look may be Friday or Saturday evenings, when the shuttle is scheduled to approach the space station. If the timing is right, you'll be able to see the station and the shuttle, flying in formation. They'll appear as bright "stars" that zip across the sky together, or one after the other. Their speed that may make them look like aircraft, except that their light is a steady yellow-white, not flashing or colored.

And their speed is deceptive. The station is more than 200 miles high, travelling at more than 17,000 mph.

Posted by Admin at 2:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

And now, Emily

Mid-America, from the Florida panhandle to the Ohio River Valley, is still cleaning up after Hurricane Dennis, and already the National Hurricane Center is issuing warnings about Tropical Storm Emily. The new storm is now strengthening in the Atlantic east of the windward islands. It's expected to bring hurricane conditions within 36 hours to Barbados, Grenada and other nearby islands. Here's the forecast track.

That makes five named storms since the Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1. The hurricane center says it's the first time ever that five storms have reached tropical storm strength this early in the season. The experts have been forecasting a busy year in the Atlantic. Looks so far like they were right.

Posted by Admin at 11:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

More sizzle

OK, so it DID slip into the 90s, briefly, yesterday afternoon. The mercury at BWI touched 90 sometime in mid-afternoon. Today's forecast has the misery topping out at 93 degrees, and by late morning it was already well into the 80s.

The National Weather Service is warning of high heat index readings this afternoon, especially in the cities of Baltimore and Washington. The temps will ease a bit in the next few days, before returning to the 90s on Saturday.

But hey, it's mid-July in Baltimore. If you want cool and dry in July, you're in the wrong state. Maybe the wrong country. Here's what they're facing in Helena, Montana.

Posted by Admin at 11:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 11, 2005

Sunrise on Kilimanjaro

Well, this has to be one of the coolest sunrise photos ever taken. Enjoy.

Posted by Admin at 7:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Not so hot today

Highs today don't look like they're going to make it back into the 90s. The forecast calls for a high at BWI of 88 degrees. That follows yesterday's peak of 89 degrees.

It's nearly prime time for hot weather in Baltimore. But so far we've had just one 90-degree day this month - on the 1st. June saw six days of 90 or more.

The middle of July brings the highest average high temperatures at BWI. Specifically, the average high is 88 degrees from June 16 to 25. Then they begin to fall away again. The highest average atmospheric temperatures come a few weeks after the summer solstice, when the sun's noon angle from the horizon is highest and the input of solar energy into the earth, ocean and atmosphere are highest. For more on why this is so, click here.

Yesterday (the 10th) was the 69th anniversary of the hottest day ever officially recorded in Baltimore. It was 107 degrees on July 10, 1936.

Posted by Admin at 12:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

July 7, 2005

Dennis Tracker

Coastal Watches/Warnings and 5-Day Cone

Track any storm since 1900

Posted by Admin at 7:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Today's special

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC 942 AM EDT THU JUL 7 2005

...THREAT FOR HEAVY RAINFALL AND ISOLATED SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS HEADED TOWARD THE REGION... THE REMNANTS OF TROPICAL STORM CINDY WILL MOVE ACROSS THE REGION LATER TODAY AND TONIGHT. THIS WILL BRING SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL TO THE REGION. SCATTERED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE TODAY. THE RAIN WILL BECOME WIDESPREAD AND HEAVY AT TIMES AFTER 5 PM AND CONTINUE OVERNIGHT. A FLASH FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON. TOTAL RAINFALL OF 3 TO 5 INCHES WILL BE POSSIBLE WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS. THIS AMOUNT OF RAINFALL WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING FLOODING OF RIVER SYSTEMS AND FLASH FLOODING OF LOCALIZED AREAS. THERE WILL ALSO BE A RISK OF ISOLATED TORNADOES...BEGINNING THIS EVENING AND CONTINUING OVERNIGHT...AS THE REMNANT CIRCULATION MOVES ACROSS THE REGION. THE HIGHEST TORNADO THREAT AREA AT THIS TIME SHOULD BE FROM CHARLOTTESVILLE NORTHEAST TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND BALTIMORE...AND POINTS FURTHER EAST TO THE CHESAPEAKE BAY. THE THREAT FOR TORNADOES SHOULD BE FROM ABOUT 6 PM AND CONTINUING OVERNIGHT.
for:
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-NORTHERN BALTIMORE-HARFORD-MONTGOMERY-HOWARD- SOUTHERN BALTIMORE-PRINCE GEORGES-ANNE ARUNDEL-CHARLES-ST. MARYS- CALVERT-NELSON-ALBEMARLE-GREENE-MADISON-RAPPAHANNOCK-FAUQUIER- ORANGE-CULPEPER-PRINCE WILLIAM/MANASSAS/MANASSAS PARK-FAIRFAX- ARLINGTON/FALLS CHURCH/ALEXANDRIA-STAFFORD-SPOTSYLVANIA- KING GEORGE- INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...WASHINGTON...GAITHERSBURG...COLUMBIA... BALTIMORE...ANNAPOLIS...WALDORF...ST MARYS CITY... CHARLOTTESVILLE...CULPEPER...MANASSAS...MANASSAS PARK...FAIRFAX... ALEXANDRIA...FALLS CHURCH...FREDERICKSBURG

Posted by Admin at 11:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Tis the Season - Some Resources

Hurricane Dennis 1999
Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Hurricane: Surviving the Storm, created by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency
http://memaportal.mema.state.md.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_229_754_0_0_18/generalcontentitem_9_images_.html

Hurricane Survival Gide from our sister publication, the Orlando Sentinel: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/weather/hurricaneguide/

American Red Cross of Central Maryland
http://www.redcross-cmd.org/Chapter/hurricane.html

Weather Service web cams
http://www.instacam.com/listcams.asp?st=md

Tidal Surge maps for the Bay
http://www.hremc.org/surge.htm

Geographic Information Systems and Emergency Management: Lessons Learned During Hurricane Isabel
http://cgis.towson.edu/tugis2004/download/2004/246.pdf

Posted by Admin at 11:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

July 6, 2005

Tis the Season

Hurricane Season that is. From June through early November, predictions are for a busy season this year. So far there have been three major storms. The third, Cindy made landfall earlier today and is on a northeasterly path. Although it has been deemed a tropical depression, it is moving steadily northward at 15 mph.
>>>Winds are 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. Flash flood warnings are in effect for parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia. Expect rainfall totals of up 3 to 6 inches between late Thursday and early Friday when the storm reaches the northeastern states.

Posted by Admin at 6:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

July 1, 2005

A good thing

A reader from Owings Mills asks if her lightning rods are "a good thing."
The Maryland State House has used them for over two hundred years.
There have been many reports of vibrations from lightning strikes, which may explain the "ping" you hear from your chandelier.
- Jean Packard, filling in today for the vacationing Weather Blog editor

Posted by Admin at 2:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Lightning
        
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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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