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October 31, 2005

November opens the snow season

November looks like it will usher in a sunny week, but it's also the first month capable of producing significant snowfall in central Maryland. Here's the rundown.

Average high and low temperatures at BWI in November remain pretty comfortable. The 30-year average for daytime highs slips from 61 degrees on the 1st to 51 degrees by month's end. The average overnight lows slide from 38 degrees to below freezing - 31 degrees - for the first time in the cold season.

But the range of possibilities remains very wide. The record high temperature in November is 86 degrees, set in 1950. The record low is 12 degrees, a mark that has stood since 1929.

The long-term average snowfall here in November is only 0.6 inch. The snowiest November on record here was way back in 1898, when 9.7 inches accumulated in the city. Perhaps the most memorable November snowfall here in relatively recent memory was the 6-inch Veteran's Day storm, on Nov. 11, 1987.

As the month goes on, the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Sunrise in Baltimore gets later each day, advancing from 6:35 a.m. to 7:06 a.m. by month's end. Sunset gets earlier, falling back from 5:05 p.m. to 4:44 p.m.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Almanac
        

Hurricane Beta goes ashore as Cat. 2

Hurricane Beta finally made landfall over the weekend, crashing ashore in Nicaragua with Category 2 winds of 105 mph. The storm had briefly reached Category 3 strength before landfall, with 115 mph winds. Torrential rains have been falling in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, threatening people there with flash floods and mudslides. As much as two feet of rain could fall in isolation spots.

Beta was the 23rd named storm of the hyperactive 2005 Atlantic season. Fortunately, nothing else appears to be brewing, for the moment, in the tropics.

Here's the latest advisory. Here's the storm's - now a tropical depression - position, and here's the view from space.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 29, 2005

Get outside and see Mars

With the skies clear and the air dry, the next few nights will be perfect evenings to step outside and get a good look at Mars. Oct. 30 marked the closest the Earth will be to the Red Planet until 2018, and the second-closest in something like the last 59,000 years.

There's no need to drive out into the rural darkness to see it. Mars is now about 43 million miles from Earth, compared to 34.7 million at its last close approach in August 2003. It is currently the brightest object in the eastern sky in the evening. It's easily visible to the naked eye, even under urban lighting. You can't miss it. It gleams like a very bright star, except that it has no light of its own. A small telescope may reveal color patterns on the Martian surface.

It shines only with the sun's reflected light. The planet's reddish soil and rocks give it that slightly coppery hue. It will be visible all night, rising in the east at about sunset, climbing high overhead by midnight, and setting in the west as the sun rises in the east.

On Nov. 7, Mars will reach opposition - meaning that it will appear directly opposite the sun, rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. Slight eccentricities in its elliptical orbit offset its nearest approach to Earth from opposition by just a few days.

For more from Sky & Telescope magazine, go to this page.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

October 28, 2005

Frost possible tonight

As skies clear and the winds calm, there is a good chance for frost to develop tonight. Temperatures will sink to the low 30s throughout the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area - at least outside the urban cores. It's the blue region on this map. The frost means vulnerable plants caught outdoors will likely be killed. And the potted tomato plant on my deck - which still has a few red tomatoes - will be toast. Here's the frost advisory from the National Weather Service folks in the Sterling, Va. forecast office.

Sterling says this is the second night that frost advisories have been issued in the region. The first was issued last night, but there was no frost. We're right on time with these advisories. The average date for first frost (temperatures dipping below 32 degrees) at Baltimore-Washington International Airport is Oct. 28 - today. The average first frost in downtown Baltimore is Nov. 19.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:49 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Great Lakes tides; Ask Mr. WeatherBlogger

The WeatherBlog has received this question from Sally Ryerson, at the Saint James Academy:

Do the Great Lakes, or any bodies of fresh water, have tides?

Dear Sally,

Good question. Actually, everyplace on the Earth's surface is subject to tidal action. Even land. The combined gravity of the sun and moon are always pulling on the Earth's surface and tugging it out of shape like a rubber ball. But it's the oceans where we see the action most clearly.

Bodies of fresh water are mostly too small to be visibly affected in the way the oceans are. But they do actually rise and fall twice a day as the Earth's crust beneath them rises and falls. The Great Lakes are an exception. They're so big that a small tidal effect - a couple of inches - has been measured in the lake waters. But it is swamped by other influences, such as wind and atmospheric pressure changes.

Here is the best discussion I've found on the Great Lakes tides. It's from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Just scroll down to the fourth item.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Ask Mr. Weatherblogger
        

Last call for contest entries

The WeatherBlog continues to receive entries for our hurricane names contest. We have (cheapo) prizes in hand, and plan to close the contest Oct. 31 and publish the winning entries on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Here again is the premise for the contest, and the rules, such as they are:

The 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season has been the busiest on record, with 23 names storms so far. That has exhausted the 21 names provided for the regular season by the National Hurricane Center. Their fallback is the Greek alphabet. And so far they have used up Alpha and Beta on the 22nd and 23rd tropical storms of the season.

We didn't think that was very imaginative. After all, if Hurricane Gamma is a killer, they'll have to retire the name. Then what would they do next year if we have another season with more than 21 storms that reach tropical storm force?

So, we called on readers to submit alternate name lists. In the spirit of the last storm name on the 2005 list - Wilma - we called for cartoon character names. (Wilma, for those who didn't waste their childhoods watching TV cartoons like the rest of us, was Fred Flintstone's wife on The Flintstones.) We also asked that the names follow NHC rules and alternate male and female, and skip Q, U, X, Y and Z - although, if you can come up with names for those letters, that's OK. We're easy.

Well, some of our readers submitted some great lists of cartoon names. Others either didn't read the rules or chose to ignore them, and we have seen some very creative entries. So, we will award a prize for the most creative name list as well as the best one that adheres to the rules. We'll also probably have to give prizes to some really funny runnerups.

But we're still taking entries, so put on your thinking caps and send your name lists to frank.roylance@baltsun.com by Halloween. We'll announce the winners and publish the best lists here on Nov. 1.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 27, 2005

Early snows

Here is a sampling, from around the Northeast, of early-snow stories published in the wake of this week's snowstorm, which dropped a foot of snow in Garrett County, Md. The Syracuse, N.Y. area got as much as 6.5 inches. Parts of northern Vermont and New Hampshire saw up to 20 inches. Kids in Utica, N.Y. got the day off from school. Parts of northern Maine got a foot or more.

All those people should have hopped a jet to London - as in England - where they're enjoying record warmth.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:53 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Beta strengthens, threat to islands

The tropics are still bubbling, with the arrival early today of Tropical Storm Beta. It's the 23rd named storm of the season - another record - and the second name pulled from the Greek alphabet since the National Hurricane Center exhausted the 21 names on the regular list for 2005.

The NHC's late-morning advisory says Beta is strengthening in the western Caribbean, with top sustained winds of 50 mph. Colombia has issued hurricane warnings for several of its Caribbean islands, including San Andres and Providencia. Hurricane watches are posted for the coast of Nicaragua. 

The storm is drifting north, about 175 miles east of Bluefields, on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. But it is expected to make a left-hand turn and run onto the coast this weekend. Here's the storm track map. These relatively small storms that make landfall in Central America can cause huge problems, especially with their heavy rains. Hurricane Stan was a Cat. 1 when it slopped ashore earlier this month in Mexico and Honduras. The resulting rain and mudslides killed several thousand people.

Here's the satellite view of TS Beta. It's the little swirl at the lower lefthand corner of the image.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 24, 2005

Wettest October yet

The weekend rain has pushed our region over the top. October 2005 is now the wettest October since record-keeping began here in 1871. The instruments at BWI have recorded 8.20 inches of rain since the month began. That snaps the record of 8.09 inches set back in 1976. And there's more to come. The forecast doesn't clear out until tomorrow night.

The WeatherBlog may seem a little slow for the next few days. I am attending a seminar on violent weather in Oklahoma, and will visit the National Severe Storms Lab in Norman, OK tomorrow. In the meantime I am stealing time on other peoples' computers to post. Be back Thursday.

While I'm on the road, do keep those hurricane weather name lists coming. We will wrap up the contest at the end of the month. We have found some nice prizes for the best, or most creative names lists. For details, see the earlier post.

As many have no doubt noted, the National Hurricane Center has, with Wilma, used up the full regular list of storm names for this year. They have now started on the backup list, utilizing the Greek alphabet. Tropical Storm Alpha was named over the weekend. It's the first time they have ever run out of names, a perfect cap to the busiest tropical storm season ever in the Atlantic basin.

We didn't think the Greek alphabet showed much imagination, so we've asked readers to suggest new lists based on cartoon characters. But we have also received lists based on other things, such as cheeses, and names with double letters (in alphabetical order. Brilliant.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:42 PM | | Comments (0)
        

October 21, 2005

Wilma batters Cozumel

I hope this wasn't your week to bask on Cozumel. The island resort on Mexico's Yucatan coast is taking a pounding this morning from Hurricane Wilma. Here are the current conditions on the island, assuming the instruments are still working when you click. Last I looked, winds were blowing at 106 kilometers per hour (66 mph). Here's Cancun radar.

Wilma is a category 4 storm, with top sustained winds of 145 mph. That could mean severe structural damage on the island, depending on the storm track. The advisory from  the National Hurricane Center this morning warns of a storm surge 7 to 11 feet above normal tides, topped by large and battering waves. Rainfall through Sunday could reach 20 inches, with some spots in the mountains of western Cuba warned to expect more than three FEET of rain. Here is the forecasters' take on what the next few days may hold for Wilma.

Rain bands from the storm have already swept the Florida Keys, which could see 2 to 4 inches of rain through Sunday. Here's a water vapor image that shows Wilma's moisture creeping up the Florida peninsula. And high waves are moving through the Gulf of Mexico toward the northern Gulf Coast.

Here is the storm's forecast track, which now has Wilma reaching Florida sometime Monday. And here is the view from space.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 20, 2005

Wetter, cooler days ahead

Skies are darkening over Baltimore this afternoon, as a cold front approaches with rain and cool weather for the weekend. The forecast promises daytime temperatures in the 50s, with fairly high rain probabilities into early next week. The good news is that forecasters say whatever is left of Hurricane Wilma after she crosses the Florida peninsula Sunday or Monday will shoot out to sea, staying well south of us. 

High pressure and sunny skies should return later next week. But temperatures will stay pretty cool. Our lows by mid-week will sink to the upper 30s, a few degrees below normal for this time of year. (The last time BWI saw the 30s was on May 3, when the overnight low touched 34 degrees.) Some rural areas to the city's north and west, especially west of the Blue Ridge, may see their first frost next week.

Here's a pretty good radar image of the rain headed our way, with Wilma beginning to show up at the bottom of the image.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 19, 2005

A portrait of Wilma

Here's a wonderful shot of Hurricane Wilma as she spun in the Caribbean Sea this morning. It was shot by the GOES weather satellite.  Looks like a vanilla soft-serve.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Hurricane Wilma? Why not Fred and Barney? A contest

For that matter, why not Mickey and Goofy? Now that we've reached Tropical Storm "Wilma" - the last name in the original list of 21 assembled for the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season - the National Hurricane Center is preparing to name any subsequent storms this season after the letters of the Greek alphabet - Alpha Beta, Gamma, etc.

That didn't seem to us to reflect much imagination on the government's part. So, in the spirit of the final official storm name of the season, your WeatherBlogger proposes that all subsequent storms of this season be named for the rest of the Flintstones' cast or any other cartoon characters we need to fill out the list.

I would propose Barney for the "B" name, Fred for "F," and Sylvester and Tweety for "S" and "T." But I can't enter this contest.

So send in your lists. Remember, the National Hurricane Center's name lists include just 21 names per year, in alphabetical order, with alternating gender. We impose the same rules. And since the last name on the regular list was female, the first on your extended list must be male. The feds omit Q, U, X, Y and Z because such names are so scarce. But if you can think of any cartoon characters with names that start with those rejected letters, of the right genders, we'll be very impressed and award you extra credit. We're not as fussy as the weather bureaucrats in Miami.

The author of the best, most complete and imaginative list, as judged by the staff here at marylandweather.com's WeatherBlog, will receive some kind of inexpensive (I have no budget) weather-related prize, which I haven't figured out yet. You can post your entries here as comments and we'll all get to read them right away. Or if you're worried that would reveal your storm names for others to steal, email your list to me at frank.roylance@baltsun.com 

Good luck!

UPDATE 10/19:  We are receiving some very inventive entries. Keep 'em coming. And try to remember - we are looking for CARTOON names here, people. The list of cheese names was very clever, and may get a prize in the foodstuffs category. But it's not quite what we're after. On the other hand, if it's ingenious, send it in anyway. We'll do something with it.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Wilma sets low-pressure record

Hurricane Wilma, which blew up overnight from a Category 1 storm, with top winds of just 80 mph, into a fierce Category 5 with top winds of 175 mph, has set a new low-pressure record for the Atlantic basin. Reconnaissance aircraft this morning confirmed a central pressure in Wilma's eye of just 882 millibars - 26.05 inches of mercury. That makes this the most intense hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic basin. Here's the advisory.

Such powerful storms don't typically remain steady at such speeds, and Wilma is expected to fluctuate in strength, and weaken before landfall, just as Katrina and Rita did after reaching Category 5. Katrina made landfall as a Category 4, with top sustained winds of about 145 mph. Rita weakened even more before landfall.

Lots can change between now and the weekend, when this storm is expected to become a threat to South Florida. But forecasters seem confidence the storm will weaken before making landfall. Here is part of the storm discussion from the National Hurricane Center:

"WILMA IS NEAR ITS MAXIMUM
POTENTIAL INTENSITY AND FURTHER STRENGTHENING IS NOT ANTICIPATED.
MOST LIKELY...THE SMALL EYE WILL COLLAPSE FOLLOWED BY SLIGHT
WEAKENING OR SOME FLUCTUATIONS IN INTENSITY. EYEWALL REPLACEMENT
CYCLES WILL LIKELY CONTROL THE INTENSITY FOR THE NEXT 2 TO 3 DAYS
WHILE THE HURRICANE IS OVER THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA.
THEREAFTER...ONCE WILMA REACHES THE SOUTHEASTERN GULF OF MEXICO AND
ENCOUNTERS THE WESTERLIES AND HIGH SHEAR...WEAKENING SHOULD BEGIN."

But it seems inevitable that people in Wilma's path are in for a bad time. For now, it's western Cuba, and Mexico's Yucatan that are likely to feel the storm's first effects. Rain totals from the storm could exceed two feet in the mountains of Cuba.

Here's the storm's forecast track. Here's the view from space.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:48 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 18, 2005

Wilma a hurricane, threat to S. Fla.

Tropical Storm Wilma became the season's 12th hurricane this morning, with top sustained winds of nearly 75 mph, and a forecast track that appears to threaten South Florida by Sunday. The storm strengthened overnight, spinning up in the northwestern Caribbean Sea southwest of Jamaica. It is expected to become a "major" - Category 3 - storm in the next several days, with top sustained winds of 111-130 mph.

By reaching hurricane strength, Wilma ties the 1969 record of 12 Atlantic hurricanes in a single season. WIlma was already the 21st storm of the season to reach tropical storm strength (39 mph), which tied a record set in 1933, before such storms were given names.

The 1969 record is a curious one. That hurricane season only reached the "M" name - Martha. And there were only 10 hurricanes that got names. Two other storms - the 10th and 17th of the season - actually reached tropical-storm, and later hurricane strength, but never received names. Here is the track map and storm list for 1969.

"This is the result of post-analysis," said Colin McAdie, a research meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center. Someone went back after the 1969 season ended, took a second look at the data, and determined that the two unnamed storms likely reached hurricane strength. But, perhaps because they were never a threat to land, they were never "handled operationally" by the storm center's forecasters.

"In this day and age it would be pretty unusual to have an unnamed hurricane."  But in 1969, he said, satellite imagery of tropical cyclones was "really pretty crude compared to what we have today." 

Here is the latest advisory on Wilma. Here is the forecast track. And here is the view from space.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 17, 2005

Hunters' Moon tonight

The full moon known as the Hunters' Moon rises over Baltimore tonight at 6:28 p.m. as the sun sets. It's the first full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the one nearest the Autumnal Equinox. It was officially "full" at about 8:13 this (Monday) morning, but will remain full to the eye tonight. The Hunter's Moon got its name because its light made it possible for hunters to see game as it moved across the harvested fields at night. For more on this and other traditional names for full moons, click here.

As long as you're outside admiring the moon on this crystal clear evening, turn around and see the planet Venus, gleaming above the southwest horizon. It's astonishingly bright - a magnitude minus 4.3. (The bigger the negative numbers, the brighter the object. Dimmer stars and planets get smaller negative numbers, then increasing positive numbers. The dimmest visible to the naked eye are objects of about magntiude (plus) 6. It's a cockamamie system. Here's a better explanation and guide.)

Look just 1.6 degrees to Venus's left and you'll find the bright star Antares. It's a magnitude zero object, the 15th-brightest star in the sky. Its name comes from "anti-Ares," or "rival of Mars."  Ares was the Greek god of war, which the Romans called Mars. Antares got its name because the star is about the same color and brightness as the planet Mars, and easily confused with the Red Planet. Antares is 325 light years from Earth, which means the light you see tonight left the star in 1680. It appears in the constellation Scorpius.

And speaking of Mars, step outside again before bed for another good look at the fourth planet from the sun. We are nearing Earth's closest approach to Mars for the next 2-plus years, and each night it is getting bigger and brighter in the late-evening sky. You can't miss it. It's rising over Baltimore tonight at 7:38 p.m. - about an hour after the moon - and, depending on your view to the east, it should be easily visible all evening . Here's a good rundown, from SKy & Telescope, on what to expect.

If you miss all this tonight, little will have changed for Tuesday night, except the rising and setting times. And the moon will have moved a little closer to Mars.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:40 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Gorgeous

We will accept no weather-related complaints for the rest of this week. Clear skies, nice temperatures, starry, moonlit nights. Here's the forecast. After all that rain and wind, we are getting our just compensation. Enjoyment will be mandatory. There will be no mention of the fate of Tropical Storm Wilma as she moves northward by the weekend.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

TS Wilma forms; could threaten Gulf Coast

The all-time record for tropical storm formation in the Atlantic basin was tied early today when the 24th tropical depression of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season became the 21st tropical storm.

With little in the way of steering winds to set her course, TS Wilma was moving erratically in the northwest Caribbean Sea today, about 220 miles south southeast of Grand Cayman Island. By the 11 a.m. report, top sustained winds were 45 mph, showing some strengthening from the early morning. Forecasters expect her to strengthen further, and the storm could reach hurricane force by Tuesday. Tropical storm warnings have been posted for the Cayman Islands and Honduras.

Forecast models disagree, but there is some possibility this storm could track northward into the Gulf of Mexico and become a threat to the storm-battered U.S. Gulf Coast by the end of the week.

The last time hurricane watchers counted 21 storms of tropical storm strength (with sustained winds of 39 mph or higher) was in 1933.  With no Q, U, X, Y or Z names assigned, Wilma is also the last name available on this year's official name list for the Atlantic basin. That means any additional storms that reach tropical storm strength will be named for letters of the Greek alphabet - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and so on. That has never happened before.

Here is the latest advisory on Wilma. Here is the official forecast storm track. And here is the view from space. (It's the swirl of clouds in the lower, left-center of the image.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 13, 2005

All clear ahead

Sure it's been wet and gloomy for a whole week. But the skies will clear tomorrow and stay clear for the weekend for most of the state as a dry cold front pushes into the region. Don't take my word for it. Here's the forecast. Look for sunny skies, with comfortable temperatures in the upper 70s Saturday and upper 60s on Sunday.

Ever since the remnants of TS Tammy slopped through here last weekend with record heavy rains, we've been stuck in the back wash from this tropical low-pressure system that's been hanging just off the coast. While it sent endless rains into NJ, NY and NE, we've had gray, drippy skies.  It sure beats floods, but we could use some sunshine.

Those headed for Ocean City for one more autumn weekend at the beach will have to wait another day for the offshore storm system to move away and for the clearing to arrive. Looks like a wet Saturday there. Better Sunday. Here's the OC forecast.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Heavier snows forecast for Northeast

Here's the latest on global warming research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Read it, read the news stories about a week of heavy rain just north of here, and weep.

BOULDER — Storms will dump heavier rain and snow around the world as Earth's climate warms over the coming century, according to several leading computer models. Now a study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) explains how and where warmer oceans and atmosphere will produce more intense precipitation. The findings recently appeared in Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

The greatest increases will occur over land in the tropics, according to the study. Heavier rain or snow will also fall in northwestern and northeastern North America, northern Europe, northern Asia, the east coast of Asia, southwestern Australia, and parts of south-central South America during the 21st century.

"The models show most areas around the world will experience more intense precipitation for a given storm during this century," says lead author Gerald Meehl. "Information on which areas will be most affected could help communities to better manage water resources and anticipate possible flooding."

NCAR authors Meehl, Julie Arblaster, and Claudia Tebaldi analyzed the results of nine atmosphere-ocean global climate models to explain the physical mechanisms involved as intensity increased. Precipitation intensity refers to the amount of rain or snow that falls on a single stormy day.

Both the oceans and the atmosphere are warming as greenhouse gases build in the atmosphere. Warmer sea surfaces boost evaporation, while warmer air holds more moisture. As this soggy air moves from the oceans to the land, it dumps extra rain per storm.

Though water vapor increases the most in the tropics, it also plays a role in the midlatitudes, according to the study. Combined with changes in sea-level pressure and winds, the extra moisture produces heavier rain or snow in areas where moist air converges.

In the Mediterranean and the U.S. Southwest, even though intensity increases, average precipitation decreases. The authors attribute the decrease to longer periods of dry days between wet ones. The heavier rain and snow will most likely fall in late autumn, winter, and early spring, while warmer months may still bring a greater risk of drought.

The Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation funded the research. NCAR’S primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Science
        

October 12, 2005

Storms pound Britain

Remember Hurricane Vince?  He's the Atlantic storm that turned and went ashore in Spain yesterday - the first ever known to make landfall there. Well, the tropical depression that was Vince is causing havoc in Britain, with heavy rains and flooding. Here's a taste of it from the BBC. And more from the Daily Mail.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:27 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Tropical firehose soaks NY, NJ, NE

An offshore storm system packing near-tropical-storm-force winds and lots of water is training its fury on portions of New York, New Jersey and New England today. Parts of the region have already received more than 6 inches of rain and plenty of beach erosion. It's not a tropical storm because there's no cyclonic circulation. But the system is pumping warm air and tropical moisture off the Atlantic and clear into New England. Check out the radar loop.

Flash flood watches are posted throughout the region. I'm sure we'll be seeing the effects on TV tonight.

Check out these rainfall accumulations from AccuWeather, and be glad you live where you do.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Sunshine enroute for weekend

All this damp, cloudy weather that has hung over us since the remnants of Tammy blew through last weekend should be out of here soon. A dry coldfront is expected to push through in the next few days, bringing us some sunshine and pleasant temperatures - in the low 70s and upper 60s - for the weekend. Here's the forecast for Baltimore.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 11, 2005

Vince lands in Spain

Vince, the Wrong-Way Hurricane, stumbled onto the southwestern coast of Spain today, the first Atlantic tropical cyclone on record to make landfall there, according to the National Hurricane Center. There wasn't much left - 35 mph winds, a couple inches of rain and little of its original tropical characteristics.

Here's the last advisory on Vince. Here's the crummy forecast for Cadiz, Spain.  And here's the even crummier forecast for Lisbon. Notice the radar image, showing the swath of Vince's bad weather reaching up from Portugal to the British Isles. Here's what the Scots are being told to expect. Where's my slicker?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 10, 2005

More rain, more flooding possible

The National Weather Service has issued another flood watch for the region as a new jolt of rain heads for Central Maryland early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Here's the advisory:

...FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM EDT TUESDAY THROUGH TUESDAY
AFTERNOON...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MARYLAND...NORTH CENTRAL
MARYLAND...NORTHERN MARYLAND...THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND
NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

* FROM 2 AM EDT TUESDAY THROUGH TUESDAY AFTERNOON

* A COASTAL TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE WILL COMBINE WITH AN UPPER
LEVEL DISTURBANCE LATE TONIGHT AND TUESDAY TO PRODUCE MODERATE
TO HEAVY RAINFALL OVER PORTIONS OF NORTH CENTRAL MARYLAND...THE
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA. RAIN WILL OVERSPREAD
THE REGION FROM THE SOUTH TONIGHT AND CONTINUE THROUGH TUESDAY
AFTERNOON. RAIN IS EXPECTED TO TAPER OFF TO SHOWERS TUESDAY
EVENING.

* TOTAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF ONE TO TWO INCHES ARE POSSIBLE. RAINFALL
OVER THIS PAST WEEKEND AVERAGED FIVE TO SEVEN INCHES ACROSS THE
REGION...WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS UP TO TWELVE INCHES. THIS
ADDITIONAL RAINFALL COULD CAUSE SOME MINOR FLOODING OF SMALL
STREAMS...URBAN AND POOR DRAINAGE AREAS. NO RIVER FLOODING IS
EXPECTED AT THIS TIME.

A FLOOD WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING BASED ON
CURRENT FORECASTS.

YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE ALERT FOR POSSIBLE
FLOOD WARNINGS. THOSE LIVING IN AREAS PRONE TO FLOODING SHOULD BE
PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLOODING DEVELOP.
.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Wrong-way storm heads for Portugal

The quick rise and fall of Hurricane Vince over the weekend marked the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season as the second-busiest on record. Vince was the 20th named storm of the season, and leaves just one more name -Wilma - on the official list of 21 names that forecasters use for naming storms that reach tropical-storm force (top sustained winds of 39 mph or higher).

Vince became a tropical storm Sunday morning, spinning up in the far eastern Atlantic just 140 miles northwest of Portugal's Madeira Islands. It's an unusual place for such a storm to develop. Vince also wasn't headed west across the Atlantic like most storms. It was drifting northeast at 5 mph, packing 50 mph winds.

By Sunday afternoon, Vince was a hurricane, with top winds of 75 mph. It began to weaken early today, becoming a tropical storm again with top winds of 60 mph, a threat mostly to shipping. By 11 a.m. today it had weakened further, to 45 mph. At last check, this wrong-way storm was 175 miles northeast of the Madeiras, and accelerating toward the east, and the coast of Spain and Portugal. 

Here's the latest advisory on Vince. Here's the forecast track.

Only one other Atlantic season - in 1933 - produced more storms (21) of that strength, although they were not named in those days.

There are still more than seven weeks remaining in the current hurricane season, which expires officially Nov. 30. If the National Hurricane Center exhausts the 2005 names list, it will turn, for the first time, to the Greek alphabet to name any subsequent storms, beginning with Tropical Storm Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so forth.

Although the season typically begins to quiet down in October, storms have been known to pop up in November and even in December - after the season has officially ended. They're oddballs, but they still count, and if they're strong enough, they will get names.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

What defines a "drought?"

MarylandWeather.com reader Paul Snyder asks: "The papers and newscasters say we are in a drought, but I notice Maryland is +1" above average rain fall for the year and the local reservoirs are full. What is the official definition of a drought?"

Officially-designated drought conditions are determined by a complex formula that takes into account measurements of soil moisture, streamflow, precipitation and the health of vegetation as measured by satellite imagery.

The data is fed into a computer, which crunches the numbers and spits out a drought "index," and the results are mapped to produce a weekly "drought monitor" map. That's what we were going by last week when The Sun published a story about the deepening drought, and the prospects for relief from the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy.

Ask your note suggests, it is possible for some of the indicators, such as water levels in reservoirs, to be close to normal, while others are sufficiently low to push the region into the drought categories. In our case, the September drought was considered an "agricultural" drought, primarily affecting farming interests. It was not regarded as a "hydrological drought," because water supplies had not yet been seriously depleted.

The drought monitor calculations are done weekly. The most recent was dated Oct. 4, which showed most of Maryland in moderate drought. Those numbers will be updated shortly, and the results will be updated for Oct. 11, and will likely show that the drought has ended, thanks to the record-breaking rains from Tammy. The seasonal outlook, thanks to Tammy, looks brighter.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Ask Mr. Weatherblogger
        

October 9, 2005

Saturday was wettest Oct. day in 83 years

As promised, the weekend's rainfall was a whopper. Precipitation totals at Baltimore-Washington
International Airport doubled the monthly norm, and broke the station's daily records for both dates.

Friday, Oct. 7: 2.28 inches. Old record: 1.48 inch, set in 1949
Saturday, Oct. 8: 4.37 inches. Old record: 1.33 inch, set in 1996.
Total for the two-day storm: 6.65 inches
Total for October: 6.72 inches
Average for October: 3.16 inches

In fact, Saturday narrowly missed becoming the wettest October day since record-keeping in
Baltimore began in 1871. The total was just 0.01 inch short of the record 4.38 inches of rain recorded
on Oct. 10, 1922. So, we'll call Saturday the wettest October day in 83 years.

The deluge has ended our drought worries for now. It has also - just 9 days into the month - made
October 2005 the wettest October in 29 years (since 1976), when 8.09 inches fell.

Some parts of Baltimore COunty recorded more than 8 or 9 inches of rain. A spotter in Fallston reported
over a foot of rain. I had more than 7 inches on the instruments on my deck in Cockeysville. Here
are some totals from other stations across the region:

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

...DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COUNTY...
WASHINGTON/NATL 7.34 900 PM 10/8 REAGAN NATL AIRPORT
NATIONAL ARBORETUM 7.33 700 AM 10/9 COOP

MARYLAND

...ALLEGANY COUNTY...
FROSTBURG 2.35 645 PM 10/8 SPOTTER 1 E FROSTBURG
CUMBERLAND 2.02 700 AM 10/9 COOP

...ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY...
BALTO/WASH INTL 6.72 800 PM 10/8 BWI AIRPORT
JESSUP 6.59 1035 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
RIVIERA BEACH 5.16 700 AM 10/9 COOP
ANNAPOLIS 5.05 800 PM 10/8 US NAVAL ACADEMY ASOS
ANNAPOLIS 5.00 1100 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
BOWIE 4.57 700 AM 10/9 SPOTTER

...BALTIMORE COUNTY...
DELIGHT 9.07 815 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
OWINGS MILLS 8.76 800 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
HAMILTON 8.48 800 AM 10/9 SPOTTER
LAKE ROLAND PARK 8.04 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS
HUNT VALLEY 7.70 400 PM 10/8 TV MET WBAL
FULLERTON 5.32 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS

...CARROLL COUNTY...
FINKSBURG 8.33 900 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
MILLERS 7.79 600 PM 10/8 COOP
FINKSBURG 7.11 900 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
MANCHESTER 7.11 900 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
WESTMINSTER 6.20 700 AM 10/9 COOP 1 N

...CITY OF BALTIMORE
BALTIMORE 8.96 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS-BAPTIST HOME
BALTIMORE 8.74 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS-JONES FALLS
BALTIMORE 7.24 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS-CARROLL PARK

...FREDERICK COUNTY...
WOLFSVILLE 5.50 700 AM 10/9 COOP
FREDERICK 4.71 700 AM 10/9 COOP

...HARFORD COUNTY...
FALLSTON 12.02 700 AM 10/9 COOP
FALLSTON 9.66 1150 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
WHITEFORD 9.38 800 AM 10/9 SPOTTER 2 S
JARRETTSVILLE 9.21 1150 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
STREET 9.18 600 AM 10/9 SPOTTER
WHITEFORD 9.16 1150 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
STREET 8.99 700 AM 10/9 COOP
BELCAMP 5.63 830 PM 10/8 SPOTTER

...HOWARD COUNTY...
ELLICOTT CITY 8.96 300 PM 10/8 WBAL MET
COLUMBIA 8.87 700 PM 10/8 NWS EMPLOYEE 1 W RT 29
COLUMBIA 8.75 630 PM 10/8 NCEP-OPC METEROLGIST
CENTENNIAL LAKE 8.70 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS
ELLICOTT CITY 8.23 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS
COLUMBIA 7.99 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS
HIGHLAND 7.31 1100 PM 10/8 NWS EMPLOYEE
ELKRIDGE 7.24 800 PM 10/8 IFLOWS

...MONTGOMERY COUNTY...
NORBECK 8.80 700 PM 10/8 NWS EMPLOYEE
COLESVILLE 7.10 540 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
DAMASCUS 6.15 700 AM 10/9 COOP
BETHESDA 5.52 1100 AM 10/8 SPOTTER
BRIGHTON DAM 5.40 600 PM 10/8 COOP
GAITHERSBURG 4.83 100 AM 10/9 SPOTTER
MONTGOMERY VILLAGE 4.69 800 PM 10/8 NWS EMPLOYEE

...PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY...
LAUREL 7.60 1100 PM 10/8 SPOTTER
ROCKY GORGE ESTATES 7.30 1200 PM 10/8 NWS RETIREE
CAMP SPRINGS 6.80 700 AM 10/9 SPOTTER

...WASHINGTON COUNTY...
WILLIAMSPORT 4.36 700 AM 10/9 COOP
SHARPSBURG 3.81 700 AM 10/8 COOP
SMITHSBURG 3.47 700 AM 10/9 COOP

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

October 7, 2005

Suffering grows in Stan's wake

This is why hurricane forecasters take pains to remind people not to discount the potential hazard from tropical storms and Category 1 hurricanes. Hurricane Stan, which didn't look like much when it stumbled ashore south of Veracruz, Mexico early this week, is still taking a terrible toll in Mexico and Central America. Heavy rains have caused flooding and landslides that have killed hundreds and driven tens of thousands from their homes. Read more.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Heaviest rain to our west

National Weather Service forecasters are sticking to their predictions of as much as 3 to 5 inches of rain as this rainy weekend gets underway. But most of it, as they expected, has been falling to our west. East of the Blue Ridge, they're looking for 1 to 4 inches. Baltimore has clocked less than a tenth of an inch at this writing. But Frederick Airport has measured 2.24 inches. Martinsburg has seen 1.11 inch and Winchester, Va., has recorded 1.25 inch.

There's more to come. Here's the radar. Here's the forecast discussion from the Sterling Forecast Office. They're even beginning to talk about some minor river flooding.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

No rain gauge? Try this

Curious about how much rain your community has received? Here's a Website where you can watch as rain accumulates in gauges across the region. Click here.

You can also watch the neighborhood creeks rise without ever getting your feet wet. Click here. Place your cursor over the colored dot that designates your creek, and you will get some basic data. Click on it and you will see detailed information about the stream and gauge site, as well as graphs of streamflow changes over time.

Fortunately, the month-long drought has lowered streamflows, providing plenty of room to handle expected rainfall this weekend. While the creeks may get high, and we may see some localized and urban flooding, major flooding on main-stem rivers is not anticipated.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

3 to 6 inches of rain possible

The National Weather Service continues to issue flood watches through late Saturday for most of Maryland west of the Bay, Northern Virginia, and eastern portions fo West Virginia. The wet weather arrives with remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy and an approaching cold front. Communities along the Blue Ridge, and to its west, will likely see the heaviest rainfall amounts. Here is the watch issued for our region this morning:

359 AM EDT FRI OCT 7 2005

...FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM EDT THIS MORNING
THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON...

THE FLOOD WATCH CONTINUES FOR

* THE EASTERN PANHANDLE OF WEST VIRGINIA...MUCH OF NORTHERN
VIRGINIA...AND PORTIONS OF MARYLAND WEST OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY.

* FROM THIS MORNING THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON

* A COLD FRONT WILL APPROACH THE MID ATLANTIC LATER TODAY. AT THE
SAME TIME...TROPICAL MOISTURE ASSOCIATED WITH THE REMNANTS
OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION TAMMY WILL BE ABSORBED INTO THE
ADVANCING FRONT. WIDESPREAD HEAVY RAINFALL IS LIKELY. RAIN WILL
CONTINUE TO OVERSPREAD THE REGION THIS MORNING AND CONTINUE THIS
AFTERNOON. THE RAIN MAY BECOME HEAVY AT TIMES THIS AFTERNOON AND
INTO TONIGHT. THE RAIN IS EXPECTED TO DIMINISH LATE ON SATURDAY.

* TOTAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS IN THE FLOOD WATCH AREA THROUGH LATE
SATURDAY WILL BE BETWEEN 3 TO 6 INCHES...WITH LOCALIZED AMOUNTS
OF UP TO 8 INCHES POSSIBLE. THE HIGHEST RAINFALL TOTALS ARE
EXPECTED TO BE ALONG AND WEST OF THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS.

* THIS AMOUNT OF RAINFALL IS EXPECTED TO CAUSE FLOODING OF SMALL
STREAMS...AND URBAN AND POOR DRAINAGE AREAS. RIVER FLOODING IS
NOT ANTICIPATED AT THIS TIME...ALTHOUGH SIGNIFICANT RISES WILL
BE POSSIBLE.

A FLOOD WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR WIDESPREAD FLOODING
BASED ON CURRENT FORECASTS.

YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE ALERT FOR
POSSIBLE FLOOD OR FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS. THOSE LIVING IN AREAS PRONE
TO FLOODING SHOULD BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLOODING DEVELOP.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Flooding
        

October 6, 2005

Flood watch, Allegany to the Bay

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for all of Maryland from Allegany County in the west, to the Chesapeake Bay in the east. Forecasters are calling for 3 to 5 inches of rain from Friday through Saturday afternoon, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy collide with a cold front approaching from the west. The heaviest amounts should fall west of the Blue Ridge.

The watch actually extends from Northern Virginia, across Maryland and Pennsylvania, clear into central New York State, visible as dark green on this map.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Tammy ashore; tropics still active

Tropical Storm - now Tropical Depression - Tammy is now well ashore, its center southeast of Savannah, Ga., where it is delivering heavy rains. The storm is expected to bring badly needed rain to the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic states  - including Maryland - in the next few days.

In the meantime, the National Hurricane Center continues to watch a broad area of stormy weather in the Caribbean, that will likely send more heavy rain into Southern Florida. And, there is a new storm brewing in the tropical Atlantic, 1,300 miles east of the southern Leeward Islands. That one looks as though it could see further development in the next few days.

Here is the storm discussion in today's Tropical Outlook. Here is the latest on Tammy. Here is the view from space.

And finally, the toll continues to rise in the wake of Hurricane Stan. Landslides triggered by heavy rain are believed to have buried hundreds. Read more.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Wet stuff falls from sky

There was something unfamiliar on the windshield this morning. Fortunately, I found a switch that made these two wipey things push it off the glass. What luck.

Sprinkles and light showers moved through the region this morning, the first significant rain to fall at BWI since mid-September. Rain on streets that have been dry for many days can create very slippery conditions as water beads up on oily road surfaces. So today's sprinkles were enough to trigger these alerts from the National Weather Service.

The rains come in advance of the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy, which made landfall overnight near the Florida, Georgia border. The forecast for Baltimore predicts substantial rains for the region through Saturday - 2 to 4 inches in some places as the tropical moisture collides with a cold front from the west.

The rain will provide substantial relief for the Mid-Atlantic states, which have slipped into moderate to severe drought since August. BWI received barely two-thirds of an inch in September, 3 inches below normal. The airport had received a whopping 0.02 inch by 9 a.m. this morning. Less than a tenth of an inch is expected today. Much more tomorrow.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

October 5, 2005

Why we don't live in Montana

Get a load of this report out of the High Plains by the AP, via the Durham, N.C. Herald Sun.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Toll rises in wake of Stan

Hurricane Stan didn't get much press because it was a Category 1 storm that went ashore Monday in Mexico. But it has caused many deaths and extensive misery and destruction in Central America. Here is a report.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Reporter ends drought

Now that we have finally written, in The Sun, about the 5-week-old drought in Maryland, it appears that it is about to end. The forecast calls for as much as four inches of rain in Baltimore between Thursday and Saturday. The apparent source of the relief is Tropical Storm Tammy, now working its way up the East Coast, and an approaching cold front from the west.

But the actual cause, as anyone who has ever attempted to write weather stories for a daily newspaper soon learns, is the drought story in today's newspaper. You see, we write about a weather trend, and it inevitably ends. And this phenomenon appears ready to repeat itself.

So if this winter starts out snowless, and you see a story about it in the paper, that will be your signal to rush out and buy bread and toilet paper. There is no extra charge to subscribers for this service.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:02 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Drought
        

Now it's Tropical Storm Tammy

That disorganized area of stormy weather in the Bahamas got organized overnight. It skipped right past "tropical depression" status and this morning was declared the 19th named tropical storm of the 2005 season: Tammy.  Sounds about as scary as Tropical Storm Fluffy.  But if they keep on retiring storm names after particularly destructive or deadly blows, after a while they may have to add Fluffy to the list.

With two months to go in this very busy 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center has just two more names on its official list of 21 for this year: Vince and Wilma. If they use those up, they'll have to turn to the Greek alphabet for the first time: TS Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and so on.  The last time - and apparently the only other time - they had to tap the "T" name was in 1995, when Tanya was the last storm of the season.

Anyway, Tammy is moving northward along the east coast of Florida. The current forecast track would take it to landfall near the Florida/Georgia border, where it would become a tropical depression, with lots of rain for the Southeast. With luck, its rain will then track northeast, and deliver some badly needed rain for places like Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. Here's our drought story from today's paper.

Here is the latest advisory. Here is the forecast track. And here is the view from space.

Just for the record, here, in order, are the season-ending names for the past 46 years, with the quietest season (1963) marked in green, the busiest (1995) in red. "G" names- the 7th named storms - seem to dominate:

1958-59: Janice, Judith

1960s: Florence, Jenny, Ella, Cindy, Isbell, Elena, Lois, Heidi, Gladys, Martha

1970s: Greta, Laura, Dawn, Gilda, Gertrude, Hallie, Holly, Frieda, Kendra, Henri

1980s: Karl, Katrina, Ernesto, Dean, Lili, Kate, Frances, Floyd, Keith, Karen

1990s: Nana, Grace, Frances, Harvey, Gordon, Tanya, Marco, Grace, Nicole, Lenny

2000s: Nadine, Olga, Lili, Peter, Otto

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 4, 2005

Hyperion, sponge moon of Saturn

Somewhere up there in the daytime sky, beyond today's clouds and across 885 million miles of space, is the planet Saturn, where NASA's Cassini spacecraft continues to orbit and snap pictures of Saturn's endlessly varied and weird moons. Here now is Hyperion, surely one of the oddest moons of the solar system, looking for all the world like a sponge, or maybe a paper wasp's nest. It looks almost like it's made of snow, or ice, that has been hit by rocks from space for eons. Scientists are still trying to figure out what they're looking at. Enjoy.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

38 dead in Hurricane Stan

Tropical Storm Stan became a hurricane overnight, and roared ashore this morning on the Mexican Coast south of Veracruz. Thirty-eight people have already been killed in El Salvador by storm-related rain and landslides. Here's another report, from the AP.

Top sustained winds just before landfall were about 75 mph, making this a minimal Category 1 storm. But Mexicans in the region have been warned to expected 5 to 10 inches of rain, and a 2- to 4-foot storm surge. Flash flooding could be a real threat to life and property in Mexico as the tropical weather runs up into the mountains. Rising elevation and cooler temperatures will wring most of the moisture from the system as rain, and send it racing down the valleys.

Here is the latest advisory. Here is the storm track. And here is the view from space.

In the meantime, the National Hurricane Center continues to watch a broad area of disturbed weather east of the Bahamas. It remains largely disorganized, but conditions seem favorable for some further development.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

October 3, 2005

First pix of today's eclipse

There was an eclipse of the sun today. Don't fret if you missed it. It occurred before the sun rose over the United States and it was never visible here. But it was visible, at least as a partial eclipse, across all of Europe - at least where skies were clear. And it was a total "annular" eclipse along a narrow corridor from Spain to North Africa and east to Somalia.

An annular eclipse occurs when the moon, orbiting Earth in its slightly elliptical path, happens to be too far from the Earth to appear large enough to completely cover the sun's disk. The result at totality is a brilliant ring of solar "fire" as the moon leaves the outer rim of the sun's light uncovered. For a complete explanation of this annular eclipse, click here.

Here is a gallery of the first images taken by those privileged to watch the event today.

And with skies clear here, keep an eye out, tonight or tomorrow night, for the first sliver of the crescent moon as it appears in the western sky, right after sunset. The evening crescent moon appears each month after the "New Moon."  It's always a beautiful sight, especially when, as now, the planet Venus is in the same part of the sky.

The "New Moon" occurs each month as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. Because all the sun's light is shining on moon's the "back" side, it cannot be seen from here. But new moons only produce solar eclipses when the moon passes exactly in front of the sun, obscuring it. Most months it passes just above or below the sun.

The next total eclipse of the sun will occur on March 29, 2006. But you'll have to go to Africa , Turkey or Central Asia to see it. (To enlarge this eclipse map, move your cursor over it, then click on the box that appears at lower right.) The next total eclipse of the sun over the continental U.S. will be in August 2017. Be there.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

Rain, floods, rescues, evacuations - in Kansas

With all the flood news out of the Gulf Coast, we might have missed the flooding in Kansas. It all seems very familiar. Have a look at the Wichita Eagle's report.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:52 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)
Categories: Events
        

A bone-dry September

September 2005 passed into history as the 10th-driest since record-keeping began in Baltimore in 1871, and the warmest in 25 years. And we got off easy. The National Weather Service says the late month of September was the driest on record at Reagan National and Dulles International airports in Washington, and at Martinsburg, W.Va.

Reagan: 0.11 inch.  Previous record: 0.14 in 1884

Dulles: 0.15 inch. Previous record: 0.62 in 1967

Martinsburg: 0.14 inch. Previous record: 0.47 in 1943

Baltimore: 0.67 inch. Record: 0.09 inch, in 1884

The weather service credits Baltimore's proximity to the Bay, which provided a few tenths of an inch of extra rainfall at mid-month when southeast winds off the Atlantic Ocean brought in some moisture. But it was a paltry advantage. We still finished the month 3.31 inches short of the normal precipitation. And the brown lawns and dry leaves testify to it. BWI hasn't seen a decent rainfall since Aug. 28.

September 2005 was also the 16th warmest September on record in Baltimore. The average temperature was 72 degrees, some 4.6 degrees above the 30-year average. That's the warmest September here since 1980, but still well short of the record - 77.2 degrees, set in 1881.

Every day at BWI for the first 23 days of the month, the daytime high exceeded 80 or 90 degrees. Only six days failed to reach 80. The high for the month was 93 degrees, on the 23rd. The low was 41 degrees, on the last day of the month.

But if you could ignore the lack of rain, it was beautiful. The warm, dry weather came with 16 clear days, and 10 that were partly cloudy. Only 4 cloudy days spoiled the run.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Tropics busy again

It may be October, but the Atlantic hurricane season is far from over, and the tropics got busy again over the weekend. The 20th tropical depression of the season was upgraded to a tropical storm early Sunday morning. It's the 18th named storm of the 2005 season, and its name is Stan. After crossing the Yucatan Peninsula, it was reorganizing today in the Bay of Campeche, in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.

Stan looks to be a threat to the east coast of Mexico, where hurricane watches were posted today. The storm was a minimal tropical storm, with top sustained winds of just 40 mph. But it was packing plenty of rain. Portions of Mexico could see 2 to 4 inches of rain, with some isolated lcoations receiving up to 15 inches, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Here is the latest advisory on Stan. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

Elsewhere, hurricane forecasters were watching a tropical wave that was moving westward toward the Central Bahamas. Conditions were favorable for further organization and strengthening, they said. Here's what it looks like from space.

And far across the Atlantic, Tropical Depression #19 was reorganizing 665 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.  It was moving to the west northwest at 7 mph, with top sustained winds of 35 mph. It's not a threat for now.

With Tropical Storm Stan now on the record books, the hurricane center has just three names left on its regular list for the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season: Tammy Vince and Wilma. If those get used up, they'll move to the Greek alphabet - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so on. That's never happened before.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        
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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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