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June 30, 2009

Russian eruption triggers volcanic sunsets

A tremendous eruption by Russia's Sarychev volcano, in the Kuril Islands, on June 12 is causing strange and beautiful violet and lavender sunsets around the northern hemisphere this week. The astronauits aboard the International Space Station shot some amazing video of the eruption as they flew over. 

The sunset colors occur when fine particles of ash and sulphur dioxide blasted into the stratosphere by the eruption begin to scatter blue light. Mixed with the reddish colors of a normal sunset, they produce the purplish hue.

Photographers in northern countries have been taking remarkable pictures of the sunsets. I'm not sure whether the particulates have made it as far south as Maryland, but it's worth watching the sunsets this week.

In addition to the unusual colors, some photos show high clouds, bright yellow bands called a "twilight arch," and tall crepuscular rays fanning out from the western horizon. Here is a gallery showing some of these phenomena.

The eruption on the remote island in the Kuril chain northeast of Japan smothered half the island in lava. Here (below) is a photo of the island, snapped today by NASA's Terra Earth-observing satellite. The gray color on the northwestern side is lava. The red in the false-color image is actually green vegetation. 

For a comparison shot, showing what the island looked like before the eruption, click here

NASA/Terra

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Phenomena
        

High tides on the Eastern Shore

Charlie, on the Eastern Shore, left a comment here this morning asking why the rivers and creeks over there have been experiencing unusually high tides in recent days:

"I wanted to ask if you have any idea why we seem to be having a month's worth of very high tides here on the Upper Choptank and Tuckahoe Creek. Its been going on day after day, super high tides one after the other. What gives? Thanks. Charlie"

Well, he's right about the tides. Below is a graph of the tides at Cambridge over several recent cycles. You can see that water levels (red lines) have been running a foot or so above predicted levels for several days - at least four high tide cycles are captured on this graph. 

The Western Shore has been seeing the same thing. Annapolis and Solomons Island are also running about a foot high. The NWS says the next several high tides will also be a foot or two above predictions. Here's this morning's tidal discussion from Sterling:

"EARLY MORNING TIDES WERE RUNNING 3/4 TO 1 FOOT ABOVE NORMAL. WATER
LEVEL AT ANNAPOLIS CRESTED JUST BELOW THE LOWEST THRESHOLD LEVEL FOR
MINOR TIDAL FLOODING AT 2.5 FEET. POSITIVE ANOMALIES SIMILAR TO
THOSE OCCURRING EARLY THIS MORNING WILL LIKELY CONTINUE FOR THE NEXT
COUPLE OF HIGH TIDE CYCLES. WILL MENTION TIDES UP TO 1 FOOT ABOVE
NORMAL IN CWF PRODUCT. MINOR TIDAL FLOODING IS NOT EXPECTED DURING
THE AFTERNOON HIGH TIDE WHICH IS THE LOWER OF THE NEXT TWO.
ANNAPOLIS WILL GET TO 1.9 TO 2.0 FEET. HOWEVER...THE FOLLOWING HIGH
TIDE CYCLE OVERNIGHT BEARS MORE WATCHING. 1 FOOT ABOVE ASTRONOMICAL
PREDICTIONS WOULD PUT ANNAPOLIS JUST ABOVE 2.5 FEET."

The blue arrows on the next graph down show wind direction. And they also reveal a persistent component out of the west or southwest. That would tend to blow water up into the Bay, and hold more of the water in at low tide.

The next chart down shows atmospheric pressure, which has been trending low in recent days. Tides tend to run higher under low air pressure.

There is also the moon to consider. The moon was "new" on the 22nd, and that would have exerted an extra tug on the tides for several days, making the highs higher and the lows lower last week. The astronomical, or lunar component, however, would have been weakening in recent days, leaving the winds as the dominant factor. The moon will become a bigger factor closer to the full moon in another week - on July 7

The persistent winds would seem to be the result in part of low pressure systems that have been lingering off the New England coast, and the Great Lakes for several weeks.

That's my take on it, anyway. Anyone else? Take any good high water photos? Email them to me at frank.roylance@baltsun.com

Cambridge tides

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:08 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Events
        

June 29, 2009

2008 hurricane season ... set to music

NOAA 

It doesn't have to take six months to watch a hurricane season unfold. NASA has strung together orbital imagery of the 2008 season into a brief animation and set it all to a nice island beat.

You can find the download links here.  Unfortunately, we'll have to wait and witness the 2009 season in real time.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:18 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Your car can become an oven in 10 minutes

You'll only be a few minutes, you think. Just long enough to run in for a box of diapers or a carton of milk. Surely you can leave the kids, or the dog in the car that long without worrying about them.

Well don't. Emergency room physicians are reminding us that our cars can become hothouses, Hot Careven 130-degree ovens in as little as 10 minutes when outside temperatures are as pleasant as 80 degrees.

Such temperatures can quickly be deadly to children and pets. And it happens every year. Harried grownups are sure their errands will be quick, but they're not. Or worse, they forget the kids are even in the car, and they park for work, only to realize too late that they forgot to drop them at day care.

UPDATE: A local example of exactly this phenomenon occurred recently in Ellicott City, when a 23-month-old child was left in the family car, in the driveway, all day. She died of heat stroke.

UPDATE 2: The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is also reporting the death of an elderly Prince George's County man, found inside a dwelling where the temperature had climbed to 99 degrees. His death was complicated by cardiovascular disease, health officials said.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2005 found that even when it was 72 degrees outside, the temperature increase inside the car can put children at risk for hyperthermia, reaching 117 degrees. And "cracking" the windows 1.5 inches made no significant difference, either in the speed of the temperature increase or the final temperature.

Here's more from Dr. Nick Jouriles, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.:

“Putting it bluntly, leaving your child in a hot car is like leaving your child in a lit oven,” he said. “The most important thing to know is that it does not have to be brutally hot outside for it to be brutally hot inside the car.  Be especially careful if you are sleep deprived or experience changes in your schedule or your child is in the back seat, making it more difficult for you to see.

"A vehicle’s window will act like a greenhouse, trapping sunlight and heat inside with no ventilation.  A car parked in direct sunlight can reach up to 131 degrees inside while the outside temperature is a tolerable 80 degrees.  Also, it’s very important to note that this isn’t a gradual, but rather a rapid increase in temperature.  In warm weather, a vehicle can reach dangerous, life-threatening conditions in only about 10 minutes.

"A child’s body temperature can go as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit in that time and it often is fatal.  Specifically, these extreme conditions can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, as well as heat stroke, dehydration, and seizures among other things."   

 
Prevention Tips:

·         Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

·         Never let your children play in an unattended vehicle.

·         Make a habit of looking in the vehicle before you get out.

·         If your infant or young child travels in a rear-facing car seat or the back seat, keep a reminder for you in the front seat, for example, a stuffed animal.

·         Always lock the doors and keep any keys out of reach from children.

·         If you see a child left alone in a hot vehicle, call the police.  If they appear in distress, don’t hesitate, get them out as quickly as possible, cool the child rapidly and call 911or your local emergency number.

Symptoms of heat stroke include a strong rapid pulse, a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and disorientation.

For more information on this or other health related topics, please go to  www.emergencycareforyou.org or check out our You Tube Channel at EmergencyCareForYou Videos.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:15 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Gorgeous

weather map 

It will be hard to find anything negative to say about the weather today. Blue skies, low humidity after the dampness from overnight showers dries up, and temperatures near seasonal averages should make just about everybody happy.

We can thank low-pressure systems to our north. They're drawing air in from the west, and it's being dried and warmed as it comes over the mountains. That will keep skies mostly clear today, with highs in the mid-80s. Might be a bit breezy this afternoon, but that's just going to keep us comfortable in the sunshine.

It won't last, of course. Winds will shift tonight more to the south, bringing in higher humidities. And that will increase our clouds and our chances for showers and thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday. The clouds and showers will keep temperatures comfortable - in the low 80s for the latter part of the week.

Shower risks will stick with us Thursday night into the holiday on Friday. But the 4th itself, and the rest of the weekend will be rain-free with highs in the 80s if the current forecast holds up.   

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 26, 2009

Two killed when storm drops tree on van

Montgomery County authorities reported around 7:30 p.m. Friday evening that a large tree had fallen on a minivan at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and East West Highway in Chevy Chase. Three people were reported pinned in the vehicle.

A technical rescue team rushed to the scene to free the people in the van. Two did not get out alive. Here's the Associated Press story that moved last night:

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Montgomery County fire officials say two people were killed when a part of a large tree fell on a minivan in Bethesda.

It happened about 7:20 p.m. Friday in windy and rainy weather on southbound Connecticut Avenue near East-West Highway.

Capt. Oscar Garcia of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue says part of the tree, about two and a half to three feet in diameter, fell on the minivan, which had eight occupants.

Garcia says an adult and a child were killed. He said another child sustained serious, life-threatening injuries.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Storm reports
        

Severe storms possible as front approaches

radar loop Northeast 

The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Storm Watch for the entire region this afternoon and into this evening as an approaching cold front begins to kick off some thunderstorms. The radar loop above was valid at 3:45 p.m. EDT

Here are the counties covered by the watch. Baltimore City is also included:

ALLEGANY             ANNE ARUNDEL        BALTIMORE
CAROLINE             CARROLL             CECIL
FREDERICK            HARFORD             HOWARD
KENT                 MONTGOMERY          PRINCE GEORGES
QUEEN ANNE`S         TALBOT              WASHINGTON

Severe Storm Warning was issued at 3:44 p.m. for parts of Washington and Frederick counties. We can expect more as the front moves closer. 

The good news is that the passing front will take the sizzle out of this little heat wave, dropping high temperatures tomorrow back into the mid-80s, near the long-term averages for this time of year. It should also lower the humidity a bit, swinging the winds around from the west (which generally brings high temperatures at this time of year) to the north.

A second cold front due through here on Sunday could generate a few more storms, but by next week we should be enjoying pleasant highs in the mid-80s, with some sunshine and more showers possible around mid-week. Good for the garden.

Speaking of sizzle, we're reading 92 degrees as I write here at The Sun's Weather Desk. We touched 93 degrees a little earlier this afternoon. It's 90 at Dulles Airport in northern Virginia, and 87 at Reagan National.

Out at BWI-Marshall, the high so far looks like 88 degrees, a shade cooler than Thursday's high of 89. The BWI record for this date is 99 degrees, reached most recently in 1954.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 25, 2009

Rip currents a worry at Ocean City

The National Weather Service forecast office in Wakefield, Va. has issued a Coastal Flood Statement for the beaches from Maryland south to North Carolina (green in the map) that rip currents 6/25includes a warning of rip currents this afternoon. If you're on the sand, or headed there, it's worth a read:

MODERATE RIP CURRENT RISK IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS
EVENING...

LOW PRESSURE WELL OFF THE NORTHEAST COAST WILL SLOWLY WEAKEN
THIS AFTERNOON. HOWEVER...THE COMBINATION OF HIGH ASTRONOMICAL
TIDES...AND LINGERING LONG PERIOD SWELL WILL LEAD TO A MODERATE
THREAT FOR RIP CURRENTS TODAY FOR THE BEACHES FROM OCEAN CITY
MARYLAND...TO CURRITUCK BEACH LIGHT NORTH CAROLINA.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A MODERATE RISK OF RIP
CURRENTS MEANS WIND AND OR WAVE CONDITIONS SUPPORT STRONGER OR
MORE FREQUENT RIP CURRENTS...ESPECIALLY IN THE VICINITY OF
JETTIES...PIERS AND SANDBARS. ONLY EXPERIENCED SURF SWIMMERS
SHOULD ENTER THE WATER

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:06 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 23, 2009

Cool June about to get HOT

Are you ready for some HOT weather? Doesn't really matter. You're going to get it anyway. What has been, until now, a relatively cool June with plenty of rain is about to kick into the 90s in Baltimore. And it's not going to go away quickly.

Forecasters out at Sterling are calling for a high of 92 degrees downtown on Thursday, and readings seem likely to stick near 90 right through the weekend. The forecast highs for the Accuweather.comsuburbs are only slightly lower. And with the heat comes increasing humidity. Our Chesapeake Summer begins.

This will be the first stretch of 90-degree weather in Baltimore since that surprise heat wave in April that posted three straight afternoons in the 90s (April 25-27). And that came before we had even seen highs in the 80s! Set that freaky weather aside and this will be the first true summer weather in the 90s since last Sept. 14.

The heat comes to us as the low-pressure system that's been hanging off the Atlantic coast for days, dragging relatively cool air and showers down from the north, begins to move away. That's allowing the high that's been COOKING the South and the Midwest to move our way. Here's AccuWeather.com's take on it all.

Lemonade?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Lightning lore, and a warning

lightning Baltimore

Although we seem to have passed through the biggest barrage of thunderstorms of this spring storm season, with notably sunnier weather ahead, there are always risks of thunder and lightning in Maryland in the summertime. So, here are some lightning facts to know and use, courtesy of the National Weather Service in observance of Lightning Safety Awareness Week:

What are thunder and lightning, and how are they produced? 

BY DEFINITION, ALL THUNDERSTORMS CONTAIN LIGHTNING.  LIGHTNING IS A
GIANT SPARK OF ELECTRICITY THAT OCCURS WITHIN THE ATMOSPHERE OR
BETWEEN THE ATMOSPHERE AND THE GROUND.  AS LIGHTNING PASSES THROUGH
THE AIR, IT HEATS THE AIR RAPIDLY TO A TEMPERATURE OF ABOUT 50,000
DEGREES FAHRENHEIT, ABOUT 5 TIMES HOTTER THAN THE SURFACE OF THE
SUN. DURING A LIGHTNING DISCHARGE, THE SUDDEN HEATING OF THE AIR
CAUSES IT TO EXPAND RAPIDLY.  AFTER THE DISCHARGE, THE AIR CONTRACTS
QUICKLY AS IT COOLS BACK TO A NORMAL TEMPERATURE.  THIS RAPID
EXPANSION AND CONTRACTION OF THE AIR CAUSES A SHOCK WAVE THAT WE
HEAR AS THUNDER (THIS SHOCK WAVE CAN DAMAGE WALLS AND BREAK GLASS).

So how is that giant electrical spark created?

AS A THUNDERSTORM CLOUD GROWS, PRECIPITATION FORMS WITHIN THE CLOUD
WITH MOSTLY SMALL ICE CRYSTALS IN THE UPPER LEVELS OF THE CLOUD, A
MIXTURE OF SMALL ICE CRYSTALS AND SMALL HAIL (GRAUPEL) IN THE MIDDLE
LEVELS OF THE CLOUD, AND A MIXTURE OF RAIN AND MELTING HAIL IN THE
LOWER LEVELS OF THE CLOUD.  DUE TO AIR MOVEMENTS AND COLLISIONS
BETWEEN THE PRECIPITATION PARTICLES NEAR THE MIDDLE OF THE CLOUD,
THE VARIOUS PRECIPITATION PARTICLES BECOME CHARGED.  THE LIGHTER ICE
CRYSTALS BECOME POSITIVELY CHARGED AND ARE CARRIED UPWARD INTO THE
UPPER PART OF THE STORM BY THE UPDRAFT.  THE HEAVIER HAIL BECOMES
NEGATIVELY CHARGED IS SUSPENDED BY THE UPDRAFT OR FALLS TOWARD THE
LOWER PART OF THE STORM.  THE END RESULT IS THAT THE TOP OF THE
CLOUD BECOMES POSITIVELY CHARGED AND THE MIDDLE AND LOWER PART OF
lightning BaltimoreTHE STORM BECOMES NEGATIVELY CHARGED.

NORMALLY, THE EARTH`S SURFACE HAS A SLIGHT NEGATIVE CHARGE;
HOWEVER, AS THE NEGATIVE CHARGES BUILD UP IN THE LOWER AND MIDDLE
PART OF THE STORM, THE GROUND BENEATH THE BASE OF THE CLOUD AND
IN THE AREA IMMEDIATELY SURROUNDING THE CLOUD BECOMES POSITIVELY
CHARGED.  AS THE CLOUD MOVES, THESE INDUCED POSITIVE CHARGES ON
THE GROUND FOLLOW THE CLOUD LIKE A SHADOW.  FARTHER AWAY FROM THE
CLOUD BASE, BUT UNDER THE POSITIVELY CHARGED ANVIL, THE NEGATIVE
CHARGE MAY BE FURTHER INDUCED.

IN THE INITIAL STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT, AIR ACTS AS AN INSULATOR
BETWEEN THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE CHARGES.  HOWEVER, WHEN THE
ELECTRICAL POTENTIAL BETWEEN THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE CHARGES
BECOMES TOO GREAT, THE INSULATING CAPACITY OF THE AIR BREAKS DOWN
AND THERE IS A DISCHARGE
OF ELECTRICITY THAT WE KNOW AS
LIGHTNING.

(SUN PHOTOS by Karl Merton Ferron 2004)

Do all lightning bolts reach the ground?

LIGHTNING CAN OCCUR COMPLETELY WITHIN THE THUNDERSTORM CLOUD OR
BETWEEN THE CLOUD AND THE GROUND. IN-CLOUD LIGHTNING GENERALLY
OCCURS BETWEEN POSITIVE CHARGES NEAR THE TOP OF THE CLOUD AND
NEGATIVE CHARGES NEAR THE MIDDLE OR BOTTOM OF THE CLOUD.  CLOUD-
TO-GROUND LIGHTNING OCCURS BETWEEN CHARGES IN THE CLOUD AND
CHARGES ON THE GROUND.  LIGHTNING CAN ALSO OCCUR BETWEEN CLOUDS.

Are all bolts that reach the ground alike?

CLOUD-TO-GROUND LIGHTNING CAN BE CATEGORIZED INTO TWO DIFFERENT
TYPES -- THE NEGATIVE FLASH AND THE POSITIVE FLASH.  THE NEGATIVE
FLASH USUALLY OCCURS BETWEEN THE NEGATIVE CHARGES IN THE LOWER
PART OF THE STORM AND THE POSITIVE CHARGES ON THE GROUND UNDER
AND NEAR THE CLOUD BASE.  POSITIVE FLASHES USUALLY OCCUR BETWEEN
THE POSITIVELY-CHARGED UPPER LEVELS OF THE STORM AND THE
NEGATIVELY-CHARGED AREA SURROUNDING THE STORM.

Do these distinctions make any difference to people on the ground?Baltimore lightning

WHILE BOTH NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE FLASHES OF LIGHTNING CAN BE DEADLY,
POSITIVE FLASHES ARE MORE APT TO CATCH PEOPLE BY SURPRISE.  BECAUSE
THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE GROUND AND ANVIL IS MUCH GREATER THAN THE
DISTANCE BETWEEN THE GROUND AND THE CLOUD BASE, A MUCH LARGER
ELECTRIC POTENTIAL IS NEEDED TO INITIATE A POSITIVE FLASH OF
LIGHTNING.  FOR THE SAME REASON, POSITIVE FLASHES ARE INFREQUENT AND
WIDELY SCATTERED AROUND THE STORM.

THE GREATEST DANGER ASSOCIATED WITH THE POSITIVE FLASHES,
HOWEVER, IS THAT THEY STRIKE IN AREAS WHERE MOST PEOPLE THINK
THEY ARE SAFE FROM THE STORM.  THEY GENERALLY STRIKE WELL BEYOND
THE AREA WHERE RAIN IS FALLING AND WELL BEYOND THE MAIN AREA
WHERE MOST OF THE LIGHTNING (NEGATIVE FLASHES) AND THUNDER IS
OCCURRING.  CONSEQUENTLY, MANY VICTIMS ARE CAUGHT COMPLETELY OFF
GUARD.

What's the smartest course of action when a thunderstorm approaches?

THE BEST ADVICE IN ORDER TO MINIMIZE YOUR RISK OF BECOMING A
LIGHTNING VICTIM IS TO GET TO A SAFE SHELTER SOONER AND TO STAY
THERE LONGER.  IN GENERAL, IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER, YOU ARE
WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE OF THE STORM.  REMEMBER...WHEN THUNDER
ROARS, GO INDOORS!

Is there a way to track a thunderstorm's movements without radar or venturing outside to watch? 

WHILE YOU SEE THE VISIBLE FLASH OF LIGHTNING ALMOST
INSTANTANEOUSLY, THE SOUND OF THE THUNDER TRAVELS AT A SPEED OF
ABOUT 1100 FEET PER SECOND OR ABOUT 1 MILE IN 5 SECONDS.  FOR
EVERY 5 SECONDS BETWEEN THE TIME YOU OBSERVE THE LIGHTNING AND
THE TIME YOU HEAR THE THUNDER, THE LIGHTNING FLASH IS 1 MILE
AWAY.  IF YOU COUNT 10 SECONDS BETWEEN THE LIGHTNING FLASH AND
THE CORRESPONDING THUNDER, THE LIGHTNING FLASH WAS 2 MILES AWAY.
FOR 15 SECONDS, THE FLASH WOULD BE THREE MILES AWAY.

UNFORTUNATELY, THIS METHOD ONLY WORKS FOR THE PREVIOUS FLASH AND
DOES NOT TELL YOU HOW CLOSE THE NEXT LIGHTNING STRIKE WILL BE.
GENERALLY, IF YOU HEAR THUNDER, YOU ARE WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE
FOR THE NEXT FLASH OF LIGHTNING.  IF YOU ARE NOT IN A SAFE PLACE
AT THE TIME, MOVE TO A SAFE PLACE IMMEDIATELY.

(SUN PHOTOS by Karl Merton Ferron 2004)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:31 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Lightning
        

June 22, 2009

Do it today; too hot by Thursday

UCAR weather satellite 

There may be a few isolated thundershowers around the region by this afternoon. And Thursday could produce a couple more. But the way forecasters see it, this should be a mostly sunny week. Finally.

But all that sunshine in the wake of the summer solstice is going to heat us up a lot. High temperatures by Thursday should be near 90 degrees, and the readings will stay there right through the weekend. Summer is here, with the temperatures to match - about 5 degrees above the long-term averages for late June.

The heat late this week will also likely get the mosquito populations revved up, so you may not be able to spend much time outdoors by then.

So, if you have something you need to do outside, best get it done today, or by Wednesday at the latest. I was out there cutting the grass and seeding some bald spots this morning (working a late shift this week) because I know I won't want to face it by Thursday.

Overnight lows will begin to stall around 70 degrees by Thursday, too. We may need the AC on by then to cool things down for a nice night's sleep.

Forecasters out at Sterling say the relatively cool, breezy weather we've been enjoying comes to us thanks to an unusually strong (for this time of year) low-pressure system off the New England coast. That's dragging fresh breezes down from the north. We could see gusts to 20 or 25 mph this afternoon. 

But we could also get a few little showers or storms from the same setup by afternoon as those disturbances reach the Chesapeake Bay. 

By Wednesday night, a weak cold front could pass through and set off a few more showers, but the risks are low - just 20 percent if the forecast holds up.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:04 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 21, 2009

Saturday's storm spawned 2 tornadoes, one waterspout

 tornado Middle River

The National Weather Service has investigated Saturday's afternoon thunderstorm damage across Baltimore and Harford counties and they are now reporting there were TWO small tornadoes, plus a waterspout over the Chesapeake Bay east of Anne Arundel County.

The picture above was sent to me by John R. Fricke of Edgewood. Here's how he described what he saw:

"I was lucky enough to witness the birth of the storm as it passed over my house in Edgewood, MD. The warning sirens began to go off around 3:45pm in my neighborhood of Woodbridge Station.  As I looked towards the northwest, I could see white clouds rushing on an upward angle towards what appeared to be the base of a super cell thunderstorm.  As it approached, a noticeable "swirling of the sky" was visible.

"Just as the formation passed over my house on Woodbridge Center Way, I
could see a small, horizontal rope-like funnel beginning to spin. Strangely enough, there was very little wind, no rain, no thunder or lightning in my vicinity, but about 5 miles down Rte. 40 cars were pulled off to the side of the road as rain was driven sideways." - John Fricke

Here is the official report out of Sterling, (ALL CAPS) with some damage photos from John Fricke. Location information was not provided.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
318 PM EDT SUN JUN 21 2009

...TWO TORNADOES AND A WATERESPOUT CONFIRMED FROM SATURDAY...

SATURDAY AFTERNOON THREE WEAKER THUNDERSTORMS DEVELOPED QUICKLY
INTO SUPERCELLS WHILE MOVING ACROSS HARFORD...BALTIMORE...AND ANNE
ARUNDEL COUNTY. MUCH OF THE REASON FOR THIS WAS DUE TO THE STORMS
IMPACTING THE BAY BREEZE OVER THESE COUNTIES. THE BAY BREEZE IS
WHERE SLIGHTLY COOLER AIR OFF THE BAY MOVES OVER THE ADJACENT
SHORELINE COMMUNITIES AND SHIFTS THE SURFACE WIND DIRECTION ENOUGH
TO ASSIST WITH TORNADO FORMATION.

THE HARFORD COUNTY STORM PRODUCED A WEAK EF-0 TORNADO...THE
BALTIMORE COUNTY STORM PRODUCED EF-1 DAMAGE AT ITS WORST
POINT...AND THE ANNE ARUNDEL STORM DEVELOPED A WATERSPOUT JUST AS
IT MOVED OVER THE BAY.

HARFORD COUNTY...

tornado damage/FrickeAT 3:31 PM A TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN OVER PLEASANT HILLS/STONEYBROOK
MARYLAND. IT KNOCKED DOWN SEVERAL TREES AND LARGE BRANCHES IN THE
COMMUNITY...ONE OF WHICH FELL ON A DELIVERY TRUCK AS IT WAS MAKING
DELIVERIES. THE TORNADO PROCEEDED EAST AND WENT THROUGH SEVERAL QUICK
CYCLES OF DISSIPATION AND REGENERATION AS IT MOVED ALONG
HOLLINGSWORTH DRIVE...CAUSING SPORADIC DAMAGE. THE TORNADO MOVED
ACROSS A FARM BETWEEN HOLLINGSWORTH DRIVE AND RING FACTORY ROAD...
UPROOTING A DOZEN LARGE TREES BEFORE DISSIPATING OVER THE NORTHERN
END OF ATKISSON RESERVOIR AT 3:38 PM.

A NWS SURVEY CONCLUDED THAT THIS STORM WAS CONSISTENT WITH EF-0
DAMAGE. PEAK WINDS WERE ESTIMATED TO BE 75 MPH. THE PATH LENGTH
WAS 3 MILES WITH A WIDTH OF 100 YARDS.

BALTIMORE COUNTY...

AT 3:44 PM A TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN IN ESSEX MARYLAND. IT KNOCKED
DOWN A TREE THAT SEVERELY DAMAGED A HOME. SEVERAL OTHER TREES AND
BRANCHES WERE KNOCKED DOWN AS WELL. STREETS AFFECTED INCLUDED
WOODLYNN RD... LANCE AVE... KINWAT AVE... TIBSEN AVE... AND
HOMBURG AVE. MINOR SHINGLE AND SIDING DAMAGE WAS REPORTED THROUGH
THE COMMUNITY. DAMAGE IN THIS AREA WAS CATEGORIZED AS EF-0 DAMAGE
WITH PEAK WINDS AROUND 70 MPH.

THE STORM CONTINUED SOUTHEAST...MAINLY AS A FUNNEL CLOUD THAT DID
NOT REACH TO THE GROUND... BUT IT DID CAUSE A FEW LARGE BRANCHES
TO GET KNOCKED DOWN SPORADICALLY ALONG THE BACK RIVER NECK RD
CORRIDOR.

THE TORNADO INTENSIFIED AS IT APPROACHED BROWNS CREEK AND
BALLISTON POINT. AT 3:49 THE TORNADO WAS VIDEOTAPED NEARING
BROWNS CREEK. THE STORM MOVED ACROSS THE CREEK AND OVER BALLISTON
POINT AT 3:50 PM. THE TORNADO UPROOTED OR SNAPPED DOWN A
SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE LARGE TREES IN THE COMMUNITY ALONG
ISLAND VIEW ROAD...DOZENS IN ALL. THE STORM DISSIPATED AS IT MOVEDtornado damage/Fricke
OVER THE BAY AT 3:52 PM.

RESIDENTS OF ISLAND VIEW ROAD HAD VIDEO AND PICTURES OF THE
TORNADO AND INDICATED SEEING THE TORNADO WARNING ON TELEVISION
BEFORE THE STORM STRUCK. AN NWS DAMAGE SURVEY REVEALED EF-1 DAMAGE
IN THE BALLISTON POINT AREA WITH PEAK WINDS ESTIMATED TO BE 90
MPH. TOTAL PATH LENGTH FOR THIS TORNADO WAS 5 MILES...ALTHOUGH THE
CIRCULATION SKIPPED AS IT MOVED SOUTHEAST. PATH WIDTH WAS 150
YARDS AT ITS WIDEST.

CHESAPEAKE BAY WATERSPOUT...

LASTLY...A STORM MOVING OVER NORTHERN ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY MOVED
OUT OVER THE CHESAPEAKE BAY. A WATERSPOUT FORMED AT 3:52 PM AND
MOVED ACROSS THE BAY...PASSING JUST NORTH OF LOVE POINT ON
NORTHERN KENT ISLAND. THE WATERSPOUT DISSIPATED OVER THE CHESTER
RIVER AT 4:10 PM BEFORE IT COULD STRIKE ANY LAND. MOTORISTS ON THE
BAY BRIDGE COULD SEE THE WATERSPOUT AND SEVERAL PICTURES WERE
TAKEN. NO DAMAGE WAS REPORTED FROM THIS EVENT."

If you have still or video images of these tornadoes, or the waterspout, please email them to me at frank.roylance@baltsun.com and I will post them. Please include information about the time and location of the photo, and what you saw.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:07 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

Baltimore County tornado rated EF-1

The twister that tore a five-mile path across portions of southeast Baltimore County on Saturday June 20 has been rated an EF-1 on the "enhanced Fujita" scale. Top winds were estimated at 90 mph. That makes it stronger than the 1-mile, EF-0 that touched down in Dundalk on June 9. Here's the initial report from the National Weather Service:

"0344 PM     TORNADO          1 ESE ESSEX             39.30N  76.43W
06/20/2009                   BALTIMORE          MD   NWS STORM SURVEY

            EF1 RATED DAMAGE. TWO TREES INTO HOUSES. DOZENS OF
            TREES SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. PATH LENGTH FIVE MILES. WIDTH
            150 YDS. PEAK WIND 90 MPH."

Here is The Sun's brief on the event.

If you're in there area and have photos - of the storm itself or damage - please email them to me at frank.roylance@baltsun.com and I will post them here. Any comments with descriptions would be welcome, too. Thanks.

That's two tornadoes and a water spout in Baltimore and vicinity in just 11 days. Yikes!

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:32 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

June 19, 2009

Funnel cloud photos from June 9 storm

The National Weather Service has begun to receive and pass along eyewitnesses' photos of a funnel cloud that formed in the outer portion of Baltimore Harbor last Tuesday, June 9. The twister formed as a strong gust front passed over the city, along with a thunderstorm and brief, heavy rains.

The same storm was blamed for spawning a small (EF-0) tornado that ripped through a one-mile-long portion of Dundalk shortly after 5 p.m., but it does not appear that the funnel cloud in these funnel cloud Baltimore photos was the same one that caused the damage in Dundalk, according to Steve Zubrick, science and operations office at the weather service's Sterling forecast office.

The funnel cloud that passed over the outer harbor, just north of the southern portal of the Harbor Tunnel, was captured by at least two amateur photogaphers, at around 5:12 p.m. 

One was Dr. Benjamin Petre, M.D., an orthopaedic surgery resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His pictures (one of them is at left)were shot from his home on Bouldin St. in Highlandtown. We use one here with his permission.

He said, "I was taking my dog outside because she is terrified of storms. I saw the clouds doing some funny things and went up to my roofdeck. When I saw the tornado I took some iPhone pictures! It only lasted [about ] one minute. But it was cool to see. I was facing due south towards 1st Mariner [tower]."

Here are Zubrick's comments on the Petre image:

"The pictures Dr. Petre took [were] of a 2nd funnel cloud. It was NOT the same as the tornado that hit Dundalk. Based on a combination of a weak signature in the TDWR/BWI radar and Dr. Petre's image times from his cell phone camera (which I believe to be accurate) ... his images are of a funnel that occurred between [about 5:10 and 5:15 PM EDT (i.e., before the Dundalk EF-0 tornado) ... and this funnel was likely a waterspout."

The second picture sent to Zubrick at the NWS was a video shot from a car that was northbound, approaching the south portal of the Harbor Tunnel. The view is to the east southeast. It was shot by Josh and Jessie Klein. We will post it here when they call us back (or email me at frank.roylance@baltsun.com) and give us permission. It shows the spinning cloud column over the harbor.

Here is a photo of the June 9 gust front as it passed through Timonium, shot by Chris Shea, looking northeast: 

 gust front Timonium

 

And here are more observations from Zubrick about the harbor funnel cloud:

"It's complicated what to call it ... funnel cloud ... waterspout ... are probably the two things most closely associated with it. However ... there's no known damage or evidence this circulation thing ever reached the surface, so you can't call it a tornado. The most likely thing to call it is a waterspout (assuming it was over water the whole time).

"It lasted much longer than a gustnado, and was probably in existence, based on radar data, for over 5 minutes. It likely formed just west of the Harbor Tunnel area along the strong gust front as a gustnado. Or it possibly could have simply formed via a 'landspout' process. This means an updraft became co-located over a surface boundary (like a gust front) and tilted the horizontal spin ... up into the vertical ...  That vertical axis doesn't have to be exactly perpendicular to the ground, as the photos suggest in this case).

"If it was a landspout (and reached the surface) it would technically be called a 'dust-tube tornado" (the term 'landspout" is a slang term ...)." 

As for the June 9 Dundalk tornado, Zubrick provided the track map below, based on radar and his inspection of the damage. It shows the tornado's path (bold red line between two fainter red lines) across Dundalk. North is up; the curvy yellow road running north and south is Merritt Boulevard.

The inset photo was provided to the NWS by WJZ, but Zubrick was unable to determine its origins, and has some suspicion about the "funnel" cloud it seems to show. It is quite likely the blurred image of the car's windshield wiper. Here are Zubrick's comments about the Dundalk tornado:

"The damage caused in and around Berkshire Road in Dundalk just west of Merritt Boulevard on June 9 around 5:20 PM EDT was due to a brief (1-2 minute) [approx.] 1-mile-long track EF-0 tornado.

"The damage from the Dundalk tornado appears to stop shortly after it crossed Merritt Blvd...but I did not do an extensive survey much further east of that...but a check with the Baltimore County emergency management official I toured the area with said there was no reported damage east of where I surveyed.

"... And if it moved over the water, I have no reports of any waterspouts east of Dundalk. However, I do have photos of what appears to be a swirl in the water off Gibson Island near the Baltimore Lighthouse that was supposedly taken that day (Jun 9)...but I don't have the details (who/what/when) of the photos...so I can't verify it"

Dundalk tornado track

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Space station flyover early Sunday

International Space StationI was going to use this item for the P. 2 print weather page comments on Saturday morning, but I don't trust the skies to be clear. Besides, the summer solstice arrives Sunday morning, so I used that instead.

So here is a skywatching opportunity for our online readers, on the off-chance anyone is out of bed before dawn and finds the skies full of stars:

Sleepless in Baltimore? Rise and shine before 5 a.m. Sunday and, if skies are clear, watch a very bright, very high pass by the International Space Station. Watch for it at 4:50 a.m. climbing out of the southwest, as bright as Jupiter (nearby, in the south). The station will be high overhead at 4:52 a.m., then zoom off toward moonrise in the northeast. Venus is brilliant, low in the east.

There are currently six crew members on board the station. They're orbiting at 17,500 mph, currently at an altitude of about 216 miles and sinking. The next shuttle mission, when it finally gets off the ground (July?), will carry seven astronauts to the station, temporarily placing 13 people in orbit at the same time, a new record.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:52 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Weekend showers, a break, then mosquitoes

Perhaps the universe is taking pity on us. We face more chances for showers and thunderstorms through the weekend - and especially Friday night. But the forecast out of Sterling this morning calls for skies to CLEAR by Monday and stay that way, at least through Thursday of next week.

Temperatures, meanwhile, will approach 80 today, and stay in the quite-seasonable 80s for the next week at least, heating up to the upper 80s as the week progresses.

On the other hand, maybe the universe is perverse and cruel. Along with the warmer, drier weather will come mosquitoes. LOTS of them, according to University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp.

Mosquito BaltimoreRaupp tells me that the rainy weather - 19 inches in two-and-a-half months - has provided abundant breeding territory in standing water across the region, and mosquito populations are very high. All it will take now, he says, is for the rain to stop for a time, and the weather to warm up and send the little buggers off searching for a blood meal. It's going to be awful.

Mike Cantwell, chief of Maryland's Mosquito Control Division agrees. He says the saltmarsh and culex populations he's already seeing on the Eastern Shore, and even in Central Maryland, are bigger than any in decades. Landing rates - the number of skeeters that land on Cantwell's crews' arms in an hour - are in double digits, some over 90 per hour.

I peered into the flower pot trays on our patio last weekend and saw more wriggling mosquito larvae than I have ever seen, so I believe him. And while mosquitoes find me unappealing (can't remember the last time I was bitten), they love my wife (and so do I). So I dumped the water from the trays, and will continue to monitor them for new larvae.

It takes no more water than a bottle cap for mosquitoes to get their start in your back yard. So take some time to search out any potential containers, dump them out, turn them over or get rid of them. And get your neighbors to do the same, or your efforts will be in vain.

Mosquitoes already eating you alive? Leave a comment and tell us what your're experiencing, where you are and when they're biting.

Remember, the Asian tiger mosquito, an invasive species introduced to the U.S. in the 1980s, has become the prime mosquito pest in urban parts of the Baltimore region. It is well-adapted to the human environment and is a persistent daytime biter. So while we can stay indoors morning and evening when other species bite, it's harder to avoid being outdoors, in the yard, during the day. They are miserable pests. 

(SUN PHOTO/Nanine Hartzenbusch 2001)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:36 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 18, 2009

Rain tops 5 inches at BWI for June ... so far

The thunderstorm that passed over Anne Arundel County after 7 a.m. Thursday dropped 1.72 inches of rain on the National Weather Service instruments at BWI. That brought the total June rainfall at the city's station of record to more than 5 inches by my reckoning.

Rain BaltimoreThe long-term average precipitation for June at the airport is 3.43 inches, so we have now drowned the June average. With more rain in the cards for the rest of the week, we are likely to go well beyond 5 inches before this month finally closes.

We may finally see some sunshine (ask your grandparents) early next week. More on that in a moment. For now, here's how we stack up so far against the rainiest Junes in Baltimore for the last 20 years:

June 2006:  7.32 inches

June 2003:  6.96 inches

June 1989:  5.98 inches

June 2000:  5.54 inches

June 2009:  5.09 inches*

* Through 11 a.m. June 18 (unofficial)

The heaviest rains yesterday, and into early this morning, were recorded to our west. Cresaptown, in Allegany County, saw 2.34 inches.  Accident, in Garrett County, reported 2 inches. 

Closer to home, Elkridge and Severn each reported more than 1.4 inches.  Totals were much smaller to the north. Long Green, in Baltimore County reported 0.86 inch. We had about a half-inch on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, while The Sun's station at Calvert & Centre streets recorded a little more than a half-inch. Here are more rain reports

(SUN PHOTO/Barbara Haddock Taylor/June 19, 2006)

The forecast from the National Weather Service calls for a break of sorts today, at least for a few hours. But showers and thunderstorms are likely to build again after 3 p.m. Some could be severe, with large hail and damaging winds. New rains could total a quarter inch, and more in thunderstorms.

Still more rain and storms are forecast for Friday, and especially Friday night and Saturday. Sunday's forecast, somehow, omits any mention of rain. Forecasters expect that a cold front will finally move to our south by then, allowing cooler, drier air to move in.

In fact, the forecasts for the first half of next week finally show no rain, and include the word "sunny." It's modified by the word "partly," but that's good enough for me.

Who knows? Now that I've written about the rainy weather for print, we're likely to head into a new drought. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Phenomena
        

June 17, 2009

Gray and wet ... So what else is new?

The weather service has lots of ways to say it: Showers likely. Showers. Thunderstorms likely. Chance of thunderstorms. Chance of showers. Mostly cloudy. And they've used ALL those labels to describe the weather for Baltimore from today straight through next Monday night.

The wet, gray weather that kicked into gear on April 1 continues to dominate the region, making it easy to forget the few gorgeous breaks we've had, such as last weekend's dry, sunny spell.

Today's weather comes to us straight off the Atlantic Ocean, borne on winds out of the east and southeast, circulating counter-clockwise around a low pressure center to our west. That marine air explains the temperatures, which may not leave the 60s today or tonight; and the gray skies.

Those winds are pushing water up thCloudy weather e Chesapeake and holding it there. The National Weather Service has issued a Coastal Flood Advisory through 6 p.m. Wednesday night for low-lying stretches along the Chesapeake and the tidal Potomac River. That switches to a Coastal Flood Watch tonight through Thursday morning.

The advisory and watch warn that bay water may rise 1 to 1.5 feet above predicted levels, and 2 feet at high tides. Moderate flooding of low-lying areas is possible. If you snap any photos of high water today, email them to me (frank.roylance@baltsun.com) and I'll post 'em here.

Any spit and drizzle we may see this morning will likely give way to more widespread rain this afternoon as low pressure presses in from the west. As that low moves by on Thursday, it will bring a warm front, with temperatures rising well into the 70s and a greater risk of thunderstorms.

Friday and Saturday look downright hot as yet another warm front pushes through the area. High temperatures could reach the upper 80s, possibly setting off more thunderstorms. And that will be followed by a another low and MORE rain late Friday into Saturday.

Had enough yet? Sorry. After a cold front brings some relief on Sunday, more chances for showers and thunderstorms appear in the forecast for Monday. You want sunny? Maybe Tuesday.

Since April 1, the instruments at BWI-Marshall Airport have recorded 17.38 inches of rain. That is 8,64 inches above the long-term averages, almost double.

And for the sunshine-starved, it will come as no surprise that the airport has recorded only 10 "clear" days in the 77 days since April 1. Another 38 were rated "partly cloudy," while 29 were "cloudy."

(SUN PHOTO/Karl Merton Ferron/June 2004)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:20 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 16, 2009

Coastal flood advisory from Harford to St. Mary's

Annapolis tides 

Winds out of the east and southeast are driving water up the Chesapeake Bay and holding it there. And that's the recipe for minor coastal flooding. The National Weather Service has posted a coastal flood advisory all along the Western Shore from Harford to St. Mary's County, effective from 10 this morning until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Residents along the shore can expect tides to run 1 to 1.5 feet above forecast levels, and as much as 2 feet at high tide. Here are the upcoming high tide times for several locations:

ON THE CHESAPEAKE BAY...
HAVRE DE GRACE...4:46 AM AND 4:21 PM...
FORT MCHENRY BALTIMORE...1:08 PM AND 2:25 AM...
ANNAPOLIS U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY...11:38 AM AND 12:55 AM...
SOLOMONS ISLAND...8:30 AM AND 9:47 PM...
POINT LOOKOUT...7:40 AM AND 8:57 PM...
ALEXANDRIA...3:04 PM AND 3:37 AM...

NOW ALONG THE POTOMAC RIVER...
INDIAN HEAD...2:32 PM AND 3:05 AM...
GOOSE BAY...10:38 AM AND 11:11 PM...
WICOMICO RIVER NEAR COBB ISLAND...6:25 AM AND 7:07 PM...

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:27 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Flooding
        

Developing El Nino could mean snowier winter

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has noted that sea surface conditions in the Pacific Ocean are evolving this spring away from the current "neutral" temperature pattern toward a new warm phase, also known as El Nino. And for us, El Ninos mean an increased likelihood of large snowfalls in the following winter.

For the last two winters we have been in a "La Nina," or the cool phase of what is known formally as the El Nino Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. And we have experienced unusually mild and dry winters, with little snowfall. But a study of winter storms from 1950 to 1998 found that El Nino conditions in the snow BaltimorePacific correlate with a greater frequency of snowstorms of 8 inches or more in Baltimore.

Here's what Sterling forecasters have written on the topic:

"Of the 9 El Niño winters, there were 5 winters with significant snowstorms (8+ inches) and 4 winters without. That is an increased risk to near 1 in 2 chance of a significant snow event.

"El Niño winters tend to be all or nothing. Either you get hardly any snow, as in the case of the last few El Niño events, or you get 150% above normal snowfall with one or in many cases, two or three significant storms."

So, all you snow lovers out there can now have some scientific reason for hope.

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance/WeatherDeck station)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:36 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

June 15, 2009

Clouds and cool, then showers return

Building high pressure over New England and the Canadian maritime provinces early this week is setting up a clockwise flow around the high, and that's beginning to draw a cool easterly flow of Orioles.BravesAtlantic air into the region. With that come clouds and mild-for-the season temperatures.

Forecasters out at Sterling are calling for highs in the 70s Monday and Tuesday with plenty of clouds. (Average for this time of year is around 83 degrees.) But the breather we've enjoyed from the rain should continue, at least until mid-week.

By Wednesday, forecasters say, low pressure moving into the Great Lakes, and the counterclockwise flow around the center, will begin to draw warmer, wetter air into the region from the south and west. And that will boost humidity and increase our chances for showers and thunderstorms into the 30-40 percent range for the rest of the week and into the weekend. Temperatures will rise, too, reaching the 80s by Friday. 

But then we knew the fabulous weather we enjoyed over the weekend couldn't last, right? What a great weekend for baseball, and what great baseball it was.

(SUN PHOTO/Kenneth K. Lam)

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

June 12, 2009

A sunny day ... Tuesday

 Satellite image Maryland

With more than 3 inches of rain already on the books for June, the forecasters out at Sterling say we can expect mostly cloudy skies and at least a chance for more showers and thunderstorms straight through Monday. The nearest day rated at least "mostly" sunny comes next Tuesday.

But hey... school is out, and if your old unconverted analog TV winks out today you'll have all the reason you need to get outside and enjoy. Splash in the puddles, maybe.

The culprit once again is a weak cold front hovering to our north. It's expected to push slowly across the region today, setting off scattered showers and thunderstorms along the way as sunshine peeks through and gets the still humid atmosphere stirred up. 

Things will slowly begin to dry a little Saturday, as the front drops down to the Virginia/Carolina border. But we'll still run a small risk of showers and storms. And the wet weather returns Sunday as a low-pressure system moves into the mid-Atlantic and pushes the old cold front back north across the region as a warm front. We won't get things truly cleared out until late Monday or Tuesday, when sunny skies return with highs near 80 degrees.

So far, June 2009 has continued the wet pattern established in early April. But June has been an unusually wet month for some time. Only three Junes of the last 10 have had less-than-average rainfall.

Thirty-year average:  3.43 inches

2009:  3.11 inches  *

2008:  3.70 inches

2007:  2.20 inches 

2006:  7:32 inches

2005:  3.74 inches

2004:  4.17 inches

2003:  6.96 inches

2002:  2.39 inches

2001:  3.58 inches

2000:  5.54 inches

1999:  2.04 inches

* Through 10 a.m. June 12

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:01 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 10, 2009

Tuesday storm in Dundalk was a tornado

A survey team from the National Weather Service has declared that the thunderstorm that swept across the Baltimore region late Tuesday afternoon contained a small tornado (an "EF-0" on the "Enhanced Fujita Scale") packing 70 mph winds. The storm caused property damage along a mile-long swath in the Dundalk section of southeast Baltimore County.

No injuries were reported, and no damage estimate was immediately available.

Here is the NWS report, issued tonight.

"TODAY THE BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE OF THE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CONDUCTED A SURVEY OF STORM DAMAGE THAT
OCCURRED ON JUNE 9TH IN DUNDALK MARYLAND IN BALTIMORE COUNTY. THE
SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED IN CONCERT WITH BALTIMORE COUNTY OFFICE OF
HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT.

"THE FOLLOWING WAS DETERMINED THROUGH A DAMAGE SURVEY...EXAMINATION
OF RADAR AND EYEWITNESS INTERVIEWS.

"BASED ON ALL EVIDENCE THE DAMAGE WAS CONSISTENT WITH A BRIEF SMALL
TORNADO RATED EF-0 ON THE ENHANCED FUJITA SCALE...WITH PEAK WINDS
ESTIMATED AT 70 MPH. PATH LENGTH WAS ONE MILE...WITH A MAX WIDTH OF
150 YARDS. INITIAL TIME OF TOUCHDOWN WAS 5:21 PM EDT...AND WAS ON
THE GROUND FOR ABOUT ONE MINUTE.

"NO INJURIES WERE REPORTED.

"NO DAMAGE COST ESTIMATE WAS AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME.

"EVIDENCE OF THE TORNADO WAS FIRST NOTED ALONG THE NORTHERN EDGE OF
OAK LAWN CEMETERY AND THE ADJOINING EASTPOINT NEIGHBORHOOD NORTH OF
THE CEMETERY...DUE MAINLY TO TREES SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. MORE DAMAGE
WAS NOTED ALONG BREAD AND CHEESE CREEK FROM CARSON AVENUE EAST TO
PLAINFIELD RD. THE TORNADO PRODUCED STRUCTURE DAMAGE TO 3 TOWNHOUSES
ON BERKSHIRE LANE...WHERE PORTIONS OF THEIR FLAT TAR-PITCH ROOF WERE
REMOVED...A TREE FELL ON ANOTHER TOWNHOUSE ON BERKSHIRE...AND A
NEARBY CAR DEALERSHIP LOST A PORTION OF ITS CANVASS ROOF COVERING.
THE MOST CONCENTRATED DAMAGE WAS OBSERVED FROM THE BERKSHIRE RD
AREA...ACROSS MERRITT BLVD TO PLAINFIELD RD...WHERE MULTIPLE TREES
WERE SNAPPED AND/OR UP-ROOTED...WITH ONE TREE FALLING ON A HOUSE.
THE TORNADO APPEARED TO WEAKEN QUICKLY AS IT MOVED FURTHER EAST
THROUGH THE GRAY MANOR NEIGHBORHOOD...AND NO DAMAGE WAS OBSERVED
EAST OF WOODWELL RD.

"EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS AND EXAMINATION OF RADAR DATA SUGGEST THE
TORNADO BEGAN AS A GUSTNADO...A SPIN-UP CIRCULATION THAT FORMS ON
THE LEADING EDGE OF A THUNDERSTORM GUST FRONT. IT QUICKLY
TRANSFORMED INTO A MORE TRADITIONAL TORNADO...DEVELOPING AS A NEW
THUNDERSTORM UPDRAFT OVERRAN THE ORIGINAL GUST FRONT AND BECAME
COLLOCATED OVER THE ORIGINAL GUSTNADO. EYEWITNESSES REPORTED SEEING
DEBRIS...TREE LIMBS AND ROOFING MATERIAL...BEING LIFTED UPWARDS INTO
THE TORNADO CIRCULATION. ONE EYEWITNESS ON PLAINFIELD RD DESCRIBED
THE SOUND OF A FREIGHT TRAIN AS THE TORNADO PASSED OVER HIS HOUSE.

"THE WEATHER SERVICE EXTENDS THANKS TO BALTIMORE COUNTY EMERGENCY
MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS...AND TO SOME MEMBERS OF LOCAL MEDIA WHO
ASSISTED IN POINTING OUT LOCATIONS OF DAMAGE IN DUNDALK."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:51 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

New storms popping up

Maryland storms Sterling radar is showing some new thunderstorms developing to the north and west of the Baltimore area. They are drifting very slowly to the east, and forecasters say we can expect these or others to cross the urban corridor later this evening.

Here's the radar loop. And here is the view from orbit as of about 5:15 p.m. You can see the storms as the knobby spots on the otherwise smooth cloud cover.

Severe storm and flash flood warnings (orange on the map) were posted for parts of Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties and Pennsylvania counties just above the state line as a slow-moving storm churned along the Mason Dixon Line.  

Chief threats include hail, strong downbursts of wind and heavy rain.

These storms are popping up in advance of what forecasters say is the main storm-maker, which is still in West Virginia. We could be seeing showers and thunderstorms well into the evening.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:33 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

More storms possible today, tomorrow ...

 Storm Hunt Valley

Hot, humid air and lots of sunshine will set us up for more showers and thunderstorms late today. Forecasters out at the NWS Sterling forecast office  there's a 30 percent chance of storms this afternoon, rising to 50 percent tonight. Those chances climb to 60 percent on Thursday.

And so long as your power stays on, your kids are safe, your basement remains dry and no tree falls on your house, that's fine. These storms can be dramatic and quite beautiful. Yesterday's tumult brought out several intrepid photographers who snapped some great shots of the wild clouds and rain that accompanied the late-afternoon storm. (See yesterday's post.) The one above was shot in Hunt Valley by Art Huffman. We use it with his permission.

The Hazardous Weather Outlook issued by the NWS this morning says scattered showers and thunderstorms today "may become severe this afternoon, with the potential for large hail and damaging wind gusts. The best chances of severe weather will be across the western suburbs of Washington D.C. and the city of Baltimore."

That said, those chances today are less than they were yesterday, and less than they will be tomorrow if the forecast holds up.

The main actor here is a stalled frontal system draped from east to west across the region near the Mason Dixon Line. That leaves our air hot and humid, primed for convection to develop and build thunderstorms, which would drift from the high terrain eastward across our region.

A wave of low pressure is forecast to move along the front and across the area tonight, setting off another round of showers and storms with locally heavy rain. Expect more of the same Thursday with a 60 percent chance of storms from after 2 p.m. into the evening.

On Friday, the cold front will finally cross the region, touching off more showers and storms. The frontal passage will only clear things out for a day, with mostly sunny skies Saturday and highs around 83. Our chances for showers and thunderstorms return to 30 percent Sunday evening and Monday.

Had enough yet? I've posted more shots from Tuesday's storm in the extension below.

Here's one taken from downtown, looking north on the JFX. Photog is Paul M. Novak, Jr., who regrets leaving the flash on. Quite a shot anyway. Used with permission.

thunderstorm Baltimore

Here's another emailed to me by Meg Fairfax Fielding, of Baltimore. Used with permission.

Baltimore thunderstorm image

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:34 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 9, 2009

Storm blackens Baltimore skies

Baltimore storm June 9The severe thunderstorms have arrived as forecast in Baltimore. The sky blackened around 5:15 p.m. and torrential rains began, stalling traffic on the lower end of the JFX. But oddly, little thunder yet (5:20 p.m.) I did not notice any hail downtown.

The temperature has plummeted from 89 degrees at 4 p.m. this afternoon to 71 degrees at 5:20. You can track the weather changes on The Sun's weather station.

Hail nearly an inch in diameter was reported from the Butler section of Baltimore County this afternoon. Send us you comments and reports on what you're seeing. Send photos to me by email if you can. 

(iPhone photo by Tracey Halvorsen, Butcher's Hill/ Used with permission.)

Here's another iPhone shot from Butcher's Hill in Baltimore by Tracey Halvorsen. It was taken at around 5:30 p.m. from the Fastspot office. (Used with permission.)

sever thunderstorm Baltimore June 9, 09

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:14 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Storm reports
        

T-storms approaching Baltimore region

severe thunderstorm Baltimore(AT 4:15 p.m.) Strong thunderstorms are bearing down on the Baltimore metro area out of the northwest. Severe thunderstorm warnings (orange)are already posted for Carroll,  Frederick, and (4:40 p.m.) parts of Baltimore, Howard, Harford (5:10 p.m.) Arundel, Prince George's counties, with more warnings likely to follow as the storm tracks south and east, across areas now under storm watches (purple).

Three-quarter-inch hail reported in Westminster and Frederick this afternoon. More storm reports here.

Here is the radar loop. And, you can track lightning strikes here.

You can watch the effects in Baltimore on The Sun's weather station, here.

Forecasters advise:

"THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM. IF YOU ARE IN ITS PATH...PREPARE
IMMEDIATELY FOR DAMAGING WINDS...DESTRUCTIVE HAIL...AND DEADLY CLOUD
TO GROUND LIGHTNING. PEOPLE OUTSIDE SHOULD MOVE TO A SHELTER...
PREFERABLY INSIDE A STRONG BUILDING BUT AWAY FROM WINDOWS"

Be safe. And when you can, let us know what you're seeing. Send photos if you can.

There are severe storm warnings and flash flood warnings up for the entire Baltimore area.

* SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL CONTINUE TO BE AFFECTED BY THE HEAVY RAIN
  INCLUDE BALTIMORE...CARNEY...CATONSVILLE...DUNDALK...ESSEX...
  LOCHEARN...MIDDLE RIVER...MILFORD MILL...PARKVILLE...PERRY HALL...
  PIKESVILLE...RANDALLSTOWN...ROSEDALE...ROSSVILLE...TOWSON...WHITE
  MARSH AND WOODLAWN.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

EXCESSIVE RUNOFF FROM HEAVY RAINFALL WILL CAUSE FLOODING OF SMALL
CREEKS AND STREAMS...URBAN AREAS...HIGHWAYS...STREETS AND UNDERPASSES
AS WELL AS OTHER DRAINAGE AREAS AND LOW LYING SPOTS.

DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE
ROADWAY. THE WATER DEPTH MAY BE TOO GREAT TO ALLOW YOUR CAR TO CROSS
SAFELY. MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND.

A FLASH FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLOODING IS IMMINENT OR OCCURRING.
IF YOU ARE IN THE WARNING AREA MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY.
RESIDENTS LIVING ALONG STREAMS AND CREEKS SHOULD TAKE IMMEDIATE
PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CROSS
SWIFTLY FLOWING WATERS OR WATERS OF UNKNOWN DEPTH BY FOOT OR BY
AUTOMOBILE.

&&

LAT...LON 3927 7642 3925 7655 3926 7659
Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:04 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Morning storms depart; more due

maryland.thunderstorms 

There are some pretty good thunderstorms sweeping across the Delmarva this morning as I write, and we had a subtle rumble of thunder out on the Weather Deck sometime around 6 a.m. Not much rain up that way - a few hundredths of an inch.

But there were some more severe AM storms today down in Charles and Prince George's counties, and some tree damage reported. College Park reported more than an inch of rain this morning. BWI airport picked up a quarter-inch of rain, bringing the official June total there to more than 2.5 inches so far.

And there will be more. That cold front to our north and west will push through the region today, triggering more showers and thunderstorms than we saw Monday. After a break late this morning, some storms late this afternoon and tonight could become severe, with large hail and damaging winds.

The unstable weather - with lots of moisture in the air and a hot sun to stir things up - is forecast to continue through the work week as this frontal boundary remains in the area. Thursday looks like an especially active day for showers and T-storms before the next cold front cross the region on Friday. Saturday looks like the only day in the forecast with no rain chances posted. By Sunday and Monday, rain chances return to around 30 percent, with daily risks of showers and thunderstorms.

My grass loves this stuff. But I confess the humidity drove us to switch on the AC last night. Yes, we caved. It's always the humidity that kicks us over the edge in the late spring, not the heat.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:56 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 8, 2009

Pity the dogs; PM thunderstorms all week

So how does your dog do with thunder and lightning? What about the cats? They're in for a bout of loud weather this week as the National Weather Service folks out at Sterling predict 30 to 60 percent chances for showers and thunderstorms every day this week.

dog kiss thunderI've never owned a dog, but I can remember when I was a kid, our cat used to make a bee-line for the boot box under the basement stairs whenever he heard thunder (or sirens). There must be a million pet-and-thunder stories out there.

Here's the set-up: The high pressure that produced the fabulous weekend weather we just enjoyed has moved out to sea.

It's been replaced by plenty of warm, humid air ahead of a cold front to our west. Add sunshine and a series of disturbances moving across the region, you get instability. And that means mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms.

Reminds me a bit of when we first moved to Baltimore from Massachusetts in June of 1980. It seemed like we had thundershowers every evening that month. We thought we had moved to the tropics. The old Ford Fairmont had black vinyl seats and no AC; it was torture. Of course, the house had no AC, either, for the next five years. Welcome to Baltimore. But, I digress.

Instability this week will be especially high in the eastern half of the forecast area, Sterling says. That means east of the mountains to the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the storms could become severe, with the danger of damaging winds and large hail. Least likely to see storms tonight is extreme Southern Maryland.

Today will be the warmest day of the week, if the forecast holds up. They're calling for a high of 85 degrees at BWI. It's already 80 here at The Sun, with the relative humidity at 74 percent. Anything above 70 percent starts to feel pretty sticky.  But temperatures later in the week will slide a bit, only reaching the low 80s by mid-week, and the high 70s by week's end.

The highest risk of showers and thunderstorms would seem to be Tuesday and Thursday. A cold front arrives Friday, reducing the risk of rain. But that won't last long. Shower chances remain in the forecast, and the warm, moist return flow returns Saturday as that high moves out to sea. 

(SUN PHOTO by John Makely 2004)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:48 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 7, 2009

Sweet June weather, at last

spring flowersOkay campers, how many of you shut the windows, and switched on the AC today as temperatures drifted up toward 80 under sunny skies for the first time in forever? 

And how many have thrown the windows open to let the breeze blow through after suffering through endless gray skies, gloom and 2.37 inches of rain since the month began?

Count me among the breeze seekers. BGE (actually, I switched to 50 percent wind energy from Washington Gas Energy Services, and we're already saving money) can wait a few more days for my dough.

The air is moving through the house, bringing with it the sound of lawnmowers and birdsong. My plans for the afternoon include a burger, the hammock, the newspaper, and David McCollough's "John Adams."  

Could your day be any sweeter than mine? If it is, don't read any further ...

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance)

... because the forecast calls for another spate of showers and thunderstorms right through until next weekend. 

I told you to stop reading.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:26 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 5, 2009

Hang on; rain nearly done

 northeast radar loop

Weather radar shows the bulk of the rainiest weather has now blown past us, with only the tail end of the storm still to our south and west.

Forecasters at Sterling say we still have a couple of hours to go. But the trailing edge of the rain shield should be past us by sunset.

We've clocked another half-inch here at The Sun since midnight, and 2.2 inches since the rain began on Wednesday. We'll get a breather for the weekend. But there's more water on the way next week. Sorry.

In the meantime, many streams in central Maryland are flowing at record volumes for the date (black dots on the linked map). Flash floods and severe storms are being reported from some locations, chiefly in Virginia and Southern Maryland.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:11 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Drip ... drip ... drip... Had enough yet?

I'm starting to get messages and comments from people wondering if this rain WILL EVER STOP !!!  They sound a bit edgy - a bit like seasonal affective disorder has seeped into their psyche. Too little sunshine; oppressive, claustrophobia-inducing cloud cover; soggy grass, wet streets ...

Well, we're not done yet. Forecasters see another quarter- to three-quarters of an inch in the cards today before this storm wanders off the coast and drier air pushes in behind it. But there is relief in the forecast, with partly to mostly sunny skies still expected for Saturday and Sunday.

rain.baltimoreBut get out there and soak up the sunshine when it finally appears, because next week we fall back into the same old pattern of showers and thunderstorms, on tap for the balance of the work week.

In the meantime, flood watches are still up through 5 p.m. today for nearly the entire state as the low that moved in from the Gulf yesterday moves out of the Carolinas to the Delmarva Peninsula today. The heaviest rainfall is likely this morning into the early afternoon. Montgomery County is already under a flood warning as rains and saturated soils combine to flood local streams.

Temperatures remain cool, with winds off the Atlantic, out of the northeast. We'll be stuck in the 60s again today, but as the sun comes out tomorrow, we should get back into the upper 70s Saturday to the low 80s on Sunday and on into next week.

So far this month, BWI has recorded 1.73 inches of rain, which is more than an inch above the averages for June through the 4th. That adds to more than 7 inches of surplus rain accumulated in April and May.

 

Here's The Sun's weather station. And here are some of the rain totals for the 24 hours ending around 7 this morning:

Leonardtown (St. Mary's Co.):  1.22 inches

Thurmont (Frederick):  1.08 inches

Odenton (Arundel):  0.84 inch

Hamilton (Baltimore City): 0.75 inch

Cockeysville (Baltimore Co.):  0.75 inch

Columbia (Howard):  0.70 inch

(SUN PHOTO/ Elizabeth Malby 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:57 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 4, 2009

Did I mention rain? Roll up your pants

Watervapor/NOAA 

"Tonight could be a very busy one for forecasters and emergency workers," say the NWS forecasters out at Sterling. After near-record rain in May, and a fast start on June's rainfall totals, forecasters are looking at the addition 1 to 2 inches of new rain that is approaching the region tonight and tomorrow and say flatly that flooding is likely.

Flood watches issued earlier today have been expanded to encompass the entire Maryland forecast area from Allegany County east to the Chesapeake Bay. Rain will begin this afternoon, become heavy tonight and continue tomorrow as a new low-pressure system moves from the Gulf into the Carolinas and the Delmarva Peninsula by tomorrow afternoon.

The forecast calls for up to a quarter-inch in Baltimore today, with another 1 to 2 inches on top of that tonight. Tomorrow could bring yet another three-quarters of an inch. Here's the water vapor loop from orbit, showing all that tropical moisture gushing into the Eastern U.S.

That's way more than is needed to trigger flooding, forecasters said.

"In the Washington DC metro area rainfall values that could initiate flooding are extremely low due to the heavy rains of the past week. Less than an inch and a half in six hours are all that would be needed," forecasters said. "Values of two to three inches in six  hours will cause problems with flooding. It is possible that these amounts may be reached overnight."

After a very dry fall and winter, the skies opened up in April and May with a 7-inch surplus. May, with more than 8 inches of rain, was the second-wettest May on record for Baltimore since they began keeping track in 1871.

June appears to be starting up in the same pattern, with more than an inch of rain at BWI on Wednesday alone. The next few days could bring the June total close to the long-term average for the month - 3.43 inches. We counted nearly two-thirds of an inch last night on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The Sun's weather station recorded 1.3 inches yesterday.

Fortunately, we will have the weekend to begin to dry out. Forecasters are calling for sunny skies and highs near 80 degrees Saturday and Sunday. But then the old, familiar pattern returns, with rising chances for showers and thunderstorms at least through Wednesday.

Got the roof fixed yet, kid? How is everyone else dealing with the rainy weather? Gardens okay? Sump pump still working? Got your gutters and storm drains unclogged? Ready for the mosquitoes?

Speaking of big rain, look at these totals for Wednesday (actually, the 24 hours ending around 7 Thursday morning):

Cordova, Talbot Co.:  3.25 inches

White Oak, Montgomery Co.: 2.44 inches

Salisbury: 2.38 inches

North Laurel: 1.73 inches

Odenton: 1.63 inches

Crofton: 1.56 inches

Mt. Airy:  1.43 inches

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:55 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 3, 2009

Storms coming, flash flood watch posted

UCAR/NOAA 

So maybe you haven't had enough rain yet. In that case, we have a fine day - a fine couple of days - in store for you.

A cold front approaching from the north and west today (line of clouds in the satellite image above) will serve as the trigger for showers and thunderstorms across the region. When that's done, we can look forward to a storm system developing around a low in the Carolinas that will likely bring us a more steady rain by Friday as it creeps up the coast. 

The weekend, at least, looks nice.

Today's storms are most likely after 2 p.m. and into the evening. Some could become severe, with large hail, damaging winds and heavy rain - a quarter to a half-inch. The ground around Baltimore is saturated enough from recent rains that if today's rain rates top 1.5 to 2 inches an hour in the Baltimore, we will see flash flooding, forecasters say.

"It's going to be quite a busy day," one Sterling forecaster said. Here's the Northeast radar loop.

Flash flood watches are posted from Frederick to Harford counties, throughout central and southern Maryland and down into DC and Northern Virginia. The watches are in effect from noon through late tonight.

Once the front gets by us and stalls again near the Virginia/North Carolina border, the atmosphere around Baltimore will become more stable, and much cooler. But things will remain wet if the forecast holds up. They're calling for periods of showers and afternoon thunderstorms again, but with afternoon highs only in the 60s - about 20 degrees cooler than today's highs.

By Friday we will come under the influence of the Carolina low, which will pump more Gulf and Caribbean moisture into the region as it slides up the coast. That will mean a more prolonged period of rain for Maryland, especially east of the Blue Ridge.

We'll start to dry out on Saturday, with mostly sunny skies and highs near 80 degrees on both days. Then the next frontal system arrives, bringing a return of showery weather for the new work week. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:27 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 2, 2009

Hot today, storms near Pa. line

SUN PHOTO/Karl Merton Ferron/2004Temperatures at the airport will rise into the upper 80s across the region today as we remain south of a stalled cold front. But communities along the Pennsylvania line and closer to the front may see some afternoon thunderstorms popping up with a risk of large hail, forecasters say.

The best chance for showers and storms in the Baltimore area will come late on Wednesday, as that stalled front begins to move south. Hail and strong winds are possible with those storms.

With the front past us by Thursday, our daytime highs will be 20 degrees lower than today's, with a forecast high of only 68 degrees on Thursday. Sunshine returns for Friday and Saturday, with highs only in the low 70s.

A coastal low is expected to develop along the Carolina coast on Thursday, and that could bring rain and cooler weather to the beaches for the weekend. The rest of us will remain cool and dry, forecasters say.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:09 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Wind goes out of hurricane forecast

SUN PHOTO/Karl Merton Ferron/2008 

A cooling of surface waters in the tropical Atlantic and the likelihood of a weak El Nino developing in the Pacific this summer have taken more wind out of the hurricane forecasts for the 2009 season, which began Monday.

Phil Klotzbach and William Gray, the hurricane experts at Colorado State University, today officially lowered their forecast for the coming season. They now expect hurricane activity slightly below the long-term averages. Tropical cyclone activity across the Atlantic Basin will be 90 percent of the average season, they said, compared with 160 percent in 2008.

Seasonal forecasts from Colorado State, AccuWeather.com and NOAA have been undercutting each other, and themselves, since December. Initial forecasts of an active season have been dialed back to slightly more-active than the average, to about average, and now to slightly less-active.

The revised Colorado State forecast, however, does not diminish by much the chances that at least one big hurricane will make landfall somewhere along the U.S. coastline. "The probability  ... is 48 percent compared with the last-century average of 52 percent," Klotzbach said. They rate the chance for a Cat. 3 storm making landfall along the East Coast (including Florida) at 28 percent this season, compared to a long-term average of 31 percent. (Those are wind and waves from Tropical Storm Hanna, pounding Ocean City in the 2008 photo above.)

Here are the CSU team's latest predictions, compared with their April forecast and long-term averages:

Latest: 11 named storms, including 5 hurricanes, of which 2 will reach "major" Cat. 3 status

April: 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, 2 major

Average:  9.6 named storms; 5.9 hurricanes; 2.3 major 

For more on the team's forecasts for the coming season, click here.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

June 1, 2009

June, and the heat is on

SUN PHOTO/Kenneth K. Lam June 2006 

June is back in Baltimore, and with it comes the likelihood of some really hot weather. The sun reaches its highest arc in June, and record highs poke into the 100-plus range for the first time in the year.

Not that we haven't already seen some heat this year. With all this rain and cloudy weather, it's easy to forget that we had three straight days in the 90s in April. That 90-degree heat wave arrived before we had even seen our first days with highs in the 80s.

The average highs for June in Baltimore rise from 79 degrees on June 1 to 86 degrees by the end of the month. The average lows rise climb from 57 degrees to 64.

Record highs are all in the upper 90s and low 100s during June. The hottest June day on record for the city was 105 degrees on June 29, 1934. Imagine THAT without air-conditioning! The coolest June day never got above 54 degrees. That was on June 1, 1907. The coldest reading in June since record-keeping began in 1871 was 40 degrees, on June 11, 1972. Our low of 46 this morning at the airport was plenty cool, but we can pretty much forget readings in the 30s until fall.

The wettest June day on record was June 28, 1885, when 4.47 inches fell on the city. But the wettest June on record remains June 1972, the month the remnants of Hurricane Agnes blew through town. That June saw 9.95 inches fall at BWI. The driest June was in 1954, with only 0.15 inch at the airport.

The oldest June record still standing was a sweltering June 20, in 1873, when the mercury never fell below 78 degrees.

The earliest sunrise of the year will occur on Sunday, June 14, with Sol rising over Baltimore at 5:39 a.m. EDT.

The Summer Solstice this year occurs a week later, at 1:45 a.m. EDT on Sunday, June 21. The sun will rise here on that day at 5:40 a.m. EDT, setting at 8:37 p.m., providing 14 hours and 57 minutes of sunshine.

May ended last night as the second-wettest on record for Baltimore. The precipitation totaled 8.42 inches. Here's how it stacked up against the wettest Mays:

May 1989:  8.71 inches

May 2009:  8.42 inches

May 2008:  7.77 inches

May 1894:  7.26 inches

May 1960:  7.10 inches

May 1886:  7.07 inches

 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers
        

For meteorologists, summer starts today

The first day of the meteorological summer promises to be a peach for Baltimore, with highs near 80 degrees, blue skies and low humidity. But the clouds move in tomorrow, with increasing chances for showers and thunderstorms for the rest of the work week.

NOAA/NCEPLooking even farther ahead, the summer promises to be warmer than average for Baltimore and much of the East and Gulf coasts (left), according to the seasonal forecast from the National Weather Service's Sterling Forecast Office. But the precipitation forecast, for now, shows no clear trend away from the norms.

First, this week: If you slept with the windows open last night you probably awoke to a pretty chilly room this morning. It was 46 degrees out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville at daybreak today, and 67 in the bedroom. BWI-Marshall Airport slipped to 46 degrees, too. That's not too far from the record low for a June 1 at Baltimore - 42 degrees, set back in 1966.

We're enjoying the benefits of a high-pressure system, with dry air and clear skies. Radiational cooling did the rest, allowing yesterday's solar heat gain to dissipate back into space. There were frost and freeze watches and warnings posted early today from Pennsylvania to Maine.

So enjoy this gorgeous day, if you can. Tomorrow, the next cold front slips closer to the region, increasing our cloudiness and bringing increased chances for showers and thunderstorms as warmer, wetter air from the south runs into the front. Lows Monday night and Tuesday morning should be milder than this morning's, in the 60s.

The chances for rain increase to 50 percent by late Wednesday into Thursday. The front is expected to stall just to our south by Thursday and Friday, leaving us under cloudy skies with  continuing chances for showers.

The computer models disagree on our weekend weather. The NWS seems to be leaning toward another stalled cold front and more showers. June begins to sound a whole lot like May, doesn't it?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:03 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        
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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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