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August 31, 2009

At last: An explanation for high June/July tides

Lots of Marylanders noticed it. A few sent me emails asking why the tides in Maryland during June and early July seemed so persistently high - from a few inches to a few feet at times, with some minor coastal flooding. I said it was likely a combination of astronomical effects, and persistent wind and weather patterns.

Well, I was mostly right.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noticed the persistently high sea levels, too, and set out to find the explanation. On Monday, they issued a 40-page report on the phenomenon, which blames it on a combination of (ta-da!) "steady and persistent Northeast winds," and a weakening of something called the Florida Current Transport.

"The ocean is dynamic and it's not uncommon to have anomalies," said Mike Szabados, director of NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. "What made this event unique was its breadth, intensity and duration."

The report's executive summary notes, as I did, that high tides in the latter part of June coincided with a "perigean spring tide." That's when the moon is at perigee (nearest to Earth), and aligned opposite the sun in a "new moon" phase (June 22), which causes higher-than-average "spring tides." Those factors amplified the tides, the report said.

Ocean City August 1998But such astronomical factors are included in the forecast tide levels. What occurred was well beyond those predictions. And it was wind and current that really made the high tides notable.

In June, winds from Cape Hatteras to the Gulf of Maine had a persistent northeast component, the report said. That drove ocean and bay waters to the southwest, piling it up against the east-facing shorelines, raising sea levels and holding them higher than predicted levels, even during the times of low tides.

South of Hatteras, winds were mostly out of the southwest. The high sea levels observed there, the report found, were not the result of winds, but of a slackening of the Florida Current, which flows through the Florida Straits and feeds into the Gulf Stream. And when the Florida Current relaxes, the coastal sea levels along the Southeast Atlantic coast rises. When the Florida Current picked up again in mid-July, sea levels returned to normal.

"The June-July 2009 anomaly is unique," the NOAA scientists concluded, not because the Northeast winds and the Florida Current were at remarkable extremes, but because the two in combination created conditions that affected the entire U.S. East Coast, from Maine to Florida, simultaneously.

And the stretch from the Carolinas to New Jersey -including Maryland - were where the two forces overlapped to create the most extreme effects.

There has been nothing like it, over such a broad geography, the report says, in any spring/summer period since at least as far back as 1980.

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

Sunny, pleasant week ahead

Visible satellite image 

A new month, a new school year, and a new air mass on this final day of the meteorological summer. Everything will seem fresh this week as cooler, drier Canadian air takes over our weather.

The overnight low was just 59 degrees out on the WeatherDeck this morning. At BWI-Marshall, the low was 62 degrees. We've been that cool only twice this month, as compared with our unusually cool July, which saw eight mornings in the 50s. 

Here are some other overnight lows across the region. (The lows for the 24 hours ending 8 a.m. Aug. 31 had not been posted at this writing, so be careful to check the date on the map.)

A quick check found lows of 62 at Dulles International Airport; 64 degrees at Reagan National; 66 degrees in Annapolis; 58 degrees in Hagerstown; 57 at Martinsburg.

The cooler weather comes with high pressure building in from the Great Lakes. You can see the clear air just to our northwest in the satellite view above. The stalled cold front that brought us our showers late last week remains to our south, and we may be stuck under its cloud deck for a time today until that boundary finally gets pushed out to sea.

That will clear the way for what should be a dry, sunny week, with highs in the 70s, climbing to the low 80s after mid-week ... "quite late-Septemberish," the forecasters said this morning. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:46 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

"Extremely dangerous" Jimena heads for Baja

Hurricane Jimena 

While the East Coast watched Tropical Storm Danny fizzle in the Atlantic last week, Hurricane Jimena was spinning up to Category 4 force in the eastern Pacific. The 145-mph storm is now bearing down on Cabo St. Lucas and Baja California.

The National Hurricane Center is calling the storm "extremely dangerous,"  and has posted Hurricane Watches for the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, including the popular resorts at Cabo.

"JIMENA IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 8 MPH...13 KM/HR.  A
GRADUAL INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED AND A TURN TOWARD THE
NORTH-NORTHWEST IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO.  ON THE
FORECAST TRACK...JIMENA WILL BE APPROACHING THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF
THE BAJA CALIFORNIA PENINSULA ON TUESDAY.

"MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 145 MPH...230 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS.  JIMENA IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE ON
THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE.  SOME FLUCTUATIONS IN INTENSITY ARE
POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.  AN AIR FORCE RESERVE
HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO INVESTIGATE JIMENA LATER
TODAY."

Jimena is a relatively small storm, with hurricane force winds extending only
about 30 miles from its center. But it is powerful, with a central pressure of just 27.76 inches. High winds are expected to be the biggest worry for the resorts and communities in the region. The threat has already sent West Coast cruise ships scurrying for calmer waters.

Here is the latest advisory on Jimena. Here is the forecast storm track. (Wouldn't it be nice if Jimena's rains could help fire fighters battling wildfires in Southern California?) And here is the view from space.

The eastern Pacific has had a busier season so far than the Atlantic. Jimena is the 10th named storm of the 2009 season. And Kevin, the 11th, is close behind Jimena.

In the Atlantic, meanwhile, a tropical low now about 600 miles east of the Leeward Islands (below) is given a greater-than-50 percent chance of becoming the fifth named storm of the Atlantic season - Erika - in the next 48 hours.

Atlantic low

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 29, 2009

Danny absorbed by nearby low

Tropical Depression Danny 

Poor Danny. The fourth tropical storm of the 2009 Atlantic season has been torn apart and absorbed by a low-pressure system along the cold front pressing in from the west, in the Carolinas. The storm has lost its tropical characteristics. Its winds have dropped below tropical storm force, and the National Hurricane Center has dropped all TS watches and warnings.

So much for Danny. But for the record, all the storm's moisture is being drawn into the frontal low - now a tropical depression - which will mean plenty of rain and humidity for everyone in its path.

What's left of Danny was centered about 80 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras Saturday morning, with top sustained winds of 35 mph. The "extratropical low" was expected to accelerate to the north northeast, and then the northeast at 30 to 35 mph.

Here is the final advisory on Danny. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from orbit.

The mid-Atlantic is not totally out of the woods on this thing yet. Rough surf and rip currents remain a hazard. Here is a bit of this morning's Coastal Flood Statement from Wakefield, Va.:

"DANGEROUS LONG PERIOD SOUTHEAST SWELLS...GENERATED FROM WHAT WAS
TROPICAL STORM DANNY...WILL CONTINUE THROUGH TODAY. BREAKING WAVES
IN THE SURF ZONE ARE EXPECTED TO AVERAGE 3 TO 4 FT. AS A RESULT OF
THE MODERATE WAVES AND LONG PERIOD SWELL...A HIGH RISK OF RIP
CURRENTS REMAINS IN EFFECT."

Here's the gray and soggy forecast for Ocean City.

Staying home won't improve the forecast much. Baltimore can expect another gray, wet day today, too. The risk of more heavy rains appears to be waning, at least. Here's the forecast. And here is the Hazardous Weather Outlook.Presque Isle State Park

We've ready had 1.5 inches here on the WeatherDeck since Thursday. Ditto for the airport. Here are some rain totals for the last 24 hours across Maryland. Some locations reported more than 2 inches. Forest Heights, in PG County, topped 3 inches.

Sunday's forecast here looks better, with a bit of sunshine and no rain predicted. But the rest of the week looks more iffy, with at least some rain chances every day as we remain stuck beneath a stalled cold front. Temperatures, at least will be cooler - in the 70s.

Want a pleasant AND sunny week? Head for the beaches at Presque Isle, in Erie, Pa (above).

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:54 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 28, 2009

Danny's a mess, but still a player

Tropical Storm Danny still had not managed to pull itself together into a proper spiral Friday morning. And the central pressure in the storm (29.77 in.) wasn't much lower than the pressure out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville  (29.99 in.)

DannyMaximum sustained winds at the storm's center were barely 40 mph, only a few mph above falling back to the status of tropical depression. Here's some interesting discussion of Danny's troubles from the National Hurricane Center.

But Danny continues to move toward the Outer Banks, and its winds and waves will remain a threat to swimmers and boating along the mid-Atlantic Coast this weekend. Here is a bit of the forecast advisory this morning:

"LARGE SWELLS FROM DANNY ARE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE DANGEROUS SURF
CONDITIONS AND LIFE-THREATENING RIP CURRENTS ALONG THE U.S. EAST
COAST DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. PLEASE CONSULT STATEMENTS ISSUED
BY YOUR
LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE FOR MORE
DETAILS
."

Tropical Storm Watches have been posted for the Outer Banks. Tropical Storm Warnings are up for Maryland's offshore waters.  Here is the latest advisory forDanny track Danny. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

While we slept .... assuming you could sleep with all the thunder and lightning ... the Baltimore region was visited by some impressive thunderstorms. We clocked 1.18 inches of rain on the WeatherDeck. The NWS instruments at BWI-Marshall recorded 1.4 inches.

Towson and Sykesville both reported an impressive 2.89 inches. Many locations across Central Maryland reported more than an inch of rain overnight. Here are some other measurements from the CoCoRaHS network.

The storms caused some flooding, and did some damage to trees and electrical lines. Here is the link to the NWS tally of storm damage reports. (Be sure to click on earlier versions for more reports.) And here is the tally of BGE power outages, which don't seem to have been too extensive.

With all that rain, the ground is pretty well saturated, forecasts say. And the forecast calls for continuing showers and storms today. So, the National Weather Service has posted Flash Flood Watches across the region from 2 p.m. Friday until late Friday night.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 27, 2009

20-30 % chance for tropical storm winds at O.C.

 Danny tropical storm winds

The 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center puts the chances that winds along the mid-Atlantic coast will top tropical storm force (39 mph or more) this weekend at 20 to 30 percent.

That's the message from the tropical Storm Winds Probability Map (above) posted this morning. The actual outcome will depend, of course, on where the steering currents take Danny. The consensus keeps the storm well offshore. But it's a sprawling system, with tropical storm winds extending as much as 200 miles from the center.

High winds, even offshore, will increase the risk of dangerous surf and rip currents at the beaches this weekend. Danny is also expected to bring plenty of rain to the eastern part of Maryland this weekend, while an approaching cold front does the same for Central Maryland.

Late Thursday morning, Danny's top sustained winds were clocked at around 60 mph. That's 14 mph short of hurricane strength. But some continued strengthening was forecast for the next few days as the storm's center moves over warmer waters in the Gulf Stream.

Danny's problem has been a poorly organized center and high-altitude winds that have thwarted rapid development.

The storm's center late this morning was about 550 miles south southeast of Cape Hatteras. It was moving toward the northwest at 13 mph, but that movement was a bit erratic. Danny was expected to turn more toward the north later today, and increase its forward speed.

The storm's greatest threat may be along the New England coast and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Here is the latest forecast advisory for Danny. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

While we're at it, the National Hurricane Center is already watching the next storm in the Atlantic basin. The tropical disturbance in the far eastern Atlantic is given less than a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm in the next 48 hours.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Clouds, showers and storms on tap for weekend

Danny 

With a cold front aproaching from the north and west, and Tropical Storm Danny edging in from the southeast, Marylanders are in for a weekend primed for wet and breezy weather.

Forecasters out at Sterling say we'll have one more day of near-90 summer weather today (Thursday). But as we come into a more northeasterly flow around a deep Canadian low to our north, winds off the ocean will begin to bring in cooler, wetter air, with more clouds and increasing chances for showers.

There is a 70 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms by Friday as the cold front stalls over the region, and we get continued northeasterly winds off the ocean.

Saturday is when Tropical Storm Danny - maybe Hurricane Danny by then - comes into play. Some forecast models bring the storm right along the coastline, with more pronounced impacts on the beaches and into the Chesapeake. But forecasters say the most recent model runs keep the storm's center farther offshore, reducing the risks.

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

Either way, this will likely be a very wet event, especially for the Eastern Shore, with a couple of inches of rain possible. Here's part of the Thursday morning forecast discussion out of Sterling:

"THE ATMOSPHERIC REGIME AHEAD OF DANNY /REGARDLESS OF ITS EXACT
TRACK/ FOR THE MID ATLC WILL BE ONE OF INCREASING MOISTURE ...

"THIS LIKELY SPELLS LOCALLY HEAVY RAIN FOR INTERMITTENT PERIODS OF
EARLY FRI INTO EARLY SAT. ... W/ SHOWERS AND ISOLATED
STORMS DEVELOPING ... ACTIVITY WOULD BE
FAIRLY SHORT LIVED AND SCATTERED IN NATURE W/ UNFAVORABLE WIND
PROFILES FOR ORGANIZED ACTIVITY...WHICH AGAIN HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPACT
OF LOCALIZED HEAVY RAINFALL /EVEN FROM LIGHT-MOD ECHOES/.

"AFTER THE TROPICAL FEATURE SLIDES WELL TO THE NE INTO LATE SAT...THE
UPPER LOW /OVER THE GREAT LAKES/ RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING DANNY OFF
THE COAST WILL KEEP THE EASTERN SEABOARD WELL SUITED FOR MORE SHOWER
ACTIVITY FOR SUNDAY AND INTO EARLY MONDAY."

Finally, once Danny races off toward the northeast, the cold front drops through the region, and cooler, more autumnal weather moves in. Overnight temperatures in Western Maryland could drop into the 40s and to the 50s for the metro areas next week.

We should see highs only in the 70s in Baltimore. Great back-to-school weather, right kids?!

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

August 26, 2009

Tropical Storm Danny could be off Delmarva Saturday

 Tropical Storm Danny

That tropical disturbance in the Atlantic north of Puerto Rico has strengthened to tropical storm force and earned the name Danny. Forecasters say it will likely become a hurricane by this weekend, brush the Carolina coast and be off the Delmarva peninsula by Saturday morning.

Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the new storm.

The fourth named storm of the season was packing top sustained winds of 45 mph, with some slow strengthening expected in the next few days. At 73 mph it would become a Category 1 hurricane, the second of the season.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday the storm's center was reported to be 775 miles south southeast of Cape Hatteras, moving toward the west northwest at 18 mph. The National Hurricane Center's forecast track map takes the storm to a position just off the Outer Banks by early Saturday, where it is expected to be at hurricane strength.

Here's the Ocean City forecast, calling for wet and breezy weather for the weekend.

Here is the current advisory on Danny. The 11 a.m. Weds. forecast map is above. And here is the view from orbit.

Meanwhile, there is a new disturbance gathering steam off the west coast of Africa.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:43 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 25, 2009

100-degree heat, drought, killing Texas cattle

cattle Texas droughtIt's not Maryland's weather, but it's important weather news. The deepening drought in Texas, particularly South Texas, is withering rangeland, killing cattle and posing real hardship for ranchers who did not sell off their herds early enough.

"We've had 2 inches of rain in a year's time," said Sammy Gavito, AgriLife Extension agent for Duval County, west of Corpus Christi. "We're about 22 to 23 inches below normal for the year. There isn't enough for them to eat, and it's very hot. We've had almost 50 days in row of almost 100 degrees. That's a record for us down here."

He estimated that the ranchers he spoke with had lost 3 to 5 percent of their herds already, and many of the rest are too skinny to sell at a profit.

Here's more from Texas A&M University.

(Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Sam Womble)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drought
        

New storm a growing threat

Tropical disturbance 

The tropical disturbance north of the island of Puerto Rico continues to grow and become better organized, and forecasters now give it a better-than-even chance to become a tropical storm - Danny - in the next 48 hours.

The 2 p.m. (Tuesday) advisory places stormy weather about 300 miles north of San Juan, moving toward the west northwest at around 20 mph. Reconnaissance aircraft were scheduled to fly through the storm Tuesday afternoon to gather more data on its development.

Here's the view from orbit.

The first land mass likely to feel the effects of the bad weather would be the Bahamas. Those with interests in the islands were advised to follow the storm's progress.

From there, steering winds would take it on toward the southeastern U.S. coast by Friday, although most models predict it would curve to the north, and then northeast sometime before making landfall on the coast. Dangerous rip currents seem likely to persist, however, even under this scenario.

NWS forecasters at Sterling don't seem especially concerned about this storm, noting that a cold front due here from the west later this week would tend to push the tropical low away from the coast. Just how close it gets remains a matter of debate among the computer models. Here's a bit of the forecasters' discussion this afternoon:

"TRACK OF THIS SYSTEM DEPENDS ON TIMING OF
APPROACHING TROUGH FROM THE WEST... 00Z EURO [a computer forecast model] /DESPITE HAVING A SLOWER SOLUTION FOR THE TC [tropical cyclone]/ SUGGESTS A TRACK NEARER THE MID-ATLANTIC THAN THE GFS [another model]. WILL HAVE TO MONITOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SYSTEM /NOT EXPECTED TO BE GREAT AT THIS TIME/ AND PROGRESSION OF THE UPPER
TROUGH. EXPECT AN ACTIVE WEEKEND WITH MOIST SWLY/SLY [southwesterly or southerly] FLOW.

"COLD FRONTAL PASSAGE EARLY NEXT WEEK TO BRING AUTUMNAL-LIKE CANADIAN
AIRMASS OVER THE MID-ATLANTIC."

That last note will be welcomed by teachers and students as classes resume for most school systems next week. No need to worry about sweltering in un-airconditioned schools. Look for highs in the upper 70s and low 80s.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:50 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 24, 2009

New tropical low could be near Hatteras Friday

stormy weather 

It's only a batch of rain and thunderstorms for now, but forecasters at the National Hurricane Center give it a 30 to 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm in the next 48 hours. And two forecast models predict the storm will be just off Cape Hatteras by Friday. 

The bad weather is now a few hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands, moving west northwest at 20 to 25 mph. If it does manage to reach tropical storm strength, it would become Tropical Storm Danny.

Forecast models placing it near Hatteras by the end of the week indicate it would be moving toward the northeast by then, curving away from the Mid-Atlantic coast. But we could see some impact along the beaches like that we experienced with Hurricane Bill.

Speaking of Bill, the first and so far only hurricane of the season is no longer a hurricane. The storm is headed our across the Atlantic to make trouble for shipping and Scotland.

In the meantime, have you read about the 7-year-old killed when waves driven by the storm swept spectators from rocks along the Maine coast? Others were badly injured. This is why they issue storm warnings. These people should never have been that close to the water. A Florida man also died in storm-whipped surf.

Don't fool with these storms. They are killers.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Annual cicadas are making a racket

Stuck at home after surgery, and I'm noticing an amazing chorus of insects in the woods behindAnnual cicada/nDroae from Flickr the WeatherDeck. They're the annual, or "Dog-Day" cicadas, (right) and they seem to be enjoying an unusually loud and busy summer in Maryland's trees.

University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp agrees. "I can't remember a year that the annual ... cicadas have been as abundant and active," he said in an email on Monday.

And how. Just off the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville you can see them flitting from tree to tree in search of that special someone, following the chattering, rasping chorus of come-hither songs. The noise seems to come in waves, rising and falling in volume as if they're all listening to each other and responding with ever-more vigorous refrains.

The insects almost drown out the air conditioners. Here's an audio clip from the WeatherDeck.

Periodical cicada/Maryland 2004These are annual cicadas, among them Tibicen linnei, a separate set of species from the well-remembered 17-year periodical cicadas, or Magicicada, (left) that last emerged from the earth in central Maryland in May and June 2004. Known as Brood X (ten), they're due back in 2021.

Raupp had some speculation about what might explain the bugs' abundance this summer:

"Like with all bug-related issues this year, we are attributing the fine cool and wet spring to enhanced survival of many insects and superior quality of plants that serve as food. With many of the subterranean dwellers including termites and cicadas, getting out of the ground is critical. This is only speculation on my part, but I am guessing that moist loose soil coupled with nice humid conditions favor emergence and survival of these guys. Also, the glorious lush growth of trees and shrubs this year may be providing adults with abundant high quality food during their tenure above ground."

The annual cicadas we're hearing now are sometimes called Dog Day cicadas because they emerge and start their singing in mid-to-late summer, the "dog days" of summer.

It's an interesting expression. It evokes images of overheated dogs lazing about in dusty southern streets under oppressive heat and humidity.

If fact, the "dog days" label refers to the position of the sun at this time of year, near the bright star Sirius. Sirius, the brightest true star in the heavens (actually, a double star system), is also known as the "Dog Star" because of its position in the constellation Canis Major, the Big Dog.

Because Sirius is so near the sun in the daytime sky at this time of year, we can't see it. But it is prominent in the night sky in winter and spring, just to the left of, and below, the familiar constellation Orion. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:20 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Events
        

North Beach, Annapolis win weekend rain sweeps

The community of North Beach in Calvert County, and the city of Annapolis have topped everyplace else west of the bay in the amount of rainfall recorded over the weekend, according to data compiled by the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va.

The showers and thunderstorms were very localized, with some spots seeing more than 3 inches of rain, while others saw less than 2 inches. Officially, BWI-Marshall recorded just 1.7 inches for the weekend.

Here are some of the totals from around the region, for the 60 hours ending at 7 a.m. Monday:

North Beach (Calvert): 6.35 inches

Annapolis (Arundel): 5.25 inches

Huntingtown (Calvert): 4.75 inches

Dunkirk (Calvert): 4.32 inches

Churchton (Arundel): 4.25 inches

Camp Springs (Prince George's): 3.96 inches

Deale (Arundel): 3.75 inches

La Plata (Charles): 3.74 inches

Montgomery Village (Montgomery): 3.68 inches

Beverly Beach (Arundel): 3.46 inches

Friendly Hills (PG): 3.43 inches

West Friendship (Howard): 3.29 inches

Glenwood (Howard): 3.26 inches

Edgewater (Arundel): 3.25 inches

There were numerous reports of flash flooding and road closures in Anne Arundel and Calvert counties on Saturday as a result of the downpours.

Got pictures? If you have a good digital photo of the weekend rain or flooding, send it along and I'll post the best. Email frank.roylance@baltsun.com

Some slight rain chances will linger late Monday and Monday night. But the rest of the week looks dry and sunny, with the warmest temperatures coming at mid-week, with a Wednesday high near 90 degrees. After that, a cold front will push through, sending daytime highs back to the more seasonable low 80s. Rain chances will rise again for the weekend.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

August 23, 2009

Bill goes to Canada; Scotland next

 Hurricane Bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just-barely-a-hurricane Bill is skirting the coastline of maritime Canada Sunday afternoon, its top sustained winds at about 80 mph. The storm is headed for the open Atlantic by Monday morning, and the storm track takes it to Scotland by Wednesday morning.

By then it will be just a bad storm off the Atlantic, having lost its tropical characteristics. For now, it remains a minimal Category 1 hurricane. Tropical storm warnings and a hurricane watch remained in effect Sunday afternoon for portions of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

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

Out-of-the-blue weather question of the day: What is the odd hurricane-related headline on the copy of the New York Post held by Frank Sinatra in the movie "The Manchurian Candidate?" Glory and honor to the first person with the first correct answer.

We have a winner already! Molly Williams, of Maine, emailed me at 5:40 pm Sunday with the answer:

"VIOLENT HURRICANE SWEEPS MIDWEST; 20 DEAD, HUNDREDS HOMELESS"

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Friday storm photos

Bill STifler/Hampden 

Thunderhead/HampdenBill Stifler has sent in more weather photos, this time from Friday's thunderstorms. He shoots mostly from locations in Hampden, in Baltimore City, proving that you don't need an exotic location to capture some great weather photos. Okay, for some, Hampden is pretty darned exotic.

Still, you can't argue with good photography. Be sure to visit Bill's weather photo page. Says he:

"These were taken in Hampden - from the roof of my place of 
employment. The ... lightning photos were taken later in the evening - 
one from my house and the others from [a parking] lot in 
Hampden ... I was seconds away from 
some really good lightning images, but these turned out ok. The recent 
pattern has provided good conditions for weather photo geeks like me."

The forecast for Baltimore today says we will have only a small chance for more showers tonight or tomorrow as a weak cold front continues to dawdle on its way east and out of the region.

The rest of the week looks sunny, or mostly so, with temperatures in the mid-80s - just a tad above the norms for this time of year. Overnight lows will be in the 60s.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

August 22, 2009

Storms drop an inch of rain at BWI

Yesterday's thunderstorms delivered an inch of rain at BWI-Marshall Airport, the most in one day since July 31. We recorded 1.3 inches here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, and just over an inch at The Sun building at Calvert and Centre streets downtown.

The CoCoRaHS network reported an astonishing 9 inches of rain yesterday in Ridgely, over in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore. Here are some other totals reported by the group:Flash flood watch area (green)

Denton, Caroline Co.:  3.31 inches

Sykesville, Howard Co.: 2.84 inches

Clarksburg, Montgomery Co.: 2.75 inches

Towson, Baltimore Co.:  1.8 inches

St. Michaels, Talbot Co.: 1.53 inches

Ellicott City, Howard Co.: 1.32 inches

Forecasters out at Sterling say there is more to come. With the ground saturated in places by Friday's rains, they have posted flash flood watches all across central and southern Maryland today and through the evening (green area on map). More showers and storms will cross the region ahead of an  approaching cold front with another 1 to 3 inches of rain possible.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Tropical storm warnings up for Mass. coast

Hurricane Edna, Ocean City, Sept. 1954Residents - sitting Presidents included - of Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are under tropical storm warnings today as Hurricane Bill spins northward off the U.S. East Coast.

Bill remains a 105-mph Category 2 storm, and its winds are producing heavy surf and rip currents along the southeastern coast of the U.S. Those surf conditions will extend northward today and tomorrow. Here's a web cam view of the surf from the Kite Loft at Ocean City. Looks a bit frothy already. Here's the beach forecast.

Bill's position this morning was about 410 miles east of Cape Hatteras, moving northward at 22 mph. It was due off the New England coast tonight, accelerating toward the Canadian Maritime provinces on Sunday. 

Here is the forecast for Nantucket. The tropical storm warnings mean that tropical storm conditions - winds over 39 mph - are expected within 24 hours.

Here is the latest advisory for Bill. Here is the forecast storm track, which places the storm's remnants in Ireland by mid-week.  And here is the view from orbit

(SUN PHOTO/Robert F. Kniesche/Hurricane Edna/Ocean City, Sept. 1954)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 21, 2009

Bill staggers, keeps spinning

Hurricane Bill weakened a bit more overnight, with top sustained winds falling to 115 mph amid increasing disorder in its central structure. But the storm remained a Category 3 powerhouse and a continuing threat to both Bermuda and the eastern beaches of the U.S. The Canadian Maritime Provinces were also on alert.

storm trackThe storm's center this morning was about 800 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, moving to the northwest at 17 mph. Its course was expected to shift to the north northwest today, and to the north by tomorrow as the storm curves around the Bermuda/Azores high to the east, and in the face of the jet stream and cold front moving into the eastern seaboard to the west. Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the atmospheric mechanics steering the storm.

Forecasters say Bill lost some of its classic organization overnight, but could regain some strength over warmer Gulf Stream waters between the Carolinas and Bermuda. You can see in satellite images that the storm lost its open "eye."  We can probably blame wind shear for that - the high altitude winds that cut off the tops of the thunderstorms that fuel the storm. Its this kind of shear that becomes more pronounced in El Nino years like this one and make it harder for Atlantic hurricanes to form and hold together.

Here is the latest advisory on Bill. Here is the forecast track

 

Tropical storm warnings and a hurricane watch remain in effect for Bermuda. Forecasters are also continuing to warn beachgoers about the danger of heavy surf and rip currents along the East Coast this weekend as Bill passes by. The hazard will be enhanced by high astronomical tides, since we are near the time of the new moon.

"RIP CURRENTS ARE
LIFE-THREATENING TO ANYONE WHO ENTERS THE SURF. BE ESPECIALLY
CAUTIOUS WITH OUTGOING TIDES WHICH IMPROVE RIP CURRENT FORMATION.
ALL BEACH GOERS SHOULD REMAIN AWARE OF INHERENT DANGERS WHEN
ENTERING THE SURF INCLUDING SWIFT LONGSHORE CURRENTS...POUNDING
SHORE BREAK AND SHALLOW SAND BARS."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:28 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Heat ends today

northeast radar 

Today should see the last of what is now nearly a week of temperatures in the 90-degree range, forecasters say. A cold front now moving into the Ohio Valley will move our way overnight tonight and drop the daytime highs back to the lower half of the 80s well into next week.

But it may well be a wet transition, as the relatively cool Canadian air runs up against this hot, humid Gulf air that we've been sweating in for several weeks. Some of that rain is already visible on radar in the western part of Maryland (above).

Looking back, Baltimore's average daily temperatures have been 1 to 8 degrees above the long-term averages since Aug. 9. Since the 16th, our daytime highs have ranged between 87 and 93 degrees. The "normal" highs at this time of year are around 85 degrees. We're looking at a high of 92 degrees today at the airport, followed by just 82 on Saturday. 

But we'll have to endure a bath to cool off. Forecasters out in Sterling say we're looking at a 60 to 70 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms from late Friday through Saturday night. Some locations may see heavy, prolonged downpours in persistent "training" thunderstorms that form and reform over the same places.

The front will stall here for a time until Hurricane Bill picks up speed and moves out of the way. That will clear the decks for the front to pass through, and admit the cooler, drier Canadian air by Sunday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

August 20, 2009

Bill churns on; surf, rip current warnings up

Hurricane Bill water vapor 

Hurricane Bill continues to spin its way toward the U.S. east coast Thursday night, with forecasters promising that a turn north by Saturday will spare us all a collision with this picture-perfect Category 3 storm.

Bermuda is now under a tropical storm watch and a hurricane warning as the storm passes to the west of the island. Here is the forecast for the island paradise.

Here is the latest forecast advisory. Here is the forecast storm track. The view from orbit is above.

AccuWeather.com has a piece on the potential US impact if the storm veers slightly west of the forecast track.

In any event, forecasters are warning of rip currents and dangerous surf all along the east coast this weekend as this powerful storm passes offshore. Please be careful out there.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:14 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Bill takes a breather; no change in course

Hurricane Bill 

Hurricane Bill took a breather overnight, dropping 10 mph from its top sustained winds and falling back to Category 3 status - still a "major" storm, but with top winds of "only" 125 mph.

That may change in the coming days as the storm moves back over warmer waters between the Carolinas and Bermuda. Bill is expected to restrengthen, but there is no significant change in its forecast track.

The National Hurricane Center warns that large swells created by the storm should begin reaching the U.S. coast on Friday and Saturday. That will mean heavy surf and the risk of dangerous rip currents. Here is word from the NWS's Ocean City forecast:

"A HIGH RISK OF RIP CURRENTS IS LIKELY FOR FRIDAY
THROUGH THE WEEKEND. BUILDING LONG PERIOD SWELL ASSOCIATED WITH
HURRICANE BILL WILL ARRIVE LATE THIS WEEK...AND WILL CONTINUE TO
PROPAGATE THROUGH OUR WATERS THROUGH LATE SUNDAY INTO EARLY
MONDAY. THOSE HEADED TO AREA BEACHES THIS WEEKEND ARE ADVISED TO
EXERCISE CAUTION...AND HEED THE ADVICE OF THE BEACH PATROL.
CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE SURF ZONE FORECAST"

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

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:34 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Weds. storm drops baseball-sized hail

Severe thunderstorms rolling across southern Maryland yesterday produced a number of funnel clouds and what witnesses described as baseball-sized hail. Here are details from Steve Zubrick, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service forecast office at Sterling:

NOAA"An intense supercell formed yesterday afternoon (19 Aug 2009) just 
after 4pm in SE Charles Co. MD. As the storm intensified as it moved 
east into St Marys Co, it produced large hail up to baseball-size just 
south of Leonardtown.

"The storm was rotating and prompted us to upgrade our severe t-storm 
warning to a tornado warning...and while we had multiple reports of 
funnel clouds, no confirmed touchdowns or extensive damage have been 
reported.

"An impressive storm!"

For the record, the largest hailstone on record in the U.S. was nearly the size of a soccer ball! That's the one in the 2003 NOAA photo above.

If anyone has pictures of the Leonardtown hailstones, please send them to me at frank.roylance@baltsun.com and I will post them here.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events
        

August 19, 2009

Bill now a Cat. 4 storm

Hurricane Bill 

Hurricane Bill swirled up to Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale while we slept. The storm's top sustained winds are now near 135 mph as it moves toward the west northwest at 16 mph.

That makes Bill the first hurricane and the first "major" hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season. The good news is that Bill does not appear to pose a threat to the East Coast, aside from rip currents and heavy surf as the storm track takes it between the Carolina coast and Bermuda.

Bill is expected to strengthen some in the next few days.

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

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:01 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

More storms due today

Water vapor map

Temperatures are headed back up toward 90 degrees today and forecasters are warning of more showers and thunderstorms like the boomers that crackled through the region late Tuesday:

"SOME STORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF GUSTY WINDS AND MAY
WARRANT SPECIAL MARINE WARNINGS FOR THE MARYLAND CHESAPEAKE BAY
AND TIDAL POTOMAC. A FEW STORMS MAY BE CAPABLE OF MARGINALLY
SEVERE WIND GUSTS AND HAIL."

Aug. 18 storm HampdenTuesday's thunderstorms dropped a half-inch here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. BWI recorded less than a quarter-inch. But parts of Baltimore city and county, Harford and Carroll reported more than an inch or rain in thunderstorms. Here are some totals from across the state.

The storms toppled branches and trees and knocked out power to thousands. Bill Stifler caught some amazing mammatus clouds in this shot from Hampden.

And we're not done yet. A lingering trough of low pressure and a continuing flow of moist air from the Gulf will keep us in this pattern until Sunday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:34 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

August 18, 2009

Bill may be boon to surfers

Hurricane Bill 

If the forecasts hold up, Hurricane Bill will become a major storm today. But the forecast tracks suggest the tempest will veer northward before reaching the U.S. mainland. That would make Bill a threat to Bermuda, and to shipping. But its biggest impact on the U.S. east coast would be in the form of big surf and rip currents. More on that from AccuWeather.com

Bill is still far out in the Atlantic, 800 miles east of the Leeward Islands. It's headed west northwest at 17 mph, with top sustained winds of about 100 mph. Bill was forecast to become a Cat. 3 "major" storm today, with top winds of 111 mph or more on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.

Here is the latest advisory on Bill. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from orbit.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:11 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

The heat goes on; rain chances rising

Northeast satellite image 

If you define a "heat wave" as three straight days of 90-plus weather, we may be on the verge of (only) our second heat wave of the year, and the first (and last) of the summer months.

Sounds odd, doesn't it? But you'll recall we had our first stretch of three 90-plus days (officially, at BWI-Marshall) way back in April. There were no 90-plus days in all of May and June, and July and August (so far) produced no more than two in a row.

But the forecasters out at Sterling are calling for highs of 93 degrees today, and 91 and 90 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday. So, we'll see if we can squeeze another "heat wave" into the summer before it ends (meteorologically speaking) on Aug. 30.

The next weather issue we'll face this week is rain. Showers and thunderstorms - some of them potentially with heavy rain - are in the cards for our area all week, with the highest probabilities (50 percent) tonight and tomorrow. The rain comes to us courtesy of a cold front which forecasters say will stall just to our northwest. That leaves us on the hot-and-humid side of the system, made even more unpleasant by the remnants of Tropical Storm Claudette, which went ashore in northwest Florida and Alabama over the weekend.

A hot sun and the tropical moisture, plus slow movement of the system, could mean very heavy rain totals once the storms fire up, forecasters warn. And that could produce some flash flooding issues as the days wear on.

The next break in the weather comes with the next, stronger, cold front, due here Friday or Saturday. That will come with more rain chances. But this front looks like the big August back-to-school break in the weather that brings us our first hint of autumn. Look for highs Sunday and Monday only about 80 degrees, with overnight lows in to 60s.

(NASA Photo/Aug. 17, 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

August 17, 2009

Bill is now a hurricane; Claudette comes ashore

Claudette storm track 

The second named storm of the 2009 season has grown into a minimal hurricane, the season's first, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Bill now sports top sustained winds of 75 mph as it churns across the Atlantic. While it is still far east of any landmass, Bill is expected to continue to strengthen, reaching Category 3 on the Safif-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity in the next few days, with top sustained winds fo 155 mph.

Here is the latest advisory on Bill. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from orbit.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Claudette (map above) has come ashore in the panhandle of Florida, where it has begun to weaken. High winds and heavy rains are the main story down there. The storm's remnants are expected to drop 3 to 6 inches of rain - and in spots up to 10 inches - along a path through Alabama, Mississippi, and reaching inland as far as Tennessee in the next few days.

Here is the latest advisory. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space. And here is the forecast for Montgomery, Alabama.

Finally, what was once Tropical Storm Ana remains badly disorganized in the northeastern Caribbean. But the depression remains a heavy rain threat to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

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

In the meantime, our forecast continues to call for more hot, humid, summery weather, with highs near 90 degrees for the rest of the week. Rain won't become a factor for another day or two. And we won't see a break from the heat until the weekend. Sticky.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:31 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 16, 2009

Sky show: Crescent moon, Venus and space station

Plan to be up before dawn Monday? Maybe the dog needs walking? Or perhaps you just have an early commute, or a date with your running shoes? Well, keep your eyes open. If skies stay clear early risers will be treated to a fine show by a crescent moon, the planet Venus and a bright, early pass by the International Space Station.

All three should be visible from urban settings, IF skies are clear. Sunrise isn't until 6:21 a.m.

Here's the deal: The moon and Venus will be up above the eastern horizon by 4:30 a.m. The moon will be easy enough to spot, and Venus will be the bright "star" just below and slightly to the left of the moon.  Here's a sky map from Spaceweather.com

Then, watch for the International Space Station to emerge from the Earth's showdow and rise above the southern horizon at 5:12 a.m. It will be a very bright, steady white light, like a moving star or an aircraft (only without multiple lights or flashing strobes). It will move toward the northeast, climbing more than halfway from the southeastern horizon to the zenith (straight up) by 5:13 a.m.

The ISS will fly just above the constellation Orion, and very close to the moon and Venus before disappearing at 5:16 a.m. 

Great show, if you can get out of bed for it. If you do, drop back here and describe what you saw for all the sleepyheads. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:23 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Hurricane Camille made history 40 years ago

Hurricane Camille 

Forty years ago tomorrow, the most powerful storm ever to visit the U.S. mainland crashed ashore along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Nearly everything in Camille's path, along the coast from Biloxi west to the Alabama state line, was reduced to splinters. If the 190 mph winds (and higher gusts) didn't get it, the 22-foot storm surge probably did. It was the highest storm surge ever recorded in the U.S. Homes went under water 2 miles from the Gulf shore.

Barometric pressure at Camille's center dropped to 26.85 inches, the second-lowest ever measured in the U.S.

More than 200,000 people fled north. Another 44,000 entered shelters. That, plus the relatively low population and development in the region in 1969, prevented the death and destruction from becoming worse than it was. Even so, an estimated 255 people died, and 8,900 were injured. Property damage totaled $4.2 billion in 1969 dollars. Some 14,000 housing units were damaged, and 6,000 more were totally destroyed.

In hindsight, Hurricane Andrew (1992) caused more property damage, and Hurricane Katrina (2005) killed more people. But in its time, Camille was the biggest single destructive event in U.S. history.

And it didn't end after Camille went ashore in Mississippi. The weakening storm moved inland to Kentucky, then turned toward West Virginia and Virginia. Heavy rains and flash flooding caused more damage and deaths in West Virginia. Flash flooding killed 153 people in Virginia as the storm regained tropical storm strength and dropped 12 to 20 inches of rain there. Destruction and damage were widespread, and totalled more than $140 million in 1969 dollars.

The name Camille was permanently retired from the list of names available for Atlantic hurricanes.

Looking at the old newspaper clips from that week, it's interesting to note what else was going on at the time. The last few hundred thousand music lovers were preparing to leave the site of the Woodstock festival in upstate New York. Lunar astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were thinking about whether they would seek new space missions. (Collins was finished; Aldrin wasn't sure, but Armstrong said he was still available to fly.) There was fighting in Vietnam and the Middle East, and the world's longest-surviving heart transplant patient, Dr. Philip Blaiberg, 60, died in a South African hospital 594 days after receiving the world's third heart transplant.

(AP Wirephoto/Parnell McKay, civil defense director for Pass Christian, Miss., surveys the damaged town.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

New storm threatens Gulf of Mexico

TD-4 

While tropical storms Ana and Bill continue to advance on the islands of the Lesser Antilles, a new storm has formed out of the thunderstorms and convection in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, posing a more immediate threat to the U.S. mainland.

The latest concern for forecasters at the National Hurricane Center is Tropical Depression 4, which sports top sustained winds of 35 mph, with a track that would put it on the northwest coast of Florida later today.

Here is the Tallahassee radar loop.

Tropical storm warnings have been posted from the Alabama border to the Suwannee River. Communities there could see up to 3 to 5 inches of rain and a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet to the east of wherever the center of the storm makes landfall.

Here is the latest advisory on TD4 (which would become  Tropical Storm Claudette if winds tops 39 mph before landfall). Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

UPDATE: TD-4 has become Tropical Storm Claudette, with top sustained winds of 50 mph. TS Ana has degraded to a tropical depression.

Meanwhile, Ana and Bill continue to steam west across the Atlantic.

Here is the latest advisory on Ana. Tropical Storm watches remain in effect as far west as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Here is the forecast storm track.

Here is the latest advisory on Bill, with 45 mph winds, and the only storm of the bunch that is forecast to become a hurricane. Here is the forecast storm track.

And here is the view from orbit.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 15, 2009

Bill chasing Ana across the Atlantic

Tropical Storm Bill 

Tropical Depression 3 has been upgraded to tropical storm status as its top winds passed 39 mph this afternoon. It is now Tropical Storm Bill, and it is following in the path of TS Ana as she begins to take aim on the Dutch Antilles.

Bill (photo) is a much better-looking storm than Ana, and is expected to become a hurricane by mid-week. Here is the latest advisory on Bill. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for the islands of the Dutch Antilles, including  St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius as Ana drifts closer this weekend. Interests in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will also be paying attention to Ana.

For now, Ana's top sustained winds are still just 40 mph, a minimal tropical storm, but some strengthening is likely in the coming hours. Here is the latest advisory on Ana. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from orbit.

Maryland weather? Hot, but dry and beautiful, with the high at BWI today reaching 86. The drier air could allow for some late Perseid meteor watching tonight.

It was 88 downtown and here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. Hotter Sunday and near 90 right into the middle of the week.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:14 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

It's "Ah-na," not Ann-a

Tropical Storm Ana 

The season's first tropical storm has formed in the Atlantic, and the National Hurricane Center wants you to know that it's pronounced "Ah-na," as in Anna Faris, not "Ann-a," as in "Anniversary." So there.

Ana formed overnight out of what had been the deteriorating remnants of Tropical Depression 2, only the second such storm center to form this season.

Anyway, the storm is chugging westward across the ocean at about 16 mph, with top sustained winds of just 40 mph. That's just barely a tropical storm, but Ana is expected to strengthen in the next few days.

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

Hard on Ana's heels is Tropical Depression 3, which is trekking across the ocean from the same hurricane nursery near the Cape Verde Islands that spawned Ana. TD-3 is expected to become Tropical Storm Bill sometime today or tomorrow. 

Here is the latest advisory on TD3. Here is the forecast storm track (which looks a lot like Ana's path). And here is the view from space. That's TD-3 at 35 degrees West, and Ana at about 47 degrees West.

Hurricane forecasters are also watching a stormy area moving into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. It is given only a slim chance of developing into a tropical storm in the next few days. 

Here's a pretty cool view of the water vapor concentrations across the Atlantic basin, showing from right to left, TD-3, Ana and the mishmash in the Gulf and the Caribbean.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:59 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 14, 2009

The sun will come out ...

Ocean City beach 

All these clouds should begin to burn off as we move into the afternoon, ushering in an extended period of sunny and hot summer weather right into next week.

You can thank the arrival of high pressure, which is gradually shoving the stalled cold front and all its showers and storms off to our south and east. That will clear the air here and allow daytime highs to begin to creep higher again. From today's forecast high at BWI of 86 degrees - about right for this time of year - the highs will climb to 90 degrees by Sunday or Monday, if the forecast holds up.

The's no rain in the forecast until Wednesday, when the chance for showers and thunderstorms will rise to 30 percent.

Beach weather will be a bit cooler, with highs near 80 degrees, but with higher risks for showers and thunderstorms as the front takes longer to clear the area down there.

All in all, not a bad way for teachers (and kids) to ease into the end of summer vacation.

(SUN PHOTO by Kim Hairston/July 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:39 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Small quake jiggles SW Virginia

Virginia quakeA small earth tremor, rated with a magnitude of 2.5, shook portions of southwestern Virginia at about 9:48 a.m. today.

UPDATE: This tremor has been revised upward, to a 2.9

The epicenter (red dot on the map at left)was placed about 2 miles northeast of Nickelsville, which is northwest of Bristol, Tenn. The shake originated with movement about 3 miles below the surface.

Here is a map of recent seismicity in Virginia.

And here is a history of Virginia quakes.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:20 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Earthquakes
        

Tropics get interesting

Atlantic storm 2

Lots of activity in the tropics Friday morning, although nothing, as yet, that qualifies as a tropical storm or even a significant threat to the U.S. mainland.

Topping the list is a strengthening storm system off the Cape Verde Islands (circled in red) in the far eastern tropical Atlantic. This region has been the nursery for many of the major storms that have eventually visited the U.S., so it gets lots of attention from forecasters.

The storm brewing there now is becoming increasingly well-organized, and is given a "high" chance - better-than-50 percent - of becoming a tropical storm in the next two days. Here is the latest on this system.   

Just to the west of that storm are the remnants of Tropical Depression 2, (circled in orange) which we have noted in earlier posts. It has degenerated, but forecasters say there remains some chance it could pull itself together in the coming days. The likelihood of that, however, is put at less than 50 percent.

Last on the list is a tropical wave between the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas that is producing lots of thunderstorms in the region, but shows little sign of getting organized. It is drifting to the west or northwest - toward Florida - but is given less than a 30-percent chance of becoming a tropical storm in the next two days.

Ever visited NASA's hurricane page? Here it is.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 13, 2009

When will we ever learn?

Every time a big hurricane comes ashore and knocks out electric service for a few days or weeks, lots of smart, prepared residents break out (or buy) generators, crank them up and switch their juice back on.

Good for them. The trouble is, every time that happens, a few people place the generators in their basements or their garages. And then someone gets sick or dies from carbon monoxide Sun-Sentinel photo/2008poisoning. 

I've been covering storms for many years, and before every one, public health authorities issue statements and warnings and reminders about this hazard. And every time somebody gets sick or dies.

The same warnings went out before Hurricane Ike struck the Texas Gulf Coast last September. In two languages. And still seven people died, and dozens were treated for CO poisoning, according to a report today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 80 percent of those injuries were attributed to improper residential use of electric generators. Young people and women seem the most vulnerable, according to the CDC study.

A check of Poison Center calls after Ike found 54 storm-related CO exposure cases. The median age of the victims was 24 years. Nearly two-thirds were female. More than 90 percent were exposed in their homes.

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers were used to treat 15 people. Their median age was 49, and eight were women. Seven people were hospitalized. Thirteen were exposed in their homes, and generators were the source in 13 cases.

Among the dead, the median age was 32 years, with ages ranging from 4 to 76 years. Six were male, and six died due to exposure from a generator placed inside the home or garage. All died within four days of Ike's landfall, the study found.

CDC editors noted that 51 people died from CO exposure after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. All but one of those involved generators. Why can't we learn this lesson? 

When hurricanes threaten, everyone worries about high winds and storms surges. And those things do cause a lot of property damage. But when it comes to killing people, it's the freshwater flooding from heavy rains, and CO poisoning, that kill the most people.

The study's findings, the CDC said, "emphasize the need for effective, storm-related prevention messages concerning proper generator use, and underscore the need for ongoing prevention messages regarding the installation and maintenance of battery-powered CO detectors in homes."

(SUN-SENTINEL PHOTO/2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

Bay birds caught on radar

Birds on radar

Steve Zubrick, the science and operations officer at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, sent me a series of radar images shot early Wednesday morning.

They show an odd ring of radar returns (image above) that appears to emerge from the upper Chesapeake, near Pooles Island, and expand across the area.  He thinks it's a flock of birds, rising after dawn and fanning, perhaps Birds on radarto forage for the day. Here's Steve's note:

"For the past several mornings, beginning around 6AM EDT (1000 UTC), our KLWX 88D Doppler radar has shown an expanding ring of higher reflectivity values originating from an apparent point source of the Chesapeake Bay just north of Poole's Island near the mouth of the Bush River.

"I've attached a few images that show this phenomena. It's nothing unusual and happens quite frequently, not only here but in other parts of the country.

"When I've seen these before in this area, they've been mostly originating over land. This appears to originate over water (or marsh?) near the mouth of  the Bush River...or the land areas along eastern Aberdeen Proving Ground.

"Also, the 1021Z images show the reflectivity spike seen by the radar as the sun rises. Interesting."


He may be right. It could be birds. But what kind of birds are massed like that at this time of year? Any watermen or boaters out there who have witnessed anything like this around Poole's Island? What do you think?

UPDATE:  Just received email from Jerome A. Jackson, professor of ecological science at Florida Gulf Coast University. He took a look at the radar images and had this to offer:

"Yes, they are likely birds ... and a good guess would be that they are purple martins. Patterns like this are often produced as purple martins disperse from their communal roosts at this time of year. We are talking about roosts of thousands of martins. It would be very interesting to confirm that they are martins by going to the area shown and watching for them either in the morning as they go out to feed for the day, or in the evening as they return to roost.

"They gather in enormous flocks prior to migrating to the Amazon basin for the winter ... and usually roost near large bodies of water where they then move out to feed on the hordes of insects that are produced in the area."

Thanks to Baltimore Sun photo editor Jerry Jackson, for facilitating the exchange with Dr. Jackson, his dad.

Birds on radar

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:04 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Send rain

So I sit down in The Baltimore Sun's Weather Center (my desk), and the instruments for the outdoor weather station report we had more than a quarter-inch of rain in the last 24 hours. And for the month, we've had 1.1 inches.rain Baltimore

Out at BWI, they've received more than an inch so far this month, including a trace yesterday.

But out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, we've had barely a third of an inch all month, and nothing in the gauge for two weeks. (We call it the rain-repellant Cockeysville Bubble.) So we've been sprinkling to keep the flowers upright and the grass green.

These summer storms sure are spotty. Please send some our way.

(Loyal readers will note that this is me, writing about a weather trend, which is a time-tested, sure-fire way to end it. We should have rain on the WeatherDeck shortly. Will report back.)

(SUN PHOTO/Doug Kapustin/Sept. 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:49 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Forecasts
        

New storm brewing in the Atlantic

Storm brewing 

Looks like TD2 is weakening as it plods westward across the Atlantic. Its winds have sagged to 30 mph and it is headed for some inhospitable conditions. Here is the latest advisory. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

UPDATE: TD2 is defunct, having degraded to the status of "remnant low" as of 5 p.m. Thursday. 

But now the National Hurricane Center seems more interested in a new storm brewing farther east. That's it in the satellite photo above. They give it a 30 to 50 percent chance of developing into the next tropical storm within the next two days.

Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the activity in the Atlantic.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 12, 2009

Atlantic storm just below tropical storm strength

TD-2 

Tropical Depression 2 is continuing to drift westward but it has not quite reached tropical storm strength. Top sustained winds this morning are still clocked at about 35 mph, with higher gusts. But TD2 will have to spin up to 39 mph to earn the first name on the 2009 list - Ana.

The latest advisory says that slow strengthening is possible, and Tropical Storm Ana could take shape anytime in the next day or two. But for now, TD2 remains simply a bad Atlantic storm.

The National Hurricane Center is currently watching three other hotspots in the tropics. One is in the eastern Caribbean, another east of the Lesser Antilles, and a third just coming off the west coast of Africa. None is given much chance of development in the next few days, but together they are an indication that the tropical Atlantic is heating up and popping off more storms. 

Here is the latest forecast storm track on TD2. And here is the view from orbit.

(NOAA PHOTO/TD2 crossing 35 degrees West)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:53 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 11, 2009

Typhoon Morakot swamps Taiwan, mainland China

Typhoon Morakot 

Our hurricane season may be off to an unimpressive start, but the western Pacific is another story. We're not speaking of Hurricane (now tropical depression) Felicia, which is producing enormous waves as it passes through the Hawaiian Islands.

The big story in the Pacific is Typhoon Morakot, which has dropped as much as 83 inches of rain on parts of Taiwan, collapsing buildings and triggering huge mudslides en route to mainland China, where it has caused more death and destruction. Hundreds of people are missing on Taiwan. Here's more.

(AP PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Moon, clouds may dim Perseid meteors tonight

The annual Perseid meteor shower - one of the year's most-watched night-sky events - will be dimmed some by a 72-percent-illuminated moon tonight. When skies are clear, the shower is always worth a few hours of sky-watching on a pleasant summer night. But unfortunately, the forecast tonight is not too promising, either.

Perseid watchThe Perseids occur each summer as the Earth, making its way around the sun on its annual trek, passes through the broad dust trail left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the peak of the shower occurs on the night of Aug. 11-12, the rate at which the dust particles strike the Earth's atmosphere (think of bugs smacking into your windshield) has been rising for weeks, and will take weeks to settle down again to background levels.

Astronomers say we will be slicing through a denser-than-normal patch of the dust trail tonight, with meteor rates as high as 200 per hour possible for short periods of time. But these things are notoriously fickle. Here is a gallery of some of last summer's Perseids.

Given the moonrise at around 10:30 p.m., meteor watchers would be well-advised to get outside to a dark location after sunset. The best time might be between 9 and 11 p.m. After that, we'll have to stand with our backs to the moon and take whatever we can get in the moonlight. The dimmest meteors will be washed out, but bright ones should break through.

The best time to watch, if there were no moon, would normally be in the hours before dawn Wednesday morning. 

All that's needed to spot meteors are a dark location, as far from urban lighting as you can get; a comfortable place to stretch out - a beach lounger, a blanket or sleeping bag - and a broad stretch of sky. Although the meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, in the northeast before midnight, you should be able to spot them anywhere in the sky. Evening hours will be best for catching "Earth-grazers" as they skim across the sky at the top of the atmosphere, like stones skipping across a pond.

If clouds cancel the party, try again any night this week. Rates will be diminished, but a night out under the stars, with whatever meteors occur, is always worthwhile. Jupiter is brilliant in the southeast in late evening; the moon, Mars and Venus rise and follow the giant planet into the sky  by 3 a.m.

(SUN PHOTO/Karl Merton Ferron/August 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:24 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Not so hot today; storm threat continues

Monday's high of 94 degrees at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport tied the previous high for this year so far. We last reached 94 degrees on July 16, according to the NWS record books. But as today's print editions note, it was well short of the record high for an Aug. 10 in Baltimore. That mark is still 100 degrees, set on that date in 1900.

Today's record is also 100 degrees, also set in 1900. But we won't get close to that one, either. The forecast high is "only" 92 degrees, with a 30 percent chance we'll see some thunderstorms in the region again.

That storm threat continues at the 20-30 percent level through Thursday as a cold front drops down from New York state and plants itself here for a few days. The front will bring us a bit of relief from the heat, at least, keeping us out of the 90s for the next week or so. The forecast highs for BWI drop into the mid- to upper-80s by Wednesday, not far from the seasonal norms.

That will come as a relief to anyone working outdoors, as the Ravens were on Monday. But few of us have the benefit of misting fans to cool us off. (SUN PHOTO by Amy Davis)

Baltimore Ravens heat

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:27 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Second tropical depression forms in Atlantic

NOAA 

It's been nearly two-and-a-half months since the season's first tropical depression formed in the Atlantic Ocean on May 28. The first one - TD-1 - faded away without ever becoming a named tropical storm. But the second one - TD-2 (who could have guessed it?) - may have a better shot at becoming Tropical Storm Ana.

Located about 200 miles west of the Cape Verde islands, TD-2 "could" become a named storm within a couple of days as it churns westward across the Atlantic, forecasters say. It poses no immediate risk to any land mass. (That's TD-2 crossing 30-degrees West in the satellite image above.)

Here is the latest advisory. Here is the forecast storm track.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

August 7, 2009

Still waiting for the "A" storm

Hurricane Gustav 2002

All these nice names on the shelf and not a single tropical storm to claim them: Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny and 17 more names for the tropical storms and hurricanes that might pop up in the Atlantic basin this season. And here we are, Aug. 7, and still nothing.

Sure, it's good thing. These storms can wreak terrible damage, kill and maim. But still, it's curious. And the National Hurricane Center says we're not even close to setting a record for the latest-occurring "A" storm.

If you look at all the records dating back to 1851 - before the age of satellite observations - the latest first tropical storm to form took shape on Sept. 15. That was in 1914. The latest first storm to spin to hurricane force was detected on Oct. 8, 1905. They didn't give storms names back then - at least not the way we do today.

If you consider only the years since 1966, when satellite observations became comprehensive - presumably picking up more storms that don't happen to blow past ships at sea or coastal weather stations - the latest first tropical storm to form in the basin was Arlene, which was detected on Aug. 30, 1967. The latest first hurricane was Gustav, which reached hurricane strength on Sept. 11, 2002.

Forecasters say El Nino's likely to blame. The Pacific Ocean phenomenon sets up wind shear patterns in the Atlantic that can cut off hurricane development. (2002 was a "moderate" El Nino year, too. But 1967 was a weak La Nina year.)

So it's quiet. For now.

(NASA PHOTO/Gustav 2002)

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:41 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

August 6, 2009

Half the state now "abnormally dry"

drought monitor 

This week's official Drought Monitor map shows 48 percent of Maryland - from roughly the I-95 corridor south and east - is now experiencing "abnormally" dry conditions. It is the third week in a row that some portion of the state has been dry, following a wet spell that had produced normal moisture conditions statewide since April.

The impact of the current dry weather in Maryland is reported to be primarily agricultural.

The Drought Monitor map is based on a variety of measurements of rainfall, soil moisture, water levels and the health of vegetation.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:32 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers
        

First image from new weather satellite

The new GOES-14 weather satellite launched June 27 has sent back its first picture of the full disk of the Earth. Taken on Monday last week, it shows North and South America, and the entire cloud-spangled western hemisphere.

Once its checkout is complete in December, the satellite will be parked and held in readiness in case one of the three operational GOES weather satellites breaks down or runs out of fuel. The white spot at the center of the picture is the reflection of the sun on the Pacific Ocean off Panama.

The satellite was designed, developed and launched by NASA, the project managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. It will be turned over to NOAA after checkout. It is 22,236 miles above the Earth, in a 24-hour orbit that keeps it over the same spot on the surface. Read more here

 GOES-14 first image

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

NOAA agrees: Expect average hurricane season, or less

Hurricane Katrina 2005 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued its August update on the prospects for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season. Not surprisingly, the feds agree with earlier updates by Colorado State forecasters and others - we can expect at most an average season this year, or perhaps less.

NOAA's forecasters on Thursday revised downward their May predictions, lopping off a couple of named storms, a hurricane and perhaps one major storm. Specifically:

May forecast: 9 to 14 named storms; 4 to 7 hurricanes; 1 to 3 "major" storms of Category 3 or higher.

August forecast: 7 to 10 named storms; 3 to 6 hurricanes; 1-2 major storms.

Average: 11 named storms; 6 hurricanes; 2 major storms.

The reason for backing off the earlier predictions? Once again, it's El Nino.

"El Nino continues to develop and is already affecting upper-level atmospheric pressure and winds across the global tropics," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "El Nino produces stronger upper-level westerly winds over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic Ocean, which help to reduce hurricane activity by blowing away the tops of growing thunderstorm clouds that would normally lead to tropical storms."

But lest we become too relaxed, officials also warn that a calm start, and a relatively quiet season do not mean everyone is safe.

"It takes only one storm to put a community at risk," said FEMA administrator Craig Fugate. "That is why we need to take action and prepare ourselves and our families before the next storm hits."

We have yet to see our first named storm this season. And for now, the tropics remain quiet.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Cool now, hot later

Even the NWS forecasters out at Sterling seemed surprised at how cool today is turning out to be:

"TODAY WILL BE COOLER THAN YESTERDAY WITH THE
CLOUDS/SHOWERS...STRUGGLING TO REACH 80 BELIEVE IT OR NOT IN MANY
PLACES."

Cool summer for fining outIt's only 73 degrees here at Calvert & Centre streets. That's up from a low of 69 degrees at 8 a.m., but cooler than it was for most of the night. Nice day for eating outdoors. (SUN PHOTO by Barbara Haddock Taylor 2004)

The cause is the cold front that swept across the region this morning, and then stalled just to our south. Low pressure riding along the front has produced a few sprinkles here, but it looks like the risk of rain is diminishing as high pressure begins to build in behind the front, drying things out and clearing the skies. Friday should be sunny and seasonable, with a high in the mid-80s.

A high in the mid-70s this afternoon would be remarkable for early August, but not quite a record. The coolest high on an Aug. 6 in Baltimore was 70 degrees, set on this date in 1993. It's 71 out at the airport as I write this, and we hit a high of 74 degrees just after midnight this morning, so there's no chance of a record there, any way you slice it.

The highest daily low maximum for an August day in Baltimore, by the way, was 73 degrees, on Aug. 5, 1954. The lowest was 62 degrees, set on Aug. 26, 1908 and Aug. 31, 1911.

By this weekend, however, we will all have forgotten about this lucky break. Forecasters are looking for highs of 93 degrees at BWI on Sunday, and 95 and sunny on Monday. If so, Monday will rank as the hottest day of this summer so far. We've had just seven days in the 90s this year - three of them in April and four in July. The highest was 94 degrees at BWI on July 16.

Time to switch off the AC again and open the windows for a few days?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

August 5, 2009

NWS reports on Frederick Co. tornadoes

Tornado damage in Ijamsville 

Still catching up on the violent weather that occurred while I was on vacation, including two tornadoes that touched down in Frederick County on Friday, July 31.

Investigators from the National Weather Service found evidence of two separate tornadoes in the Ijamsville area. Both were rated EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with top winds of 100 to 110 mph. They damaged hundreds of trees, lifted the roofs off several houses and destroyed a number of metal barns (photo).

One of the twisters swirled across the area for 2.5 miles, with a maximum width of 125 yards. The second was on the ground for the same distance, widening to as much as 350 yards.

Here is the preliminary report from the NWS forecast office at Sterling, Va.

(AP PHOTO/Frederick News-Post)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

Eagle shares brunch with vultures

Eagle dines on Dundee deer 

Let's see ... How can I make this weather-related? Okay, the sun was shining near Dundee Creek on Saturday and the table was set. So this adult bald eagle decided it would be a fine morning to share an alfresco brunch with two turkey vultures.

The menu included just one item - a dead deer they'd all spotted in an open field, about 150 feet off Graces Quarters Road.

Melanie Cellini was on her way to to Dundee Marina when she saw the trio. 

"I stopped the car, brought the passenger window down just far enough so my dog couldn't jump out, and zoomed in with my camera. "I've lived in the Bay Country development for 20 years and other than occasionally seeing an eagle in the air, I've never experienced what I did that morning."

Ms. Cellini mistakenly assumed the smaller birds were fledgling eagles. But closer inspection of her photos shows they're vultures. The red on their faces identifies them as turkey vultures, I'm told.

"The mother was standing on the deer while the fledglings ate. When we came back home about two hours later, the mother was gone, but the two fledglings were still there. Later that evening, all of them had left and, unfortunately, have not returned to that location."

Ms. Cellini believes the eagle may be one of the pair that were removed from an aerie near Martin Airport last winter after being judged a potential hazard to flight operations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reported that those eagles nested again this spring, a short distance away, and are raising a new family. 

In any event, the picture reveals our national symbol as he is - not always the romantic hunter, soaring high and snatching fish from blue waters. He is also a carrion eater, picking lunch from rotting carcasses. That may be why Ben Franklin preferred the wild turkey for our national emblem.  

(PHOTO by Melanie Cellini/ Used with permission)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

August 4, 2009

More video of July 6 meteor surfaces

Another sequence of what appears to be the July 6 "Mason Dixon meteor" has turned up on YouTube, and it has meteorite hunters jazzed up. It was shot from a site near Pittsburgh. Meteorite hunters may be able to use the new images, with others that have surfaced, to help pinpoint the location of any space rocks that made it to the ground. Here's a comment from Rob Matson, posted to the meteorobs.org listserve:

"This is indeed the Pennsylvania bolide! This is definitely going to help improve the impact point prediction as the quality of the video is superb compared to the York Water video.

"The reason I know this is the same Pennsylvania bolide is that the trajectory is very close to agreeing with what my existing 3D solution looks like when you view it from Pittsburgh. Right down to the location of Jupiter (the bright object on the right side of the image).

"I'd really like to have the source video at full resolution so that I could do a detailed astrometric solution for the bolide position with time.

 

"Thanks to Jupiter and the star, we know exactly which way the camera was pointed, and the image scale. The question is whether someone can find out the camera location to reasonable accuracy. - Rob"

Here's more on the new video, this time from Mike Hankey, the amateur astronomer in Freeland, who captured a still image of the meteor as it fell. He was posting to the meteorobs.org list serve, too. (Mike's caught the meteorite-hunting bug, too, and describes his exploits on his Web site: http://www.mikesastrophotos.com/ 

"If this is legit this is great news! I found another video last saturday from the safe harbor dam, but this is yet another one.

"If this is authentic that makes 3 videos: York Water Company, Safe Harbor Power Corp and this Pittsburgh one, plus the original picture I took. That should be enough to get a good read on this thing right? ...

"I've been working on a refined trajectory & field map since Tuesday, but still have some more work to do on it before I publish it...

"I was working with a very nice map that was given to me from a reputable source, but this source told me after reviewing the new safe harbor video that his initial terminus point was off by 20km based on his analysis of the safe harbor video. I would imagine this new video should refine that point even more.

"I'm going to have to study this video a lot more. I'm very curious at this point...

"Slightly NE of Pittsburgh does line up with york and safe harbor, but everything I've have heard up to this point puts this on a SW / NE direction. With this new video it would seem the path is NW / SE. That also conflicts with some ground reports I've gotten. I talked to some Amish that were very close to the crash when it happened. So close they felt they had to duck. That position was NE of quarryville.

"I also got this tip from one of my friends/ blog readers:

"'FYI: In the Aegis (our local Hartford County paper), yesterday? Someone found a piece of the Meteor in Whiteford MD. Wouldn?t give specific location but Whiteford, is about 2 miles from Travis and I. He said he found it in a wooded area which significantly limits his search possibilities. He didn?t say whether it was private land or public. (not much public land there).  Have the article if you?re interested.'"

"If its true I suppose that would support a NW/SE direction.

"This is the first time I've ever tried to map out a meteor path so I don't really know ... but I try really hard. - Mike" 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:38 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Colo. State team revises hurricane forecast

With August underway we can expect more revisions in the season's hurricane forecasts from the nation's most visible tropical forecast teams.

Hurricane Isabel in BaltimoreThe Colorado State University team of Phil Klotzbach and William Gray today issued their August revisions, slightly lowering their expectations for the 2009 Atlantic season because of continued intensification of the El Nino conditions in the tropical Pacific.

The federal government's NOAA forecasters will issue their August revisions on Thursday. AccuWeather.com has already chimed in with a predictions for a below-average season.

Klotzbach and Gray said today they're now expecting a below-average season, with 10 named storms, down from the 11 in their June forecast. There have been none so far. Four of the storms will become hurricanes (down from five), and two of those will reach "major" (Category 3 or higher) strength (no change), they said.

The long-term averages are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major storms per season.

CSU's dynamic duo cite the continuing development of warm El Nino conditions in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean as a contributing factor in their latest forecast. El Ninos tend to increase wind shear in the Atlantic, cutting off storm development.

While sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic have increased some since June, and surface air pressures have fallen - normally things that would increase hurricane formation - the impact of El Nino will be enough to overwhelm those Atlantic factors and suppress storm formation, they said.

The chances of an East Coast landfall, they said, are 46 percent, compared with a half-century average of 52 percent. The chances that a major hurricane will come ashore on the East Coast is 27 percent, compared with 31 percent over the last half-century.

For the record, the National Hurricane Center is currently watching a stormy area far out in the tropical Atlantic, but there are no signs of quick storm development.

(SUN PHOTO/Amy Davis/ Downtown Baltimore during Isabel in 2003)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:13 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

It's hawt!

NASA 

"It's HAWT!" That was my nephew Peter's keen observation around this time of year when the family toured the Gettysburg battlefield years ago. Variations on the theme included, "I'm hawt!," and "Can we go now?" Now he works outdoors all summer running heavy construction equipment. Go figure. 

The average temperatures by early August may have begun to decline from the summer's peak of around 88 degrees, and we can usually expect a nice, cool break by sometime later in the month. 

But that's the average. August can and usually does produce some really hot weather. And Baltimore may be facing the hottest stretch of this unusually cool summer as this week unfolds.

Forecasters out at Sterling are calling for highs around 90 degrees nearly all week, with only the briefest of breaks on Friday.

Look for a high near 90 degrees today as high pressure dominates, with plenty of hot sunshine. Some high clouds may move in later on, followed by some fair-weather cumulus by afternoon. But on the whole it will be a sunny day with few prospects for showers on this side of the mountains.

The next "cold" front approaches from the west late on Wednesday, passing through Baltimore by the evening and providing some relief from 90-plus temperatures as thunderstorms cool things off a bit. The front will stall to our south, keeping highs Thursday and Friday in the more seasonable mid- to upper 80s.

The weekend looks just plain hot as winds turn to the south again and sunshine drives temperatures back into the 90s. Sterling is calling them "possibly the warmest temperatures of the season." Rain prospects look slight.

In short, our unexpectedly "cool" summer appears to be taking a breather, while a more typical Chesapeake pattern of hot and humid gets the upper hand.

You knew it had to happen.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

August 3, 2009

So, did I miss anything?

 Storm in Hampden July 26, 2009

Just back from vacation, and I'm looking over the weather data for the last two weeks in Baltimore. It would seem that my record for altering the weather is intact. Let me explain...

On March 28 I wrote an article for The Sun about the drought conditions that had just been declared across much of the state in the wake of a dry autumn and winter. And almost immediately it began to rain. April, May and the first three weeks of July produce prodigious amounts of surplus rain. Lawns flourish.

So, on June 18, I write a story about all the wet weather, and the mosquitoes and the impact on crops and farms. And almost immediately the rain stops. From then until July 21 or so, barely a half-inch falls. My lawn withers.

On July 17, I write a story about how the dry weather had caused water use in the region to soar, complicating the city's efforts to keep water customers in northwest city and county neighborhoods supplied while utility crews rushed to complete some water main repairs. Water use restrictions are imposed. Two days later I leave on vacation and ... the heavens open up, dropping almost enough rain to bring the July total to normal.

And the return of the rains appears to have been pretty spectacular at times, witness the photos (above and below) of the Sunday, July 26 storms, sent to me from Hampden by William Amp B. Stifler.

There were no tornadoes during that event, but on Friday, July 31, an EF1 tornado touched down during a storm in Frederick County. Here's more on that one.  

Sorry I missed all the excitement.

Greg Hill wrote to me from Owings Mills about the July 26 storm: "The storm rolled through, and it seemed to be lightening up a little, and all of a sudden we had a big stroke of lightning over us, and the rain really started coming down.

"The wind picked back up, and then started swirling very hard around the house. Then it started hailing ... It lasted about four or five minutes. There are branches down all over the neighborhood, and pretty heavy lawn furniture that has been up-ended. For a couple of minutes, I couldn't see across the yard, it was blowing and raining so hard."

Take-home message: If Roylance writes about a weather trend, hold onto your hat, because it is about to end in a big way. I am already planning an early-winter story about the dearth of snow in Baltimore in recent winters. Hah!

Storm Hampden July 26, 2009

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:22 PM | | Comments (3)
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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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