All those long, cold, soggy days of drizzle, rain, wet leaves and the smell of long-idled furnaces switching on are behind us, at last. Forecasters out at Sterling are making amends this week with sunny skies forecast right through Thursday, and highs topping 70 degrees by Wednesday.
Now that's the sort of October we've come to expect in Maryland.
Still, the last five days (Oct. 14-18) are worth a glance backward as we sort out the records and near-records. I'll try to get it right this time.
COLD: Temperatures during this five-day period averaged 10.6 degrees below the long-term averages for these dates in Baltimore.
The official highs at BWI were:
Weds. Oct. 14: 50 degrees. Eighteen degrees below the average high for the date. That also matched the record-low maximum for the date, set in 1874.
Thurs. Oct. 15: 48 degrees. Nineteen degrees below average. A new record-low maximum for the date, breaking the previous record of 50 degrees for the date, set in 1876.
Friday, Oct. 16: 43 degrees. Twenty-four degrees below average. A new record-low maximum for the date, breaking the previous record of 52 degrees, set in 1940.
Saturday, Oct. 17: 45 degrees. Twenty-one degrees below average. A new record-low maximum for the date, breaking the previous record of 53 degrees, last matched in 1991.
Sunday, Oct. 18: 52 degrees. Fourteen degrees below average. This one fell short of the record-low maximum, set in 1972, by just 1 degree.
Bottom Line: Four consecutive days of matched or broken record-low maximums, the second-longest such streak since record-keeping began in 1871. Three consecutive October days with high temperatures falling short of 50 degrees. That matched the previous record, set in 1893 and matched in 1925 and 2002. But this was the earliest of the four. The rest all began on Oct. 29.
Now the precipitation:
The airport recorded 3.19 inches of rain from Wednesday through Sunday. That brought the month's total to date to 3.31 inches. Some locations in Maryland saw more. The heaviest rains fell on Saturday, with nearly 1.5 inches at the airport.
The season's first snow was reported in the Baltimore and Washington suburbs Saturday into Sunday, with a half-inch in Shrewsbury, Pa., and enough snow in the still-leafy trees to cause considerable tree damage in some locations as near to downtown as Sparks, in northern Baltimore County. We had this report today from "Patty," in Sparks:
"3 am, Sparks, Maryland, dog starts barking and we look around the house can't find what he is barking at.
"We get back into bed and I ask if there is hunting at night because I hear gunshots, not unusual in the area. I found out hunting is not allowed at night, I get up look out the window it is SNOWING! Cars are covered, ground covered, tree covered and bushes are covered. We could hear limbs snapping off the trees, and trees falling down. Incredible!"
The photo of snow and tree damage above was taken around 10:30 a.m. Sunday on Hunting Tweed Drive, in Owings Mills, by Gregory Hill. Used with permission.
No snow was reported at the airport, the official station for Baltimore. In any case it wouldn't have set a record. The earliest snow for Baltimore fell on Oct. 9, 1903 (a trace) and Oct. 10, 1979 (0.3 inch).
So, now what?
Forecaster are calling for daytime highs to rise through the 50s today (Monday) and the 60s tomorrow, reaching the low- to mid-70s on Wednesday and Thursday as high pressure builds into the region and parks here for most of the week. Then the next cold front and showers arrive. (Those may include moisture from Hurricane Rick, now bearing down on Baja California.)
Until then, bright sunshine and south and westerly winds will warm us up quite nicely during the day. Skies will be favorable at night for most of the week for watching the Orionid meteor shower, between midnight and dawn.
Nighttime - especially tonight - is another story. Temperatures tonight are expected to "plummet," forecasters said, as clear skies allow any daytime heating to radiate back into space. "It is certain that frost/freeze products will need to be issued," they said in this morning's forecast discussion. The forecast low for the airport Tuesday morning is 40 degrees, but the usually colder suburbs and rural areas will go much lower.
We had a low of 31 out on the WeatherDeck this morning, and we had to do some serious windshield scraping before we could head off for work. The airport low was 35 degrees, just 5 degrees warmer than the record low for the day, set in 1976.
(Top: SUN PHOTO/Amy Davis, 2005; Bottom: NOAA photo)