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December 19, 2009

Snow tops two feet in Va., one foot in Md.

Snow accumulations across the region were moving toward record territory just before noon on Saturday. Some locations in Virginia had reached two feet, which 12-inch counts were posted for parts of Maryland.

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.: Looks like the Blizzard Warnings have been lifted across the region. We remain under a Winter Storm Warning, in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday, with total accumulations of 12 to 18 inches expected.

UPDATE 8 p.m.:  BWI staffers have remeasured their snowfall for this storm. It now comes to 16 inches, making this the deepest December snowfall on record for Baltimore, going back to the start of official record-keeping in 1883.

At BWI, the station of record for Baltimore, the measurement was 9 inches at 11 a.m. And the storm, forecasters said, was just starting to intensify as the low approached the Virginia coast.

Here are some samples from the accumulation reports posted by the National Weather Service.WeatherDeck snow 3:30 p.m.

Fishersville, Augusta Co., Va.:  24.5 inches 

Covesville, Albemarle County, Va.:  22.3 inches

Huntingtown, Calvert Co., Md.: 12 inches

Taneytown, Carroll Co.:  12 inches

Owings Mills, Baltimore Co., Md.:  11.5 inches

Annapolis, Anne Arundel Co.:  10.5 inches

Garrison, Baltimore Co.:  9.9 inches

WeatherDeck, Cockeysville: 9 inches

Jacksonville, Baltimore Co.:  7.0 inches

Baltimore City:  7.5 inches

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: The snow on the WeatherDeck (photo) has now topped 14 inches. 

The snow has turned to heavy rain down at Ocean City, where residents are under a Coastal Flood Warning, a Hazardous Weather Outlook, a Winter Weather Advisory and a High Surf Advisory. The rain will change back to snow before ending, forecasters said.

Corine Schramke sent us this photo. She said: 

"Here is my 18 in ruler, about to disappear into the snow on the table
on my deck.  4:30 pm, Ellicott City

Ellicott City, Md. Dec. 19, 2009


Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:05 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Winter weather


We've got over a foot here in Owings Mills, and it's pretty much a white out.

I'm not seeing the low develop off of the coast and pushing moisture back over MD, though. Is it too soon to tell? It sure looks like this is going to wrap up in a few hours, rather than sometime tonight.

FR: The folks at Sterling assured me this storm is still intensifying, and sending snow bands ashore. It will begin to taper off this evening as the low moves north of our latitude. But the barometer is still falling and we still have quite a bit of snow yet to come. That east-west orientation on the radar will change to more north-south as the low moves north, but it won't go away until tonight.

Unofficially, Washington National has broken the December daily record as of 1 pm.

How can snowfall be accurately measured when it seems to compact down as more inches land on top?

FR: It's as much art as science, but the NWS requires that the snow board (where the snow being measured accumulates) be wiped clear every six hours. That reduces the amount of compaction in the measurements. There is still some, especially with wet snow. But it's a compromise between letting it all pile up, and wiping the slate clear at shorter intervals, which would make the totals artificially high.

Where's your Global Warming now, Mr. Gore?


FR: Thanks.

It must be exhausting for these people to constantly have to make ideological and political points. I can only imagine how tiresome they must be to their friends and families.

Give it a rest and lighten up and enjoy the snow day!

I live in Cecil Co. were over 2 ft.

Is BWI open? is it expected to be open for landings tomorrow (Sunday) morning? I am flying overnight tonight through ORD from PDX to BWI. So far I have not heard anything from my airline (United) but if BWI is going to be closed maybe I should start thinking about waiting a day.

Amy, you are no better by responding, sound like a Gorian to me.

The 6 pm report from BWI appears to break the December single storm record and put it in the top 10 of all time.

I'm beyond being able to measure depth. The snow is being blown around so much that it's impossible to tell reality. Some parts of our lawn are still showing, while other areas have 3+ feet piled up. The driveway seems to be the most consistent. Looks to be about 18". But I have no way to really know for sure.

And my snowblower won't start. Argh! Completely forgot to take it in and get it tuned last month.

According to Tom Friedman ("Hot Flat and Crowded") the first stages of global warming will actually be "global weirding" - pre-existing patterns of weather and climate will begin to change in unpredictable ways.

Besides, I've been in Baltimore for ten years, and the pattern (except for the grand blizzard of 2002) seems to be snow and cold in December, then the traditional January thaw, and then more thaw, with winter pretty much not returning. People I know who lived in Balto thirty or forth years ago say this was not the case back then. It really has gotten warmer if you take the whole winter into account.

Believe it, Al Gore is right.

Believe it, Al Gore is right.

Please. You're going to use 10 years of anecdotal (and inaccurate, to boot) data to claim that some perceived changes in temperature are catastrophic and never-before-seen? C'mon.

Glaciers are melting all over the world. Antarctica is thawing out. The North Polar ice cap is almost gone.

It doesn't matter whether it snows in Baltimore or Houston or anywhere else in some freakish way. Those are side shows. Anyone who lives in the reality-based community can see the changes.

Ice is a highly efficient reflector of solar energy. Water is among the least efficient reflectors. As water replaces ice on the earth's surface, the warming process accelerates until at some point in the foreseeable future we reach the point of no return.

Denial doesn't make it not true.

15 inches in Manchester and light snow now.

if the evidence is so clear, then why did the scientists feel the need to manipulate the data?

Denial doesn't make it not true.

First off--I'm not a "denier". Scurrilous labels weaken your argument.

Second: using questionable facts to bolster your argument weaken it further.

1) Somewhere around 80% of all glaciers are increasing in size, not shrinking. And for many of the ones that are shrinking (Kilimanjaro, for example), there are multiple possible causes. Deforestation below the tree line, just to name one, will change the moisture content of the winds blowing over the glaciers. Lowering the moisture will increase the evaporation rate of the glaciers.

2) The study that came out on the Antarctic last winter that claimed "unprecedented warming" was horribly flawed in the math it used. That's not to say that it's not thawing out, but the current "evidence" ... isn't.

3) The polar icecap has been increasing in size over the last couple of years, not shrinking. And the methods for measuring the thickness of the ice has come under question. We still don't have a good sense for how one-, two-, and three+ year ice formations are holding up, and what percentage of the icecap they constitute. Which is very important to the overall understanding we're trying to achieve.

Again, anecdotal, short-term, highly unreliable data is not something to base world-changing economic policies on.

- We've been measuring temperature, with any kind of accuracy, for less than 200 years. The methods for measuring older temperatures, by proxy, are extremely problematic, and subject to manipulation, as seen by the Climategate emails, data, and programming code (I've a Masters in CS. I know code. I know bad code. Trust me. The code out of the CRU is horrifying).

- The hollering about the "disappearing" polar icecap is just silly. We have written records (biographies, histories, journals, etc.) of previous journeys by ships through currently ice-locked passages from previous centuries. The fluctuations of the icecap size is nothing new. And there is plenty of evidence that undersea volcanic activity and changing ocean currents have a much, much stronger influence on the cap than "global warming".

- All of the models predicting catastrophic global warming over the next century suffer from what I consider to be an enormously fatal flaw: we have no way to model clouds or solar radiation. Water vapor is the single largest GHG in the atmosphere. By a huge margin. And solar radiation.... Heh. I'm sorry. But there aren't any words to describe my incredulity at the fact that we are trusting scientists to come up with accurate computer models when they have no way of modeling solar radiation input. The mind boggles.

I say all this to make the following point: the appropriate position regarding scientific matters is ... Skepticism! One doesn't take a scientific position, claim it is now others' job to "prove it wrong", all the while hiding the data and processes (in this case the code) used to generate the results upon which the claims are based. The scientific process is one of open inquiry. If you present something new to me, it is completely appropriate (even demanded) of me to be skeptical and ask you to prove it. It is my job to try to punch holes in it, and force you to either strengthen weak positions, or to change your claims. It is my job make you work to prove your point. If you can't, then you need to retract your claims. And if I don't have access to your data and "code", then I have no way of verifying or questioning your claims.

That is not what has happened in the AGW arena. Rather, claims have been made, and when counter-claims are presented, the counters are dismissed, falsely addressed, or ignored. Sometimes, in fact, the counter-arguments are wrong. But many times, the refutations of the AGW arguments have had merit. But rather than embracing the skepticism as appropriate, it has been turned into a name-calling fest. Character assassination, data fudging ("hide the decline" anyone?), weak models, gaming the peer-review process--these have become the tools of the trade in this ongoing battle.

I'm not a denier. I'm a skeptic. Proudly. I've seen too many problems with the AGW claims to accept them whole-hog. If, in fact, stronger evidence were to be presented to support the AGW position, I would be open to those arguments. And, if the proof appeared to be solid, I would be more accepting. But right now, I take the same view of AGW as I do of String Theory--nothing's been proven, so I shrug my shoulders and enjoy the pretty pictures.

I paraphrase Einstein: "100 people proving me right means nothing. 1 person proving me wrong means everything." Science isn't consensus. Science is absolute.

Sorry for the rant. But I get really irritated when an appropriately skeptical position is disparaged. Name calling is inappropriate, and signifies weakness.

To the global warming discussion:

"Deniers" generally don't deny that things haven't or won't change - but rather, that mankind has little or nothing to do with it.

What I want to know is why the Algoreistas won't even comment on the fact that the data in the hacked emails was FABRICATED!!

At least address it, please.

Oh, and there has been evidence that Antarctica's ice sheet is growing.

The data was not fabricated. That was never even the allegation. They were discussing data manipulation. But keep in mind that "they" were a group of 3-6 people, not the worldwide scientific community which has a consensus on climatology.

Also, Antarctica's ice sheet is growing. It's grown by 2%. The northern ice cap has shrunk by 40%. The global ice coverage has an overwhelming net loss, despite the modest gain in Antarctica.

Why is it the same people saying we can't use the northern ice cap as a bellwether want to use Antarctica as a bellwether & ignore the rest of the world's ice? It's melting, folks. Just like Alaska's permafrost.

Did someone say something about global warming being a myth because we just go a snowstorm? In related news, the recession never really happened because my friend got a raise at his job.

FR: Thanks. Here's some recommended reading for anyone who is truly interested in the topic.

MotownMatt - are you REALLY trying to say that "manipulation" isn't effectively fabrication?

Either way, it's FALSE.

The (very skeptical and usually anti-"Gore") climate experts in Huntsville Alabama have just announced that, globally, January 2010 was the warmest on record. Individual storms don't mean anything.
Whether the warming is caused by human activity is much less certain.
The fact that a small group of scientists were crooked doesn't mean much either - they covered up a tiny percent of a tiny percent of relevant data because they wanted to play political games; it doesn't change all the rest. It's like trying to claim Piltdown Man means all biology and anthropology is wrong.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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