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January 25, 2010

Storm packs plenty of wind; snow next

The cold front approaching the region from the west this morning brought plenty of rain, although perhaps not as much as forecasters had warned about. A few places, including Thurmont, reported in excess of the 2 inches advertised over the weekend as a regional average. But most of the heftiest rain reports this morning were between an inch and two inches, with many locations reporting less than an inch.

But while area streams are pretty nearly at the brim, the bigger problems seem to be the high winds. Combined with saturated soils, the gusts to 40 mph  in spots brought down plenty of trees, limbs and utility wires. More than 70,000 BGE customers were in the dark at some point this morning, and many commuters had to dodge the downed trees and wires.High winds whip flag The utility said it expects to have most service restored by Tuesday evening.

There are lots of watches and warnings on the board this morning:

UPDATE: Flood warnings are up this afternoon for parts of Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties as streams there spill out of their banks. There have been road closures. Do not drive tthrough standing or flowing water. For more, click here.

Got flooding photos? Send them along in an email and I'll post the best.

The strong southwest winds are driving water up the Chesapeake, and its rivers and creeks, as well as the coastal bays. Coastal Flood Warnings were posted until 6 p.m. Monday from Harford to St. Mary's counties. High tides could exceed two to three feet above normal levels along the Western Shore. High tide at Baltimore today is at 2:10 p.m.. It's at 12:40 p.m. in Annapolis.

There is a Wind Advisory posted across the region until 1 p.m., with winds in excess of 45 mph expected. That could bring down more trees and wires, and make driving difficult. 

Flash Flood Watches are in effect until 1 p.m. across the region, too, as more moderate to heavy rain threatens to push rivers and streams over their banks. Urban flooding is also possible. Turn Around. Don't Drown.

Here are some rain totals from CoCoRaHS this morning:Sinkhole swallows car near Lynchburg, Va.

Thurmont:  2.3 inches

Towson:  1.58 inches

Jarrettsville:  1.47 inches

Cockeysville:  1.25 inches

Ellicott City:  0.77 inch

Columbia:  0.69 inch

Severa Park:  0.68 inch

Taneytown:  0.61 inch

La Plata:  0.48 inch

(The photo at right by Leonard Harville shows a minivan that was driven into a sinkhole near rain-soaked Lynchburg, Va. The driver was trapped for a time, but survived with non-life-threatening injuries.)

Temperatures at BWI-Marshall hovered - actually, they climbed all night - in the 50s. Forecasters said they could top 60 degrees before the front passes and the mercury heads down again late today. And that will set us up for some snow this weekend.

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance/Jan. 25, 2010)

Actually, the western mountains could see upslope snow showers Monday evening, with an inch or two accumulating. 

Here in the lowlands, Tuesday and Wednesday will see some sunshine return, but the daytime highs will return to seasonable norms - in the mid-40s. A reinforcing cold front arrives Thursday, sending thermometers even lower for the weekend, with highs only in the low 30s.

That sets us up for some kind of snow risk over the weekend. Forecasters see a storm brewing in Texas that could gather up some Gulf moisture and track to our south and east. The forecast for now is for a 30 percent chance of snow on Friday, with highs near 34 degrees.

The snow chance rises to 40 percent on Friday night and back to 30 percent Saturday. The low Saturday night will sink into the teens, forecasters said.

UPDATE: Henry Margusity, the "MeteoMadness" blogger at, looks at forecast models he says are "in line" and says in his video post today: "Baltimore, Washington, you could pick up a foot of snow out of this snowstorm. Not a 20-inch snowstorm but probably a good 8 to 10 inches, maybe a foot of snow." Then again, I can't recall Henry ever playing down an impending snowstorm.

Mr. Foot is predicting a foot of snow, too: "Those in school systems across Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania need to closely monitor this storm, as the onset time of mid-morning to noon Friday may cause considerable problems with regard to early dismissals."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:37 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Forecasts


AccuWeather pretty bullish already six days out...

FR: That will surprise no one.

Good to hear. I always suspected Accuweather was the NY Post of weather forecasting.

Hopefully we can get some significant snow during the week for a change.

Coming from a snow-lover who's in charge of coordinating the snow removal for 9 industrial warehouses in the area, I'd like to keep the storms coming on the weekend. That way I get to enjoy it without worrying about slip-and-fall accidents in my parking lots! :)

The reason weather geeks are worked up is that all the major long range forecast models are calling for a Gulf of Mexico low to ride the southern jet toward the NC coast , meanwhile cold Canadian air, ushered in by a cold front on Thursday, remains locked in at the surface.

It is unusual to see the GFS, UKMET, ECMET and Canadian forecast models line up together this far out in calling for a significant snowstorm.

Cold high pressure is forecast to be entrenched to our north and west, with another ridge of high pressure over the Western Atlantic, the Gulf of Mex low will likely ride the frontal boundry forecast to be near the NC/VA border late Friday into Saturday between these high pressure ridges on a strong southern jet streak.

The GFS model (NOAA's 384hr global forecast model) for the last three runs has been showing Baltimore receiving about 0.75" of liquid with an inch or more over DC/ N. VA/ S MD from this system. Snow to liquid ratios should be somewhere between 10-12" snow /inch of liquid based on 850mb temps.

That is where the talk about 8-12" of snow is coming from.

The precip gradient is forecast to be tight so a change in track of 50miles could have a big effect on snow totals.

A broad area of overrunning snow ahead of the surface low should at least give us some accumulating snow. If the storm gets cranking on the NC coast and doesn't drift further east than currently forecast, we could very well see 6-"12".

The timing on this is amazing, to be sure. The storm in December knocked out one round of the preliminary trials for the state-wide Lego robotics competition. There were several venues scheduled on the 19th that were shut down. They had to be rescheduled, and his school's team just participated (and took first place!) a couple of weekends ago.

The state finals are this Saturday. If the more extreme forecasts hold true (and Foote's not being shy about it, at the moment), then they'll be cancelled for sure.

Just too weird, timing-wise. Just ... weird.

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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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