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. 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:
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 AccuWeather.com, 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."