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February 25, 2010

Fizzle and bust

That tearing sound you hear is the sound of forecasters' watches and warnings being rent asunder. Mother Nature has used one of the more complex and unusual winter storms in memory to humble the meteorologists and their high-speed computers. It is a pitiless science.

Although the storm is still getting cranked up this (Thursday) morning, and light snow was falling early this morning on the Eastern Shore, Central Maryland has obviously escaped the 1 to 3 inches meteorologists had expected to fall overnight. Temperatures were too mild, and the storm dragged too much dry air into the region to allow much to fall.

Snow map from FootsForecast.orgThere was some snow at BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport, and it arrived pretty much on schedule in the wee hours after a few hours of light rain. But it never amounted to anything.

Forecasters cancelled their Winter Weather Advisories for much of the region, although they left the Winter Storm Watch up across Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties - including the city. That's in anticipation of the storm's third act, which could pull cold air and snow out of the northwest as the big low loiters over New York late today and tomorrow.

UPDATE: Those Winter Storm Watches have been downgraded to Winter Weather Advisories, with just 1 to 2 inches of snow likely late today, and perhaps the same amount again overnight. And Anne Arundel County has been added to the advisory zone.

But forecasters out in Sterling don't sound real certain about any of this. (Edits are mine, for clarity):

"METRO BALTIMORE NEAREST CENTERPOINT [OF THE STORM]...AND STANDS BEST CHANCE AT
RECEIVING ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL. MAIN QUESTION THEN BECOMES WHAT TO DO WITH THE
WINTER STORM WATCH CURRENTLY POSTED ACROSS NORTHEAST MD.

"[PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS] WILL BE THE PRIMARY FACTOR. UNFORTUNATELY...DUE TO THE COMPLEXITY OF THE SITUATION...DONT HAVE BEST COMFORT THAT [COMPUTER] GUIDANCE [IS]  ADDRESSING THE NUANCES...ESPECIALLY IN REGARDS TO THE RETROGRADING SURFACE LOW [THE MOVEMENT OF THE STORM'S CENTER].

"SO DONT REALLY WISH TO GO WITH DETERMINISTIC QFP [A DEFINITIVE PREDICTION ONOAAN PRECIPITATION]. ... SATURATION IN SNOW GROWTH REGION NOT ALL THAT STELLAR... [SNOW] TOTALS WILL END UP BELOW WARNING [5 INCHES] ...BUT IT COULD BE VERY CLOSE. GIVEN THESE UNCERTAINTIES... WILL LEAVE WATCH STAND THIS CYCLE."

Eric the Red, a professional meteorologist in Baltimore, bailed on the snow forecast late Wednesday evening:

"It is fizzlin' big time. Obviously, snow won't stick when it's 40 degrees. That was courtesy of late-arriving clouds and a strong late-February sun. Next up, the coastal low is gonna stay offshore, so we'll miss the big snow. Finally, the low will travel farther north before getting stopped and turned around by the block, so our wrap-around snow for Thurs night will be less.  As luck would have it, we probably won't miss out on the winds.  Oh joy.

"At this point, maybe an inch or two in northern MD.  For everyone else... nada.  I'm guessing folks won't be too disappointed.  I should point out that we have at least one of these 'It's coming!  Oh, Nevermind...' storms a year, and this is the one for 2009-10."

The student forecasters at FootsForecast.org have a very informative spread on all this on their site this morning, including the serious winds still predicted for the region late today and tomorrow. Their snow map (above) shows us in a kind of protective bubble.

This is still a very big, very powerful storm. We just get to sit on the sidelines for most of it this time and watch others cope.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:48 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Comments

We had a little over an inch of wet snow here in extreme northern Carroll County - sticking to the cars, deck, trees, etc. but melting on the drive and roads.

39F and partly sunny as I type this at 9:52. Hopefully the winds will be less than forecast as well, I'd like to avoid losing power.

So this means winter is over, right? No more snow storms, or icy days right?

It's nice to get less snowfall than expected. That's kind of a change for this winter. And it beats expecting to see 1-3 inches and walking out the front door and finding 6 inches...been there and done that already this season.
Those winds are going to be a problem though. With the the ground so saturated I'd bet we'll see some more downed trees and power outages.

FR: They are preparing for that. On the other hand, plenty of wind may help rid of us the remaining snow cover. My Saturday, Feb. 6 copy of The Sun emerged from the glacier on my front lawn this morning. Kudos to the delivery guy. I take back everything I said that morning.

Isn't that Carroll, Baltimore and HARFORD Counties?

FR: Ooops. My bad. Fixed.

small pickens, but its Harford that still has a watch from the NWS, not Howard Co.

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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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