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February 19, 2010

Monday storm looking more like a rainy mix

The chances that Marylanders will be dealing with snow on Monday seem to be melting away this morning. But predictions that the storm center will pass to our north and west and bring us a "wintry mix" and rain instead of snow may not be all that comforting. Rain on top of whatever remains of this snow pack by Monday could cause us new headaches, as the risks of flash and urban flooding rise.

Winter rain in BaltimoreThe National Weather Service has increased the probability of precipitation on Monday and Monday night to 60 percent.

For Baltimore, forecasters out at Sterling say the event should begin with a 30 percent chance for some snow after 1 a.m. Monday. That shifts to a 60 percent chance of rain and snow before noon Monday, changing again to all rain in the afternoon and evening as temperatures rise close to 40 degrees.

Here's a bit of this morning's forecast discussion from Sterling:

"00Z GFS/EURO OPERATIONAL GUIDANCE [COMPUTER MODELS] NOW IN AGREEMENT ON THE UPPER WAVE TAKING THE SURFACE LOW UP THE OHIO VALLEY MONDAY...KEEPING THE SOUTHERN MID ATLANTIC IN THE WARM SECTOR THROUGH THE STORM PASSAGE.

"AS FOR PRECIPITATION-TYPE...SURFACE LOW DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE COLD FRONTAL ZONE
OVER NORTH CAROLINA/SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA LOOKS TO SET UP A [COLD AIR] WEDGE ACROSS NORTHERN VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND MONDAY AND MONDAY NIGHT. WHILE THE MAJORITY OF THE PRECIP LOOKS TO BE RAIN...THE LOW LEVEL AIR MAY BE COLD ENOUGH TO SUPPORT A WINTRY
MIX...PARTICULARLY ACROSS NORTHERN SECTIONS OF THE [FORECAST AREA] THROUGH THE EVENT."

Here's AccuWeather.com's take:

"For now, it appears a line from Chicago to Cleveland, Ohio to Scranton, Pa. and Worcester, Mass. might get the most snow from this storm. We will say, however, the track of this storm is still uncertain. AWinter rain in Baltimore change in path by as little as 100 miles could mean the difference between heavy snow, drenching rain or a wintry mix in your location ...

"Climatologically, odds favor snow versus rain this time of the year, due to coldness of the oceans, Great Lakes
and (snow covered) ground. While this does "not" appear to be a storm that produces 2 to 3 feet of snow, it will add more water and snow weight to the existing snow on the ground and on roofs. If the storm does track north of your snow-clogged area, concerns of flash and urban flooding will be raised due to snowmelt."

Mr. Foot and his student forecasters have issued as "Level 2 Alert" for Central Maryland. They see two possible storm tracks:

"One closer to Maryland, meaning less wintry precip and more liquid; one further south, meaning more snow and some ice." 

Eric the Red sees "winter slop" in his crystal ball:

"All ... of last night's ... model runs take the core low into the Ohio River Valley. Doh. If this forecast holds, we will see little if any snow, and a whole lot of sleet, freezing rain, and rain ... So New England seems to be under the gun for a prolonged snowstorm, while we're relegated to our more typical Maryland winter slop ... The best chance for snow and sleet will be across northern MD, while central and southern MD would be more apt to see rain and freezing rain."

With some luck, the 40+ weather we're due for the rest of this week will release much of the water in the snow pack before the new storm arrives. Last night was the first at BWI since Jan. 25 - and only the third night this year - in which temperatures have not dipped to the freezing mark. The low at the airport was 34 degrees.

(SUN PHOTO/Top: Kenneth K. Lam, 2005; Bottom: Amy Davis, 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:50 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Comments

These temperatures are almost perfect for controlled melting. Both Baltimore and Washington have been dropping a couple of inches per day in snow depth; BWI lost 5" yesterday and is down another 1" in the last 6 hours. The flooding potential is a lot less dire than in 2003, when over 2.5" of liquid content snow was followed in less than 5 days with another 2.5" of actual liquid. People should still clear their gutters, however, and be sure the runoff has a path to flow away from the house.

I'm guessing our 3 reservoirs are already at peak capacity???

FR: Have been since June, I think. Our cup runneth over.

Could you please stop quoting Mr. Foot? His project is a great one, but it does not produce legitimate forecasts. They call for the largest possible snowfall with every storm -- which worked out great when Baltimore received three of its largest storms in history. But it didn't work out last week, when The Sun had a headline on one of your articles that said a foot of snow was possible (we received a dusting), and it's not working out this week when we're going to get all or mostly rain. With their newfound fame, they are misleading and worrying a lot of people.

Thank the Lord! I partially dug out our storm drain today. I'll try to get the whole thing cleared by Monday. I am lovin' the melting!

Monday into Tuesday event looks to be mostly cold rain with maybe some ice near the Mason Dixon line.

I'm much more concerned about the threat of snow Wed. night into Thursday. So is the National Weather Service's long range forecasters. Believe me those guys are not overzealous snowbirds who do a lot of wishcasting.

Another southern jet system will track across the south Wednesday while concurrently a mid level disturbance swings down out of Canada on the northern jet. Models are showing phasing of these two entities near the Mid Atlantic coast. This could set the stage for another significant snowfall. NOT ON MONDAY INTO TUESDAY BUT WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTO THURSDAY NEXT WEEK.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 38.

Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 21.

Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 39.

Thursday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 22.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 42.

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Ellicott+City&state=MD&site=LWX&textField1=39.2721&textField2=-76.8346

Not sure what you're talking about, Windy.

Hey ravens, im not part of mr. snow's team but i just want to say. Have you ever heard of weatherman/woman making a busted forcast? I definitly have. Ive definitly alsoo heard of weathermen making low forecasts that turned out to be wrong. Just wanted to tell you that.

Hi Greg,

Here is some info on what I am talking about. It is a possible situation 5 days out. The NWS public forecast that far out tend to be pretty generic.

From NWS Extended range forecast:

"A BETTER THREAT FOR A MAJOR SNOWSTORM COMES FROM THE NEXT SRN
STREAM WAVE WHICH TRACKS ACROSS THE SRN STATES TUE INTO EARLY
THU...AT THE SAME TIME THAT A POTENT PIECE OF ENERGY DROPS SWD
FROM THE POLAR VORTEX IN FAR NRN CANADA. THE AMPLITUDE OF THIS
NEXT SRN STREAM SYS IS LIKELY UNDERDONE BY NEW 12Z/19 MODELS. THE
STRONG SRN STREAM SYS COULD ALSO HELP LAY DOWN A STRIPE OF HEAVY
SNOW ACROSS THE DEEP S FROM TX ACROSS THE GULF STATES ON ITS EWD
TREK TO THE SE COAST. WITH MODELS CONVERGING ON THE NERN STREAM
CLOSING OFF OVER THE UPPER OH VLY AND MID ATLANTIC BY THU DAY
6...THE STAGE IS SET FOR ANOTHER MAJOR SNOW STORM FOR THE MID
ATLANTIC/NEW ENG."

http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/discussions/pmdepd.html

Other sources discussing what is going on behind the scenes:

http://www.accuweather.com/mt-news-blogs.asp?blog=meteomadness&partner=accuweather&pgUrl=/mtweb/content/meteomadness/archives/2010/02/updated_video_on_the_storms_next_week.asp

The GFS forecast model for early Tuesday morning:
http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/gfs/06/images/gfs_pcp_120m.gif

Of course this does not mean a storm will happen it means it could happen, and it has the potential for several inches.

It may well be mostly cloudy on Thursday-personally I hope it is because most folks, including me, have had enough.

That said, the thing that I'm talking about for later next week is more in line with why you can go to bed at night hearing that it will be a flurry or dusting and wake up to 2'.

Maybe today's data will give us a clearer picture on what will happen next week.

Regards,
Bit Windy

tuesdaytorm is no longer a threat.

Regards,
Bit Windy

frank
i agree with raven.your column has caused more worry than is needed.i imagine you are able to remain home drink your tea and type away on your computer with what is supposed to be glib and fun remarks regarding the weather.....while as unwashed and slightly dazed have to go to work etc...

FR: Wouldn't that be nice. Sadly, I have to go to work every day, too, and earn my paycheck. If my blog causes you worry, please don't read it.

Hi, Fan of Snow.

As I said in my original post, I think Mr. Foot's project is a great one. But I don't think it should be accepted by The Sun as a legitimate source of weather forecasts. I have a blog about the Ravens, where I make predictions about upcoming games. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong. But never do I expect The Baltimore Sun to publish my amateur opinion. I'm not sure why the standard for weather should be different from that for sports.

FR: Thanks, Ravens. I include Foot's Forecast among the professionals because a) you're right; it is a great program, the kids are working hard, with skilled guidance from adults, and they deserve the recognition and b) while they have been wrong a few times, so have the pros, and c) they have been very good on the big storms, and they got it right before the pros did, and d) readers are free - indeed they are encouraged - to read all our contributors' forecasts, decide for themselves which are the most consistently accurate, interesting and entertaining, and ignore the rest.

Frank,

Good response to your critics. I couldn't agree more. If your blog is "worrisome" to some folks, then they should get there weather elsewere.

I think your blog is a great place to talk about how the weather is affecting you and what different forecasters are saying. Please don't change because of a couple of critics.

Your blog has highlighted forecasters who did a very good job with most of the storms this year.

No forecaster is always right, but it never fails to amaze me how people can expect something as big and complex as weather (especially several days out) to be an exact science where any error is cause for scorn and ridicule.

Kind of reflects the hyper- critical cynicism in our society in general.

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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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