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February 4, 2010

New NWS snow estimates: 16 to 24 inches

Wax down those shovels, Maryland, there's snow on the way. The National Weather Service has posted Winter Storm Warnings for everybody from the Chesapeake west to Allegany County. The warnings call for 16 to 24 inches of snow for the Baltimore area.

UPDATE: Blizzard Warnings have been posted for central and southern Delaware and southeastern New Jersey. The Winter Storm Warnings in Maryland have been extended to the Lower Eastern Shore, where six inches or more are expected.

UPDATED UPDATE: The snow estimates for Central Maryland have been bumped to 18 to 24 inches.

The first flakes are expected sometime Friday morning, (by early afternoon in Baltimore), and they're likely to continue through Friday night, all day Saturday and into Saturday evening. I suspect, if the forecast holds up, this timing will discourage December 2009 snowschool officials about opening their doors at all on Friday. No point in bringing everybody in only to send them home in a storm.

The snow chances are about as high as they get - 100 percent for Friday and Friday night, slipping to 90 percent (UPDATE: now 100 percent) on Saturday. Temperatures at BWI should be near freezing for the duration of the storm, in the upper 20s and low 30s. Here's some of the Winter Storm Warning, just to give you the flavor of the thing:



If the forecasters at Sterling are right, this snow will rival the 21-inch storm that struck just before Christmas. Although we have had more snow in a single season before, neither Sterling nor I could find any examples of two 20-plus inch snowstorms striking Baltimore in a single winter season since they started keeping snow records here in 1883.

There are actually two storm systems cranking up and headed our way - one is gathering strength NOAAand plenty of Gulf moisture today across the Gulf Coast states. The second is moving out of the Northern Rockies; it is expected to drop its snow here on Saturday, on top of whatever the Gulf system delivers.

The Gulf system is forecast to move east and become the latest in a series of coastal storms that have punctuated our weather since autumn. It's expected to intensify over the ocean on Friday, and pump lots of Gulf and Atlantic moisture into the cold air that will be settling over our region. That's the recipe for heavy snow.

That storm, another low over southeastern Canada and a high to our north will combine to draw more cold air south into the region, keeping the snow machine spinning for us.  Exceptions may include extreme Southern Maryland and Central Virginia, where warmer air moving in with the AccuWeather.commaritime moisture may produce a wintry mix.

Forecasters say the heaviest precipitation is likely to occur late Friday afternoon through Friday night, with several inches on the ground by the Friday evening commute.

Elsewhere, is calling the event "paralyzing" for our region, with the potential for as much as two feet of snow in some locations. Adding insult to injury, is now touting another snowstorm on Tuesday. Let's not go there yet.

Mr. Foot's forecast team is predicting "an historic and extremely heavy wet snowfall" for our region Friday and Saturday. Mr. Foot spins out two possible scenarios, depending on how much mixing there is and when it all begins. One scenario would bring us 12 to 18 inches, the other 18 to 26 inches. Which one gets your vote?

For the geekier among us, there is the U.S. Hydrometeorlogical Prediction Center's discussion, which includes such highly technical terms as, "prolific accumulations," and "incredible amount of Gulf and Atlantic moisture..." 

And after the snow? Expect skies to clear by Sunday, with highs near freezing and overnight lows Saturday and Sunday nights in the teens as the new week begins. This new snow will not go away as rapidly as Tuesday night's did.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images/December snow in Chevy Chase)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:09 AM | | Comments (43)
Categories: Forecasts


Frank, are you hearing anything about ANOTHER storm hitting us around Wednesday next week? The major storm coming through tomorrow is taking up all the news, but what about next week? I know we're still about 7 days out, but I've heard talk of a low originating in Texas on Sunday bringing more snow to our region next week. Thanks for the updates.

FR: Yes. There's a brief mention in our post.

All that bargain-priced foreclosed real estate in south Florida is suddenly looking very appealing....

One thing about the schools will not open thing. If we open schools and keep the students here for a half day then the day counts toward our yearly total. Since most systems lost time in Dec, will most likely lose time next week and we still have the rest of Feb to go, they are worried about make up days. Do not be surprised if some (okay I will say it, us here in Baltimore City, bring the students in. It is not in the best interest of the student, but really that concept can be ignored when it makes things easier. I can sit here now and imagine the whole school system being closed at lunch time and the kids being sent out to go home. Do you think that will cause any stress for the kids, their familes, traffic and everything else?

FR: Let's see ... KIds sent home at noon... Dowtown workers see snow falling, bail and head for home at the same time. Not a pretty picture.

WBAL guys need to grow some ...! They won't make any predictions on amounts until a little later when all uncertainties are cleared up. WTF? You are forecasters, give us your forecast! Tony Pann said it was because they gave forecasts of an inch or two last Sat, and we wound up with 6-8 and he took a lot of heat. Hey Tony, yeah, but it's a lot worse when you're wrong on the low side and people went about the business as usual, only to find themselves stuck in a snowstorm.

I feel like Tom Cruise in "Taps"..."It's beautiful man, beautiful!!!!"

i will be flying to buffalo tonight and (suppposed) to fly back sunday afternoon. any idea on how long it usually takes for them to re-open bwi after such a 20+ snowfall?

i'm banking on being stuck in buffalo, but wanted to know if there are any metrics on this. even if we do get back to bwi, i fear we will be stuck in the terminal.

@Eve Agreed! The job of the weather man is to forecast the weather. If you want to be a reporter and tell us what is happening as it is going on, then go be a reporter. So you blew it last weekend. It happens, but at least you stepped up to the plate and took a swing. People want your read on the storm now, not when it is about to start! How are we to prepare for it if you don't hazard your guess???


I'm voting for the higher snowfall, because the lower amounts mean that ice and freezing rain are mixed in, especially at the beginning of the storm and I don't know anyone who wants that!

This is going to be fun!

Should I go out and buy a Hummer so that I can help with global warming?

The reason that the weather persons don't want to give totals is because things can change so drastically and people get really REALLY pissed. To the point that one of the forecasters got death threats because the weather pattern changed in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Stupid I know, yes I would love to know how much snow I and hubby will be shoveling the next two days. But, good golly they got burned last week. I am not a weather forecaster but goodness, people, nature does what it wants to do.

yes, I will be grocery shopping tonight, just because I have to, not because I want to.

I hope my job closes next week. Cross those finger and toes.

The timing of the storm will probably coincide when the MARC trains are pulling out of Union Station on their milk runs. I don't know about other federal agencies, but NARA won't close until 5 pm, and people who take the 6:05 MARC Penn line will have slow going
(that's before they get to their cars in the parking lots!)

We will probably forced to show up for work for a couple/few hours and than spend the same amount of hours fighting the traffic home. Hope no one gets hurt going home.

This weather is crazy...I'm trying to make plans to watch the Chelsea-Arsenal match on Sunday but I'm worried that I may not be able to meet up with my nerd friends at our local hangout...especially if my indoor/outdoor cat gets stuck in a snow drift! I need to head back to Alsace-Lorraine!

Darn, too bad the Polar Bear Plunge isn't held this weekend. But last Saturday's surprise snowstorm was plenty enough to add to the craziness and insanity of the Plunge. Buckle down the hatches, Baltimore, the storm is coming.

And Frank please get rid of the Capta system. It is annoying and an obstacle to posting.

FR: That decision was above my pay grade. It's designed to eliminate annoying comment spam. Will pass your comment along.

1. 28.2", 2/15-18/2003
2. 26.5", 1/27-29/1922
3. 22.8", 2/11-12/1983
4. 22.5", 1/7-8/1996
5. 22.0", 3/29-30/1942
6. 21.4", 2/11-14/1899
7. 21.1", 12/18-19/2009
8. 20.0", 2/18-19/1979
9. 16.0", 3/15-18/1892
10. 15.5", 2/15-16/1958

I can't wait!!! I love to watch all the local news stations all day long... especially the close up shots of the sidewalks and streets as the white stuff accumulates... it's like all day Comedy Central!

"I can't wait!!! I love to watch all the local news stations all day long... especially the close up shots of the sidewalks and streets as the white stuff accumulates..."

That's what she said.

Mike, you left one snowfall out of yout top 10 snowfalls for Baltimore. It happened in, I believe, February or March, 1966. Check the records.

FR: I checked them. The Jan. 30-31 storm in 1966 left 12.1 inches at BWI. It ranks #16.

From what I can see by this precipitation forecast map from NOAA,

the Baltimore DC area is smack dab in the middle of the 4" precip area, at between 12"-16" of snow per inch of precip, we may get 3' to 4' or more out of this one. Guaranteed we'll get more than 2' !

Sorry, but how does "prolific snowfall" and "incredible amounts of moisture" equal 12-24 inches? In the basic 15:1 ratio that's only 2 inches of moderately wet snow in 1.5 days? Either the adjetives are off, or we're in for 40 inches of snow and everyone is afraid to predict that much.

FR: If it helps, they have boosted the prediction to 18-24. Deepest storm on record was 28 inches. I'd say 40 inches is well outside the realm of possibility.

If it is any consolation, we are expecting light rain and highs only in the 60s this weekend here in Tucson.

FR: How dull.

one of the news networks is claiming the storm is changing track and will keep totals down.......we'll see.

Frank: I haven't had the chance before, but kudos to your 10th grader, Ryan, on his forecast last week. He hit it almost directly on the numbers!

The thing that made that 1966 storm seem as if it should be ranked higher was the drifting. Incredible. I had to go out in it for a while that afternoon, and in front of one house the snow would barely be up to your ankles, but next door it'd be up to your waist. (I'm also old enough to remember the one in '58. Lots of fun for a little kid, once the electricity came back.)

Everybody got enough toilet paper, bread, milk? Hurry! Hurry!

FR: Yes. But I'm out of beer.

FR, having lived in the area at that time and knowing how to measure snowfall, I suspect the blizard conditions affected the measurments at Friendship back then. There was an average of 18 -22 inches in my neighborhood in eastern Baltimore county. Roads were covered for a week and schools were closed as long. Anyone living here back then will tell you there was more than a foot of snowfall. My father, a city cop, told me there was an average of 20" downtown.

Carroll County is set to dismiss everybody 2 hours and 45 minutes early tomorrow, but advised us to see if they close based on early morning predictions.

My daughter, born in 1988, was living in England for the 1996 storm, on a school trip to Quebec for the 2003 storm, and back visiting us in England in December. She's now at college in Virginia, so it could be a top ten storm.

Latest NAM run in from 18z (1pm). Shows an extremely tight precip gradient over central and northern MD.

The 10 am (15Z) ETA is in an paints a broader stroke of 2" plus precip across central MD.

Snow to liquid ratios tomorrow afternoon will be about 9:1. Increasing to about 12:1 after midnight and reaching 15:1 tomorrow morning into early afternoon.(Roebber Method)

Breaking down 6hr precip totals from the NAM/WRF, GFS and 15Z SREF and applying it to the snow to liquid ratio for that time period yielded snow totals of 18-32".

I think this is an 18-24" inch storm for the Baltimore Washington area, with some areas in Maryland and North VA possibly seeing 30".

re: Feb 15,1958 - a Saturday - Back then the forecast of a "blizzard" came seemingly with very little warning. My father picked me up mid-afternoon, a short time after dropping me off for my fifth grade activity. He said, "We have to go. A blizzard is coming." In the next half hour there was a white out. Power was lost in Lake Shore, Pasadena for about a week and school closed for the entire week. The "blizzard" came so fast that it was like a cartoon - "and night fell" and the sky is shown turning black like pulling down a shade. So folks, today's forcast not only warns the local TV audiance, but is more global and serves many much better. Thank goodness, as we were about to drive up to MD from NC Friday intending to return on Saturday. Forecasting has come a long way. Thank you weather folks.

I've heard numerous references to the storm of '58 in the past 24 hours. I wish everyone a safe weekend, but I am so excited and hopeful to witness another huge historic snow storm. Enjoy your family and friends, take lots of pictures, and SLOW YOUR L.IFE DOWN for the next few days...

our friends at ch. 13 will prob'ly stick one of those 'bad weather' icons in the corner of the screen for the duration of the super bowl, and/or run a crawl every 10 minutes with school closings and reminders to keep it tuned to their all-caring news team. but I hope not!! be safe everybody, and I sure hope that power stays on.

On footsforecast,com , Ryan is showing ice directly over the baltimore area. Are you showing anything like that?

Where have all the Global Warming zealots gone??? Oh, I forgot, this is 'weather, not climate'....Good luck trying to keep selling that crock. Al Gore and his buddies need to fly their fossil-fuel guzzling private jets to MD and live here for a while...I'll think they'll reverse their positions pretty quickly after that. Thanks

Virginia has already declared a state of emergency:

I'm sitting here in Seattle with a light breeze and 55 degrees at sunset. I was just there in Big 'B' on Tuesday, so I guess I got out of there just in time. Well, I was there for the big one in February of 2003 that brought 26 inches, so can't say I'll miss the shoveling and such. Stay safe and stay warm.

Ben, cool story - I agree that weather forecasting has come a LONG way! I can't imagine what it would have been like 100 or more years ago and not having a weather forecasting system, but I think they paid more attention to natural signs about the weather.

I had a similar experience in western Pennsylvania in 1969 when my father picked me up from a summer school typing class because Hurricane Camille was on its way. I tried to tell him that hurricanes didn't hit western Pennsylvania and was totally convinced that my mother had died or something because I couldn't remember my father ever leaving his office in the middle of the day for something like this! He had even gone to the grocery store, which I thought must be a sign of the Apocylapse - yes, we were a very traditional family with Mom doing the shopping!

Stay safe, you all, and have fun being snowed in. We're charging up the Wii and planning to do some serious cooking and baking!

Actually, I am pretty excited and looking forward to it. It is just so exciting!!!

And how about the blizzard of December 14, 1951. My dad was unable to make it to the hospital after I was born.

Just curious, what is the record for the largest snowfall in MD history?

FR: 28.2 inches, in February 2003, if by Md. history you mean back to 1883 when official records began in Baltimore. There was a bigger storm in 1772 that left 30 to 36 inches across the region.

I am a survivor of that Feb '58 Maryland snowstorm. It was not a lot of snow but it was so cold it didn't melt and the wind blew up 20 foot drifts.

My mother and my brother were returning from vaction on Florida. We got stuck halfway between DC and Annapolis where Wild world is now. There were open filelds on the left where the wind was blowing from and woods on the right causing drifts on the road. We were in a Studebaker Golden Hawk which was pretty low to the ground.

We were stuck in a farmhouse there for 3 days until a huge bulldozer with one of those tall V blades blasted through so we could get out. When we fist saw it coming, we could not see the dozer, just something breaking up the surface of the snow like a mole, You can usualy see those blades like a historical antique in front of the state and county garages.

After the dozer went through we dug our car out of the drift and proceeded toward Annapolis. We got as far as Davidsonville. Just past where Homestead Gardens is now there was a big dip in the road that was filling up with drifts 5 minutes after it was cleared.

A road grader would go through and about 6 cars would follow before it drifted shut. The grader would turn around and come back with 6 cars behind. The traffic backup was so bad and getting worse we turned around and went back to Clinton MD to my oldest brother's house for another 3 days before the wind died down enough so we could get through Davidsonville.

There were people stranded in hotels along that long stretch of 301 in Virgina north of Richmond, There was no I95 back then. There were a lot of open fields along that part of the road and the drifts were horrific. I believe helicopters had to haul supplies and evacuate people.

They might have to get those V plows out of mothballs for this one.

Please watch my video images

It's about climate change, earth catastrophe and our planet as we lives in.

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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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