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May 31, 2010

Mercury reaches 90s again at BWI

The temperature at BWI-Marshall airport topped 90 degrees again on Monday, reaching 91 degrees during the afternoon.

UPDATE: The official high Monday at BWI was 92 degrees. Earlier post resumes below. 

It was 93 degrees at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets downtown. Temperatures also reached the 90s at Hagerstown, Martin Airport, Washington Reagan National Airport and Dulles Airport in Virginia.

The high was not close to the record for the date - 96 degrees set back in 1991.

Memorial Day heat BaltimoreMonday was the fifth day of 90-degree weather for Baltimore so far this year. We hit 90 degrees at BWI on April 6 and 7. The high on May 26 was 91 degrees, and we went one degree higher - 92 - the following day.

The average daytime high temperature for Baltimore on May 31 is 79 degrees. It climbs to 86 degrees by the end of June, and tops out at 88 degrees in the third week of July.

May 2010 ends with an average temperature of about 67 degrees, which is more than 4 degrees above the long-term average for the month, and the warmest May since 2004, which averaged 69.8 degrees at BWI. The high for the month was 92 degrees, on the 27th. The low was 35Sunday Afternoon Seurat degrees, on the 10th. Hardly seems possible now. It's also worth noting - again - that the last of the December and February snow piles finally melted at BWI during the first week of May.

Cooling degree days in May - a measure of the demand for energy for cooling - were running more than twice the norm for the month. Watch for that on your next electric bill. I know my AC is cranking.

The month of May in Baltimore is also ending with about 3.5 inches of rain - about a quarter-inch below the long-term average.

(SUN PHOTO/Algerina Perna, at Fort McHenry, May 31, 2010 ... Looks like "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte," the Georges Seurat painting, detail, lower right. Except for the cannon.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

May 30, 2010

First tropical storm of NE Pacific pounds Guatemala

It's the beginning of the hurricane season in the north eastern Pacific Ocean, too, and it's off to a tragic start as remnants of Tropical Storm Agatha continue to drench parts of Guatemala, Mexico NOAAand El Salvador with up to 20 inches of rain. At least 16 people have died and 69,000 have been evacuated amid the torrential rains and resulting landslides.

In contrast with the Atlantic, the eastern Pacific is expected to have a quiet season this year, with forecasters giving the region a 75 percent chance of a below-normal number of tropical storms forming, and a 10 percent chance of only a normal season.  Forecasters cite ongoing multi-decadal cycles that are suppressing storm formation in the region, and the expected neutral or La Nina phase of the Pacific cycle of seas-surface temperatures.

Those are some of the same reasons why predictions for the Atlantic basin call for an active to extremely active season this year. While La Ninas tend to suppress tropical storm formation in the Pacific, the long-distance atmospheric patterns they set up tend to take the brakes off storm formation in the Atlantic. And, the Atlantic remains in its own multi-decadal cycle which, since 1995, has stimulated above-normal storm formation there.

The eastern Pacific has it own name list for the 2010 season, too, starting with Agatha. Here is the list for the Atlantic season, beginning with Alex.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

June brings the solstice, and the Hay Moon

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

June starts Tuesday. The summer solstice arrives 7:29 a.m. June 21. The Hay Moon occurs on the 26th. Baltimore’s warmest June was in 1943, at 79.8 degrees. The coolest was in 1907, at 66.7 degrees. Average highs climb from 79 to 86 degrees, while the lows rise from 57 to 64. The hottest reading was 105 degrees on the 29th, 1934. The coldest was 40, on the 11th, 1972. The oldest unbroken record is the 73-degree record-high minimum, set on June 20, 1873.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 29, 2010

May ran hot and cold

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Meteorologists say May will end next week as one of the warmer Mays on record for Baltimore. But it was a wild ride. The first week was the third warmest start to May on record here, averaging 71.1 degrees. But the second week was the 19th coolest. The average temperature of 47 degrees on May 11 at BWI was the seventh-coolest May day on record. (The coldest was May 1, 1963, which averaged 43 degrees, with snow.) Spring 2010 has been among the city’s warmest.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 28, 2010

Showers and T-storms remain a risk Saturday

Looks like we will continue to deal with a risk of showers and thunderstorms as we enter the long holiday weekend. Sunday looks like it will be the best day to be outdoors in Central Maryland. Memorial Day BaltimoreMonday doesn't look too bad at this distance, but it will be hot, with a forecast high near 90 derees.

Whatever storms we get Friday afternoon and evening as this weakening cold front to our west drifts by should not be as intense as last night's display. Forecasters out at Sterling say there's a 50 percent chance of showers in the afternoon, rising to 60 percent in the evening. The more vigorous convection should stay to our south and west

Storm chances drop to 30 percent here on Saturday and peter out through the evening. High temperatures will hold in the mid-70s if the forecast holds up. Things will start to clear out as high pressure moves in behind the cold front, leading to a fine Sunday with sunny skies and a high near 80.

Memorial Day promises to be mostly sunny, but much hotter, with a high near 90 degrees. And the next cold front looks like it will hold off until Tuesday or Tuesday night, keeping the risk of showers and storms on hold until the new workweek begins.

(SUN PHOTO/Monica Lopossay, 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Sound and light from plodding T-storms

Lightning Baltimore

It took them a while to get fired up, but last night's slow-moving thunderstorms finally put on quite a sound and light show for Central Maryland.

We watched the lighting lace through the clouds east of the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville for a while before bed, then listened to the boomers and watched the light flickering off the walls well into the night. Beautiful. And very tropical.

Bill Stifler, in Hampden, had the presence of mind to set up his camera, and he captured some terrific images. Here's Bill:

"As I write, there's an even bigger storm getting ready to roll through. (It's about 11 p.m.) Gotta run and see if I can catch anything from this storm. Attached (below) are the two I felt came out the best."

He went outside again and nailed the shot at the top of this post. He said:

"Needless to say, it was a close strike. It's a good thing that the camera was on a long exposure, because the strikes were so close around the time that this picture was taken, that I was flinching every thirty seconds or so because of the intensity of the light and the incredible volume of the thunder."

Here are the other two:

Lightning BaltimoreLightning Baltimore

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:40 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

The Flower Moon

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Full moon over BaltimoreThe full moon that rose over Baltimore at 8:33 last night is the third since the spring equinox. That makes it the Flower Moon for some, the Rose or Strawberry Moon for others. The sun is now rising here at 5:44 a.m. EDT. That’s within just five minutes of the earliest sunrise of the year, which occurs on at 5:39 a.m. June 14. Daylight hours will continue to lengthen until the summer solstice on June 21. But the latest sunset doesn’t occur until 8:37 p.m. on June 28.

(SUN PHOTO/Karl Merton Ferron, 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 27, 2010

Hurricane forecast scorecard

Just about everybody who makes seasonal hurricane forecasts in the spring has made one for the 2010 Atlantic season, which opens, officially, on June 1 and runs through November. NASA hurricane

And they're all calling for an "active season." That's because the El Nino event that suppressed storm formation last seaosn is gone, and is likely to be replace dby La Nina, which takes the brakes off storm formation in the Atlantic.

There are also some record warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic this season. And, we remain in the middle of a multi-decadal cycle of air pressure and water temperature factors in the Atlantic that have made for above-average storm activity in the Atlantic basin since 1995.

Here's a rundown of some major forecasters' predictions for 2010:

Organization      Named storms  Hurricanes   "Major" (Cat. 3 or higher)

AccuWeather.com:   16-18       10                   4

Colorado State U.:    15            8                   4

NOAA:                       14-23       8-14              3-7

NC State Univ.:        14-19       7-11

WeatherBug:           12-17       6-9               4

Average:                 9.6           5.9                2.3

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:02 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Flash Flood Watch up as PM storms approach

The National Weather Service has posted a Flash Flood Watch for Baltimore, Washington and their suburban counties, beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday as an approaching cold front threatens the Thunderstorm Baltimoreregion with heavy, slow-moving thunderstorms.

UPDATE: The NWS has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 9 p.m. for all of Maryland between Allegany County and the Bay, plus the northern portions of the Eastern Shore.  

Storms could begin in the Baltimore region earlier this afternoon as the bay breeze picks up and moves over hotter air to the west. The more severe weather is likely late this afternoon as the cold front approaches. Those storms will be capable of producing strong winds and large hail, forecasters warned.

Worse, from a flooding standpoint, will be the slow movement of the storms, allowing heavy rain accumulations in some locations, especially in the Baltimore-Washington area. Hence, the flash flood worry. Rain totals of a half- to three-quarters of an inch are possible.

Behind the front things will calm down, although showers may continue off and on through the night and Friday, forecasters said. But the hot weather we've had for the past two days will ease. Highs Friday should hold in the low 70s, rising to the low 80s by Sunday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

May 26, 2010

Mercury hits 91 at BWI, downtown

Heat BaltimoreThe official thermometer out at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport has reached 91 degrees this afternoon, making this the hottest day of the year so far, and the third that's hit the 90s. The first two were back on April 6 and 7, when we topped out at 90 on both days, setting or matching records.

The afternoon is still young, so we could go higher. But at 91 degrees we are still a few degrees shy of the record of 94 degrees, set on this date in 1914.

It's also 91 here at The Sun, Calvert and Centre streets. Tomorrow's forecast calls for a high at BWI of 88 degrees, dropping to around 70 degrees on FRiday and Saturday.

Last year BWI saw three April days in the 90s, but none in May or June. July and August produced 10 days with highs of 90 or higher. 

(SUN PHOTO/David Hobby, 2006)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:28 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Gulf oil slick + hurricane = ??

BP oil damageJeff Masters, at WeatherUnderground, has posted a detailed discussion of what might happen when a hurricane boils up over the Gulf of Mexico this summer and barrels through the big BP oil slick. It's not a pretty picture:

"One of the more unnerving prospects to consider if a hurricane hits the oil spill is what the hurricane's storm surge might do with the oil/dispersant mixture. The foul mix would ride inland on top of the surge, potentially fouling residential areas and hundreds of square miles of sensitive ecosystems with the toxic stew.

"The impacts of the oil and dispersant on vegetation may be too low to cause significant damage, since the hurricane would dilute the mixture with a large amount of sea water, and wash much of the toxic brew off the vegetation with heavy rain."

Yes, but ... There's more. Read it here.

(PHOTO: Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:33 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

May 25, 2010

Check out our new Weather Page

Regular visitors to The Baltimore Sun’s online Weather Page have noticed some striking changes this week.

My same sorry mug is still there, I'm afraid, but you’ll also find a colorful new 7-day forecast section. You can glide your cursor over any day of the week and find more details in a pop-up box.

Snow in BaltimoreWe have a big, new, animated radar screen. It can be a bit slow to load, but it has lots of new features. The radar animates the most recent 30 minutes of returns. Drop-down data options allow readers to toggle among three different backgrounds, including a road map, terrain map and satellite images. 

You can also enter any Zip Code to zoom the radar to your location. That also activates a forecast for that spot. The "Clickcast" option produces forecasts for any place in the world. You can also select for national or high-resolution local radar, infrared satellite views, watches and warnings. Or, you can call up lightning strikes or ship and buoy data.

You can also set the radar screen to show severe storm and hurricane data. I suspect users will be spending lots of time exploring all this. It's kind of addictive, at least for weather geeks like me.Flooding Baltimore

For obsessive/compulsive planners, there is a new feature below the radar screen that provides forecasts for each hour, beginning with the next one and moving forward for each of the next 24.

Then there's the Weather Almanac, with normal and record temperature data for the date, and sunrise and sunset times. I'm told we will soon restore the detailed weather history from BWI that was available on the old page. That tool provided weather data for any date back to 1950, when the Heat wave Baltimoreofficial weather station for Baltimore was moved to then-Friendship, now BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The new page also provides detailed air quality information, including current grass, mold, tree and weed pollen counts. There is an ultraviolet exposure rating (on a 1 to 10 scale, higher being more dangerous), and even a current flu report (only sporadic in Maryland at the moment).

The Maryland Weather Center is still there, providing a link to detailed information from The Sun's own weather station at Calvert and Centre streets. It's a handy place to check out downtown conditions. Lots of features on that, too.

The Weather Blog is still there, of course. And now we have links to more national weather news, and videos from The Sun, from readers and dozens of other sources. The WJZ video forecast is also still available on the page.

We're also currently running a "Bay and Beach" feature with loads of beach news and information.

So go check it out. Explore, play with the new features and tools. You could even buy an ad! And feel free to leave a comment here and tell us what you like, what you don't like and what else you'd like to see on the page. Cheers. - Frank

(SUN PHOTOS: Top, Kim Hairston, 2010; Middle: Hillary Smith, 1996; Bottom: AP/Ted Mathias, 1994)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Notes to readers
        

How's your AC? Hot and humid ahead

Have you had your AC checked this spring? If not, you may find it's not up to the task this week as warm and muggy air settles into the Chesapeake region. NWS forecasters out at Sterling say we're headed for the 80s Tuesday and 90 Wednesday, with plenty of moisture in the atmosphere.

Seems to me this will be our first taste of real Chesapeake summer weather this year, the kind NOAAthat sends homeowners to the AC switch to cut the humidity indoors.

Meteorologists say the sticky weather comes to us courtesy of something they're calling "a classic East Coast rex block."  First time I'd heard the term, too. They describe it as high pressure to the north of a low-pressure system. In this case, there is ridge of high pressure over us, and extending north into Canada, and that wanna-be tropical storm in the Atlantic off the Carolina coast. Together, they are producing an onshore flow of moist marine air.

That damp air is responsible for our fog Tuesday morning, and hazy skies later in the day. On Wednesday, skies will clear a bit, but the air will remain stagnant and humid through the morning, with increasing chances for showers and thunderstorms later in the day. Some storms could be severe, and their slow movement could raise the risk of flash flooding.

The risk of thunderstorms will persist through the rest of the week, if the forecast holds up. A cold front on Friday could finally begin to change the regime in favor of a sunny, pleasant weekend.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

May 23, 2010

Gale off Bahamas could become tropical storm

The National Hurricane Center has issued a statement noting the development of an area of bad weather northeast of the Bahamas. The gale, moving slowly toward the north northwest, has a 30-to-50-percent chance of developing into the Atlantic season's first tropical storm, officials said. Here's the satellite loop. And here's NOAAmore from the hurricane center:

"A NON-TROPICAL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM CENTERED ABOUT 500 MILES
SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF BERMUDA IS PRODUCING A LARGE AREA OF
DISORGANIZED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN
ATLANTIC OCEAN ALONG WITH GALE-FORCE WINDS.  THIS LOW IS EXPECTED
TO MOVE SLOWLY TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST AND HAS SOME POTENTIAL
TO GRADUALLY ACQUIRE SUBTROPICAL OR TROPICAL CHARACTERISTICS DURING
THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.  THERE IS A MEDIUM CHANCE...30
PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A SUBTROPICAL OR TROPICAL CYCLONE
DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS."

If so, the bad weather could begin to pose the risk of rough surf and rip currents along the southeastern U.S. coastline in the week ahead. Cruise ships leaving Baltimore and points north with destinations in Bermuda or the Caribbean might also encounter bad weather and rough seas en route. 

AccuWeather.com's Joe Bastardi thinks the storm will stay offshore, wandering around off the Carolinas for a time before heading east and out to sea. But he says it will likely send gales and showers onshore. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Whit Sunday and gooseberry tarts

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Today is Whit Sunday for many Christians. Also called Whitsunday, Whitsuntide or just Whitsun, it marks seven weeks, or 50 days (Pentecost in Greek) from Easter Sunday, and the day when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ apostles and launched the Church. The term “Whit” derives from “white.” Whitsunday was a day set aside for baptisms, and the newly immersed typically wore white. In England, gooseberry tarts were traditional Whitsun fare.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 22, 2010

May record of 98 reached four times

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITION:
As cool as our last two weeks have been, May is still running more than two degrees above average thanks to six straight days of 80-degree heat in the month’s first week. May in Baltimore can get very hot. On this date in 1941 the mercury at the Customs House downtown reached 98 degrees, tying the May record set in 1925. We have touched the same high twice more since then, on May 19, 1962, and again on May 30, 1991.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 21, 2010

Eric the Red watches the tropics

Those faithful readers who were with us during the blizzards of 2009-2010 will remember our intrepid contributor, Eric the Red. The professional meteorologist from Baltimore helped keep us abreast of coastal lows and negative NAOs and other winter terrors about to be visited upon Central Maryland.

Well, Eric is back, and this time he's got his eye on the tropics, and what he sees could be our NOAAfirst taste of the 2010 hurricane season. Or not. Time will tell. Anyway, on Wednesday, he says...

"...my eyes were drawn to a disturbed area of weather along an old frontal boundary in the Florida Straits.  Well, now it's Friday, and that area of disturbed weather has shifted east, and is now located to the east-northeast of the Bahamas... (upper right on satellite map) 

"OK, cool... should just scootch off and out to sea ... Wooo Haaa Haaaa haaaaa......

"Remember our "negative" NAO... the blocking high over the nrn Atlantic?  Yup, the thing that kept blocking all the storms and gave us 3 blizzards and 2 close calls.  Well... it's baaaack.  And as it builds and strengthens, it will prevent our whatever-it-is to the east of the Bahamas from escaping out to sea.  So, this way early heads up is being sent.

"It appears that as upper-level winds become more favorable, a tropical storm or hybrid version of one will begin to take shape early next week.  This system will be pushed slowly to the west and northwest by the blocking high, and would likely begin to impact portions of the central and southern Ataltnic Coast by mid to late next week (Weds-Fri). 

"Most models take it toward the central North Carolina coast.  At this point, it's something to watch and note.  Don't ask me now if it's gonna impact your Memorial Day beach weekend cos you be at the Surf 'N Sands Condo on 132nd, 3rd floor Ocean Front (2nd door down on the left from the elevator).  I haven't a clue.  But this is the time of year when old frontal boundaries can generate tropical storms, and this one fits the bill.  I'm sure there are lots of folks with plans, so I'll keep ya posted. - E."

AccuWeather.com also sees a tropical threat to the southeast coast next week.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Hot? You shoulda been here in '34

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Hardly a man is now alive who remembers the torrid weather in Baltimore on this date in 1934. The temperature downtown reached a high of 96 degrees, which is still the record here for any May 21. And the overnight low never sank below 71 degrees. And that’s still a record, too — the highest minimum reading for the date. On the other hand, in 2002 we were in the middle of a cool spell, with record lows in the 30s from May 20 to 22.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 20, 2010

"Green flash:" Refraction or concoction?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Carol Uhler-Ford, of Pikesville, asks about the green flash:I saw the flash on a summer evening over the tree line as I faced west. It was just a split second.”  You’re lucky. The rarely-seen green flash is caused by refraction - the bending and splitting of sunlight through dense, clear air near the horizon. As the sun sets, higher-frequency green wavelengths persist very briefly. Best observed with a frozen concoction, dockside, Key West.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 19, 2010

Gray skies will make slow exit

Saw a few patches of blue sky this morning, but the gray appears to have won out for the moment. Forecasters out at Sterling assure us the low-pressure systems - one in the Atlantic and the other over the Great Lakes - that brought us these long days of gray and drizzle are moving Cloudy showers Baltimoreslowly away.

There are still a few chances for some showers in the afternoon Wednesday, dropping no more than a few hundredths of an inch, as some small disturbances are swept around the backside of the departing low as it heads for New England.

Then, as we sleep tonight, the clouds will clear off as well, with sunshine on tap for Thursday and Friday. Daytime highs will reach the 70s again Thursday, and the low 80s by Friday. Enjoy it, because the high pressure will move off quickly, allowing another low-pressure system out of the Great Lakes to cloud us up again for the weekend.

Rain chances rise to 30 percent Saturday if the forecast holds up, with the best chance for rain and thunderstorms on Sunday. High pressure and drier, sunnier weather is expected once the new workweek gets rolling. Of course.

(SUN PHOTO/Jed Kirschbaum, May 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

May 18, 2010

Anyone else think Delmarva looks like a shrimp?

Kinda looks like it to me. The first shot was taken Saturday by NASA's Aqua Earth-Observing Satellite. The second is, well, a shrimp. So where's the cocktail sauce?

NASA/Aqua.MODIS

 

Shrimp

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Iceland eruption a "little fart in the ... ocean"

Curious about how Iceland's ongoing volcanic eruption compares with other famous eruptions, like Mt. St. Helens in 1980, or Mt. Vesuvius when it buried Pompeii in A.D. 79 ? Ever wonder how the devil Icelanders pronounce Eyjafjallajokull?

Here are all the answers, from the Smithsonian Institution geologist Liz Cotrell.

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:26 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Events
        

Eastern Shore, Southern Md. see most rain

Soppy as it's been this Tuesday morning, the rainfall we've seen here in Central Maryland from these storm systems - a half-inch or less - can't compare to what they've reported from the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.

The heaviest rain in the 24 hours ending Tuesday morning - more than an inch - seems to have fallen in Wicomico and Somerset counties on the lower shore, while St. Mary's County in Southern Maryland takes the top prize west of the bay. Here are some totals from the CoCoRaHS network:

Parsonsburg, Wicomico County:  1.45 inches Rain in Baltimore

Ridge, St. Mary's:  1.43 inches

Princess Anne, Somerset:  1.38 inches

Salisbury, Wicomico:  1.33 inches

California, St. Mary's:  1.07 inches

La Plata, Charles:  .84 inch

Easton, Talbot:  .68 inch

Severn, Anne Arundel:  .44 inch

Elkton, Cecil:  .38 inch

Long Green, Baltimore Co.:  .37 inch

Towson, Baltimore Co.:  .34 inch

Frederick:  .35 inch

Columbia, Howard:  .34 inch

We'll be stuck under these clouds, soaking up plenty of on-and-off rain and drizzle throughout the day Tuesday as a low-pressure system moves slowly off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and up the East Coast toward New England, and another creeps out of the Ohio Valley. Temperatures, meanwhile, are 10 or 20 degrees below the averages for this time of year at BWI, forecasters say.

Clouds will remain, but the rain chances will slowly diminish on Wednesday. The sun should return by Thursday if the forecast holds up. Friday will likely be the best day of the week, with sunny skies and a high around 80 degrees.

But rain chances return with the next storm system arriving over the weekend.

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, May 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

May 17, 2010

Gulf oil gusher - today's view from orbit

NASA/TerraHere's the latest NASA photo from orbit of oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon leak.

It was taken just after noon today (Monday 5/17) by the Terra Earth-Observing Satellite.

The oil slick appears dull gray, stretching from the tip of the Mississippi River delta out into the Gulf.  

This link will take you to a NASA oil slick image gallery.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:26 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Jan. - April was planet's warmest on record

This just in from the National Climatic Data Center:

NCDC/NOAA"The April 2010 map of temperature anomalies shows that for the first four months of the year anomalous warm temperatures were present over much of the world, with the exception of cooler-than-average conditions across the higher-latitude southern oceans, the northern Pacific Ocean, along the western South American coast, Mongolia, northern China, northern Australia, the south central and southeastern U.S., northern Mexico, and most of Europe and Russia.

"The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January–April period was the warmest January-April period on record. This value is 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average.

"Separately, the worldwide land surface temperature ranked as the third warmest on record, behind 2007 (warmest) and 2002 (second warmest), while the worldwide ocean surface temperature ranked as the second warmest January–April on record—behind 1998."

Here's more.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:39 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Climate change
        

Amazing hailstorm Sunday on Oklahoma

Residents of Oklahoma City experienced a tremendous hail storm on Sunday, with widespread damage to cars and buildings. Here's the CNN report on the storm.

Here's how it looked from a distance.

Here's the view from a home in the storm's path.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:21 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Gray and drippy; not summer yet

Okay, so now we pay the price for the terrific Preakness Weekend weather we just enjoyed. Low pressure over the Ohio Valley Monday is dragging clouds and showers across much of the region. The most substantial rainfall is confined to Southern Maryland and Virginia, while Harford County and points north and east seem to be escaping it for now.

But we're stuck here under gray, damp and chilly skies. Temperatures may not get beyond the low 60s today, and will struggle to reach the 60s on Tuesday. Normal highs for BWI at this time of Rainy day in Baltimoreyear are in the mid-70s.

Later today into Tuesday, a secondary low will develop over the Carolinas, forecasters say, then move off the coast and up toward New England. That will pump cool Atlantic moisture into the region, keeping us damp and chilly on Tuesday, while producing heavier rains to our north and east.

We'll still be seeing light showers on Wednesday, with highs still stuck in the 60s before these systems move along. (Hey, it could have been raw and drippy for the Preakness. Count your blessings.)

By late Wednesday into Thursday, things should finally begin to clear out as high pressure moves in. Sunny skies are in the forecast for Thursday, with highs in the mid-70s. Friday looks even better, if the forecast holds up, with more sunshine and a high near 80 degrees at BWI as the high moves off the coast.

That, of course, is the prelude to the next round of showers and thunderstorms, which are forecast for - sorry - the weekend. They're calling for mostly cloudy skies Saturday and Sunday, with highs in the mid-70s. 

(SUN PHOTO/Amy Davis, 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:52 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

May 16, 2010

Downpour chilled 1938 Preakness

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Fine Preakness weather is the rule, but the rule was shattered in 1938. Only 30,000 fans showed up. Pouring rain only intensified as the big race approached. Senators, congressmen, ambassadors, and captains of industry lunched under cover, while the rail birds who ventured outside were “cold, shivering and drenched,” The Sun reported. The word was passed: “As soon as the Preakness is run, it’s home and a bath.” The winner? A mud-caked Dauber.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 15, 2010

Moon, planets, space station align tonight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITION: If skies are clear enough tonight, look low in the west after sunset for a pretty conjunction of a thin crescent moon, just a day past “new,” and the bright planet Venus. At 9 p.m., just below the zenith (straight up), high above the southwest horizon, is reddish Mars. And halfway between Mars and the southeast horizon you’ll find faintly yellow Saturn. The International Space Station will fly past all four a bit later. Look for it in the west at 9:34 p.m. EDT.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 14, 2010

Worst Preakness weather? Could be 1938

Matthais Daiger stayed close to the electric heater in his office under the clubhouse at Pimlico. Sure, it was Preakness Day, 1938. But the weather was dismal and cold, and it poured rain all morning. He told the Sun reporter who found him there it was the worst Preakness weather in the then-48-year history of the race.

1938 Preakness"Daigler  recalled that even the Preakness day in 1924 when Nellie Morse [the last filly to win the Preakness until Rachel Alexandra's victory in 2009] waded through a sea of mud to win, was not as bad as this," the Sun's George Dorsch reported.

"... 30,000 rain-soaked, bedraggled fans from all sections of the country, ranging from statesmen to day laborers ... saw William du Pont, Jr.'s Dauber ... win the forty-eighth renewal of the turf classic at Pimlico."

But it wasn't easy. Curtains of rain and mist obscured the backstretch. "Nellie Morse's day did have some sun after the race, but there's no letting up here," Daigler told Dorsch. "I don't know of any worse weather at any time before I became connected with the track." And he had been there for 40 years.

Hawkers and vendors were soaked. Tipsters were soaked. Race fans were soaked.

It wasn't all gloom, of course. The bigshots in the clubhouse were in a festive mood, Dorsch reported. There were ambassadors, the British Colonial Secretary of Bermuda, 150 senators and congressmen up from Washington for the big day. Railroad presidents and financiers munched on the luncheon spread.

Hollywood was represented, too. Among the celebrities was movie director Ernst Lubitsch ("Ninotchka," "To Be or Not To Be").  So was Myron Selznick, brother of David O. Selznick, the1938 Preakness race fans head of MGM Studios.

Dorsch went on for 10 long paragraphs listing the glitterati, and the high-born, horsey-set Marylanders.

"A matron," he wrote, "drenched from shoes to hat, recalled dismally how she, as a young girl, used to be brought to the Preakness in her father's coach; how it was parked in the infield, and how a luncheon, including vintage champagne, was spread on the lawn before the races."

They still do that, right?

"As she spoke, only the necessary employees were in the inclosure where sponsors of the race had expected thousands to gather."

So the races began. But few ventured out to the rails to watch. "Below the grandstand, hot-dog vendors and beer dispensers did a land-office business," Dorsch said. "Hundreds tried to stave off the cold with hot coffee. Everywhere the word was passed: 'As soon as the Preakness is run, it's home and a hot bath.'"

When Preakness post time approached, large numbers of fans, for the first time that day, left their shelter and crossed to the infield rail. "The rain came down heavier," the Sun observed. "A fine mist partially hid the backstretch ... Blacker became the skies. Hundreds of umbrellas on the terrace prevented a clear view of persons who stood behind. The rain increased. A mighty roar. The horses came tearing down the track. Another Preakness was being run."Dauber wins 1938 Preakness

And then it was over.

"Cold, shivering and drenched, many thousands of the disappointing crowd [45,000 had been expected] left hurriedly at the end of the race, declining to wait for the presentation of the historic Woodlawn Vase." The winner was Dauber (photo, right), appropriately caked in mud. But even he wanted to be somewhere else. Dorsch reported the horse "declined to allow the customary floral tribute to be placed around his neck, and was led away."

(Sun files, World Wide Photos, 1938 Preakness)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: History
        

Severe T-storm watch issued for Md. west of bay

Thunderstorm Baltimore 5/14/10The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for all of Maryland west of the Chesapeake Bay. The watch is in effect through 9 p.m. Friday evening.

(UPDATE: The storms blew through around dinnertime, with some spectacular cloud formations, like the one at left. Anyone else get some good shots? Send 'em in. Earlier post resumes.)

There is nothing nearby on the radar yet, but there does seem to be a line of storms developing well to our north, in Pennsylvania, where Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are posted. There are also some severe storms to our southwest, in SW Virginia. The Severe T-Storm Warning there is pretty remarkable, calling for "hen egg-sized hail" and wind gusts to 70 mph. Yikes!.

Here's why we don't drive in hail storms. And here are some tips for staying safe.

In the meantime, the mercury has reached 89 degrees this afternoon here at The Sun. It's 87 down at BWI-Marshall. The record high for Baltimore on this date is 95 degrees, set in 1956.

(SUN PHOTO/Frank D. Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Baltimore snowiest winters ranked

The latest edition of the "Sterling Reporter," the seasonal report from forecasters at the National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington forecast office in Sterling, Va., includes their ranking of the snowiest winters in Baltimore and Washington.

The rankings appear to take into account adjustments the NWS had to make in the snow measurements at BWI, which were found to have been done improperly by an FAA contractor. So put an asterisk on the numbers for the top storm.

It's interesting to note that the top three storms since record-keeping for Baltimore began in the 19th century, have all occurred in the last 15 years. And, notice how much less snow Washington has received than Baltimore. Only 40 miles up the road and we seem to get significantly snowier winters. 

BWI-MARSHALL AIRPORT

1. 2009-10:  77.0 inches

2. 1995-96:  62.5 inchesSnow 2010 Baltimore

3. 2002-03:  58.2 inches

4. 1963-64:  51.8 inches

5. 1898-99:  51.1 inches

6. 1960-61:  46.5 inches

7. 1921-22:  44.4 inches

8. 1966-67:  43.4 inches

9. 1957-58:  43.0 inches

10. 1978-79:  42.5 inches 

WASHINGTON REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT

1. 2009-10:  56.1 inchesCar trouble blizzard Baltimore

2. 1898-99:  54.4 inches

3. 1995-96:  46.0 inches

4. 1921-22:  44.5 inches

5. 1891-92:  41.7 inches

6. 1904-05:  41.0 inches

7. 1957-58:  40.4 inches

8. 2002-03:  40.4 inches

9. 1960-61:  40.3 inches

10. 1910-11:  39.8 inches

(SUN PHOTOS: Top/Kim Hairston; Bottom/Karl Merton Ferron, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Sunshine could trigger storms later Friday

Think of the sunshine we're seeing this morning, pouring down over the Maryland Penitentiary, as the match. The warm, moist air moving into the region out of the southwest, then, is the fuel. And by sometime late this afternoon or this evening, the two should combine to set off scattered and isolated showers and thunderstorms.

NWS forecasters out at Sterling said the storms "could become severe ... capable of producing large Lightning over Baltimorehail and damaging winds ... Some of the most favorable instability will be stationed across the I-95 corridor and down into N. Central Virginia."

The good news for race fans is that the warm, sticky weather and storms should all be swept away by a cold front that is ready to drop down across the region overnight, clearing the decks for a dry and pleasant weekend, and a fast track for the Preakness.

"Sometimes it works out that the workweek will have nice weather, and a consecutive series of weekends will not be that nice," the forecasters said in a rare bit of prose in this morning's forecast discussion. (The translation from telegraphic weatherspeak is mine.)

"This week should be the reverse," they said. "After having storms earlier in the week and again today, high pressure will be settling into the region for the weekend, bringing plenty of sunshine ...Enjoy."

It should also be pretty breezy, with northwest winds of 11 to 16 mph, with higher gusts.

Then, of course, the new workweek begins, and the rains return. The first half of the new week looks cloudy and wet as low pressure moves our way out of the Midwest. Chances for showers Monday and Tuesday rise to 50 and 60 percent, with sunshine returning by Thursday, if the forecast holds up that long.

(SUN PHOTO/Karl Merton Ferron, 2002)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:09 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

May 13, 2010

Friday showers will clear for weekend, Preakness

Skies should clear in time for the races at Pimlico on Saturday, but the ladies may have to hold on tight to their Preakness bonnets. NWS forecasters are calling for these late-week gray skies and showers to clear off by Saturday. But they're comparing the winds due on Saturday to the tree-shakers we saw on Sunday.

Preakness windsThe atmospheric setup for the next three or four days is kind of complex and unusual. There is a big high-pressure system off the coast that's sending cool, moist Atlantic air our way today on east winds. It has also pushed a cold front south as far as eastern North Carolina, keeping us cool and damp and drizzly into the morning.

Portions of Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties got close to an inch, or more, in last evening's storms.

They're not predicting much more in the way of rain today, however. And the cold front is beginning to push north again. Winds will slowly swing to the southeast as the offshore high starts to move away, and temperatures will rise into the 60s as a bit of sun peeks through later today.

By Friday we'll be dealing with the next cold front, slipping down out of the northwest as low NOAApressure moves across the Great Lakes to our north. Before that front gets here, though, we'll see winds shift to the south and southwest, bringing warmer, wetter air our way. That will mean some morning showers, a break, and then more showers and thunderstorms possible late in the afternoon or Friday evening.

Once the cold front passes by, Saturday will begin to dry us out. Skies will become mostly sunny, and race fans should expect it will be "windy on Saturday, like it was last Sunday," forecasters at Sterling said in this morning's forecast discussion.

Temperatures at the track may reach 75 degrees Saturday afternoon. Pretty nice. But hold onto your hats.

Sunday looks nice, too ... sunny and low 70s. The next chance for rain will come late Monday and continue most of the week.

(SUN PHOTO/Lloyd Fox, 2006)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:12 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

The winds of Harbor Court

 Harbor CourtFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS: 

Kurt Kroncke lives in Federal Hill and often walks past the Harbor Court condos along South Charles. On breezy days, he says, “as I approach from either the south side or the north side, the wind is in my face. But as I walk beyond the building, the wind is … at my back. Does this make sense?

Sure. The prevailing wind is from the west. It hits the high-rise, splits north and south. It’s against you on approach, with you as you depart.

 

(SUN PHOTO/John Makely, 1998)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 11, 2010

AccuWeather's hurricane forecast: "Big"

AccuWeather.com's Joe Bastardi has released his spring hurricane forecast to those of us who won't pay for his company's pricier services, which made it available weeks ago. "It's a big year coming up," he told me in an interview Tuesday morning. Here's the link to the story we posted today. It will run Wednesday in print.

Hurricane Ike, Texas, 2008Readers are already yawning at the predictions. "We hear the same prediction every year," they say. Or, "Why should we believe them? They can't even predict the weather for the Preakness on Saturday."

Well, actually, near-term weather forecasts are now quite reliable. Saturday should be sunny for the Preakness. Long-term hurricane forecasts are less so. But the challenge is greater.

And it is true that hurricane season forecasters have been repeating themselves a lot in recent years. That's partly because we are in an active phase of the multi-decadal Atlantic cycle. It began in 1995, and we have seen more active hurricane seasons most years since then, compared with the long-term averages. So we can expect them to call for an "active" season quite frequently until the decadal cycle shifts.

It's also true that the same forecasters found themselves backpedaling on last season's forecasts for another active season. That's because the Pacific was heating up last summer, moving into a moderate El Nino, which tends to suppress hurricane formation in the Atlantic.Hurricane Ike, 2008

So the spring forecasts were too high. In March, AccuWeather.com called for 13 named storms, cutting that to 10 in May as the El Nino numbers came in. In April, the team at Colorado State University predicted 12. WeatherBug said we'd see 11 to 13. And in May, NOAA predicted 9 to 14.

In the end, we saw only 9 named storms, just a shade below the long-term averages. There were only 3 hurricanes in 2009, roughly half the long-term average. Two of those became "major" (Cat. 3 or higher) storms, a bit below the average of 2.3. It was blessedly quiet in the tropics.

Forecasts can miss their target, and Bastardi freely admits it. "In 2007 I was wrong," he said. "I thought it would be a big year in Florida. Instead, all the [storm] tracks went south and east of Florida." He ticked off a couple of other forecast "busts."

Bastardi had the right idea about this past winter, warning last fall we'd see the coldest, snowiest winter in these parts since 2002-2003. And he was right about the snow, except that it was WAY snowier than even his forecast of 25 inches at BWI. (We got a record-shattering 77 inches. Our average at BWI is 18 inches.) And, he expected that the most snow would fall in January and February. He got the February part right, but January saw  few flakes, and he didn't anticipate the big December storm.

But hey, these are forecasts. Informed guesses. They are not the TV listings. We shouldn't rely on them for their precision, but consider them fair warning. Bastardi's hurricane forecast, and those that will follow in the coming weeks,  should be reminders that these storms are very real, and potentially terrible possibilities. We need to consider them in our planning and preparations (thinking of a September cruise?), and pay attention when real storms appear on the horizon.

And if the direst forecasts fizzle, we should celebrate.

(TOP: AP Photo/ Dallas Morning News; BOTTOM: Smiley N. Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:39 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

What a mess ... Nature's ash, BP's oil from space

NASA image BP oil slick 

Between the leaking BP oil well and the ash-spewing Eyjafjalljokull volcano in Iceland, there is plenty of crud in the air and water to catch the eye of high-flying satellites.

NASA today released new images of both events. The shot of the undulating oil slick off the southeast coast of Louisiana (above) shows a J-shaped smear just south of the Mississippi/Alabama border. It was shot by the space agency's Terra Earth-observing satellite at 12:35 EDT Monday afternoon.

The ash plume from Iceland is shown (below) streaming off the island in a nearly straight line to the south southeast. Farther downstream, NASA says, the ash has now reached North Africa and Turkey. The image was taken at 9:25 a.m. EDT Monday, also by Terra.

NASA image Iceland volcano

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:33 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

May 10, 2010

Cold rain Tuesday; shower risk most of the week

The low temperature at BWI this morning was 36 degrees, just 3 degrees shy of the record low of 33, reached most recently on this date in 1983.

Today (Monday) looks like it could be the best day of the week, weatherwise, with clear, sunny skies and high temperatures still a bit cool - in the mid-60s - but pleasant, especially in the sunshine. The average high for May 10 in Baltimore is 72 degrees.

After that, however, the outlook gets a bit wetter, forecasters say. As the high pressure now over Sunny springour heads begins to move off the coast on Tuesday, we'll come into a warmer, wetter flow of air as low pressure approaches out of the Midwest, dragging a warm front ahead of it out of the southwest.

By late Tuesday morning or early afternoon, we'll start to see some rain ahead of this front, if the forecast holds up. As much as a quarter-inch is possible in some spots. Temperatures will stay quite cool, with a forecast high for Tuesday of only 58 degrees.

But as the warm front presses through later on Tuesday and early Wednesday, temperatures will rise, pushing into the 70s, or low 80s on Wednesday, amid more showers and thunderstorms. 

As the low passes, off to the east on Wednesday, a cold front will finally cross the region behind it, with the chance for more showers and thunderstorms. Behind the front on Thursday, the skies should clear out a bit, a high near 70 degrees. But more unsettled weather lies ahead for Friday.

Get your rays today. Keep the umbrella handy for the rest of the week.

(AP Photo)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:47 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Early risers spot green fireball over Central Md.

Reports are beginning to arrive about what sounds like a rather spectacular fireball meteor over Central Maryland just before dawn Monday morning. Not sure how many people would be outside to see this at such an hour, but let's see what other accounts might come in. 

Here's what we have so far. (The file photo is probably close to what these people saw):

"I had a major meteorite sighting over Cockeysville at 0445 hrs this AM. Large green fireball with pieces Fireballbreaking off and burning off. From the northwest to the southeast.  Way cool- first one ever!" - John Selway, White Hall, Md.

"I was headed east on Rt. 23 (East West Highway) in Forest Hill this
morning at about 4:40am.  When I reached the intersection at Conowingo
Road, I noticed an amazing bright streak of green light falling
diagonally through the sky.  I lost sight of it as it appeared to go
behind the buildings at the intersection.  I've never seen anything like
it in my life.  When I arrived at work, I immediately started searching
on atmospheric sightings and came across your blog.  Can a meteor have
this type of color?"
-Michele 
Anyone else? Please leave a comment. It's important to include details about where you were, the time, the direction of the meteor's movement, its altitude above the horizon at the beginning and the end of the observation (in degrees, if possible; the horizon is zero, straight up is 90 degrees), its color and anything else you can remember. Also try to remember the duration of the event. Count "Mississippi 1, Mississippi 2, Mississippi 3" to estimate seconds).
Meteor scientists and meteorite hunters can use the information to calculate the meteor's direction, altitude, and the rough location of any parts of it that may have reached the surface.
Thanks.
Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:01 AM | | Comments (84)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

May 9, 2010

Snow-free ... until next time

IN PRINT TODAY, MAY 9, 2010 - The last traces of February’s snowstorms – remnants of huge piles dozed from parking lots - have finally melted away. But even in May snow is not impossible here. On this date in 1923 Baltimore recorded a trace. The latest on record for the city fell May 11, 1951, also a trace. Anyone remember that? But we should be snow-free at least until October. The earliest measurable snowfall here was 0.3 inch, on Oct. 10, 1979. Orioles fans will recall that one.
Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 8, 2010

April in Baltimore was toasty

IN PRINT TODAY, MAY 8, 2010 - The April weather stats are in, and it was a warm one. The average high temperature at BWI was 69.7 degrees, tied with 1976 as the 6th-warmest on record for April. The first week of April saw the warmest first-week average on record for the month. We broke or tied daily maximum records on the 5th (84 degrees) and the 6th (90 degrees). The 90-degree highs on the 6th and 7th tied for the second-earliest occurrence of 90-degree weather in a calendar year. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 7, 2010

Obituary: The Lancaster snow pile is no more

Lancaster snow pile in better daysOur Lancaster bureau chief, Charlie Charnigo, reports from his FRiday lunch spot that the towering snow pile he has been watching since the February storms has finally melted away. Says he:

"And then it was gone. The snow pile up here is no more. They even swept up the lot, leaving not a trace of the monument to the back-to-back blizzards of 2010. But 90 days was a good run. Cheers, Charlie."

There will be no viewing hours. Services will be private. We prefer to remember our snow pile as it once was. (See above.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Why so cool in Laurel?

IN PRINT TODAY, MAY 7, 2010 - John Polyniak, in Lake Shore, says he thinks local TV and the Weather Channel regularly report temperatures for Laurel that are a few degrees cooler than the suburbs north and west of Baltimore: “What is the reason for this?” Hard to say without knowing where the sensors are. In summer, the bay breeze may benefit Laurel more than, say, Towson. More likely, it’s the cooling effects of greenery at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge and USDA Agricultural Research Station.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 6, 2010

Hot cars can kill

IN PRINT TODAY, MAY 6, 2010 - Brianna Jones, Joseph Chatmon and Payton McKinnon, ages 7 to 21 months old, are the first in the U.S. this year to lose their lives because they were left in closed cars in the heat. It doesn’t have to be scorching outside to produce lethal temperatures inside your car. These kids died on days that reached 86, 80 and 73 degrees. More than half such tragedies occur when caretakers forget the kids are there. It’s warming up. Please be careful. More: http://bit.ly/d9sp2z

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:57 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

April was one of our warmest

April in Baltimore turned out to be one of the warmest on record for the city, putting a 90-degree rush on the summer weather that is sure to follow.

The April climate summary from the National Weather Service notes that the average temperature for the month was 57.1 degrees. That was 3.9 degrees above the long-term (30-year) average for Aprils at BWI.

Warm April in BaltimoreWhen the statisticians out at Sterling looked at just the daily high temperatures, they found that the average daily high of 69.7 degrees last month was the 6th-warmest on record for the city, tying for that spot with April 1976.

Much of that heat came during the first week of April. The average for that week was 64.6 degrees, the warmest first week of April on record, beating the old (1929) record by just a tenth of a degree.

The hottest stretch came on April 5, 6 and 7. The high of 84 degrees on the 5th broke a record of 83 set on that date in 1942. The high of 90 degrees on the 6th tied the record set in 1929.

The twin highs of 90 degrees on the 6th and 7th also tied as the second-earliest first occurrence Bee and flowerof 90-degree weather on record in Baltimore. The earliest on the books was on March 29, 1945, when the mercury hit 90.

When they looked at March and April together, the number-crunchers at Sterling noticed two consecutive warm months. In fact, this March and April ranked as the 10th-warmest on record, and the warmest since 1977.

Warm springs are an increasing concern among climate scientists and biologists. They see a gradual "spring creep" - warmer temperatures coming earlier and earlier in the year - that shows signs of getting some species out of synch with vital food sources or pollinators. People adjust pretty easily, but some animals and the plants and animals they have depended on for eons are finding themselves on increasingly different schedules. Elsewhere, earlier snowmelts are increasing the frequency and size of western forest fires. 

Here's more on the "spring creep" studies.  

(SUN PHOTOS/Top: John Makely, 2006/ Bottom: Algerina Perna, 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:44 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers
        

May 5, 2010

Perfect. Again. Cooler weather ahead

Another perfect day outside - 80s and sunny. Same old 74 and fluorescent inside. Forecasters say there's little to worry us as the week draws to a close, and cooler weather ahead by Sunday as a strong cold front prepares to change our weather patterns early next week.

Today looks like the bell-ringer for the moment, with forecast highs in the low 80s and tons of May sunshine in Baltimoresunshine. Things will be cooler by the bay, as a bay breeze sets up in the afternoon. By Thursday we will see a weak cold front pass across the region. Mostly it will be dry, with only the chance for some isolated showers here and there, mostly east of I-95, if the forecast holds up.

High pressure returns on Friday, which looks like another mostly sunny day, if a bit cooler - in the 70s, but still a few degrees warmer than the norms for this time of year.  The big change cranks up late Friday or Saturday with the passage of a stronger cold front, which is more likely to kick up some showers and thunderstorms and gusty winds as it slides by. 

By Saturday night or Sunday, behind the front, we'll have winds out of the northwest, bringing in considerably cooler air, with highs only in the 60s, and lows in the 40s, and maybe even some 30s to our west. But there will be plenty of sunshine. Beautiful. Soak it all up. There's plenty of hot, humid summer weather in our future.

(SUN PHOTO/John Makely 2001)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

May 3, 2010

Maryland snow pile, too, in its last days

BWI snow pileLancaster, Pa. is not the only place in the region with a dwindling remnant of the back-to-back blizzards of 2010.

Officials at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport say the huge snow pile alongside the hourly garage has not yet melted completely away. But it does appear to be in its final days. It was 80 degrees at BWI this afternoon.

"This snow, still remaining here in early May, reminds all of us of the record storms this winter," said Paul J. Wiedefeld, the airport's executive director, in his eulogy for the 77 inches that fell there this past winter.

"I want to again acknowledge and thank the snow team employees at BWI Marshall who worked extremely long hours this winter to clear snow for airport customers. It was a winter that none of us will soon forget."

Here's how the snow pile looked on March 4:Snow pile at BWI March 4

(PHOTOS courtesy of Jonathan Dean, BWI)

 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:59 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Region dodges heavy rains

The slow-moving weather front that has dropped a foot or two of rain on parts of Tennessee this weekend, with terrible flooding, will pass through Maryland later today, but without the tremendous rain. Check out this video of a portable classroom floating down Interstate 24 near Nashville.

So far, here at The Sun,we've clocked in barely a quarter-inch of rain from the showers that have preceded the frontal passage expected later today or this evening. And the radar suggests most of that wet weather has now passed to our east.

We may see some sunny breaks in the clouds as the day unfolds, with daytime temperatures headed back into the 70s and 80s. But forecasters out at Sterling are still holding onto the possibility of showers or thunderstorms when the cold front finally passes by this (Monday) afternoon.

Behind the front we'll see drier conditions. The humidity over the weekend was pretty oppressive, making it pretty hard not to switch on the AC to dry things out. (We caved.) But Tuesday looks drier, but with a lingering risk of isolated showers and thunderstorms.

Wednesday and Thursday are setting up to be the best days of the week, with highs near 82 degrees and clear skies as high pressure builds into the region. Another cold front will slip by on Thursday without much impact on our weather, forecasters say.

But the next cold front arriving late Friday or Saturday will bring a threat of showers and storms, leading to cooler temperatures for the weekend - in the 60s and 70s.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        
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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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NASA explains the science of climate change with articles, videos, “data visualizations,” and space-based imagery.

• What on Earth:
NASA blog on current research at the space agency.
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