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June 29, 2010

Share your best weather photo

The latest theme in's weekly reader photo contest is weather. Upload your best weather photo here, and editors will pick their favorite and display it online and in The Baltimore Sun with a critique from head of photography Robert Hamilton. Deadline is July 4. The winning photo will appear in the paper and online July 12.

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Readers' weather photos

June 27, 2010

Gone fishin'

Fishing BaltimoreI surely do hate to leave you in the middle of a heat wave, with storms brewing in the tropics and a full moon on the rise.

But it's vacation time on the WeatherDeck, and I will be out of the Maryland Weather Blog control room for a while. I'm going to recharge the old batteries, get to know my favorite school teacher a little better, and put some sand between our toes.

You may talk amongst yourselves. 



(Update: We'll still be posting weather news here until he returns.)

(SUN PHOTO: Algerina Perna)


Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Notes to readers

Bootid meteor shower peaks tonight


The annual Bootid meteor shower peaks tonight. It’s not one of the better showers of the year, but it came to mind after Orioles fans reported a bright fireball over the stadium at about 9:45 p.m. during Thursday’s O’s/Marlins game. The Bootids are active from June 22 to July 2. They occur as the Earth passes through the dust trail of a comet called 7P/Pons-Winnicke. Bootid meteors radiate from the constellation Bootes, high overhead at 10 p.m. in June, traveling at about 11 miles per second.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Sky Watching

June 26, 2010

TS Alex appears headed for western Gulf

NOAAThe 2010 Atlantic hurricane season is up and running today as Tropical Storm Alex gathers strength in the western Caribbean Sea. The storm appears to be headed for Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, and from there into the western Gulf of Mexico.

We don't wish this storm on anyone, but at least a more westerly track will keep the worst of the storm's effects away from the many ships working in the northeastern gulf to contain the BP oil well blowout. Can't imagine what would happen if they had to leave the area and allow the well to spew freely until the weather clears.

Alex has top sustained winds this morning of 40 mph. It is headed west-northwest at 8 mph. The storm is packing rains that could total 4 to 8 inches, which would pose a threat of flooding and mudslides once it makes landfall. 

Here's the latest advisory. And here's the forecast storm track. And here is the view from orbit

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:54 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes

Thunder Moon on the rise


Full moon BaltimoreThe full moon rises over Baltimore this evening at 8:59 p.m. It’s the first full moon since the summer solstice, making it the Hay Moon, or the Thunder Moon. If it seems unusually low in the sky late at night, that’s because, around the solstice, the sunward side of the planet’s northern hemisphere is tilted 23.4 degrees toward the sun. And because the moon stands opposite the sun when it’s full, that means the full moon is “low” in the night sky in June for the same reason that the midday sun is “high” in the sky.

(SUN PHOTO: Chiaki Kawajiri, 2008) 

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

June 25, 2010

Friday's BWI high of 93 marks a week in the 90s

The National Weather Service has reported a high of 93 degrees at BWI-Marshall airport on Friday. So much for the break we were supposed to get today. At least the humidity was a little lower.

Cooling offThe heat marked the seventh straight day of 90-plus temperatures for Baltimore. The last time that happened was Aug. 16-22, 2008.

Forecasters out at Sterling said it's only the 17th time since record-keeping began in Baltimore in 1871 that a seven-day streak in the 90s has occurred before July 1.

And if their forecasts hold up, we will have 10 days of 90-degree weather on the books by Monday. And Tuesday will be a close call. The only times Baltimore has recorded 90-degree streaks longer than 10 days was when one 12-day streak ended on July 7, 1901, and another ended June 28, 1943.

Streaks of 90-plus temperatures before July 1 in Washington have happened five times. The longest was an 18-day streak that ended July 14, 1872. 

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, 2006)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

Storm in western Caribbean gains strength

That stormy region in the western Caribbean was getting better organized and gaining strength Friday and forecasters now give it a 70 percent chance of becoming the Atlantic season's first named tropical storm - Alex - within 48 hours.

UPDATE: Chances are now put at 80 percent that this storm will become a tropical storm within 48 hours, and maybe sooner.

 Designated 93L, the storm was located between the northeast coast of Honduras and Grand Cayman Island. Surface pressures were falling - a sign of strengthening - and upper level winds NOAAwere becoming more friendly to further development.

Computer models disagree on where the storm would go from there. Some take it west northwest toward the Yucatan and Mexico's northeast coast. Others send it more to the north, across the region where BP is trying to stop its oil well blowout, and coastal residents are laboring to keep oil off their shores. 

An Air Force reconnaissance plane was scheduled to fly into the storm later today to gather more data on its development.

Also on the satellite images this morning is a second region of stormy weather. This one is in the Atlantic, just north east of the northern Leeward Islands. It's pretty disorganized, and forecasters say any development will be slow. They give it just a 10 percent chance of becoming a named tropical storm within the next 48 hours. It's headed northwest and should be no threat to land for some time.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes

Meteor during Thursday's Orioles game?

Just received this note from a member of the Howard Astronomical League:

Perseid fireball"Frank,
"Not sure if you have heard yet or not, but at tonight's (June 24) Orioles game around 9:45PM there was an extremely bright meteor (bolide) in the sky that went over the city. I was sitting on the first base side and the meteor flew overtop the Hilton Hotel (left field of the stadium). It was heading roughly westward and for being over the city was very very bright! Unfortunately it was between innings and I had put my camera down.
"I would hope though that with all the photo and tv cameras that someone must have gotten a picture or video.
"Just wanted to let you know in case you were interested. - James Willinghan"
Sure, I'm interested. Did anyone at the stadium (or anywhere else in the region) spot this object? If so, leave a comment here. Better yet, if you managed to get a photo or video, let me know and we'll post it and replace the one above.
Remember, it's very important to include detailed information describing the object, where you were, which direction you were facing, which direction the object was traveling, how high above the horizon it was and how long it was visible.
(PHOTO: 2006 Perseid fireball/ Pierre Martin, Ontario)
Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:29 AM | | Comments (53)
Categories: Sky Watching

Space Cadets! Watch the Int'l Space Station tonight


NASA Space StationSpace Cadets! If skies are clear enough tonight we’ll have another good opportunity to watch the International Space Station as a crew of six flies billions of your tax dollars from high over Alabama toward New Brunswick, Canada.

Look for a bright, star-like object to appear at 10:04 p.m. EDT, rising over the western horizon, passing between Mars and Saturn. At 10:07 it will pass through the handle of the Big Dipper, high in the northwest. Then it will slide off toward the northeast, disappearing at 10:10 p.m.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition

June 24, 2010

BWI thermometer hits 100 ... Or not

The National Weather Service reported a reading of 100 degrees this afternoon at BWI-Marshall Airport. That breaks the 98-degree record set for Baltimore in 1966.

Or maybe not. Although forecasters at the NWS forecast office in Sterling show a 100-degree reading for BWI on their computers, I'm told the official observer at BWI has not, at this writing, confirmed the reading.

UPDATE, 3 p.m.: It's confirmed. BWI hit 100 degrees at 1:54 p.m.

It's the first time the official (BWI) temperature for Baltimore has hit triple digits since a 102-degree reading on Aug. 8, 2007.

The highest we've seen so far this afternoon here at The Sun's weather station, at Calvert and Centre streets, is 99 degrees, at 2:10 p.m.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Heat waves

Storm clouds in the Caribbean

Chances that a stormy region in the Caribbean will get organized and strengthen to tropical storm force appear to be growing today. The National Hurricane Center gives the weather in the region a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next two days, up from near zero a few NOAAdays ago.

For now, it's still a rather disorganized patch of thunderstorms affecting portions of Hispaniola, Jamaica and Cuba, as well as the Cayman Islands. But ...

"Upper-level winds are expected to become more conducive for deverlopment of this system as it moves westward or west-northwestward around 10 mph over the next couple of days," the NHC said. "There is a medium chance (40 percent) of this system becoming a tropoical cyclone during the next 48 hours."

In the meantime, forecaster Joe Bastardi has said, "The lid is about to pop off first Atlantic threat of the season." He believes steering winds could bring the storm - if it forms - into the Gulf of Mexico by early next week. Gulf waters are very warm, so that would not be good news for those working to get the BP well under control, or to clear the beaches and marshlands of oil. 

Bastardi recently revised upward his early forecast for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. From the 16 to 18 named storms he forecast back in March, he has boosted his estimate to 18 to 21 storms. That puts him more in line with NOAA's May forecast of 14-23 named storms.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:53 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes

Heat relief ! ... (next week)

UPDATE: 12:45 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for all of Maryland except for lower Eastern Shore, effective until 8 p.m. Thursday. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is in effect for Garrett County.

Also, the thermometer at BWI-Marshall reached 98 degrees at 1 p.m. today, matching the record for the date, last reported here in 1966. Earlier post resumes below.

Where shall I start? This year does seem to be shaping up as a Big Weather year for Baltimore and Central Maryland. Big Snow, Big Heat and - dare I say it - a big tropical weather season? It happened in 2003. Remember? The record snowfall in February, followed by Tropical Storm Isabel in September? 

We'll just have to wait and see. For now, we're dealing with our sixth straight day of 90-plus temperatures and high humidity. There is a Code Red Heat Alert in Baltimore again today (Thursday). The heat index numbers for this afternoon are expected to reach 104 degrees - just Baltimore heatshy of Heat Advisory criteria. Heat Advisories are up for the southern Chesapeake, south of the Potomac River. And there's more to come.

Very old records continue to wobble and fall with this heat wave. Forecasters at the NWS service forecast office in Sterling, Va. say yesterday's high of 97 degrees at BWI tied the Baltimore record for the date, set in 1894. Today's forecast high of 96 degrees will threaten today's record high of 98 degrees, last reached on this date in 1966.

BWI-Marshall may also have broken the record for the warmest daily low for the date. The overnight low this morning at the airport was 79 degrees. If it doesn't get cooler than 76 before midnight, that will break the old record of 76, set in 1924. 

Some of us could see some thunderstorms this afternoon or this evening as a "cold" front (HAH!) pushes through. There is a potential for some of the storms to grow to "severe" proportions. There is some threat of hail, but damaging winds, especially between the Blue Ridge and I-95, are the main worry. The threat should end by midnight.Baltimore heat

Friday is forecast to be the coolest day of the week, and the driest, with a predicted high of only 89 degrees after the passage of the cold front late today. But after that, the high behind the front slides off the coast and (this should sound familiar) we fall into the return flow around the clockwise-spinning high. And that brings us more hot, humid air out of the south or southwest.

(Today, winds are out of the west. That's also bad news, as air flowing downslope off the Appalachians is compressed, which heats it up even more. But I digress.)

With that south or southwesterly flow over the weekend, forecast highs climb back in to the 90s, with a high of 92 expected Saturday, rising to 94 on Sunday and falling back only to 92 on Monday.

There is some relief at the end of the 7-day forecast, finally. After more showers and storms with another cold front on Monday, forecasters say, we'll drop back to more seasonable, merciful temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday, in the low- to mid-80s. 

Hey, it could be worse. We're finally out of the bad air zone. There is a Code Orange air pollution forecast up today for Washington, D.C. and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. But somehow the Baltimore region has escaped the smog with just "Moderate" air pollution expected through Friday.

(SUN PHOTO: Top: Kim Hairston, 2010/ Bottom: Barbara Haddock Taylor, 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:45 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Heat waves

Oceans delay summer warm-up


John Polyniak, in Lake Shore, writes: “If the sun is highest in the sky on June 21, and lowest on Dec. 21, why is July the hottest month and January the coldest?” The highest average temperatures occur in mid-July, while the lowest occur in mid-January. The reason is the ocean. Like an ice bag or a hot water bottle, the sea is slow to give up stored solar heat, and slow to heat up again as the sun angles decline. That creates a month’s lag between incoming solar energy, and air temperatures.

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

June 22, 2010

B'more declares Code Red Heat Alert, Weds., Thurs.

This just in from Baltimore City's Health Department:

"Because of predicted high temperatures and potential danger accordingto the Baltimore Heat Watch Warning System, Interim Health Commissioner Olivia D. Farrow is declaring Wednesday, June 23rd and Thursday, June 24th Code Red Heat Alert days.

"Baltimore City will open emergency colling centers. Each center will have cool air, water and ice available."

And this, from the National Weather Service:


The Community Action Program will operate five centers around the city. These centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday:

Northern Community Action Center -- 5225 York Road

Southern Community Action Center -- 606 Cherry Hill Road (inside the shopping center 2
nd floor)

Northwest Community Action Center -- 3939 Reisterstown Road

Southeastern Community Action Center -- 3411 Bank Street

Eastern Community Action Center – 1400 E. Federal Street

The Commission on Aging and Retirement Education will operate five additional cooling centers. These centers will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday:

    Waxter Center -- 1000 Cathedral Street

    Oliver Center -- 1700 Gay Street

    Sandtown-Winchester Center -- 1601 Baker Street

    Hatton Center -- 2825 Fait Avenue

    John Booth -- 229 1/2 S. Eaton Street

    Zeta Center -- 4501 Reisterstown Road

    The Jewish Community Center, a private facility unaffiliated with the City, has expressed its wish to be listed as an additional cooling center for those in need. It will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and is located at 5700 Park Heights Avenue.

    "Most reports have indicated that this week will be dangerously hot and humid. If you have to spend time outside, keep tabs on how you are feeling physically, and take frequent water breaks," said Interim Health Commissioner Olivia Farrow. "We want people to do what it takes to take care of themselves, as well as spread the word about the resources the city is offering."

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:49 PM | | Comments (3)
    Categories: Heat waves

    Mercury hits 95 at BWI-Marshall

    Ho hum. Another sweltering day in the 90s in Baltimore.

    The official instruments out at BWI touched 95 degrees this afternoon. That was plenty hot, but still shy of the record 100 degrees set for the date in 1988. The official high once again swamped the Weather Service's forecast high of 91 degrees, posted this morning. Monday's high of 94 at BWI also eclipsed the 91-degree forecast for that date.Baltimore heat

    Which leaves us wondering about how hot we should expect Wednesday and Thursday to be. The forecast from NWS Sterling calls for a high at BWI of 94 on Wednesday and 95 on Thursday. Build in another few degrees based on past performance and we'll threaten the 100 mark before those days are done.

    The Baltimore record for a June 23 is 97 degrees, set in 1894. The record to beat on Thursday will be 98 degrees, last reached in 1966.

    So far, since Saturday, we've seen BWI highs of 93, 94 and 95, with 95 and 96 forecast for the next two days.

    In the meantime, we also reached 95 degrees here at Calvert and Centre streets this afternoon. And that's where the dial remains at 6 p.m.  It was 96 degrees at 5 p.m. at Washington's Reagan National Airport.  And it was 95 degrees at Hagerstown.

    There's another Code Orange Air Quality Alert posted in the region for Wednesday. The air will be unhealthy (for the third straight day) for people in sensitive groups. Hopes that it would ease to "moderate," have been dashed.

    The temperature will fall slowly this evening if we dont see a thunderstorm. That could set us up to eclipse another record: the record high minimum (the warmest overnight low) of 75 degrees, set on June 23, 1943. "There's definitely a chance," said meteorologist Jared Klein.

    So I'm headed out to do an imitation of the guy in this photo. How are you staying cool in this steam bath?

    (SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2009)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:59 PM | | Comments (1)
    Categories: Heat waves

    Space Cadets! ISS flyby Wednesday night

    There will be several promising opportunities this week for residents of Central Maryland to spot the International Space Station as it flies over the state. The air is so humid that clouds may obscure the view. But if we get a break, the station is certainly bright enough to shine through a thin summer haze.

    Drag the kids out with you. It will inspire them to pursue a career in math and science. Accost the joggers and dog-walkers and make them look, too. They will be astonished by your scientific ISS NASAawareness.

    The first opportunity comes Wednesday evening, as the station flies northeast from high over Alabama toward New Brunswick in eastern Canada.

    Look for it to appear above the southwest horizon at 10:46 p.m. EDT. Watch for a bright, star-like object climbing swiftly into the western sky. It will pass just to the left of Saturn, rising high in the northwestern sky. By 10:49 p.m. it will be about two-thirds of the way from the northwest horizon and the zenith (straight up). From there the station and its crew of six (three Russians and three Americans, two of them female) will hustle off toward the northeast, disappearing there at 10:52 p.m.

    If we're clouded out on Wednesday, there will be an almost identical pass on Friday evening. The forecast looks much more promising for this one.

    Watch for the station as it rises into the western sky at 10:04 p.m. EDT. It will pass between Mars (to its right) and Saturn (to the left).  By 10:07 p.m. it will be more than halfway up the northwestern sky, passing through the handle of the Big Dipper. From there, the ISS will move toward the northeast horizon, disappearing at 10:10 p.m.

    As always, stop back here after the show and share the experience with others. I'll post the comments as soon as I can.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:10 PM | | Comments (2)
    Categories: Sky Watching

    More of the same, plus thunder

    More heat, more humidity, more polluted air ... But wait! There's even more!

    Forecasters out at Sterling say the rising moisture levels in the atmosphere, coupled with a passing low-pressure trough and solar heating should kick off a few scattered thunderstorms by late Tuesday afternoon and evening. The chance of precipitation is put at 30 percent today, rising to 40 percent this evening.

    A nice shower might green up the lawns and gardens a bit for those spots lucky enough to be under them. And they would provide at least some temporary relief from the 90-plus temperatures we're expecting this afternoon and pretty much every afternoon right through the weekend.

    "The risk of severe weather will be area-wide ...beginning mid to late afternoon across the Potomac highlands, then working eastward toward the urban corridor by evening," forecasters said in this morning's forecast discussion. "Damaging winds [will be] the biggest threat as relatively warm Cooling off Baltimoretemperatures aloft will limit hail formation... "

    The forecast high for BWI-Marshall Airport Tuesday is still 91 degrees. That's what it was yesterday, too, but it managed to reach 94. The forecast for Wednesday and Thursday calls for highs of 95 and 96 degrees, respectively, the highest of the week and up a couple of degrees from yesterday's outlook. Humidity levels will be higher, too, as the offshore Bermuda High pumps more Gulf and Atlantic moisture northward into our region. 

    These temperatures are all 5 to 10 degrees above the averages for this time of year

    Washington's Reagan National Airport set a new record high minimum temperature this morning. The overnight low was 76 degrees, breaking the old record high minimum for a June 22 of 75 degrees, set in 1893 and matched in 1931.

    Central Maryland remains under a Code Orange Air Pollution Alert on Tuesday. Heat, sunshine and vehicle exhaust are combining to create a nasty ozone soup around us. That is deemed unhealthy for sensitive groups. Health authorities urge those with heart or respiratory problems, the very young and the elderly to avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

    The forecast calls for only moderate air pollution in the region on Wednesday.

    (SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2009)

    Text WEATHER to 70701 to receive The Sun's mobile weather alerts.

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

    June 21, 2010

    Midweek highs could threaten records

    We're looking at some serious 90-plus heat this week, Maryland. NWS forecasters out at Sterling are calling for highs on Wednesday and Thursday that could threaten records at BWI-Marshall AIRNowAirport. I suspect some spots in the city could toy with the 100-degree mark.

    The chances for a thunderstorm to cool things off, at least temporarily, look pretty slim - none at all today, then no better than 30 percent through Wednesday night, then rising only to 40 percent on Thursday as a weak front slides by. After that, it's all sunshine and more 90-degree heat.

    The city did not extend Sunday's Code Red Heat Alert to Monday. (An earlier version of this post said, erroneously, it did.) The region also remains under a Code Orange Air Quality Alert (map left). Hot air, sunshine and vehicle exhaust combine to cook up plenty of ozone, making the air we're breathing outdoors unhealthy for vulnerable groups. That includes the very young, the elderly and those with heart  and respiratory problems. The forecast for Tuesday is no better.

    Here are the highs forecast for this week for BWI, and the record highs for those dates. (UPDATED FORECASTS @ 5 P.M. Forecasters knocked 2 degrees off their forecast highs for Weds. and Thurs.)

    MONDAY:  91 degrees forecast. Record 100 degrees in 1923NOAA

    TUESDAY:  91 degrees forecast. Record 100 degrees in 1988

    WEDNESDAY:  94 degrees forcast. Record 97 degrees in 1894

    THURSDAY:  93 degrees forecast. Record 98 degrees in 1966

    FRIDAY:  90 degrees forecast. Record 99 degrees in 1997

    SATURDAY:  90 degrees forecast. Record 99 degrees in 1954

    SUNDAY:  94 degrees forecast. Record 99 degrees in 1952

    Since March 1, the airport has been running an impressive 4.8 degrees above the long-term averages. We have accumulated 13 days of 90-degree-plus weather, with another six straight in the forecast. And we haven't yet reached July, which is statistically the hottest month of the year.

    The long-range forecast - for July, August and September (map above) - indicates there is a greater-than-average chance that temperatures in the mid-Atlantic states will continue to exceed long-term averages.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:36 PM | | Comments (3)
    Categories: Heat waves

    June 20, 2010

    Solstice brings year's strongest sunshine


    Solstice at StonehengeThe summer solstice arrives Monday morning at 7:29 EDT, marking the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the date with the most sunlight — 14 hours and 57 minutes in Baltimore — and the fewest minutes of darkness. Today, our hemisphere is tilted at its maximum angle toward the sun. That means the sun tomorrow will stand highest in the sky at solar noon (about 1 p.m. EDT), delivering the strongest sunshine of the year. Cover up, wear sunscreen.

    (PHOTO: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images, 2007)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (4)
    Categories: From the Sun's print edition

    June 19, 2010

    Are city dwellers safer from hail?


    Oklahoma City hailstormDonald Gansauer, in Canton, asks: “Is there any evidence that hailstorms occur more in rural areas than urban areas?” There is, but then most of our land mass is rural. Using data from the National Climatic Data Center, mapped 18 years of hail reports. The highest risk fell between the Rockies and the Mississippi, where most of the land is open plains. But cities there are vulnerable, too. The highest urban hail risk in the U.S. is in Amarillo, Tulsa and Wichita. 

    (PHOTO: Oklahoma City hailstorm/ AP/ Sue Ogrocki, May 2010)

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

    June 18, 2010

    Heat, humidity AND bad air

    We already know it's going to be hot as blazes and humid this weekend. Now the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a "Code Orange" Air Quality Alert for the Baltimore metro area on Saturday.



    The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has done the same for the capital and its suburbs, including all of Southern Maryland. Similar alerts are posted through Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey and New York City and its suburbs.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:30 PM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Air quality

    The Heat and Dr. No

    No sooner had the Hammer of Heat descended on Baltimore for the weekend (and the week to come), than the Baltimore City Public Works Department followed up with a list of cool refreshing things we MUST NOT DO as we seek to relieve our misery.

    DO NOT OPEN FIRE HYDRANTS: Sure, it's hot on the sizzling streets of Baltimore. But an open hydrant flows at a rate of 1,000 gallons a minute, enough to throw a child out into the street, and Cooling off in Baltimoreinto the path of traffic. It's happened before. It also lowers water pressure, and that could hamper firefighters and make it harder for hospitals and high-rises to get water to their upper floors. Plus, we're all paying for that treated water. That's "money down the drain," the DPW says. Use a garden hose.

    NO SWIMMING: At least not in the city's reservoirs. We all have to drink that water, after all. Plus, as recent tragedies remind us, the reservoirs are deep and dangerous and laced with swift currents. Besides, there's a $1,000 fine if you get caught. Try a city pool. Or, use a garden hose.

    If you do visit the city's lush watershed lands, Dr. No reminds us, there is "NO LITTERING, NO ALCOHOL, NO FIREARMS, NO CAMPFIRES.

    Boating and fishing are OK, if you have a permit and comply with fishing regulations. 

    Have fun! But use a garden hose.

    (SUN PHOTO: John Makely, 2005)

    Text WEATHER to 70701 to receive The Sun's mobile weather alerts.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:30 PM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Heat waves

    Nineties, as far as forecasters can see ...

    Summer arrives, officially, on Monday morning. But while we enjoyed a cool night last night, one look at the forecast for Baltimore will assure you that the sticky season is already well underway.

    The seven-day forecast out of Sterling shows daytime highs headed for 90 degrees or higher through next Thursday, with intervals of high humidity. Today - Friday - looks like the last day anywhere near the long-term Summer heat Baltimoreaverages for this time of year in Central Maryland, which are in the mid-80s.

    Sterling says we should expect sunny skies and highs near 90 degrees right through the weekend. As high pressure moves off the Atlantic coast, it will pump warm, humid air into our region from the south starting late tonight and Saturday. Our only chance for cooling would come from any isolated showers that might pop up on Saturday.

    Forecasters do expect a cold front to move through late Saturday into Sunday, but we probably won't notice much, except for some isolated showers in Southern Maryland. Sunday may feel a little drier as winds swing to the northwest for a time. But the forecast high is still near 90 degrees. Under a strong solstice sun, and clear skies, Monday could be the hottest day of the week.Air conditioners Baltimore

    Once that high moves offshore, we will once again fall under southerly winds, with more heat and humidity again by Tuesday and Wednesday. Forecasters expect highs at mid-week to remain near 90 degrees, with only a 30 percent chance of a cooling shower. The next cold front is expected in time to dry things out for next weekend.

    We managed to open the house up last night as temperatures on the WeatherDeck dropped into the 50s. This morning, we shut the windows for the day, but hope to keep the AC off until Saturday if we can stand it.

    Thinking of a long drive in a cool car this weekend, and maybe a turkey sandwich at Reading Market in Philly. How do you plan to stay cool and dry this weekend? 

    (SUN PHOTO: Top/ Karl Merton Ferron, 2003. Bottom: Kenneth K. Lam, 2005)

    Text WEATHER to 70701 to receive The Sun's mobile weather alerts.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:24 AM | | Comments (3)
    Categories: Forecasts

    Hurricanes and the Gulf oil blowout


    Katrina damage remainsSam Cohen, in Rosedale, asks how hurricanes would affect oil from the Gulf oil blowout: “Would it pick up the oil and drop it into the marshlands and cities, further fouling things up?” NOAA says high wind and waves speed “weathering” and bio-degradation of the oil. Rain wouldn’t be contaminated because hurricanes draw water vapor from such a wide area. But storm surges east of the eye could wash the slick inland, adding crude to debris and other storm-caused spills. 

    (PHOTO: Katrina damage/ Steve Johnson, Miami Herald) 

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

    June 17, 2010

    Storms fizzle; sunny, hot & humid ahead

    All the chatter Wednesday about thunderstorms late in the day came to nothing around Baltimore, as most of the serious convection and storm damage stayed well to our south. But now the cold Sunnyfront has passed and we're set up for a long stretch of sunny and increasingly hot and humid weather.

    The forecast out of Sterling this morning tells me that Thursday and Friday will be the best of the lot. Highs Thursday will top out in the mid-80s at BWI-Marshall. That's about normal for this time of year. We'll have sunshine and relatively low humidity as high pressure builds and our air comes to us from the northwest.

    Stargazers can look forward to clear, starry skies Thursday night. Temperatures in the highlands toStarry our west will drop into the 50s.

    If you can skip out on Friday, the day looks like another beautiful day to be somewhere other than work. A sidewalk table, perhaps. Or out on the links? Highs will climb into the mid- to upper-80s, but places close to the western shore of the Bay should enjoy a cooling bay breeze. The forecast for Ocean City will please the Chamber of Commerce - sunny, with highs in the 70s and 80s well into next week.

    July sun BaltimoreBut as this high-pressure system drifts off the coast, winds will shift to the south around the backside of the high. That will bring us hotter temperatures and higher humidities on Saturday. Look for temperatures to top out in the low-90s. That kind of heating could also touch off some isolated thunderstorms.

    Sunday will be much the same as Saturday - maybe even a tad hotter as the year's strongest sunshine beats down on us. High pressure, sunny skies and 90-degree weather looks to continue well into the first week of summer, with only a chance for isolated thunderstorms.

    Just remember, you wished for this back in February.

    (SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 2002) 

    Text WEATHER to 70701 to receive The Sun's mobile weather alerts.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:51 AM | | Comments (1)
    Categories: Forecasts

    Ocean currents moderate Anchorage weather


    AnchorageHarry E. Bennett, Jr., in Baltimore, follows the highs and lows in Alaska. Last winter, he said, “I noted that the … listings had Fairbanks much colder than Anchorage. That made sense because Fairbanks is north of Anchorage. Surprisingly, as spring has come, Fairbanks has the higher temperature forecast. How come?Anchorage’s climate is moderated by the sea. The Japanese Current keeps it milder in winter, cooler in summer than Fairbanks, deep in the interior.

    (PHOTO: Anchorage in summer/ Daniel Acker, Bloomberg News)

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

    June 16, 2010

    Stormy day in Mobtown

    A brief shower over parts of the Baltimore region this morning was just a taste of bigger storms to come this afternoon and evening as a cold front approaches. The main event is expected here around the time most of us are headed home. The National Weather Service says:


    We recorded 0.33 inch of rain between 9 and 10 a.m. today at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets. The airport hasn't reported any yet.

    Wet commute in BaltimoreForecasters say damaging winds may be the greatest threat from the storms later today, with "some isolated tornadoes possible." The rough weather precedes the passage of a "cold" front, which won't cool us off much but is going to clear things up and provide some fine weather for the next day or two.

    As high pressure builds in behind the front, skies will clear. Highs on Thursday and Friday are forecast to be in the mid- to upper-80s. That's just a few degrees above the norms for this time of year in Baltimore. 

    By the weekend, we'll begin to feel the advance of warm, moist air from the Gulf. Daytime highs will climb back toward the 90-degree mark, and humidities will rise. It will probably feel a lot like last weekend. Forecasters expect another cold front to pass through sometime Sunday or Monday, with another round of showers and thunderstorms. 

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:16 AM | | Comments (2)
    Categories: Forecasts

    June 15, 2010

    Globally, it was the warmest May, spring on record

    NOAA has issued its monthly summary of the global climate picture for May, for the springtime months of March through May, and for the year-to-date: January through May. The combined global land and ocean surface temperatures for all three periods were the warmest since record-keeping began in 1880.

    Temperature anomalies MayHere are the highlights for May:

    * Warmest combined global land and sea-surface temperature on record, 1.24 degrees F above the 20th century average.

    * Warmest global land surface temperature on record, 1.87 degrees above the 20th century average

    * Second-warmest global sea-surface temperature (after 1998), 0.99 degrees above the 20th century average.

    * Despite the averages, unusually cool spots included: western North America, northenr Argentina, interior Asia and Western Europe.

    Highlights for the spring months, March through May:

    * Warmest March-April period on record globally, 1.31 degrees above the 20th century average

    * Warmest global land surface temperature on record, 2.2 degrees above the 20th century May 14, 2010 snow coveraverage.

    * Second-warmest global sea-surface temperature on record, 0.99 degrees above the 20th century average.

    * Unusually cool places incuded the western U.S.  and eastern Asia.  The United Kingdom had its driest spring since 1984.

    Other extremes:

    * The Arctic saw its ninth-smallest extent of sea ice on record for May since records began in 1979. The Antarctic saw its fourth-largest sea-ice extent on record.

    * Snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere in May (right) was a record 4.3 million square kilometers below long-term averages. North America and Eurasia also set a new record low for snow cover in May. The March-May snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere was the fourth-smallest on record.

    Text WEATHER to 70701 to receive The Sun's mobile weather alerts.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:58 PM | | Comments (8)
    Categories: Climate change

    Atlantic storm weakening

    The Atlantic storm that hurricane forecasters have been watching as, potentially, the first tropical 92L visible lightstorm of the Atlantic season, appeared to be weakening this morning.

    The National Hurricane Center again lowered its estimate of the chances for this storm, labeled 92L,  to become a topical storm within the next 48 hours, to 30 percent. Showers and thunderstorms in the region of the low-pressure center were thinning out. And downstream, conditions for redevelopment were becoming less favorable.

    Satellite images (left) seemed to show a vaguely recognizable spiral shape to the clouds in the region. But the infrared images made it evident that the highest and coldest cloud tops were disappearing, an indication of diminishing thunderstorms at the center of the low.

    Seems we (and Haiti, and the Gulf) have dodged this bullet.  

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:06 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Hurricanes

    June 14, 2010

    Tropics are stirring

    NOAAHurricane forecasters are watching a stormy area in the Atlantic that could become the season's first tropical storm - Alex. The low-pressure center is currently far from any land mass, more than 1,400 miles east southeast of the Windward Islands of the Caribbean.

    But conditions in the region are favorable for further development, forecasters said. And they give the storm a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm during the next 48 hours. The disturbed weather is moving towatd the west northwest at 15 mph.

    UPDATE 2 p.m. EDT: Forecasters this afternoon have reduced, to 40 percent, their estimate of this system's chances to become a tropical storm in the next few days.

    Hurricane forecasters across the board have predicted a very active hurricane season in the Atlantic this year. They point to record-high sea surface temperatures in area of the Atlantic where many storms are born, and to developing La Nina conditions in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean, which allows favorable wind conditions to develop in the Atlantic.

    (An earlier version of this post stated "developing El Nino conditions" would contribute to an active hurricane season. The blogger regrets the error.)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:14 AM | | Comments (1)
    Categories: Hurricanes

    Cooling off tomorrow, then hot again for weekend

    The forecast for BWI-Marshall Airport today does not quite reach 90 degrees, but it is close enough, at 89. And we can probably expect another 90-plus day here in downtown Baltimore, where the "heat island effect" usually nudges the mercury higher.

    There is relief on the way, as a cold front - the first of two this week - bears down on Central Maryland with some mid-week Sailing in Marylandshowers and storms.

    But if the forecast holds up, we should expect more steamy weather in the 90s by the weekend.

    Forecasters out at Sterling give us just a small chance for showers and storms today (Monday), with a steamy high of 89 degrees at BWI-Marshall. Most of the action should be to the west of the urban centers as the first cold front slides by late today or tonight out of the northwest.

    That will bring us some high-pressure for Tuesday, but without the usual clearing. We'll have cooler highs - in the low 80s - but plenty of clouds, with a slight chance for showers on Tuesday. A second cold front on Wednesday will boost the risk for showers and storms to "likely." Highs will remain seasonable, in the mid-80s.

    That front, however, will clear things out, with sunny weather due for the rest of the work week. Daytime highs will climb toward 90 degrees, with high humidity again by Saturday and lingering through Sunday.

    So far this year BWI has recorded nine days of 90-plus temperatures. June is running more than 6 degrees above the long-term average for Baltimore. If that holds up through the end of the month, this would be the warmest June since 1994.

    (SUN PHOTO: Nanine Hartzenbusch, 2005)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:45 AM | | Comments (2)
    Categories: Forecasts

    Japanese asteroid probe makes spectacular re-entry

    Like a pre-mature 4th of July rocket in reverse, the Japanese Space Agency's Hyabusa spacecraft made a fiery re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere Sunday at the end of a seven-year space journey. While the probe's payload made a planned parachute landing in the Australian outback, its rocket body broke apart in the upper atmosphere, putting on a spectacular show for observers on the ground and aboard a NASA chase plane.

    Japanese scientists expected to pick up the capsule today. Inside, they hope, are samples of the asteroid Itokawa, collected in 2005, and clues to the composition and physics of the early solar system.

   - Japan's Hayabusa capsule re-entry video Video
    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:23 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Cool pictures

    June 13, 2010

    Monday's sunrise is the year's earliest



    Does it feel like the birds are awake and annoying you way too early these days? Well, it’s no wonder. The sun will rise over Baltimore tomorrow morning at 5:39 a.m. EDT, the earliest sunrise of the year. From now on, Old Sol will begin to come up a bit later each day until the latest sunrise, which will occur at 7:27 a.m. EST on Jan. 4. The longest day arrives on the summer solstice, June 21, and Baltimore’s latest sunset is 8:37 p.m. EDT on June 28.

    (SUN PHOTO: Frank D. Roylance)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
    Categories: From the Sun's print edition

    June 12, 2010

    Report "significant" weather to NWS via Twitter


    Weather fans! Have you ever eagerly measured snow, or hailstones, or watched the creek flood, only to find you were boring friends and family with your reports? Me too! Now we can tell someone who cares.

    The National Weather Service is inviting Marylanders to report “significant” weather events to forecasters via Twitter. They can then map geo-tagged Tweets. It’s an experimental new program.

    Get details at:

    (SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, 2003)

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

    June 11, 2010

    Warm front Saturday will bring back heat, humidity

    Could this be any more perfect? Temperatures in the 70s, headed no higher than the low- to mid-80s. Blue skies and loads of sunshine. And low humidity with winds out of the northeast. Straight from New England, where we never needed an air conditioner.

    Well, yes. It could be better. I could be outdoors somewhere enjoying it instead of indoors Kite Loft web cam Ocxean City, Md.pecking away at the computer, answering questions about eagles and frogs. 

    TOMORROW I'll be off. But that's when this beautiful high-pressure system will move offshore, allowing winds to shift around to the west and southwest. That will move a warm front through the region Saturday morning, raising temperatures into the upper 80s, and increase cloudiness and humidity.

    The chance for showers and thunderstorms will be increasing through the weekend, too, from 20 percent Saturday to 50 percent Saturday night and Sunday. And that will be that until the next cold front drifts by on Monday, bringing back some cooler, drier weather .... just in time for the new workweek.

    Farther afield, the tropics remain quiet. That's a very good thing. We don't need a hurricane to complicate things in the Gulf of Mexico. And if you can sneak off to the beaches today, do it. The weather out there looks perfect, too. Highs today in the 70s under clear skies. Saturday looks warmer - 80 degrees - but still sunny. Showers and storms become an issue for Saturday night and Sunday.  

    (WEBCAM PHOTO: From the Kite Loft, Ocean City) 

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:54 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Forecasts

    NW Pacific typhoons named for animals, flowers, food


    The first tropical storms of the Atlantic season will be named Alex, Bonnie and Colin. Male and female names are also used in the eastern North Pacific: Agatha, Blas and Celia lead the 2010 list. But countries in the northwest Pacific now use few personal names. Since 2000 they have added flowers, animals, even foods to the typhoon name list. Typhoon Damrey - elephant in Cambodia’s Khmer language – struck Vietnam in 2005.

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

    June 10, 2010

    Don't see this often: Waterspout alert

    The National Weather Service's Wakefield, Va. forecast office has posted a Special Weather Statement noting the possibility that waterspouts may move on shore in the southern Chesapeake this Waterspoutevening. If you see one, get a photo and send it along. Love to post it.

    Here's the advisory:



    (AP PHOTO: Dale Omori, Cleveland Plain Dealer/Lake Erie, 1994)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:04 PM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Watches and warnings

    Friday should be even nicer

    As nice as it is out there today (Thursday), forecasters promise it will be even more pleasant on Friday, as high pressure continues to build, skies clear and the forecast high slips back into the Ocean City, Md. low 80s.

    Enjoy it, because we're looking at a much warmer and more humid weekend as the high-pressure now dominating our weather moves offshore. The clockwise flow around the backside of the high will allow hotter, more tropical air to flow into the region. The forecast calls for weekend highs in the mid- to upper 80s, with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.

    Ah, summer on the Chesapeake. Let those AC compressors spin. 

    Headed for the beaches? Expect sunshine but cooler highs (71) Friday, rising to the upper 70s on Saturday. Storm chances rise to 40 percent on Sunday, with a high of 86 degrees and more humidity.

    (SUN PHOTO: Barbara Haddock Taylor, 2010)


    Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:18 PM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Forecasts

    Baltimore heat and humidity not from trade winds


    Baltimore heatDennis Barnes, in Abingdon, asks whether the tropical mugginess Baltimore endures at this time of year occurs because the jet stream moves north and allows northeast trade winds to dominate.

    Steve Zubrick, at the NWS, says true tropical trade winds never reach our latitude. But clockwise circulation around the summertime Bermuda high pumps warm, wet Gulf or Atlantic air our way.

    Heat and humidity both peak here in July and August.

    (SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2007)

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

    June 9, 2010

    Cool, showery day ahead, then sunny end to week

    Forecasters out at Sterling are giving us a 100 percent chance for showers today, although we have seen little more than sprinkles so far on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The Sun's weather station at Calvert & Centre streets has likewise clocked no rain so far today.

    NOAABut the radar does show showers drifting this way from the north and west. Sterling says we can expect showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 2 p.m. The rain could produce a quarter- to a half-inch in someplaces. They've even mentioned a "low tornado threat" with the afternoon storms, "mainly south of I-66 and U.S. Rte. 50." So switch on your NOAA Weather Radios today.

    More showers and thunderstorms are expected during the evening, with another quarter- to a half-inch possible.

    The stormy weather comes with a cold front trailing down from a low over the Great Lakes. Temperatures will remain cool here for this time of year, with highs only in the low 70s. That, and the heavy clouds, will limit the amount of convection that occurs. The strongest chances for severe weather would be in Southern Maryland, where the most heating is likely to occur, or along the Pa. border, where the frontal movement will be greatest.

    There is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere. So whatever storms do develop will pack a lot of potential for rainfall. But the storms are expected to move across the region quite quickly, so the danger of flash flooding seems low, forecasters say. Likewise for the risk of damaging winds and hail. This should be mostly a rain event for us. 

    Once the front goes past tonight, skies will clear and dry out quickly Thursday morning. Sunny skies are forecast for Thursday and Friday, with seasonable highs in the 80s, as high pressure builds into the region. Heat and humidity will increase during the weekend, with more chances for showers and thunderstorms on both days. 

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Forecasts

    June 8, 2010

    Va. wind damage blamed on 80 mph microburst

    National Weather Service officials have surveyed the damage from high winds near Arkendale, Va. on Sunday, and determined no tornado was involved.

    The damage, including a dozen large trees, was instead attributed to straight-line winds estimated at 80 mph. Based on radar and other data, the winds were found to be the likely result of a microburst generated by a collapsing thunderstorm.

    Here's the NWS statement:




    Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:50 PM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Storm reports

    Open those windows

    Fabulous, Chamber-of-Commerce weather across the region today. The overnight low on the WeatherDeck was a refreshingly cool and dry 51 degrees. Who can remember all the 90-degree weather we've seen already this year? (Seven days over three months.)

    So, if you haven't thrown open your windows and shut down the AC, you should. We slept with a Sunrise at Assateaguecool breeze and a light blanket over us last night and the house smelled fresher this morning. The only drawback was the racket from the birds in the neighborhood. We're approaching the earliest sunrise of the year on Monday, and those little peckers are up WAY too early. Anyone?

    The overnight low out at BWI was a bit higher - 56 degrees. That's a few degrees cooler than the long-term average low for June 8, which is 59 degrees. The record lows for this time of year at BWI remain stuck in the 40s.  

    We remain under the influence of high pressure centered over the mid-Atlantic. The clockwise circulation around the high has been drawing cool, dry air down out of Canada on northwest winds.

    But it can't last, of course. Low pressure is approaching from the Midwest, and it's expected to bring us increasing cloudiness tonight and a 70 percent chance of showers Wednesday and possibly a thunderstorm in the afternoon. With plenty of clouds, Wednesday's high will likely stall out around 70 degrees. More showers and storms, with locally heavy rainfall, are likely overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

    But then high pressure returns, forecasters said. Thursday and Friday still look sunny, with seasonable highs near 80 degrees. As that high moves offshore, we'll fall under the return flow off the water, with warmer, more humid conditions for the weekend. Look for highs in the mid-80s, with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.  AC weather again.

    (SUN PHOTO: Andre F. Chung, at Assateague, 2005)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:50 AM | | Comments (2)
    Categories: Forecasts

    June 7, 2010

    A dry and mild start to the week

    The cold front that blew through Central Maryland Sunday left a dab of rain behind, but mostly it has dried out the atmosphere and dropped daytime highs by 15 or 20 degrees.

    Jim Dawson, a reader on the Eastern Shore, captured the departing storm front with his camera:Flag

    "I took these shots [below] yesterday [Sunday] evening as the last of the showers moved off," he said. "Interesting atmospheric effects in the S.E. as the setting sun shone like a spotlight on the cumulous clouds, while the lower stratus stayed in the dark."  

    Kind of reminds me of the flag of Evenk Autonomous Okrug (right), dont you think? Sprang to mind immediately...

    Drove to work with the windows open and the AC off this morning. We were in the upper 50s when I checked the instruments on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. Sweet. And the NWS is calling for Couds at sunsethighs at BWI this afternoon of only 77 degrees.

    That's a few degrees above the average for this time of year in Baltimore. We've been averaging around 90 degrees for highs so far this month - 10 degrees above the long-term average.

    And the relative humidity has dropped, too, as you can see from the widening spread between temperature and dew point at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets. 

    We can thank a big high-pressure system over the eastern half of the nation for the cooler, drier weather. The air flow, clockwise around the high is drawing more pleasant conditions down from Canada. We'll be good through Tuesday under this regime. But as the high begins to move offshore, we'll see some showers and thunderstorms move through out of the northwest.

    Highs on Wednesday will stall in the low 70s, with lots of clouds if the forecast holds up, with an increased risk of showers into the evening. The high pressure returns Thursday. Daytime highs will climb toward the 80s again by the weekend, with sunshine Friday and Saturday. Return flow from the south after the high moves offshore will bring hotter, more humid conditions, and a greater risk of showers and storms by Sunday.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:29 AM | | Comments (4)
    Categories: Forecasts

    June 6, 2010

    Tornado Watch posted for most of Maryland

    NOAA/NWSWith a line of strong to severe thunderstorms crossing Maryland Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va. has posted a tornado watch for almost the entire state, in effect until 8 p.m.:


    The only area in Maryland that is NOT in the Watch zone is Allegany County in the far western mountains. Shortly after 1 p.m. the regional radar showed a broken line of storms moving across the Appalachians.

    The most intense portion of the weather front at 1:20 p.m. appeared to be headed for Montgomery, Howard, PG and Anne Arundel counties. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was posted for western Montgomery. 

    If you have a NOAA Weather Radio, now is the time to switch it on.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:11 PM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Tornadoes

    D-Day success hinged on weather forecasting

    D-Day weather 


    Superior Allied weather forecasting was crucial to the success of the D-Day invasion 66 years ago today. The Allies needed low lunar tides and good weather, and the window of June 5-7 looked best. Their forecasters predicted Normandy skies would clear briefly after a cold front passed June 5. The Germans, with few submarines or planes in the Atlantic, lacked critical data, forecast bad weather for the period, and dropped their guard. We won.

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

    June 5, 2010

    See Sunday's conjunction of moon and Jupiter


    If you plan to be up early Sunday morning, step outside and look east in the hours before sunrise. If skies are clear enough, you’ll find a waning crescent moon, just above and to the left of the bright planet Jupiter. They’ll be hard to miss, rising together around 2:30 a.m. and climbing nearly halfway up the southeastern sky by sunrise, at 5:40 a.m. EDT in Baltimore. The separation is only about 6 degrees — the width of six fingers held at arm’s length.

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

    June 4, 2010

    Pot o' gold on the Eastern Shore

    Talbot County rainbow 

    As I drove home last evening, and watched the storms move off to the east and the skies clear to the west around sunset, I figured someone would spot a rainbow and grab a picture. And Jim Eastern Shore RainbowDawson, over in Talbot County, was the man.

    "The first photo shows a partial double rainbow," he said, "but unfortunately, the secondary bow is hard to see. At its peak, the main bow spanned the whole 180 degrees, from horizon to horizon."

    It's a nice shot, but I liked his second shot - the road to the pot o' gold - even better.

    Thanks to Jim for sharing his pictures.



    Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:20 PM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Cool pictures

    New Sun Weather Text Alert service debuts

    Looking for someone to let you know when a dangerous storm is approaching? Curious about the weekend forecast downy ayshun? Could you use an afternoon reminder of what the forecast looks like for tomorrow?

    Baltimore Sun Weather Text AlertIf so, just sign up for The Baltimore Sun's Weather Text Alert service, and we'll keep you posted via your cell phone. It's brand-new, and here's what we're including:

    1. A daily forecast for tomorrow's weather, sent out seven days a week at 4:30 p.m.

    2. The Friday forecasts, through Labor Day, will include a separate beach forecast.

    3. Breaking Weather Alerts during our business hours for Baltimore and the five surrounding counties, plus Ocean City in summer, including Weather Warnings for flash floods, tornadoes, winter storms, temperatures at BWI above 95 degrees or below 10 degrees and broken records. (This is not a substitute for a NOAA Weather Radio.)

    It's easy to start, and easy to stop.

    Here's where you can sign up:,0,5055680.htmlstory

    And here are some FAQs:,0,4677297.story 

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:25 AM | | Comments (1)
    Categories: Notes to readers

    Code Orange air quality alert ... again

    NOAA/NWSThe Maryland Department of the Environment has issued another Code Orange air quality alert for Central Maryland (gray area on the map), in effect until 9 p.m. Friday.

    The alert means that air pollution concentrations will climb to levels considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Those groups include children, the elderly and those with asthma, heart and lung diseases. People in those categories can minimize the effects of the pollution by avoiding strenuous activity and outdoor exercise.

    This is the second day this week the state has declared a Code Orange air quality alert. 

    You can track air quality changes, and see air quality forcasts for this area and the nation here.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:59 AM | | Comments (1)
    Categories: Air quality

    Plenty of moisture around as summer approaches


    Rain in BaltimoreAaron Burch writes from Catonsville: “Given the heavy snowfall, and melt, and rather wet season that followed, should we be less-than-concerned for a summer/fall drought?”  There was talk of drought in March 2009, but then the skies opened. BWI accumulated a 20-inch surplus over the next year. April and May were slightly dry, but farmers are happy and reservoirs are full. Long-range forecasters aren’t worried about drought in Maryland.

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

    June 3, 2010

    Severe T-storm Watch issued for Maryland

    UPDATE: A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was posted at 5:01 for Howard County and southwestern Baltimore County and northwestern Anne Arundel County, as a storm cell drifts east from northern Virginia. It remains in effect until 5:45 p.m. Earlier warnings remain for parts of Prince Georges and Charles counties. That has now been extended into southern Arundel and the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore harbor.


    EARLIER: The National Weather Service on Thursday afternoon issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for all of Maryland east of Garrett County, in effect until 9 p.m. The Watch means conditions are ripe for severe storm development, but that the storms are not yet imminent. Severe thunderstorms can produce damaging winds, dangerous lightning and large hail. 

    Here's more from the NWS forecast office in Sterling:



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

    Computer simulates Gulf oil flow into Atlantic

    Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have conducted computer simulations to suggest how oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico might flow into the Atlantic Ocean in the coming weeks.

    As has been suggested before, the researchers concluded that once the oil is swept up in the Gulf's fast-moving Loop Current, it will move quickly beyond the Gulf, in to the Gulf Stream, up the East Coast to Cape Hatteras, and from there far out into the Atlantic.

    The simulations aren't perfect. They're based on the predicted behavior of a dye, not oil. Precisely how oil and its various components would behave in different depths of seawater is not well understood. But the scientists say their simulations do represent an "envelope of possible scenarios."

    Whatever, the animations released by the NCAR folks are fascinating, and troubling.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:06 PM | | Comments (4)
    Categories: Cool pictures

    Small tremor 57 miles NNW of Baltimore


    The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting a small earth tremor Thursday morning just 57 miles north northwest of Baltimore. The Mag. 2.9 shake occurred at 8:25 a.m. EDT northeast of Franklintown, Pa., and 14 miles south southwest of Harrisburg.

    USGS reported the quake was very shallow, centered less than a mile below the surface. 

    Here's more on  the history of earthquakes in Pennsylvania.

    Anyone out there feel this jiggle? Leave us a comment and describe it.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:21 AM | | Comments (2)
    Categories: Earthquakes

    Look for Mars, Regulus, in west this weekend


    Mars NASAIf evening skies clear in the next week or so, we’ll see a nice Regulusconjunction of the planet Mars (left) with the bright star Regulus (right). They will make a striking couple, less than a degree apart by this weekend. Look just to the left of due west after dark and halfway up the sky.

    Orangey Mars is slightly brighter than blue-white Regulus. The star, actually a four-star system 77 light years away, is the lion’s heart and the brightest star in the constellation Leo. 

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
    Categories: From the Sun's print edition

    June 2, 2010

    Try not to breathe today

    Air quality mapPlenty of heat and sunshine today, coupled with millions of internal combustion engines, will generate some pretty nasty pollution in the air we're breathing. Code Orange air quality alerts have been issued for the entire region - from Northern Virginia to Cecil County, Md., and from the Chesapeake west to Frederick County - until 9 p.m. Wednesday.

    The Maryland Department of the Environment said the Code Orange alert means the air pollution levels will be unhealthy for sensitive groups. Those groups include children, people suffering from asthma, heart disease or lung diseases, and the elderly.

    "The effects of air pollution can be minimized by avoiding strenuous activity or exercise outdoors," the alert states. You can track the deterioration in our air quality this afternoon by clicking here.

    Conditions are even worse in parts of Maine, where smoke from forest fires in Quebec have degraded air quality to Code Red Alert levels.

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:15 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Air quality

    2009 hurricane season in fast-forward space movie

    For those of you who missed the 2009 hurricane season - it only generated three hurricanes (Bill, Fred and Ida) and none struck the U.S. - here's your chance to relive it from the safety of Earth orbit. NASA has assembled its satellite tracking imagery for the entire season and compiled it into a mesmerizing movie. Have a look:

    And while we're on topic, the hurricane forecasting team of Phil Klotzbach and William Gray out at Colorado State University has issued a revised forecast for the 2010 Atlantic season, and the news has not gotten better.

    The CSU group has increased its April estimates and is now calling for a "very active" season, with 18 named storms, of which 10 are expected to become hurricanes, and 5 would reach "major" (Cat. 3 strength), with top sustained winds of 111 mph or more.

    (Their April forecast called for 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major storms.)

    The new estimate is more in line with what NOAA's Climate Prediction Center called for in its official pre-season forecast a week ago: 14 to 23 named storms, with 8 to 14 hurricanes and 3 to 7 "major" storms.

    Klotzbach and Gray also forecast a "well-above-average" probability of U.S. landfalls by Cat. 3 or stronger storms.

    "The probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline is 76 percent compared with the last-century average of 52 percent," Klotzbach said.  He anticipates that the El Nino conditions that prevailed in 2009 will wane and the Pacific cycle will move into a neutral or weak La Nina pattern, a change that reduces wind shear in the Atlantic and makes storm formation easier.

    The CSU team put the risk of a major hurricane striking the East Coast, including Florida, at 51 percent. A similar 51-percent strike risk was predicted for the Gulf Coast, from the Florida panhandle west to Brownsville, Tex. The chance that a major hurricane will track into the Caribbean was set at 65 percent.

    Klotzbach and Gray said the atmospheric and oceanic conditions in place for the 2010 Atlantic season are similar to those in 1958, 1966, 1969 and 2005. They said this season would unfold in line with the average storm count for those years. The worst of those years was the 2005 season, which generated a record number of Atlantic storms, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which ravaged the northern Gulf from Texas to northwest Florida.  

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:15 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Cool pictures

    June 1, 2010

    Mysteries of our new weather page

    I've been getting some comments and questions from readers who are trying (as I am) to get acquainted with The Sun's new online weather page. It's not always very intuitive and takes some exploration to master. Nobody briefed me, either, so I'm learning right along with you. Here are some of the issues you've raised, what we're doing, and a few tips for users:Summer heat Baltimore

    THE RADAR SCREEN: A number of readers are disappointed in the new screen because it doesn't display well on mobile phones. Others complain they can't see the storms, or can't get the images to animate so that it shows how the storms have moved.

    THE FIX: The new format indeed does not work well on mobile phones. But we are working on apps that should fix the problem. They will be available within a month, I'm told.

    The radar will show the storms, but you need to click on the "Weather" tab, and select either "National" or "Super local res" to make them appear.

    And to animate the storms, you need to click on the tiny triangle at the top of the "Radar transparency" slide-bar on the left-hand side of the screen. It may have a little digital clock beside it. That triangle is a "Play" button, I've discovered, and it will activate a 30-minute sequence of radar returns. When the animation is running, the button becomes a "Pause" button - two vertical bars. Click on it and the screen will freeze again. The animation may take a few seconds to load.

    TODAY'S FORECAST: A reader pointed out that our big 7-day forecast showed current conditions, but did not provide today's forecast. You could find one below, on the hourly forecast module, but it was a schlep to get there and required you to scroll through to right hour. 

    THE FIX: We have added a "Today's Forecast" tab, right below the 7-day forecast. Click it and you'll see current conditions, with the forecast high and low, and the forecast for the rest of the day and tomorrow.

    MOONRISE: The new page gives sunset and sunrise times, but the moon got left out.

    THE FIX: We hope to provide daily moonrise and moonset times soon.

    WEATHER ALMANAC: On the old page, readers could click on "Detailed history" and find a tool that would show weather data for any day since BWI became the city's station of record in 1950. (Actually, I think it used to go back to 1948.) But it's missing from the new almanac module.

    THE FIX: We are working on it and expect to get that feature back soon.

    Thanks again for your patience as we roll out the new weather page, work out the kinks and add the features readers want. - Frank

    (SUN PHOTO: Larry C. Price, 1997)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:13 PM | | Comments (5)
    Categories: Notes to readers

    Showers and storms on tap most of this week

    Wednesday looks like a hot and sunny day, but for today and the rest of the week in Central Maryland, forecasters are expecting a menu of showers and thunderstorms, and humid days in the 80s.

    Thunderstorm BaltimoreThe wet and noisy weather is likely to start Tuesday, with an 80 percent chance of precipitation as the next cold front approaches. The forecast calls for showers and thunderstorms after noon and continuing into the evening, with up to a quarter-inch of rain possible, and even higher amounts in thunderstorms.

    "A few of these thunderstorms may be capable of producing damaging winds and large hail," forecasters said.

    Wednesday looks sunnier behind the front. The afternoon high may reach the upper 80s. Then we come under the influence of the next cold front, expected to pass through on Thursday. That will mean slight chances for more showers and storms on Thursday afternoon and evening. Those storms will be isolated and few, but could produce damaging winds and large hail.

    For Friday and the weekend, the folks at Sterling see a daily risk of showers and thunderstorms they rate between 20 and 30 percent. Expect muggy days with highs in the 80s. It appears, at least, that we're done with the 90s for the time being.

    (SUN PHOTO:Karl Merton Ferron, 2007)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:45 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Forecasts

    Little chance Agatha will become Gulf storm

    The remnants of the NE Pacific's first tropical storm of the season, Agatha, are given little chance of quick redevelopment over the western Caribbean Sea. Conditions over the Gulf of Mexico are said to be even less conducive to storm formation at the moment.

    Here's the latest from the National Hurricane Center on Agatha's prospects:


    But while Agatha poses only a slight risk to the Gulf, it has already wreaked havoc over parts of Central America, with 140 reported dead and scores more missing in the affected countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. 

    Torrential rains have caused landslides and a rather stupendous sinkhole in Guatemala City (photo, above)

    Also, is reporting that moisture from Agatha's remnants is being felt in South Florida:

    "Tropical moisture from Agatha's remnants was already reaching South Florida Tuesday morning. Locally heavy showers and thunderstorms already reportedly caused minor urban flooding in the southwest Miami metro area by mid-morning after 3 to 5 inches of rain fell."

    (PHOTO: Reuters/Casa Presidencial handout)

    Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:54 AM | | Comments (0)
    Categories: Hurricanes
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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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