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July 31, 2010

Staying cool off the grid

FROM THE SUN'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Maryland AmishNino Sciuto, in Baltimore, writes: “We are blessed with the luxury of air conditioning and fans. But how do the Amish folks ward off the intense heat with no electricity in their homes?” Some Amish homes are built into embankments, which keeps the basements cool. In extreme heat the family moves downstairs where there’s an extra kitchen and a cool concrete floor. They’re up early, doing chores before the worst heat. Spring houses, ice houses, iceboxes, and propane fridges also help keep them chillin’.

(SUN PHOTO: Lloyd Fox, 2003)

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

July 30, 2010

99.8 degrees F ... in Moscow!

The Moscow Times is reporting a new all-time record high temperature today in downtown Moscow of 37.7 degrees Celsius. That's an astonishing 99 degrees Fahrenheit. It was 101 degrees F at the airport. One-hundred-thirty-year-old records are toppling across Russia amid a three-week heat wave. And Muscovites, unaccustomed to Record heat MoscowChesapeake-like summer temperatures, are suffering. The Times reports:

"The adverse effects of the severe heat, which has been menacing Muscovites since late June, are aggravated by heavy smog that has blanketed the city and is caused mostly by burning peat in forests surrounding Moscow.

"Russia's chief lung doctor, Alexander Chuchalin, warned on Wednesday that walking in the streets of Moscow is like smoking two packs of cigarettes every few hours because of the large concentration of toxins in the air."

Hundreds of Russians have drowned this summer while trying to cool off in local waters. Alcohol is said to have contributed to many of the drowning deaths. Heat and drought have killed crops and fueled forest fires that have destroyed whole villages.

(AP PHOTO/ Igor Yakunin)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:25 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Phenomena
        

A Friday Gazinta

When we were kids, by the end of the week, my mom's refrigerator was crowded with leftovers, and her imagination and enthusiasm for cooking were depleted. So, she would hum up some leftoverlovers.comnoodles, spoon them, and all the leftovers, into a casserole dish and stuff it in the oven. She'd set the timer to start the concoction cooking at 5 p.m. or so, then head for the golf course, or a bridge table somewhere.

What came out of the oven at dinnertime was a Gazinta, she said. "Whatever we had in the icebox gazinta the pot," she said. And that's what we had for dinner. They were odd lots, to be sure. But tasty. And familiar.

So today we're serving up Gazinta. First, the forecast:

Today, Friday, promises to be one of the nicest days of the month. Dew points have sunk into the 50s at BWI-Marshall, giving us a delightfully dry and pleasant summer day, with a forecast high inNOAA/NWS the seasonable mid-80s. Overnight lows tonight should drop into the 60s, so open those windows and get the heat out of the house. Let the sounds of cicadas and crickets in, and enjoy.

Forecasters out at Sterling noted in their morning discussion that this will be only the 10th day this month that hasn't reached 90 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport. That's the fewest below 90 days at BWI in July since 1999. The record is 9, set in 1988 and matched in 1999.

As this very nice high-pressure system over the northeast today moves off the coast on Saturday, humidity levels will rise and the chances for showers and thunderstorms will climb by evening. Sunday shows an even better chance for storms. Some could be severe, with hail and damaging winds. But we should stay relatively cool, with a high in the low 80s on Sunday.

Next into the Gazinta pot: The tropics.

NOAA/NHCNothing to worry about yet. But the National Hurricane Center is watching two areas. There are some showers and thunderstorms in the eastern Caribbean, but they show few signs of getting organized.

Of more interest is a tropical wave that's just come off West Africa (satellite image). It is stirring up a large area of showers and storms, and there's is some chance it could become an issue. But for the next 48 hours, at least, the chances this will become a tropical cyclone are put at just 20 percent.

As we move into August, the waters off West Africa become more active in generating "Cape Verde" storms, the kind of hurricanes that can cross the Atlantic, grow and threaten the East Coast. 

Next into the pot: Crops

The USDA's Weather & Crops report for this week is out, and it shows a small, but continuing increase in the percentage of Maryland's corn and soybean crops that are rated in poor to very poor condition due to heat and dry weather. Fifty-four percent of the corn crop is in that category, up from 51 percent last week. Soybeans in poor to very poor shape increased from 46 to 49 percent.

Peaches, which have fared well this summer, also show a decline. The percentage of the peach crop rates good to excellent slipped this week from 83 percent to 74 percent. Apples remain indrought Maryland pretty good shape, with 88 percent of the crop rated good to excellent, unchanged from last week.

And a sprinkle of soil moisture:

Baltimore/Washington, Frederick and Frostburg are still showing small precipitation surpluses for the year. Showers have helped, but deficits still exceed five inches in places like Hagerstown, Mechanicsville and Salisbury, and top two inches at Ocean City, Patuxent River and Sharpsburg.

For the week ending July 25, 42 percent of the state's topsoil is rated "very short" of moisture, up from 38 percent the previous week. The subsoil was drying up, too, with 27 percent rated "very short" of water, up from 17 percent the week before.

Thus fortified, you are dispatched to have a great weekend!

(PHOTOS: top: leftoverlovers.com/ Bottom: Sun Photo, Lloyd Fox, 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:19 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Moon and Jupiter in midnight rendezvous

Jupiter NASA CassiniFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Plan to be up late this evening? Step outside around midnight and find a spot with a clear view to the east. Dominating the sky in that direction, if skies stay clear, is the waning moon and a very bright planet Jupiter. They’ll be separated by a little more than the width of your hand, held at arm’s length, with the moon above and to the left of the giant gas planet. The moon is about 252,000 miles from Earth tonight. Jupiter is about 400 million miles beyond.

(NASA/Cassini Photo)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

July 29, 2010

Thunderstorm cuts the heat

That noise you heard was the cold front sweeping through. The thunderstorms that crossed the region this afternoon dropped temperatures at BWI-Marshall from 91 degrees to 75 degrees between 1 and 2 p.m. As the sun returned, readings again began to climb, but the worst may be behind us.

The storm that crossed Baltimore City left 1.26 inches of rain in the gauge at The Sun's station, Calvert and Centre streets. That brings the month's total to 5.81 inches. The airport total stopped short at 0.41 inch - exactly the same as we saw in Sunday's storm. The July total is now 4.36 inches. The July average is 3.85 inches.

From here, we should see skies clear off and humidity levels drop as cooler, drier air moves in from the north and west.

Daytime temperatures should stay in the 80s at least until the middle of next week, according to the forecast from the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. Then we can look forward, again, to daytime highs in the 90s. The summer's total so far: 41 days at 90 or more, and counting.

Even before this latest rain, Central Maryland had dropped out of the dry (colored) sections of the state's Drought Monitor map. The proportion of the state experiencing dry conditions nevertheless increased during the week ending on Tuesday as dry conditions pushed west to Garrett County. Washington County and most of Frederick remain in moderate drought, as do portions of Southern Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore.

Worcester and most of Somerset counties have slipped back into severe drought.

NOAA/USDA

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Storm reports
        

Where have all the "Bermuda Highs" gone?

Alberta Clipper snowfallFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Bill Newhall writes from Baltimore: “Is science prone to fashions? Historically the TV forecasters have depended on ‘Bermuda Highs’ in order to make summer predictions. This year I hear nothing of them. Same goes for the ‘Alberta Clipper’ in winter. What gives?” These are colloquialisms, not scientific terms, and they may sound tired with over-use. But I’ve seen ‘Bermuda High’ in NWS discussions this summer. ‘Alberta Clipper’ appears less often than simply “clipper.” But it is still used.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron; an Alberta Clipper snowfall in 2007)

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

July 28, 2010

Dance of the planets in the western sky

Jeff Reckseit, a volunteer at the Davis Planetarium, writes from Phoenix: 

Planetary conjunction"A planetary conjunction is occurring over the next few weeks. Look in the western sky just after sunset any night this week.

"Your eyes will immediately be drawn to the brilliant planet Venus – it's brighter than any night sky object except the moon. When it gets dark, around 9:30, Saturn and Mars will be visible. Saturn is in conjunction with Mars on July 31, with the planets less than two degrees apart, to the left of Venus.

[Here's a sky map from Sky & telescope.com]

"Venus, Mars and Saturn will move gradually, night after night, into a tight triangular grouping in the early evening sky. On Thursday night, Aug. 5, the three planets will be closest together, forming a tight triangle that will easily fit in the field of binoculars.

"The triangular shape nearly goes equilateral from Aug. 6 to10. On Aug. 8, all three planets will be within 5° of one another. A thin waxing crescent moon will then pass the "evening stars" on Aug. 13." 

Thanks!

(PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons, planetary conjunction 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:37 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Heat and humidity return ... briefly

Just when you thought you were rid of this July heat and humidity, it returns for an short encore. Forecasters expect the mercury at BWI-Marshall Airport will reach 90 again this afternoon after a two-day respite in the upper 80s.  If they're right, it would be the 40th day this year with 90-plus heat.

We can expect highs in the low 90s and rising humidity as clockwise winds around a departing high-pressure system bring us more warm, wet air on southwest winds out of the Gulf. A component of that wind will sweep down off the Appalachians, heating up as it loses altitude and Butterfly on the WeatherDeckgets compressed. Heat index numbers will rise to the upper 90s, if the forecast is correct.

The solar heating and incoming moisture will raise the chances for showers and thunderstorms as Wednesday rolls into the evening. That's especially so near the Chesapeake, where a bay breeze is liklely to kick up, and collide with the warm, wet air out of the mountains.

On Thursday, the next cold front is expected to cross the region, with higher chances of generating afternoon thunderstorms, especially east of I-81, forecasters said. Some storms could approach severe proportions, and could drop significant amounts of rain. Until it gets here, we could see highs in the low 90s. If so, that makes 41 days.

Skies are likely to clear overnight, leading us to cooler, drier weather on Friday and Saturday, with highs in the mid-80s. Then the cycle begins again, with high pressure moving off the coast on Sunday, bringing us warmer, wetter air out of the south and west. But while temperatures and dew points will rise, forecasters expect things to remain fairly comfortable, compared with what we've seen in most of July. 

Passage of yet another cold front late Sunday will usher in more dry and seasonable weather as the first week of August unfolds, with highs in the mid-80s. No 90s in sight for the moment.

Still looking for an ID on my butterfly. Anyone? I'm leaning toward the dark form, female, of the eastern tiger swallowtail.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 27, 2010

Sunday's winds reached 80-90 mph in Mont. Co.

 Storm damageWinds that accompanied Sunday's frontal passage in Montgomery County reached hurricane force - as high as 80 to 90 mph in some narrowly focused locations, according to the National Weather Service. And the area sustained widespread wind speeds of 60 to 75 mph. 

The estimates came last night with a NWS report on some of the damage done in Montgomery County. The survey concluded that the damage was done by strong straight-line winds, and not a tornado. Here is a summary of the report:

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis)

"TWO SURVEY TEAMS FOCUSED ON DAMAGE IN WEST CENTRAL MONTGOMERY COUNTY
BOUNDED BY AN AREA EAST OF SENECA CREEK...SOUTH OF DARNESTOWN
ROAD...WEST OF INTERSTATE 270 AND ALONG AND NORTH OF RIVER ROAD.
WIDESPREAD DAMAGE TO LARGE HARDWOOD AND SOFTWOOD BRANCHES AND LIMBS
WAS NOTED THROUGHOUT THE SURVEYED AREA. MORE SPORADIC BUT
CONCENTRATED DAMAGE TO ENTIRE TREES ALSO WAS OBSERVED...CONSISTING
LARGELY OF UPROOTED OR SNAPPED PINE TREES. THE MOST INTENSE DAMAGE
WAS FOUND IN THE POTOMAC CHASE ESTATES AND ALONG TRAVILAH ROAD...
WHERE HARDWOOD AND SOFTWOOD TREES WERE SNAPPED 30 TO 50 FEET OFF
THE GROUND. FALLEN TREES AND LIMBS WERE TO BLAME FOR BRINGING DOWN
UTILITY LINES AND POLES THROUGH MUCH OF THE AREA.

"ANOTHER SURVEY TEAM FOCUSED ON DAMAGE IN THE ROCKVILLE...DERWOOD...
ASPEN HILL AND GLENMONT AREAS. SPORADIC YET INTENSE AREAS OF WIND
DAMAGE WERE NOTED...WITH LARGE HARDWOOD TREES UPROOTED AND
NUMEROUS LARGE LIMBS BROKEN ON BOTH HARDWOOD AND SOFTWOOD TREES.
MANY OF THESE LARGE LIMBS FELL ONTO POWER LINES AND ACROSS
NEIGHBORHOOD ROADS...MAKING ROADS IMPASSABLE. OF PARTICULAR
INTEREST WAS DAMAGE TO A LARGE CONTAINER CRANE LOCATED AT THE
MONTGOMERY COUNTY TRANSFER STATION IN DERWOOD. THE CRANE WAS
INSTALLED ON A TRACK THAT WAS ORIENTED FROM NORTHWEST TO SOUTHEAST
SUCH THAT THE HORIZONTAL MEMBER OF THE CRANE FACED TOWARD THE
NORTHWEST. WINDS ORTHOGANAL TO THE HORIZONTAL MEMBER OF THE CRANE
LIKELY PRODUCED SUFFICIENT BEARING LOAD FORCE TO PUSH THE UNSECURED
CRANE ALONG ITS TRACK BEFORE CAUSING IT TO TOPPLE DOWN A HILL
ADJACENT TO THE TRANSFER STATION.

"IN SUMMARY...ALL DAMAGE SURVEYED IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY WAS CONSISTENT
WITH VERY STRONG THUNDERSTORM OUTFLOW STRAIGHT LINE WIND. WIDESPREAD
WINDS OF 60 TO 75 MPH WERE ASSESSED...WITH SPORADIC NARROW FOCUSED
SWATHS OF 80 TO 90 MPH WINDS."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:06 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Phenomena
        

Coolest night since July 4; more coming

Could hardly believe how cool it felt when we stepped outside this morning. It was 62 degrees on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The overnight low at BWI-Marshall was 66 degrees. That's the lowest reading there since the morning of July 4, when the mercury dipped to 59 degrees.

Yesterday's airport high halted at 89 degrees. That matched the forecast, and it ended the 11-day Druid Hill Park poolstretch of 90-degree weather. But not for long. Sterling expects Baltimore will pop back into the 90s Tuesday and Wednesday, as high pressure builds and clear skies prevail. As the high begins to move off shore, we'll fall under the return flow out of the south. Temperatures will rise a bit more, as will the humidity.

That will increase the chances for showers and thunderstorms by late Wednesday - 50 percent by Wednesday night. Thursday, too will feel hot and muggy.

But that looks like the end of this hot spell for a while. Forecasters say the next cold front will push through out of the Great Lakes sometime on Thursday. Just how severe the storms accompanying the frontal passage will be remains in doubt. Forecasters say it depends on the timing.

If the front moves through in mid-afternoon - at the peak of the daytime heating - we could see aSix Flags gusty storm front like the one on Sunday, they say.

Behind the front we are told to expect cooler, drier conditions. "Lows Thursday night may even drop into the 50s in higher elevations," according to this morning's forecast discussion.

"Northwest flow aloft will provide relief to the summer heat and humidity. Daytime highs in the low to mid-80s during these days will be the lowest in at least two weeks. with overnight lows in the 50s and 60s being the coolest since the first few days of the month."

So far, July 2010 is averaging 82 degrees, which is 5.5 degrees above the average July at BWI. The average is likely to drop some this week as cooler conditions prevail. But if the month ended today, this would rank as the hottest July for Baltimore in 138 years, beating the current record of 81.7 degrees, set in 1872, the year after they began keeping official records.

(SUN PHOTOS: Top: Druid Hill Park pool, Karl Merton Ferron; Bottom: Six Flags, Jerry Jackson, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:07 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers
        

July 26, 2010

Oh, are we going to pay ...

I do NOT want to see my next bill from BGE. Here are some factoids from the PJM Interconnection - the power grid than manages electrical distribution for the middle Atlantic states and Washington, D.C. Our thirst for power - electrical power - just keeps increasing.

Calvert Cliffs power stationBased on National Weather Service data, the amount of air conditioning demanded by consumers in the region has been 77 percent higher this summer than last summer, and 44 percent higher than the average. (Last summer was unusually mild.)

The highest demand for electricity so far this summer was 136,684 megawatts. That's nearly 10,000 megawatts more than the peak demand last year - 126,805 megawatts.

Every day last week, the demand for power across the PJM region exceeded last year's July peak of 116,599 megawatts. So far this month (through the 24th) our electrical consumption has topped last year's peak on 16 different days. 

Last weekend, consumers in the PJM region set a new all-time peak demand record for a Saturday. The peak was 128,452 megawatts, breaking the old record by more than 8,000 megawatts. PJM says that bump is enough juice to run a major city. The previous record was 120,324 megawatts, set Aug. 13, 2005. 

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Whew! Cold front brings us a breather

The cold front that blew through the region Sunday afternoon was both deadly and destructive. Falling trees and wires killed three people and knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of Marylanders. Some are still without electrical service this morning. Here's an interactive map of storm reports.

The gust front kicked up a towering swirl of leaves and trash in Fells Point, and the temperature on the car thermometer dropped from 91 as we began driving north from Thames Street, to 82 degrees by the time we reached Orleans Street, where we met the rain.

Here's a pretty nifty NASA satellite image of the storm front as it crossed the region.

But looking ahead, we see the forecast we wished for: high pressure building in from the north today is raising the barometer, lowering the dew points and forecast highs for Central ButterflyMaryland. The bottom line: a much more comfortable week ahead.

The National Weather Service says our unbroken streak of 90-plus weather ended yesterday at 11 days. That matches another 11-day stretch of 90-plus temperatures at the end of June.

The forecast high for Monday is 89 degrees at BWI-Marshall. If they're off by a degree, the streak will continue. If they're right, the 89-degree high would still be two degrees higher than the long-term average for July 26. But a high in the 80s, with drier air will make it feel much more pleasant around here today.

We'll see much the same weather on Tuesday - highs in the upper 80s with lots of sunshine. By Wednesday, the temperatures will be starting to rise into the 90s again, with rising humidity to match. But another cold front is lilkely to arrive by late Thursday, bringing another chance for showers and thunderstorms.

Behind that front we'll find ourselves in dry, cooler weather again, with seasonable highs in the mid-80s, and overnight lows in the 60s going into the weekend.

We are, after all, on the temperature downslope now. Average highs have skidded back from 88 degrees to 87 degrees, on their way to the annual lows of mid-January. 

It's also butterfly season. We've noticed lots of really big ones dancing around the flowers on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. They seem to have fared well in all the extreme weather we've seen so far this year. Anyone else noticing these beauties? Can anyone identify this one? I left my bug book at home.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:15 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 25, 2010

Scattered storms today should bring some relief

An approaching "cold" front - better described as a "less-hot front" - should bring Central Maryland some scattered thunderstorms this afternoon and a bit of relief from Saturday's record-breaking heat and humidity. (No, not as cold as the pictures suggest. I just thought they would help us feel cooler. Kinda works, doesn't it?)

Snow shovelingForecasters out at the National Weather Service's forecast office in Sterling, Va. say the frontal boundary now over the Great Lakes and upper Midwest will begin to slide our way today, reaching northern Maryland by mid-to-late afternoon, and Southern Maryland by later tonight.

UPDATE 12:15 p.m.: A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been posted for the northern tier of Maryland counties, effective until 7 p.m.

UPDATE 7:05 p.m.: Much better. The front dropped temperatures on the WeatherDeck from 96 degrees at 1 p.m. to 75 degrees at 3 p.m. Power went out briefly, judging by all the flashing digital clocks. But no damage done. A skimpy 0.07 inch of rain. Here's how it looked at The Sun's station, Calvert and Centre streets.  Earlier post resumes below.

We should expect increasing clouds and scattered storms as the afternoon rolls by. Some storms could be severe, with gusty winds. Behind the front, we should begin to see clearing skies, lower humidity and overnight temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s. Imagine! 

But while we're waiting for the front to get here, we should expect today to look like yesterday. Temperatures are forecast to rise into the upper 90s again, with some spots breaking into triple digits. Heat Advisories are posted again today throughout Central and Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

Saturday saw weather records blasted all over the place. The high at BWI-Marshall was 101 degrees, breaking the 97-degree record that had stood for the date since 1968 (and matched in 1987).

We also set a new record-high minimum temperature for the date. It was 82 degrees Saturday early morning at BWI, and never got any cooler than 85 before midnight last night. The old record was 77 degrees, set in1885 and matched in 1935 and 1972. The midnight reading at the Inner Harbor was 91 degrees.

Washington and Dulles airports also set records yesterday. You can read more about them by clickingSnow shovel at rest on "Continue reading" below.

The record high for July 25 - Sunday - is 99 degrees, set in 1934. That's also the forecast high, so we'll have to watch to see whether that gets broken before the front arrives.

BWI-Marshall has now recorded 10-straight days of 90-plus weather. Today will be the 11th, matching the streak in late June. There have been 17 days of 90-degree weather in July, beating the June total by one day. But this may be the last in the streak.

The forecast high for Monday is (are you sitting down?) 88 degrees! That's just one degree above normal for this time of year.  And we'll stay in the 80s for exactly ... one day. Then it's back into the 90s until the next cold front arrives at the end of the week, if the forecast holds up.

Sterling tells us we have seen 38 days of 90-degree weather so far this year (through Saturday), one more than the record for Baltimore by this date, set in 1991.  The record for an entire year is 54 days, so we're two-thirds of the way toward matching that dismal mark.

Hang in there, Baltimore. I hear bugles. The cavalry is coming. 

(SUN PHOTOS: Frank Roylance)

From the NWS Sterling:

MINIMUM TEMPERATURES ON SATURDAY WERE ABOVE RECORD VALUES.
THEREFORE RECORD EVENT REPORTS WERE SENT FOR BWI...DCA...AND IAD.
BELOW ARE THE MORNING MINIMA AND PREVIOUS RECORDS /WITH YEAR OF
OCCURRENCE/

  JULY 24  /RECORD HIGH MINS/
BWI   82   77 /1972...1935...1885/
DCA   81   78 /1987...1978...1935/
IAD   78   74 /1987/

ALSO...RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES WERE EXCEEDED SATURDAY AT
BWI...DCA...AND IAD. BELOW ARE THE SATURDAYS MAXIMA AND PREVIOUS
RECORDS/ WITH YEAR OF OCCURRENCE/

  JULY 24 /RECORD HIGHS/
BWI 101 97 /1987...1968/
DCA 101 96 /1987...1968...1884/
IAD  99 97 /1987/

DAILY RECORD HIGH MINIMUM TEMPERATURES ARE LIKELY TO BE SURPASSED
AGAIN OVERNIGHT TONIGHT...POSSIBLY NEAR THE ALL TIME HIGH MINIMUM
RECORDS. HOWEVER...WITH PRECIPITATION POSSIBLY AFFECTING THE RGN
BEFORE MIDNIGHT TMW EVE...TEMPS MAY DROP BELOW MRNG LOWS LATER IN
THE DAY. BELOW ARE JULY 25TH FORECAST MINIMA AND RECORD LOW MINIMA
FOR THE DATE.

JULY 25
FCST MRNG LOWS / DAILY RECORD HIGH MINS/ YEAR
BWI   81         77 /1887...1885/
DCA   82         79 /1987/
IAD   78         76 /1965/

**ALL-TIME RECORD HIGH MINIMA**
BWI   83...AUGUST 05 1930...JULY 21 1930...JUNE 6 1925
DCA   84...JULY 16 1983
IAD   79...AUGUST 8 2007

ALSO...RECORD HIGHS MAY BE EXCEEDED OR MATCHED TODAY BEFORE A COLD
FRONT CROSSES THE AREA. BELOW ARE RECORD TEMPERATURES /AND YEAR OF
OCCURRENCE/ FOR THE THREE MAIN CLIMATE LOCATIONS FOR JULY 25.

JULY 25
FCST HIGH / RECORD HIGH/ YEAR
BWI  99    99 /1934/
DCA 100   100 /1930/
IAD  98    97 /1987/

DCA HAS HAD 41 DAYS WITH 90 DEGREE OR GREATER TEMPERATURES THIS YEAR
THROUGH JULY 24. 41 DAYS TIES THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE OR
GREATER DAYS IN A YEAR THROUGH JULY 24 AT WASHINGTON DC WITH 1991
AND 1994. THE RECORD NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE OR GREATER DAYS FOR THE
ENTIRE CALENDAR YEAR AT WASHINGTON IS 67 DAYS IN 1980...SO
WASHINGTON SO FAR THIS YEAR IS THREE-FIFTHS TO THE YEARLY RECORD.

BWI HAS HAD 38 DAYS WITH 90 DEGREE OR GREATER TEMPERATURES THIS YEAR
THROUGH JULY 24. 38 DAYS IS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE OR
GREATER DAYS IN A YEAR THROUGH JULY 24 AT BALTIMORE...ONE AHEAD OF
37 DAYS OF 90 DEGREE OR GREATER TEMPERATURES IN 1991. THE RECORD
NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE OR GREATER DAYS FOR THE ENTIRE CALENDAR YEAR AT
BALTIMORE IS 54 DAYS IN 1988...SO BALTIMORE SO FAR IN 2010 IS OVER
TWO-THIRDS TO THE YEARLY RECORD.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:27 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Green Corn Moon rises tonight

Full moon BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

The moon is full tonight at precisely 9:36 p.m. EDT.  By then it will be well above the eastern horizon.

Moonrise over Baltimore this evening is at 8:10 p.m. If you’re at the beach, it arrives earlier, at 8:02 p.m.

This is the second full moon after the summer solstice, making it the Grain Moon, or the Green Corn Moon for some.

Late in the evening, watch for bright Jupiter to rise in the east. By Sept. 21, it will reach opposition – rising as the sun sets.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, June 2006)

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

July 24, 2010

Temperature record falls at BWI-Marshall

The official temperature for Baltimore topped 97 degrees sometime between noon and 1 p.m. Saturday. By the 1 p.m. reading it was 99 degrees, breaking the old record of 97 for the date, last reached in 1987.

UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: The temperature at BWI reached 100 degrees at the 3 p.m. reading Saturday. The dew point is 72 degrees, yielding a Heat Index value of 110 degrees. It is the sixth day of 100-plus temperatures at BWI this year. That has happened in only three other years since record-keeping began in 1871 - in 1900, 1930 and 1988.

UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: The high today at BWI was 101 degrees. It was 102 at the Inner Harbor. Here's more from the NWS:

RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES HAVE BEEN EXCEEDED SATURDAY AT
BWI...DCA...AND IAD [Dulles]. BELOW ARE THE SATURDAYS MAXIMA AND PREVIOUS
RECORDS/ WITH YEAR OF OCCURRENCE/

  JULY 24 /RECORD HIGHS/
BWI 101 97 /1987...1968/
DCA 101 96 /1987...1968...1884/
IAD  99 97 /1987/

Earlier post resumes below:

NOAA/NWSThe forecast high for the day at BWI is now 102 degrees. The dew point stands at 72 degrees, putting the Heat Index number at 109 degrees. Downtown, at the Maryland Science Center - and alongside the water - it's "only" 98 degrees. The forecast high is 103 degrees.

It's 100 degrees at The Sun, Calvert and Centre Streets, with a dew point of 80 degrees (It always seems to read high; that would yield a Heat Index of 123 degrees).

And if you haven't been outside yet today, you can't begin to know how really suffocating this heat and humidity really is. I just visited a dry cleaning establishment in Cockeysville, and they are working without air conditioning. Instead, they have all the doors and windows open, with a powerful fan blowing somewhere, drawing a gale of hot air in off the parking lot and through the front door.NOAA/NWS It's like standing in front of glass furnace.

With four or five more hours of solar heating ahead, we will be setting new records for this date just about every hour at BWI. The all-time record high for Baltimore in July - or any other month - is 107 degrees, set on July 10, 1936. 

Obviously, there is an Excessive Heat Warning posted for the region through 10 p.m. Saturday. Heat Advisories, Code Orange Air Quality and (in Baltimore) a Code Red Heat Alert are also on the boards today.

Have you been outside in this stuff? Let's hear about it.  

And for more from the NWS on toppling records this weekend, continue reading below.

Just thought this photos would help...

Memories of FebruaryFROM THE NWS, STERLING:

MINIMUM TEMPERATURES THIS MORNING...SATURDAY THE 24TH WERE ABOVE
RECORD VALUES AND ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN WELL ABOVE THESE VALUES
INTO THE EARLY MORNING HOURS TONIGHT. THEREFORE RECORD EVENT REPORTS
WERE SENT FOR BWI...DCA...AND IAD [DULLES]. BELOW ARE THE MORNING MINIMA AND
PREVIOUS RECORDS /WITH YEAR OF OCCURRENCE/

  JULY 24  /RECORD HIGH MINS/
BWI   82   77 /1972...1935...1885/
DCA   81   78 /1987...1978...1935/
IAD   78   74 /1987/

TEMPERATURES ARE FORECAST TO EXCEED 100F ACROSS THE FORECAST AREA
TODAY...SATURDAY JULY 24. RECORD MAXIMA FOR THE 24TH HAPPEN TO BE
THE LOWEST RECORD VALUES IN JULY FOR BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON
DC...AND ARE FORECASTED TO BE EXCEEDED BY SEVERAL DEGREES. A WEAK
COLD FRONT CROSSES THE AREA SUNDAY...THOUGH RECORD MINIMA AND
POSSIBLY MAXIMA MAY BE EXCEEDED SUNDAY AS WELL. BELOW ARE RECORD
TEMPERATURES /AND YEAR OF OCCURRENCE/ FOR THE THREE MAIN CLIMATE
LOCATIONS FOR TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY.

SATURDAY JULY 24 /RECORD HIGHS/Feel better?
BWI   97 /1987...1968/
DCA   96 /1987...1968...1884/
IAD   97 /1987/

SATURDAY NIGHT JULY 25 /RECORD HIGH MINS/
BWI   77 /1887...1885/
DCA   79 /1987/
IAD   74 /1987/

SUNDAY JULY 25 /RECORD HIGHS/
BWI   99 /1934/
DCA  100 /1930/
IAD   97 /1987/

DCA HAS HAD 40 DAYS WITH 90 DEGREE OR GREATER TEMPERATURES THIS YEAR
THROUGH JULY 23. 40 DAYS TIES THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE OR
GREATER DAYS IN A YEAR THROUGH JULY 23 AT WASHINGTON DC WITH 1991
AND 1994. THE RECORD NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE OR GREATER DAYS FOR THE
ENTIRE CALENDAR YEAR AT WASHINGTON IS 67 DAYS IN 1980...SO
WASHINGTON SO FAR THIS YEAR IS NEARLY THREE-FIFTHS TO THE YEARLY
RECORD.

BWI HAS HAD 37 DAYS WITH 90 DEGREE OR GREATER TEMPERATURES THIS YEAR
THROUGH JULY 23. 37 DAYS IS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE OR
GREATER DAYS IN A YEAR THROUGH JULY 23 AT BALTIMORE...ONE AHEAD OF
36 DAYS OF 90 DEGREE OR GREATER TEMPERATURES IN 1991. THE RECORD
NUMBER OF 90 DEGREE OR GREATER DAYS FOR THE ENTIRE CALENDAR YEAR AT
BALTIMORE IS 54 DAYS IN 1988...SO BALTIMORE SO FAR IN 2010 IS JUST
OVER TWO-THIRDS THE WAY TO THE YEARLY RECORD.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:29 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Bonnie's winds fade to 30 mph on La. approach

Drought Monitor Hard to imagine that Gulf Coast residents are too impressed, or worried by what's left of Tropical Storm Bonnie.

The National Hurricane Center has downgraded the storm to a tropical depression again, and Tropical Storm Warnings along the coast have been discontinued. Gulf Coast residents have weathered this sort of stuff many times. Considering what else they've had to deal with in recent years, this can't be a biggie.

Here is the latest advisory. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space. Not too impressive.

But I expect people in northern Louisiana are looking forward to the rain. They are in extreme drought at the moment - the red zone on the map at left.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:16 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

"Heat lightning," summer's silent light show

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Lightning BaltimoreFred Rasmussen, chief of the Obit Dept. here at The Sun, was awake one night recently watching “heat lightning” as it flickered near the horizon. He wondered what causes these silent light shows.

I remember heat lightning from all those hot and lazy summer nights before air conditioning drew us all indoors. It’s not caused by heat, but we see it most often in hot weather. It’s just ordinary lightning, in electrical storms so distant – sometimes over the horizon – that the thunder never reaches us.  

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 1993) 

 

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

July 23, 2010

Playing out the string ... of 90-degree days

Now that the mercury out at BWI-Marshall has topped 90 degrees for Friday, we are looking at a consecutive string of nine days at 90 or more. That seemed like a lot until I looked back at June Ice creamand realized we had an 11-day stretch of 90-plus weather, from June 19-29.

I've had a little exchange on the topic with Steve Zubrick - science officer for the National Weather Service forecast office out in Sterling Va. With more hot weather forecast this weekend, I thought we might be nearing some kind of record.

We are, but not for consecutive days at 90 or more. Steve pointed out that the record for consecutive days at 90 or above is 25 days, set July 12 through Aug. 5, 1995. How quickly we forget.

If the Sterling forecast holds, however, Steve observed that by July 29, we will have extended the string of 90-plus days at BWI-Marshall to 15 days. That's still well short of the record. However, that would bring the month's total (not consecutive) number of days in the 90s or worse to 22 days. And THAT would tie the record for the greatest number of days in July with highs of 90 or above (set in 1999). It would also bring the year's total to 43 days.

Then, if we suppose just one of the last two days of this month (beyond the current forecast) tops 90, and add only the average number of 90-degree days in August and September (10), we would have a total of 54 days at 90 or above for the year. And that would tie the record of 54 days for one year in Baltimore.

And the temperature forecast calls for an above-normal August and September.

"It does appear, based on the above analysis, that Baltimore will probably break its single calendar year record of 90-plus days," he said, landing somewhere between 55 and 60 days.

Please, spare us.

(SUN PHOTO: Tasha Treadwell, 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:53 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Tropical Storm Bonnie closes on S. Florida

NOAA/NHC 

Tropical Storm Bonnie, the second named storm of the 2010 season, was packing sustained winds of 40 mph this morning as it moved onto the coast of Southeast Florida.NASA

The minimal tropical storm was expected to cross South Florida and re-emerge in the Gulf of Mexico late tonight and Saturday morning. After crossing the northern Gulf, the storm was forecast to approach the Gulf Coast of Louisiana late on Saturday.

Forecasters don't think Bonnie will reach hurricane strength. But South Florida and the Keys were warned to expect tropical-storm-force winds today and heavy rain - as much as 5 inches in some locations.

Tropical Storm Warnings are up for the northern Gulf Coast, from Destin, Fla. to Morgan City, La., including Lake Pontchartrain.

Here is the latest advisory. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:13 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Like crabs in the steamer

Here we go, dear readers, staggering into what could well be some of the hottest, steamiest couple of days this summer. First, the warnings:

NWS HOTExcessive Heat Watch: posted for Saturday in Baltimore, Southern Baltimore County, Washington, D.C., Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church. The Watch means that a prolonged period of excessive heat is expected. And:

"THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND
HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A DANGEROUS SITUATION IN
WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY
IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM...STAY OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK UP
ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS."

NWS HOTHeat Advisory: The heat Advisory is in effect from noon Friday until 9 p.m. It covers all of Maryland from the Potomac to the Mason Dixon Line, and from Washington County east to Harford County. Again:

"A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS
EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE
POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED
ROOM...STAY OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK UP ON ELDERLY RELATIVES AND
NEIGHBORS. NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN OR PETS UNACCOMPANIED IN A PARKED
VEHICLE - EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS CRACKED."

NWS HOTCode Orange Air Quality Alert: The Maryland Department of the Environment has declared (another) Code Orange day. It covers The urban corridor from Baltimore to D.C., and suburban counties from Carroll to Harford, and south to St. Mary's.

" A CODE ORANGE AIR QUALITY ALERT MEANS THAT AIR POLLUTIONGunpowder tubing
CONCENTRATIONS WITHIN THE REGION MAY BECOME UNHEALTHY FOR
SENSITIVE GROUPS. SENSITIVE GROUPS INCLUDE CHILDREN...PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM
ASTHMA... HEART DISEASE OR OTHER LUNG DISEASES...AND THE ELDERLY.
THE EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION CAN BE MINIMIZED BY AVOIDING
STRENUOUS ACTIVITY OR EXERCISE OUTDOORS."

How bad does this weather stink, folks?

Just look at this forecast for downtown Baltimore: A high today of 97 degrees (it's already 93 at 11 a.m.), with humidity driving the heat index number to 101 degrees. (It's harder to evaporate sweat when the humidity is high, and so it's harder for your body to cool itself. Hence, the effect of the heat on your body is the same as if it were 101 degrees.)

Saturday's forecast calls for a high of 99 degrees at BWI-Marshall, and 100 degrees downtown, with a heat index as high as 107 degrees in the city and 105 at the airport. The record high for the date is only 97 degrees, last reached back in 1987. So it seems we're headed for a new record high for the date at BWI.

And, since Sterling's forecasts frequently undershoot the actual temperatures, we may well go higher than 99. Keep this in mind: The all-time record high temperature for Baltimore is 107 degrees. Just sayin' ... 

The long-range forecast looks better only by comparison. Sterling is calling for highs in the low- to mid-90s to continue through at least next Thursday. If so, that would bring us to 15 straight days in the 90s at BWI (we stand today at 9), and 43 days so far this year at 90 or above (today makes it 37). The average for a year in Baltimore is 29.4 days.

Mercy.

(SUN PHOTO: Kenneth K. Lam, 2008)

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Oil smoke plumes visible from space

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS

Oil plumeDon Gansauer writes from Canton: “Can the smoke from the burning off of the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico be seen in the satellite photos?”  If they can see the car in your driveway, they can sure see a miles-long smoke plume. There is a good image in a terrific oil spill gallery at “The Big Picture,” at Boston.com: http://bit.ly/9qcXGE There are also many satellite images of the oil slick at NASA’s Earth Observatory gallery: http://bit.ly/97Mg2x 

(AP PHOTO: Patrick Semansky)

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

July 22, 2010

New tropical depression heads for Gulf Coast

NOAA/NHCThe National Hurricane Center says the stormy region that's been dumping heavy rain on Puerto Rico in recent days has become the third tropical depression of the 2010 Atlantic season. It appears headed through the Florida Straits toward the Gulf coasts of Louisiana and/or Texas in the coming days.

That will make it problematic for the thousands of boats and crew members working to secure the BP Deepwater Horizon well, drill the two relief wells and scoop up as much spilled crude as they can. Then there are the thousands deployed across the region on hundreds of other oil rigs.

On the other hand, northern Louisiana badly needs the rain.NASA

TD-3, now in the Bahamas, is expected to become the second named tropical storm of the season, earning the name Bonnie when its sustained winds reach 39 mph.

Tropical Storm Warnings have already been posted for the southern tip of Florida, including the Florida Keys and Florida Bay.

That means tropical storm conditions are expected there within 36 hours.

Here is the latest advisory. Here is the view from orbit

(NASA image)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:11 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Hot. Hotter. Hottest. How's your AC?

Today marks the eighth straight day of 90-degree-plus weather at BWI-Marshall, the fourteenth such day this month and the thirty-sixth so far this year. So how's your AC holding up?

You'd better hope it's in fine shape, because the next few days will be killers. Perhaps literally.

UPDATE 1:00 p.m. Thursday: The Baltimore City Department of Health has declared Code Red Heat Alerts for Friday and Saturday. Cooling centers will be opened across the city. Call 311 for times and locations. At 2 p.m., the NWS issued Heat Advisories for the region from noon to 9 p.m. Friday.

Forecasters out at the NWS forecast office in Sterling are predicting a high today (Thursday) of 93 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport, and that was the reading at 3:45 p.m. For reference, it was 91 at Tefe, in the Brazilian Amazon. It may not feel as awful here; the air is a bit less humid. But it goes downhill from here.

Friday is expected to reach a high of 96 degrees at the airport as we come under the influence of Heat forecast mapthat Bermuda High in the western Atlantic Ocean. Humidities will rise, pushing heat index readings into the 95 to 105-degree range. There's only a slight chance for a cooling overnight shower before Saturday.

And Saturday will be the worst day of the week (see map). High temperatures at BWI are forecast to push into triple digits for the sixth time this summer, with even less cloud cover for shade than on Friday. Humidities will be high, driving heat index readings into the 100 to 110-degree range. You had your AC system serviced this spring, right? Good.

Watch for heat advisories, Code Red advisories and such. You know the drill by now. Just stay inside or go where it's cool. The jogging, the roofing, the post-hole digging can wait.

Eric the Red, a professional meteorologist from Baltimore who kept us ahead of the bad news during last winter's snowstorms, says it will be a memorable day.

"I am beginning to think Saturday might end up being one of the worst - if not THE worst - day of the summer. Temps will likely exceed 100 degrees yet again, but this time 'round our dew point may very well be in the lower 70s [oppressively humid]."

Eric sent along the temperature forecast map above. "This is NOT the max. temp. forecast, but rather a snapshot," he said. "I suspect the highest readings will be a bit above what the graphic shows. Ouch."

There's more from Eric below. Click on "Continue reading..."

While we're on the subject, BGE today issued (and later recalled) a press release warning customers with central AC that the electric bills they receive in the next few weeks will reflect the extra energy used during the persistent heat of recent weeks. Some bills may double, the utility said. 

The torture continues.

Eric the Red continues: 

"Impressive numbers are rolling in for Saturday's heat potential. 

 

"Quick Meteo 101:  You may recall me talking during the winter about temperatures aloft... more specifically, at ~ 5,000 ft (850 mb)... and how you need to be below freezing at that level to get snow.  Well, during the summer, you can use the temperature forecast at that level to also get a pretty good idea of what your heating potential is at the surface.  (There's a bit more to it than this... involving dry versus moist adiabatic lapse rates, surface pressure, convective temperatures, mixing ratios, and compressional heating... but I'm assuming you don't really care for that level of detail.  (Or do you?!) )

 

"Anyway... here are the details:

 

 

"For Friday, the models forecast the temperature at ~ 5,000 ft (850 mb) to hit 23°C/73°F.  Mix that air down to the surface, sans clouds, and you have a max temp of 99-101°F  Hmmm.

"For Saturday, the models forecast the temperature at ~ 5,000 ft (850 mb) to hit 25°C/77°F.  Mix that air down to the surface, sans clouds, and you have a max temp of 103-106°F  Double Hmmm.

 

"The WRF [a forecast model] brings showers into the area on Saturday, which put a lid on the extreme (100+) heat.  But the GFS [another forecast model] is all about 48 hours of humid, hellish, pure sun-shiney fun!  Considering we'll be at a baseball game... I'll go with the GFS.  Another scoorcher.  Upper 90s tomorrow, 100-degree heat a good bet on Saturday (assuming clouds/showers don't enter the picture). Enjoy! - E"

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:02 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Showers push back drought zone in Md.

USDA/NOAA 

Showers and thunderstorms during the past week have ended, for now, the agricultural drought for Baltimore and counties surrounding the Upper Chesapeake Bay. But moderate drought (tan on the map) persists this week in parts of Western Maryland, Southern Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore.

BWI-Marshall Airport recorded more than 2 inches of rain between July 13, when data for last week's Drought Monitor map was gathered, and July 20, when this week's map was compiled.Rain and flowers 

In that time span, the northeast section of Maryland, from Cecil County to eastern Carroll County, south to northern Arundel and Prince George's counties returned to normal soil moisture conditions. But most of Western Maryland remains abnormally dry, and moderate drought persists in Washington County and western Frederick and Montgomery counties.

Moderate drought - defined by measurements of rainfall, streamflow, soil moisture and plant health - also remains in Southern Maryland and the Lower eastern Shore, although the rains have erased the severe drought conditions that had been focused in Calvert County.

Overall, the portion of the state in moderate drought has fallen from 60 percent to 34 percent over the past week. The portion with normal conditions grew from 14 percent to 44 percent. And the portion rated "abnormally dry" decreased from 85 percent to 56 percent.

How long the good news will persist remains unknown. Eric the Red, a professional meteorologist from Baltimore, says we're on the bubble:

"Unfortunately, our precipitation prospects are not real good," he said. "Won't take much to push the entire region right bqack into drought at the rate things are going."

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, July 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:21 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drought
        

Highs and lows just fade away

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NWSBill Fisher writes from Abingdon: “How do the lows and highs begin, and do they continue around the world or die out?” NWS science officer Steve Zubrick says, “Highs and lows are simply a convenient means for us to track areas of relative air pressure … Eventually [they] lose their relative identity as the atmosphere tries to return to some balanced state.

"But the continual process of the sun rising and heating, coupled with the Earth spinning, creates imbalances” and new highs and lows.

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

July 21, 2010

Heat heads for 100 by Saturday; "relief" next week

Grab your juleps. There are more showers and storms headed this way on Wednesday, and then we're going to be back on the griddle for Friday and Saturday, with more oppressive humidity, and high temperatures once again threatening the 100-degree mark. 

Today promises to be the seventh day in a row with 90-plus temperatures at BWI-Marshall, the fourteenth 90-plus day in July, and the thirty-fourth 90-plus day so far this year. The average for Lightning storman entire year is 29.4 days at 90 or higher.

Forecasters out at the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va. are serving up another day of heat, humidity and storms today (Wednesday).  There is lots of warm, wet air across the region, and a disturbance headed this way this afternoon with a weak cold front out of upstate New York. If it reaches us, it could touch off showers and thunderstorms, with a chance for some hail and damaging winds. The storm threat is put at 50 percent.

The tornado threat appears low this time, unlike Tuesday afternoon, when warnings were posted as a small but vigorous storm swept through Baltimore and the surrounding counties.

Skies will be clearer behind the front, but that once the front moves through tonight, high pressure will build into the region, strengthening a good old Bermuda High over the western Atlantic. And that, of course, brings us more sunshine, and more hot, humid conditions as winds sweep up from the southwest around the west side of the clockwise-circulating high.

Forecasters are predicting a high of 97 at BWI for Friday, with plenty of humidity. That will be followed by highs near 100 degrees on Saturday, again with high humidity. If so, it will shatter Rainbow, Greenbelt, Md.records for the date, which are rather low as July goes - just 97 at BWI. That mark was last reached in 1987 and tied for the lowest daily record high still standing for July.

A 100-degree reading or higher on Saturday would be the sixth triple-digit day so far this summer. That's only happened three times since record-keeping began here in 1871. There were six 100-degree days in 1900, and seven in 1930 and 1988. Stay tuned.

The only good news in the 7-day forecast is that we may actually be in line for some relief next week.

Forecasters say a stronger cold front should sweep through the region on Sunday, bringing more showers and thunderstorms. Behind the front there is noticeably cooler, drier air. That translates into forecast highs of 89 and 88 degrees, respectively, for Monday and Tuesday. That's not what any of us would describe as "cool." It's about normal for this time of year in Baltimore. But with lower humidity, and after what we've been through, it will feel like a gift.

(PHOTOS: Top: AP Photo, Terry Prather, Ledger Independent, Maysville, Ky. Monday/ Bottom: Thanks to Mark Nucker; a sunrise rainbow Wednesday, Greenbelt, Md.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 20, 2010

Tornado Warning for Ellicott City

The National Weather Service has posted a tornado warning (red zone on map) until 5:30 p.m. for portions of Howard, Baltimore Arundel counties and Baltimore City:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED ANOAA/NWS

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
  SOUTHEASTERN CARROLL COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL MARYLAND...
  NORTHEASTERN HOWARD COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND...
  NORTHERN ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND...
  SOUTHERN BALTIMORE COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...
  BALTIMORE CITY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...

* UNTIL 530 PM EDT

* AT 456 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
  SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR ELLICOTT
  CITY...OR 9 MILES NORTH OF COLUMBIA...MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 30 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
  ELLICOTT CITY...
  MILFORD MILL...
  WOODLAWN...
  LOCHEARN...
  CATONSVILLE...
  ELKRIDGE...
  ARBUTUS...
  BALTIMORE...
  BROOKLYN PARK...
  PUMPHREY...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING AND AVOID WINDOWS. IF OUTDOORS OR IN A MOBILE HOME OR
VEHICLE...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:14 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

Storm soaking Puerto Rico gets better organized

A region of thunderstorms and soaking rains near Puerto Rico appears to be getting better organized. Hurricane forecasters now say there's a 60 percent chance the disturbance will become the region's second named tropical storm - Bonnie - within 48 hours. Forecasters said:

"ALTHOUGH THE SYSTEM DOES NOT YET HAVE A CLOSED CIRCULATION...
SATELLITE IMAGERY SUGGESTS THAT A SURFACE LOW PRESSURE AREA IS
NOAA/NHCBECOMING BETTER DEFINED JUST NORTH OF THE EASTERN TIP OF
HISPANIOLA. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BE FAVORABLE
FOR ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT AS THE SYSTEM MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD
AT ABOUT 10 MPH DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO.

"REGARDLESS OF DEVELOPMENT...
LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AND GUSTY WINDS WILL LIKELY AFFECT THE
VIRGIN ISLANDS...PUERTO RICO...THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC...HAITI...
EASTERN CUBA...THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS...AND THE SOUTHEASTERN
BAHAMAS DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS."

If this does become Tropical Storm Bonnie, the name may stir up memories of other storms by that name. A Hurricane Bonnie in 1986 made landfall in Texas, where three deaths were blamed on the storm and damages totaled $2 million. The storm dropped as much as 13 inches of rain and spawned 11 tornadoes.AccuWeather.com

Another Hurricane Bonnie made landfall in North Carolina in 1998 as a Category 3 storm. It packed 100 mph winds and 11 inches of rain. Total damage was estimated at $1 billion.

The most recent Bonnie was a tropical storm in 2004 (the name lists are recycled every 6 years). It crossed the Florida peninsula from west to east - the first of five landfalls in Florida that season - then ran up the East Coast without causing much of a problem.

For the moment, though, this latest storm is mostly just a big rain-maker. Here's the forecast for San Juan.

Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the storm. They expect it will give Florida a good soaking by the end of the week.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:33 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

NOAA Weather Radio on the air again

Sounds like the repairs are under way out at the Pikesville transmitter for NOAA Weather Radio, channel KEC83, which was knocked out by a lightning strike last week. I'm getting good reception again here in the newsroom downtown. And I've had this dispatch from Mike in Linthicum:

"Hey Frank,

"I was glad to hear KEC83 was back on the air yesterday. The Sudlersville station just NOAA Weather Radiowasn’t cutting it – too many crackles and pops. If I took my radio out to the back yard – which faces west, I was also able to pull in the station in DC. But who want to listen to a DC forecast?

"Yeah, I know I need to get a life, but I’ve had a radio with the weather band ever since I was a kid, and I’ve always liked listening to the forecasts.

If I remember correctly, back then you had real people – not the computerized voices – even though “Donna” is HOT!!! (OK – just kidding)  -Mike in Linthicum"

No. You're right. Donna may be a computer chip, but we don't hold that against her. She is hot.

As for the repairs, the efforts out at the transmitter have restored service, but they remain incomplete. Here's the word from Sterling:

"TECHNICIANS THAT HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THE PIKESVILLE NWR
TRANSMITTER REPORT THAT A TEMPORARY FIX HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED TO
ALLOW THE TRANSMITTER TO BEGIN BROADCASTING AGAIN. THIS FIX IS
EXPECTED TO SUSTAIN THE BROADCAST UNTIL A PERMANENT REPAIR TO THE
ANTENNA CAN BE UNDERTAKEN
."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Notes to readers
        

July 19, 2010

Eastern Shore storm creates striking cloud

Thunderstorm 7/19/10 

There was a thunderstorm moving across the upper Eastern Shore this (Monday) evening. With the setting sun on it, it was a terrific photo op. Here (above) is how it looked from my front window, in Cockeysville. Below is a detail.

Eric the Red, our contributing meteorologist from Baltimore, shot a similar picture with his Droid phone. He sent the following commentary:

"Even though the sun had already set at ground level, the reflection from the storm was so bright that it was casting shadows.  You can also see the the beginning of 'mammatus,' which are the bubbly elements protruding down from the top of the cloud... almost look like hanging grapes ...  They got more pronounced, but it also got too dark to really see them clearly.  They are indicative of a strong thunderstorm... one with very strong updrafts."

Speaking of thunderstorms, there was plenty of damage  late Sunday night and early Monday morning  from storms moving south of Baltimore, in Ellicott City, Glen Burnie and Eastport, among other communities. On the link above, be sure to click on earlier versions for more damage reports. The storm produced gusts in excess of 70 mph at BWI-Marshall.

Thunderstorm detail

Here's how Monday evening's storm looked from Parkville. Thanks to Jamie Myers:

Storm cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I asked the folks at Sterling to check the radar returns from the storm and help us understand better what we were looking at.

Matt Kramar checked the radar images and described the storm this way:

"It was very much multi-cellular in nature (sequential updraft pulses generated and advected [pushed] eastward, with the latest, most intense pulse on the western flank [the one we were watching from NOAA/NWSBaltimore].

"The updraft was quite strong. From our radar, there is significant echo ... over 45,000 feet ... So, in terms of vertical dimension, the storm likely was at least 50,000 feet tall. At the right of photograph #1 and in the center of photograph #3, the updraft's overshooting top is visible, which illustrates the strength of the updraft."

I mentioned the "mammatus" - the "bunches of grapes" clouds hanging off the upper cloud decks in the photos.

"Mammatus are generally a sign of highly turbulent air," Kramar continued in an email message. "I imagine they would have formed with each updraft pulse and advected eastward with the updraft, and that the multiple layers of mammatus you saw were just the latest iteration, and not residual from prior updraft pulses. There is tremendous turbulence through many layers around a strong updraft, which this clearly was on radar and visually."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:27 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Rains help some crops; corn suffers

This week's USDA Crop Progress report for Maryland is out today, and it shows recent rains in some parts of the state have helped to increase soil moisture and revive some crops. But the corn crop continues to deteriorate.

Among the comments from crop observers: "Slightly improved conditions with rain."  And "Much needed rain last week helped soybean conditions and replenished surface water ponds."

Only 17 percent of the corn crop is rated "good" or "excellent."  That's unchanged from last week. Baltimore County Farm Queen And the percentage rated "poor" or "very poor" increased from 50 percent last week to 53 percent in this week's report.

Soybeans benefited from the rains, with crops rated "poor" to "very poor" decreasing from 51 percent to 46 percent. The percentage rated "good" or "excellent" increased from 19 percent last week to 22 percent this week.

Pasturelands improved, too. The percentage rated "poor" or "very poor" declined from 55 percent last week to 51 percent this week. In the barley fields, the lowest categories declined from 21 percent to 12 percent of the crop.

The gains are evident, too, in the soils. The percentage of Maryland topsoil rated "short" or "very short" of moisture decreased from 82 percent last week to 68 percent in this week's report. Subsoil moisture in the "short" or "very short" catergories declined from 77 percent to 62 percent.

How about your garden? See any improvements? Or are the recent gains evaporating in the continuing heat?

(SUN PHOTO: by Jed Kirschbaum; Lynne Twining, Baltimore County Farm Queen, 1995)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:29 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Drought
        

Stormy weather in the tropics

NHC/NOAA 

Hurricane forecasters are watching two areas of stormy weather in the tropics. Neither one is given much chance of developing into a tropical storm in the next 48 hours - just 20 percent. But they are expected to produce plenty of gusty winds and heavy rain for islands in their path, including Haiti.

The first disturbance is located near the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It was stirring up showers and thunderstorms as it drifted west-northwest at 10 to 15 mph. Gusty winds and locally heavy rains were forecast for the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people displaced by last winter's earthquake remain in flimsy shelters.

The second area of stormy weather is located in the central and western Caribbean Sea. It was moving westward at 10 to 15 mph with showers and thunderstorms, but posed no immediate threat to major land masses. Stay tuned.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Heat relief? Hug the AC, or pray for thunder

If you're sick of this endless, 90-plus heat, there's not much for you to like in this week's forecast. High pressure over the western Atlantic - the infamous Bermuda High - will continue to drive hot, damp air into the region.

The only relief in sight will be modest chances for a thunderstorm, if you're lucky enough to be Cool at Artscapeunder one. Otherwise, you'll have to stick close to your air conditioner, if you're lucky enough to have one. Or, take a cool shower.

The coolest day in the seven-day forecast for BWI won't come until Sunday. And by "cool" we mean perhaps the first day ahead that might hang below 90 degrees. Like, 89.

And the best chance for a shower or thunderstorm will come Tuesday night, when the probabilities rise to a whopping 40 percent.

The brutal reality is that we are stuck in a persistent pattern of hot weather. When the mercury tops 90 today it will mark the 33rd day of 2010 with a high of 90 degrees or more.

The average number of 90-plus days for an entire year is 29.4 days. The record is 54 days, in 1988. Anyone care to submit guesses on the total for 2010? I'll keep a tally and the reader coming closest by, say, Oct. 15 will win some cheap Sun swag.)

Fully half of June (16 days) and half of July so far (12 days, counting Monday) have reached 90 or more. Five have reached triple digits.

"Region is locked under a warm, moist air mass," forecasters said in this morning's discussion from Sterling. "There'll be a fair amount of cloud cover today. But when breaks develop, it will feel pretty uncomfortable. Heat indices this afternoon come in at just over 100 [degrees] for CD/Balt."Cool at the beach

But it doesn't matter. We're used to it, they say: "Given acclimation has occurred by now, no heat advisory will be issued." 

After all, we haven't had a below-average day since July 3. And, we haven't failed to break 80 since June 9.

The average temperature at BWI so far this month is 80.7 degrees (through Sunday), which is 4.5 degrees warmer than the long-term average. If it were to hold at that number through the end of the month, this would rank as the third-hottest July since the city's official weather station moved to the airport in 1950. Only 1955 (81.2 degrees) and 1995 (81.5 degrees) were hotter. 

But, we have two weeks left to sweat through, and while this one looks like it will remain hot, maybe next week will bring us real relief.

How are you staying cool this week? In an air-conditioned office like me? At the beach? (Don't I wish.) Leave us a comment, or a stay-cool tip.

(SUN PHOTOS: Top: Karl Merton Ferron, July 2010/ Bottom: Barbara Haddock Taylor, May 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:11 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Heat waves
        

July 18, 2010

Unionville, Md., holds a world weather record

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

It slipped by me while I was on vacation. But July 4 was the 54th anniversary of the day in 1956 when little Unionville, in Frederick County, recorded the heaviest one-minute rainfall on record — anywhere. Weather observer G.P. Von Eiff reported 1.23 inches of rain during a single minute of a 50-minute storm that dropped 2.84 inches of rain. The U.S. Weather Bureau checked his instruments twice in the following days, and accepted the measurement. It’s still the world record.

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

July 17, 2010

Longest bout of rain was in 1873

Rain floodFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Charles Davis writes from Baltimore with a Biblical query: “Has Maryland ever experienced a period of 40 days and 40 nights of rain?” Not by a long shot, at least not in Baltimore since official records began in 1871. NWS science officer Steve Zubrick said: “The longest consecutive stretch of days having measureable (0.01 inch or more) precipitation is 14 days.” That occurred from Aug. 10 to 23, 1873, with 8.81 inches in the gauge by the time it let up.  Nearly 4 inches fell Aug. 13.

(AP PHOTO/ China, July 2010)

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

July 16, 2010

Welcome to the Hot Zone

Artscape crowd BaltimoreToday marks the start of what is, statistically, the hottest week (nine days, by one count) of the year for Baltimore. From July 16 through the 25th, the average high temperature at BWI (based on a 30-year average from 1971-2000) is 88 degrees.

After the 25th, the averages begin to go down again, headed for the lows of mid-January. Actually, they probably start down before then, around the 20th, but due to rounding by the National Weather Service, the whole-number averages read 88 degrees until the 26th.

Which, of course, is why the powers that be always schedule Artscape ("Three days of sweat, sunburn and claustrophobia") for this week. Makes perfect sense. 

The high today at BWI-Marshall was 98 degrees, after a high of 95 on Thursday. The forecast calls for highs in the low 90s right through the end of next week, 3 to 5 degrees above the average each day, with no more than a 30 percent chance for a cooling shower or thunderstorm. 

(SUN PHOTO: Christopher T. Assaf, 2004)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:10 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers
        

90-plus heat breaking records, triggering alerts

Temperatures at BWI-Marshall Airport are headed up past the 90-degree mark again today. When they get there, it will mark the 30th day this year with 90-plus heat.

With the 29th day with such heat on Thursday (BWI high was 95 degrees), Baltimore beat the previous record for 90-degree weather by July 15, according to the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling. NWS science officer Steve Zubrick says the last time we came close was in 1991, with 28 days in the 90s Baltimore heatby that date. By the time that year ended, the airport had recorded 51 days of 90-plus weather.

Today, with 30 days of 90-degree heat under our sweat bands, we will top the average number of 90-degree days for an entire year in Baltimore (29.4 days), based on the 30-year average from 1971-2000.

The greatest number of 90-degree days for Baltimore in a single year was 54 days, in 1988.

By contrast, during last year's relatively cool summer, the airport recorded only 4 days of 90-degree temperatures by July 15, and three of those occurred in April.

So, you might think we must be experiencing the hottest year ever. Not quite. Zubrick said cooler temperatures last winter are holding down our average. So far, the period from Jan. 1 through July 15 is averaging 54.8 degrees. That's tied for the 22nd warmest Jan. 1-July 15 period on record for the city.

As for 100-degree days, the airport has reported five so far. That's only happened four times before this year. The record is seven days, in 1930 and again in 1988.

There is a Heat Advisory posted for all of Central and Southern Maryland  from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. today, with an afternoon high Calvert County droughtexpected to reach 98 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport. With the humidity factored in, Heat Index numbers will rise to between 100 and 105 degrees.

And there is more 90-plus weather in the forecast right through next Thursday.

Baltimore has declared another Code Red Heat Alert for Friday, with cooling centers now open. And the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a Code Orange Air Quality Alert. High levels of ozone will make the air we breath outdoors unhealthy for sensitive groups, including the very old, the very young, and those with respiratory and heart problems.

Be careful out there. Thirteen Marylanders have died so far this summer from heat-related causes, many because they have not gone to cool places, or have not turned on their own air conditioners. 

Watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in yourself, your family and neighbors. Check on vulnerable family, friends and neighbors and call 911 if they appear to be in trouble from the heat. 

(SUN PHOTOS: Top: Barbara Haddock Taylor/ Bottom: Calvert County drought, Amy Davis)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:32 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Yes, it was an earthquake

USGS 

The US Geological Survey is reporting a 3.6 magnitude shaker at 5:04 a.m. EDT today, centered in the Gaithersburg area. That's pretty minor, but unusual for Maryland and quite enough to be felt across much of Central Maryland, as the map suggests. 

UPDATE: Here is the current Sun story on the quake.

I had this report this morning from Brian Heinz, in Columbia:

"I was sleeping and felt the bed shaking and felt as if the house was shaking as well.  When I came to, I looked at my Verizon cable box and the clock said 5:05. I immediately thought it was an earthquake or a plane going overhead, because of the noise.  I feel like the earthquake actually made noise or it was the house shaking.

"I went back to bed and just woke up and checked the USGS earthquake map. An earthquake happened at 5:04 am in the Potomac/Shenandoah Region. AWESOME.

"Finally met one of my three random goals in life. Feel an earthquake, see a tornado, and be in a hurricane."

Steve Zubrick, the science officer at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va., sent this:

"Big news down here. I felt the house shook as it woke me out of a dead sleep just after 5 am."

Any one else?  Leave a comment.

There are some details from the USGS about this here. And here's more on the history of earthquakes in Maryland. And here's a little on the most recent quake reported in Maryland, just outside of Baltimore, in 2007.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:14 AM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Earthquakes
        

Afternoon haze a product of pollution

Haze in Washington, D.C.FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS: 

Carol Uhler-Ford, in Pikesville, noted during last week’s rainless heat and humidity that “from around noon to maybe 2 o’clock or so, enough haze gathers to block the sun … but always gives way by 4 p.m. Help me understand this phenomenon.” My guess? It was probably a photo-chemical haze. Sulfur dioxide gas from combustion reacts in sunlight, humidity and stagnant air to form sulfuric acid droplets, which create the haze. As afternoon sunlight weakens and winds rise, the haze clears.

(PHOTO: National Park Service webcam)

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

July 15, 2010

Rains ease drought ... a little, in some places

Drought Monitor July 13, 2010

This week's Drought Monitor map (above) is out, and it does show some drought relief for some places in Maryland, when compared with last week's map. The portion of the state in moderate or severe drought has declined from 93 percent to 85 percent.

The most-improved award goes to the Mid-Shore region, from, say the Sassafras River south to the Denton area. That section was rated abnormally dry last week is now in the clear. The portion of the state no longer considered abnormally dry increased on this week's map from 6.8 percent to 14.4 percent.

Drought Monitor USAlso improved this week are Baltimore and its immediate suburbs. The weekend rains there boosted conditions from "moderate drought" to only "abnormally dry." The percentage of the state rated at least abnormally dry declined from 93 percent to 85.6 percent on this week's map.

Still rated in moderate agricultural drought are counties north and west of the metropolitan areas, including northern Baltimore County, Carroll, Frederick, and Washington counties, as well as Howard and most of Montgomery. 

Southern Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore showed little or no improvement despite several inches of rain in some locations. They remain in at least moderate drought. The portion of the state in moderate drought has declined slightly, from 64 percent last week to 60.5 percent this week.

And the crescent of territory centered on Calvert County that was in severe drought last week is still in that condition, according to the latest map. That region consitutes 4 percent of the state's geography.

Meanwhile, the map shows dry conditions persist in much of the mid-Atlantic region. The worst drought in the U.S. at the moment is found on the big island of Hawaii, and in northern Louisiana.

The Drought Monitor map is based on an index that takes into account measurements of such factors as rainfall, stream flow, soil moisture and plant health.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Drought
        

Weather cripples local NOAA Weather Radio

Violent weather has muted the robotic voices of NOAA's Weather Radio in the Baltimore area.

NOAA Weather RadioThe Pikesville antenna that broadcasts the weather forecasts, and the all-important weather watches and warnings for the region was struck by lightning during the storm late Monday or early Tuesday.

The bolt knocked out full-power broadcasts at 162.4 Megahertz, reducing the signal to a poor-quality 500 watts. The broadcasts are punctuated by a series of beeps and little or no content from the synthetic announcers: sweet and sultry Donna, next-door neighbor Tom, and the older, and vaguely Scandanavian Paul.

The transmitter's range during repairs will be limited to no more than 5 or 10 miles. I can hear nothing in our downtown Baltimore office. Repairs are expected to take as long as two weeks, the National Weather Service said.

The good news is that the same products are available as MP3 files and RSS feeds here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/lwx/podcasts/

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:12 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Lightning
        

Moon guides solar system tour this weekend

Crescent moon NASAFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Tour the solar system this weekend, with the crescent moon as your guide, if skies clear. The moon was near bright Venus last night, low in the western sky after sunset. Tonight it stands just below and left of dim Mars, separated by the width of your hand held at arm’s length. On Friday it will be below and left of Saturn by only a bit more. On Sunday evening look for the moon just three fingers from the bright star Spica

(PHOTO: NASA/Clementine mission)

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

July 14, 2010

Our cup runneth over, but more hot & dry ahead

Maryland precipitation

It sure seems like the agricultural drought proclaimed last week across most of Maryland must be over by now. Right? Here at The Sun's weather station, at Calvert & Centre streets, we've recorded 3.79 inches since the rains resumed on Saturday.

Towson is reporting 2.61 inches for the 24 hours ending at 8:30 Wednesday morning, the high for the state. There was 2.52 inches in Columbia and 1.38 inches in Bel Air.

This follows a very dry June and nine dry days at the start of July. And the 3.79 inches of rain that fell here is just about the average for July in Baltimore. We're already in surplus for July here at the paper, although it looks like the official NWS instruments at BWI-Marshall will show less when they add this morning's rain to the 2.08 inches in their gauge from Saturday through midnight Tuesday.

The short-term forecast still looks wet. The folks out at Sterling are predicting more showers for Wet flowerBaltimore before noon Wednesday, with a high near 87 degrees, and a 20 percent chance for some isolated storms Wednesday night. There are more storm chances late Friday and Saturday as another weak cold front moves through.

There does not seem to be much relief from the heat in sight. The highs at BWI are expected to be near 93 degrees from Thursday straight into early next week. And we'll have plenty of humidity, too. 

But surely the drought is done. Right? We'll know more when the next Drought Monitor map comes out Thursday morning. Watch this space.

Then there's Eric the Red, the professional meteorologist from Baltimore who shed plenty of light on our winter storm coverage last December and February. He's back in the game, and he sees more dry weather ahead:

"Models are in very good agreement that a strong ridge of high pressure will build over the Midwest and Ohio Valley, and that would put us right back into a hot, dry weather pattern. The feature begins to rear its ugly head on or about Wednesday (the 21st), is in full force by the end of next week, and will likely rule the roost for the latter half of july.

"So while there has been some drought relief, I would not declare our regional drought over by a long shot. And in fact, you may wanna gear yourselves (if you have gardens and such) for another period of dry, hot weather. It is still summer, after all."

The 30-day precipitation map at the top of this post shows that, while some parts of the state have far exceeded the norms for the last 30 days, other parts are still very dry. Dark green is 100 percent of the norm. Colors bluer than that have recorded 125 to 150 percent of their norms. The light green to red colors show areas still below their norms. The orange and deep red areas are at 20 to 30 percent of their norms.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance/ Thanks to Eric the Red for the rain map, assembled from NWS/CPC data)

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

July 13, 2010

More rain due

Stations across much of Central Maryland are reporting more than an inch of rain over the last 24 hours, and a few spots have clocked more than 2 inches as the state gets a break from the dry weather that had pushed most of Maryland into drought since the first of June.

The highest 24-hour totals reported so far include 2.4 inches in Pasadena, 2.19 inches in Elkridge and 1.69 inches in Columbia. The airport had received almost an inch by midnight, and another 0.2 inches since. Here at The Sun's weather station, Calvert and Centre streets, we recorded 1.86 inches between the afternoon deluge and another overnight.

On the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, we had recorded almost a third of an inch by the time we turned the lights out last night. The sound of heavy rain woke us during the night, and by 6:30 this morning the gauge read 1.57 inches in all.

Here are some other totals, from the CoCoRaHS network as of 7 or 8 a.m. Tuesday:Wet flowers

Crofton:  1.99 inches

Jacksonville:  1.75 inches

Potomac:  1.37 inches

Reisterstown:  1.25 inches

Denton:  1.11 inches

La Plata:  1.11 inches

Westminster:  0.88 inch

Bel Air:  0.49 inch

Annapolis:  0.45 inch

Salisbury:  0.07 inch

The forecast calls for more of the same for Tuesday, with a 50 to 70 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms this afternoon and tonight. Some storms could be severe. Temperatures won't be extreme, forecasters say, but humidity levels will be high, with dew points of 70 degrees and higher. All that moisture in the atmosphere will mean heavy rain where the storms strike.

Once these stormy waves pass by on Wednesday, high pressure will build and we can expect sunny skies for the end of the week. But it will remain very humid and hotter, with daytime highs at BWI in the low 90s from Wednesday right through the weekend.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 12, 2010

Heavy rain in downtown Baltimore

Heavy rain Baltimore SunVery heavy rain falling at 3:15 p.m. in downtown Baltimore.

The rain gauge at The Sun's weather station has been showing rates of up to 5.3 inches an hour. Almost a quarter-inch has fallen in the last 10 minutes.

UPDATE: Now showing 0.67 inches at 3:35 p.m.

UPDATED UPDATE @4:15: Temperature has dropped from 85 degrees at 3 p.m. to 72 at 4 p.m. Rain total is now 1.24 inches in about one hour.

We'd be interested in your reports as these cells move across the region. Leave a comment.

Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are posted for for the city and immediate suburbs until 3:30 p.m..

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:14 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Events
        

A steamy week ahead

If you're new to the area, and you've been wondering what a Chesapeake summer really feels like, this week - even moreso than last week's three-day, triple-digit record-smasher - will teach you all you need to know.

Forecasters out at Sterling are giving us a 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Caribbean Festival BaltimoreMonday and Tuesday, diminishing to 30 percent Wednesday. Look for highs near 90 degrees early in the week followed by the low 90s and sunnier skies late in the week. Dew points will be in the oppressive 70s, and we'll be steaming our crabs on the sidewalk.

Statistically, we are nearing the hottest week of the year, with average highs 87 to 88 degrees. Soon, you can tell yourself, the temperatures really should start to head the other way. At least on average. We're rounding the corner, and autumn is down the road someplace. Look for a Back-to-School Sale in a store near you.

We'll look for the weekly crop report today to see whether the drought damage worsened last week. And on Thursday we'll see the Drought Monitor maps and find out whether the weekend rains really made much difference across the state. 

David Cox, the Calvert County farmer we profiled in Saturday's paper, reports more than 3 inches of rain at his place Saturday. I got the following note from his wife, Susan:

"As I am writing this, the most beautiful sounds is coming in through the window. Drops of rain landing on the rose bushes around my home. Thanks for bringing the rain and for the article."

The tropics are quiet as the week begins, but this big slug of tropical moisture and steamy conditions we'll see tomorrow are actually the remnants of Tropical Depression #2, forecasters tell us. That's the one that followed Hurricane Alex onto the shores of northeast Mexico and southeast Texas last week.

Sterling says the wet air could drop as much as 2 inches of rain on some locations Tuesday, most likely during the afternoon and evening. "Damaging wet microbursts are possible in more organized clusters and strongest cells," foecasters said.  

(SUN PHOTO: Caribbean Festival Saturday in Baltimore/ Duy Do)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

July 11, 2010

Saturday storms dropped 7 inches on St. Michaels

Maryland rainfall

Saturday's rainstorms produced widespread street flooding in St. Michaels. I know because I had to detour through the village to get around the high water. So did plenty of other motorists. It took us a half hour to get through. Firefighters manned the intersections and roadblocks. Easy to see why folks there don't have basements.

But it wasn't until I checked the rainfall totals tonight that I finally understood what we had experienced. St. Michaels recorded 7.7 inches of rain in the 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. Sunday. That's the equivalent of two month's rain in a day.

The heaviest rain seems to have been concentrated in a very small area of Talbot County. Here are more rain totals from CoCoRaHS.  Other spots in Talbot saw 3.5 inches or less, while the Baltimore region recorded only a quarter- to a half-inch. Amazing.

The rainfall map above reflects all rain for the week ending Sunday July 11. Orange indicates 4 inches or more. Red is 5 inches and up.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:34 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Phenomena
        

Eclipse of the sun today, for the South Pacific

EclipseFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not in the South Pacific for today’s total solar eclipse. Me neither. Too bad. The new moon will slide in front of the sun’s disk beginning at 2:15 p.m. EDT, casting a circular shadow on the Earth. The only land it will cross are Mangaia in the Cook Islands, Easter Island, a few scattered atolls, and southern Chile and Argentina. The next total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. is Aug. 21, 2017. Be there.  

For webcasts of this eclipse, find links at http://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/2010/index.html

(AP PHOTO: Aaron Favila, January 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

July 10, 2010

ISS to vanish tonight over Baltimore

ISSFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Space Cadets! If skies are clear enough tonight we’ll have a chance to watch a very interesting pass by the International Space Station as it flies right over Baltimore. Look for a bright, star-like object rising at 10:24 p.m. EDT above our northwest horizon as the ISS passes over Lake Michigan. Just to the left, very low on the horizon, you’ll see bright Venus, with Mars and Saturn strung out farther to the left. At 10:27 p.m., the station will fly into Earth’s shadow, disappearing from view almost directly over our heads.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

July 9, 2010

When do heat and humidity feel "muggy?"

Heat humidity BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS: 

Veronica Piskor, in Bare Hills, wonders how forecasters can call for “muggy” weather when the expected relative humidity is less than 50 percent. “What constitutes muggy or humid in the meteorological community?

Forecasters watch the dew point, not relative humidity, because hot air can hold more moisture than cool air.

At 90 degrees, we feel uncomfortable at dew points of 65-69 degrees. But the RH may be only 44 - 52 percent (half the atmosphere’s capacity). Dew points above 70 degrees feel oppressive.

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, 1998)

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

July 8, 2010

Central Maryland now in agricultural drought

 NOAA/USDA/NDMC/

Most of Central Maryland, incuding Baltimore and the surrounding counties, are now, officially, experiencing a moderate agricultural drought (tan on the map), according to the Drought Monitor map released Thursday by NOAA.

(NOTE TO READERS: The map above will update when new Drought Monitor maps are posted in new entries above, so data on the map may no longer correspond with the text in this post. Be sure to compare the date on the map with the date of the post.)

Portions of southern Anne Arundel County, Calvert and small sections of Prince George's, Charles and St. Mary's counties, are coping with severe drought (orange), according to the map.USGS streamflow

Only Garrett County continues to enjoy normal conditions. The rest of the state (yellow)is rated as "abnormally dry."

In all, 64 percent of Maryland is now classified as being in drought, up from 37 percent last week. About 4 percent is in severe drought for the first time this year.

The drought data is compiled from a variety of data sources, including measurements of rainfall, streamflow, soil moisture and plant health. Although portions of the state are  experiencing agricultural drought conditions, water supplies have not yet fallen enough to place the region in a hydrological drought. 

Baltimore's reservoirs still hold ample supplies. But stream flows have declined, and some are now running well below normal (orange and cranberry dots on the map, above). A few are at record lows (red dots) for this time of year. And, ground water levels are falling, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:58 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Drought
        

When 88 degrees looks like relief

Looks like we've pushed past the record-breaking 100-degree weather of the past few days. But how bad is it when highs in the 90s begin to look pretty cool? And Saturday's forecast high of 88 degrees seems downright chilly?

If we do hold in the 80s on Saturday, it may well prove to be an isolated event. Forecasters out at Sterling are predicting highs in the low 90s at BWI through Wednesday of next week. That's when another cold front could arrive with a chance for a little more cooling and some badly needed Heat Baltimore showers.

In the meantime, we're stuck with half a loaf. Highs today at the airport should stop rising when the reach the lower 90s.

The air is a little cleaner over Baltimore today (Thursday). The Code Orange Air Quality Alert is in effect for Washington, D.C., Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties. But the Baltimore region is not included. Code Orange means the air is unhealthy for those in sensitive groups.

The bad news is that Baltimore and the southern portion of Baltimore County remain under a Heat Advisory today from noon until 9 p.m. Because of the rising humidity, Heat Index numbers will be between 100 and 105 degrees. 

The added moisture in the air - in addition to keeping the heat index numbers up, expanding the sweat stains on our shirts and keeping us miserable despite lower temperatures - is increasing the cloud cover and offering a slightly better chance for some showers.

Those chances get even better - 50 percent - late on Friday and early Saturday as a weak cold front arrives from the west. That's what will give us highs only in the upper 80s on Saturday, too.

But almost immediately - Sunday - things will heat up again into the 90s, and continue that way well into next week. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Sunspots and the weather

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Sunspots NASAAlnetia K. Ewing writes from Towson: “It seems as if we are having an unusual number of severe storms this year all over the nation. I know that the 11-year sunspot cycle can cause this … Can you tell us … what other factors are involved?” Sunspot counts and solar activity are climbing out of an unusually long minimum toward a predicted maximum in 2013. But despite many attempts, scientists have failed to find reliable links between these cycles and terrestrial storms.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Space weather
        

July 7, 2010

Heat death toll rises to 8

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced two more heat-related deaths on Wednesday, as the total number of fatalities for the summer rises to 8. 

From the health department: "The latest reported hyperthermia-related fatalities are an Anne Arundel County adult (19 to 64) whose death was unpended from late May, and a Baltimore City adult who died this week.  The Anne Arundel County individual collapsed inside their home after working outdoors; the Baltimore City adult was found inside an home with air temperatures over 90 degrees. " 

"I can't emphasize enough how important it is to take precautions against these record breaking temperatures that we are currently experiencing in our state," Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement. "Find a place where it is cool, drink plenty of water or fruit juice and take it easy." 

For tips on staying healthy during these record-breaking hot days, see the Picture of Health blog. And check out our map of city cooling centers.

Posted by Kim Walker at 3:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Heat waves
        

100 degrees at BWI-Marshall; new record set

The National Weather Service is reporting at 2 p.m. Wednesday that temperatures at BWI-Marshall Airport have reached 100 degrees. The reading breaks the old record of 99 degrees, last reached on this date in 1993.

There are now only six dates in July with high temperature records below 100 degrees.

The reading also marks the fifth day so far this year that has reached triple digits temperatures. It's the most 100-degree days before July 7 on record for Baltimore.

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:02 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Power grid operators call for conservation

Power lines BaltimoreThe people who manage the distribution of electrical power from Northern New Jersey to Washington, D.C. called on consumers Wednesday to conserve electricity as the record-breaking heat wave continued to push power demands higher.

The PJM Interconnection said conservation measures are expecially needed between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. when the demand for power to run air conditioners and fans typically peaks.

Tuesday's record heat prompted PJM to issue a voltage reduction warning, which advised transmission line managers to prepare for voltage reductions, or "brown-outs," in the mid-Atlantic region.

The warning was later cancelled as power demand dropped, and no voltage cuts were ordered.

Power demand across the PJM grid peaked Tuesday at 136,398 megawatts, the third-highest peak on record for the grid. It also exceeded the forecast high for this summer. Wednesday's demand was forecast to reach 137,783 by 4 p.m.

Consumers were urged to close curtains and blinds to keep the sun out and cool air in; delay the use of heat-generating appliances, suich as dryers and dishwashers until after 9 p.m.; set air conditioner thermostats higher if health permits; and turn off appliances and other equipment if they're not needed.

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, 2006)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:44 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Heat waves
        

BGE restores power to thousands; heat persists

Thermometers were rising again Wednesday morning and nearly 8,000 BGE customers who had lost power during Tuesday's record heat were breathing a bit easier. By 10 a.m. BGE crews had restored electrical service to 7,930 customers according to their website. A few hundred more were still waiting for help.

Baltimore heatThe largest numbers of outages were scattered across Baltimore City and county.

The National Weather Service was predicting a high of 100 degrees again on Wednesday, which sounds like a break from Tuesday's record 105-degree reading at BWI-Marshall Airport. That is, until you recall that Tuesday's forecast high was also 100 degrees.

Just before 11 a.m. it was already 96 degrees at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets. The airport reported 95 degrees. 

Heat Advisories were posted once again across almost all of Maryland, with exceptions only for Garrett County and the Lower Eastern Shore. A Code Orange air quality alert was up for the entire state, noting that air pollution levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups, including the very young, the elderly and people whith respiratory or heart diseases.

And in Baltimore City, the Code Red Heat Alert was extended through Wednesday, with cooling centers opened across the city.

Relief remains just out of reach, with highs Thursday and Friday predicted to hold in the lower 90s. A cold front late Friday or Saturday should bring the mercury down another peg, with weekend highs in the upper 80s to near 90 degrees. There's also a better chance for some scattered showers and thunderstorms on Saturday as the front pushes through.

(SUN PHOTO: Algerina Perna, July 6, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:27 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Heat waves
        

July 6, 2010

BWI-Marshall now reporting 104 degrees

 

The weather instruments at BWI-Marshall Airport reported a temperature of 104 degrees at 2 p.m. Tuesday. That breaks the record of 101 degrees set for the date in 1999.

It was 101 at the Maryland Science Center and at the Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets.

UPDATE: At 4 p.m., the NWS reported a high of 105 degrees at BWI-Marshall, making this the hottest day here in 27 years. It is the second-highest July temperature ever recorded for Baltimore, after a 107-degree high on July 10, 1936. It matches highs reached only four other times, on June 29, 1934, Aug. 6 and 7, 1918, and Aug. 20, 1983.

(Baltimore Sun photo of children cooling off in Patterson Park by Duy Do)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:06 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Heat waves
        

It's 100 degrees at The Sun, and in DC

The thermometer at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre Streets has reached 100 degrees, and so has the one at Washington's Reagan National Airport.

BWI-Marshall is reporting 98 degrees at noon. Ditto for the Maryland Science Center at the Inner Harbor.

UPDATE 1:10 p.m.: BWI-Marshall is now reporting 101 degrees, tying the record high for the date, set in 1999.

 

 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:33 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Heat waves
        

96 degrees downtown at 10 a.m.

It's already 96 degrees at 10 a.m. here at The Sun's weather center at Calvert and Centre streets. The downtown forecast calls for a high Tuesday of 104 degrees.

The airport is a few degrees behind us, at 94 degrees. But with another six hours or more of heating ahead, there seems little doubt we will reach or surpass the 100-degree mark today in both places, and set a new record high for the date at BWI.Baltimore heat

We're not likely to see any relief until Thursday, and we'll not leave the 90s until the weekend.

Here are the targets at BWI-Marshall for the next few days:

Tuesday: Forecast - 100 degrees. Record - 101 degrees, set in 1999

Wednesday: Forecast: 100 degrees. Record - 99 degrees, set in 1993

Thursday: Forecast:  91 degrees. Record - 100 degrees, set in 1993

Friday: Forecast: 93 degrees. Record - 103 degrees, set in 1936

Saturday: Forecast: 88 degrees. Record - 107 degrees, set in 1936

Sunday: Forecast: 88 degrees. Record - 100 degrees, set in 1988

Remember there are Heat Advisories posted for the region from noon Tuesday until 11 p.m. Wednesday evening. Here's the forecast for BWI-Marshall

We can blame the heat on the large high-pressure system still parked over the eastern third of the nation. Until a cold front moves in from the west late on Friday, we won't see much relief. The front could bring us some welcome showers and thunderstorms, and can be expected to bring daytime highs closer to the average for this time of year in Baltimore.

The hottest period of the year, on average in Baltimore, runs from July 16 to 25, with a long-term average of 88 degrees. After that, the numbers begin their long, slow slide toward winter.

(SUN PHOTO/ Algerina Perna)

From the National Weather Service:

"STRONG HIGH PRESSURE WILL REMAIN OVER THE MID ATLANTIC THROUGH
WEDNESDAY...PROVIDING HOT AND HUMID CONDITIONS. HIGH TEMPERATURES
BOTH TODAY AND WEDNESDAY ARE EXPECTED TO BE AROUND 100 DEGREES.
THIS COMBINED WITH AN INCREASINGLY HUMID AIR MASS WILL ALLOW HEAT
INDEX VALUES TO REACH UP TO 105 DEGREES EACH AFTERNOON.

"TEMPERATURES TONIGHT WILL ONLY DROP TO AROUND 80 DEGREES IN
DOWNTOWN WASHINGTON AND BALTIMORE...AND INTO THE 70S ACROSS THE
REMAINDER OF MARYLAND...THE EXTREME EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA
PANHANDLE AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA IN THE HEAT ADVISORY.

"PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

"A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS
EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE
POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED
ROOM...STAY OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES AND
NEIGHBORS."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:15 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Heat waves
        

July 5, 2010

June was second-warmest on record for Baltimore

The numbers will only add the weight of statistics to what every miserable creature who has ventured outdoors in recent weeks already knows. And it's soon to get worse. But here we go anyway:

The average temperature at BWI in June was the second highest on record for the city of Baltimore in Heat and droughtJune, at 78.8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.  That is 7 degrees warmer than the 30-year average (1971-2000) used for comparisons, and more than 2 degrees warmer than the July average. Only June of 1943 was hotter, at 79.8 degrees. And back then they measured the official temperatures in downtown Baltimore. Official record-keeping in Baltimore began in 1871.

The mercury at the airport reached 90 degrees or more on 16 days in June. The average is just under six days. This year's tally was the second-highest on record, behind only the 18 straight 90-plus days recorded in June 1943. 

We hit 100 degrees on June 24 and 27. Both days set new daily record highs. That was the first time Baltimore has recorded 100 degrees or more on two separate days in June. It was also the first 100-degree day in June since June 15, 1994, and just the 10th one-hundred-degree June day on record for the city. 

Another new high was established for June 28, at 99 degrees. The 97-degree high on the 23rd tied the record first set on that date in 1894.

The 11 straight days of 90-plus weather we suffered last month was the second-longest 90-plus streak on record for the city in June. The longest was a 12-day stretch, on June 13-24, 1994.

Had enough yet?NOAA/NWS

Sorry. There's more. The low temperatures on June 24 and 29 tied record high minimums.

June was also the driest June in Baltimore in nearly 20 years. The 1.55 inches that fell was less than half the normal rainfall for the month.

There. Now we're done.

Except for the forecast, which calls for bad air, (gray on the map) heat advisories (orange) and highs near 100 degrees through Wednesday. The highs won't fall back into the (upper) 80s until the weekend, with more 90-plus weather ahead next week. And, Baltimore's Health Department has declared a Code Red Heat Alert extending through Wednesday, opening its cooling centers.

Sorry. Oh, and don't look at the tropical weather forecast. It looks messy for the Gulf.

Now I'm done.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:11 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: By the numbers
        

A third of Maryland now in moderate drought

Drought Monitor 

Weeks of unusually hot weather and scant rainfall have made nearly all of Maryland, including Baltimore, abnormally dry, according to the weekly Drought Monitor report compiled by the University of Nebraska. And last week's report shows that more than a third of the state had slipped into "moderate" agricultural drought conditions, an indication that some crop damage is occurring.

The worst of the dry weather has hit Southern Maryland, from northern Anne Arundel County to St. Mary's County, as well as the Lower Eastern Shore, all now classified as being in moderate agricultural drought. 

The classifications are worked out through a complex index system that incorporates a variety of inputs, including rainfall, stream flow, soil moisture and plant health. This is the first time Maryland has seen any drought conditions since last October. And, the percentage of the state affected by the current conditions is the greatest since mid-April of last year.

As warm and dry as it's been, however, and as brown as many lawns have become, the condition do not yet constitute a hydrological drought. For the Baltimore region, especially, water supplies are ample. At last check, the city's three reservoirs, which also serve much of the surrounding counties, stood at 97 percent of capacity.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drought
        
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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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