Heat, fire and flood ahead ... then Igor?
Sounds pretty dire, doesn't it? Fortunately, the reality isn't quite so bad.
The National Weather Service forecasters out at Sterling think today's high might rise into the upper 80s, falling somewhere short of the 90-degree mark. Of course, they said the same thing yesterday, and we slipped through to 91 degrees at BWI-Marshall, establishing a new record for the most 90-degree days in one year.
In any case, a glance at the 7-day forecast will tell you we're not likely to get anywhere near 90 after today, at least for a while. The cold front passing by today will drop daytime highs into the 70s, and the warmup this weekend will barely take us to the 80s. Could this be the beginning of the end of the hottest summer ever in Baltimore?
The cold front comes with some double-digit windy conditions today, and that - plus the dry weather and tinder-dry conditions in the woods and fields - has forecasters concerned about the spread of wildfires in Maryland. There is a Fire Weather Watch up from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday for the entire forecast area west of the Chesapeake:
"WESTERLY WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 15 AND 25 MPH
WHILE RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES DECREASE TO 25 TO 30 PERCENT IN THE
AFTERNOON. WITH THESE CONDITIONS OCCURRING OVER AN AREA WITH VERY
LOW FUEL MOISTURE THIS WILL PRODUCE A FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR
THE SPREAD OF FIRES."
UPDATE: The Fire Weather Watch has been replaced with a Red Flag Warnings until 7 p.m. for most of the state, from Allegany County west to the Upper Shore, and south to Prince George's and Arundel counties. Much of southeastern Pennsylvania and southern and central New Jersey are also included. Here what the warning means:
"A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS
ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG
WINDS, LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE
EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL."
If that's not enough excitement for the Weather Page, we also have a Coastal Flood Advisory for the western shore of the Chesapeake. South winds will be pushing water up the bay, producing minor tidal flooding this morning in the usual most flood-prone locations. Don't get your feet wet.
Down in the tropics, there is one minor disturbance in the Caribbean - the remnants of Tropical Storm Gaston - that hurricane forecasters are noting. But there is more interest in a new area of storms in the far eastern Atlantic, near the Cape Verde Islands. Hurricane watchers are giving that one a 50 percent shot at becoming a named tropical system within 48 hours.
If it comes to life, the new storm will be named ... really ... Igor.