« Harvest Moon illuminates the equinox | Main | Early autumn can be hot in Baltimore »

September 23, 2010

Will tropical systems end Maryland's drought?

The new Drought Monitor map for this week is in, and for the first time since April 2009 it shows the entire state to be unusually dry. Nearly one-third of the state's geography is in moderate to extreme drought, with the worst of it west of Frederick.

More than a few times in my 30 years in Maryland, these summer dry spells have been ended by a brush with a tropical storm, or its remnants. Hanna in September 2008, Ernesto in September 2006 and Tammy in October 2005 come to mind.

We've written recently about the possibility that the patterns in the Atlantic may be about to AccuWeather.comchange. And now comes with a rather confident prediction that we are, indeed, about to see a sharp change in our rain fortunes - albeit too late for many farmers.

The commercial weather company is calling it, rather inelegantly, "Troptober" - suggesting that tropical weather will be the dominant force at work here next month. Their thinking is that the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico are about to start boiling, tossing off tropical systems that have an increasing chance to make landfall in the northern Gulf region, or to track up the East Coast.

That, they believe, would mean improved chances that the dry and droughty region from Louisiana to southern New England is about to see some repeated, heavy rain:NOAA/NHC

"Repeating downpours could add up to a foot of rain in some locations, not only leading to street flooding and highway slow-downs, but perhaps all the way to small stream and even some river flooding.

"One tropical system alone can easily drop several inches of rain and erase the drought or abnormally dry pattern in these areas. There is the potential for several such systems to move northward. The details of which are not known at this time."

The National Hurricane Center today is already tracking a new tropical depression - the 15th of the season - in the western Caribbean (satellite photo). But it appears headed for Central America. Hurricane Watches are already posted for parts of Nicaragua and Honduras. 

UPDATE: The storm has now reached tropical storm strength. Its name is Matthew, the 13th named storm of the season. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from orbit.

Let's see how good's experts really are.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:43 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts


There is an interactive map of Maryland drought conditions at

FR: Thanks!

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

Sign up for FREE weather alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for weather text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Maryland Weather Center

Area Weather Stations
Resources and Sun coverage
• Weather news

• Readers' photos

• Data from the The Sun's weather station

• 2011 stargazers' calendar

• Become a backyard astronomer in five simple steps

• Baltimore Weather Archive
Daily airport weather data for Baltimore from 1948 to today

• National Weather Service:
Sterling Forecast Office

• Capital Weather Gang:
Washington Post weather blog

• CoCoRaHS:
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Local observations by volunteers

• Weather Bug:
Webcams across the state

• National Data Buoy Center:
Weather and ocean data from bay and ocean buoys

• U.S. Drought Monitor:
Weekly maps of drought conditions in the U.S.

• USGS Earthquake Hazards Program:
Real-time data on earthquakes

• Water data:
From the USGS, Maryland

• National Hurricane Center

• Air Now:
Government site for air quality information

• NWS Climate Prediction Center:
Long-term and seasonal forecasts

• U.S. Climate at a Glance:
NOAA interactive site for past climate data, national, state and city

• Clear Sky Clock:
Clear sky alerts for stargazers


• Hubblesite:
Home page for Hubble Space Telescope

• Heavens Above:
Everything for the backyard stargazer, tailored to your location

• NASA Eclipse Home Page:
Centuries of eclipse predictions

• Cruise Critic: Hurricane Zone:
Check to see how hurricanes may affect your cruise schedule

• Warming World:
NASA explains the science of climate change with articles, videos, “data visualizations,” and space-based imagery.

• What on Earth:
NASA blog on current research at the space agency.
Most Recent Comments
Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected