Mercury touches 30s overnight
The official thermometer out at BWI-Marshall Airport dipped to 39 degrees overnight, the first time we've seen that territory since May 11.
It wasn't a record. The coldest reading for an Oct. 21 in Baltimore is 26 degrees, set in 1952. The coldest Oct. 22 was also in 1952, when the mercury reached 31 degrees.
But it was a signal that colder weather, and winter, are on the way. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its Winter Outlook on Thursday. They see no strong trends either way for winter precipitation or temperatures in the mid-Atlantic states.
A strengthening La Nina event in the Pacific Ocean is expected to produce a cold, snowy winter across the northern tier of states, and a mild and very dry winter across the southern tier. But for us, they can't see more than equal chances for above- or below-average numbers for the coming winter.
Of course, a middling winter would be just fine with many Marylanders after last winter's snow circus. Three blizzards and a flurry of lesser storms dropped an official 77 inches on BWI-Marshall. Western Maryland saw totals well into the triple digits. Common sense is enough to suggest we couldn't see that kind of weather again soon.
I spoke with Ken Reeves, at AccuWeather.com for today's story on the winter forecasts. His shop believes we'll see near- or below-average temperatures in November and December, which could give us an early taste of winter. By January, they expect the theme will be mostly mixed-precipitation events. Those would seem more typical of Baltimore than last year's performance, which put places like Buffalo and Erie to shame. And it would still be enough to send lots of Marylanders into winter-weather panics.
I think most of us would agree icy storms are scarier than big snows. Yes?
When I pressed him for a snow-total prediction for BWI, he hesitated, but finally offered 20 to 25 inches. That would top the long-term average for the city, which stands now at 18 inches. But he cautioned that he was more likely to be too high than too low with that forecast. I told him it was the same estimate I got last year from AccuWeather's Joe Bastardi when I asked him the same question. Obviously, Joe erred on the low side.
So, let the winter games begin!
The more immediate forecast calls for a warming trend this weekend. After our dip into the 30s this morning, we'll look for Friday's high to struggle for 60 degrees. There may also be some patchy frost in the area north and west of the urban centers tonight as temperatures again drop into the upper 30s. There are freeze watches in some mountainous areas of Virginia and West Virginia.
But as this high-pressure system (map, left) moves off the coast, we should begin to get some return flow from the west and southwest. And that will bring the weekend highs into the 70s by Sunday, where they will stick for most of the coming week.
Indoors at the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, temperatures have sunk to 67 degrees, and the indoor humidity has climbed to 51 percent. The thermostat was very tempting last night, but we stuck with sweaters and the electric blanket. With milder weather just ahead, we have high hopes of making it to Nov. 1 before we turn to BGE for heat.
(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, Dec. 2009)