NWS plans fewer winter weather alerts in Allegany
Hardy Allegany County residents just seem to deal with wintry weather without paying much attention to the stuff, much less caring about how the weather forecasters choose to define it.
But the National Weather Service is acknowledging the frequency of bad winter weather in Western Maryland's mountain stronghold by requiring slightly more dire forecasts before they'll issue winter weather watches and warnings. The change puts the county into the same class as Garrett County just to the west.
Until now, the forecast for Allegany County - and for the rest of Maryland east of there - had to call for 2 inches of snow in 12 hours before the folks in Sterling would issue a Winter Weather Advisory. As of 10 a.m. Thursday, the criterion for Allegany (also Grant, Mineral and Pendleton counties in W. Va., and Highland County in Va.) will be 3 inches in 12 hours.
Similarly, the threshold for a Winter Storm Watch will be a 50 percent chance of seeing 6 inches over 12 hours (instead of 5), or 8 inches over 24 hours (instead of 7). An 80 percent chance would trigger a Winter Storm Warning.
Chris Strong, the warning coordination meteorologist at Sterling, said the thresholds are being upped "due to the higher annual snowfall (and frequency of snowfall) out there, their ability to tolerate light snowfall better, and local government wishes. They haven't seen a climatological increase in snowfall there over the past several years, but this criteria should better fit what constitutes a nuisance and a life threatening event out there."
And it's come just in time. Frostburg is expecting accumulating snow this weekend.
(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, Frostburg, Oct. 25, 2005)