Dec. 5: The month's most-likely snowy day?
For several years now, we've been writing about Dec. 5, and how frequently we here in Baltimore seem to get at least a little bit of snow on that date.
Here's the recent history:
2009: 1 inch
2008: None (but there was 0.6 inch on the 6th)
2007: 4.7 inches
2005: 1.4 inches
2003: 3 inches (and another 3.8 inches on the 6th)
2002: 7.4 inches (and a trace on the 6th)
Well, okay. Maybe snow on six of the last eight Dec. 5ths is a coincidence. But it's been a pretty persistent one. I asked Steve Zubrick about it. He's the science and operations officer at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va.
"I don't think it's any more favored than any other date during winter," he said. "I have not done a statistical analysis of this" but he doubts it would stand up as statistically significant. Maybe not.
Still, Zubrick did run the numbers for me, looking back on all the dates with at least an inch of snow in Baltimore since they started keeping daily snow records for the city in 1892.
That search revealed that Dec. 5 REALLY IS the date with the most snowfalls of an inch or more. (Chart below.) It's occurred on nine Dec. 5ths (five of those since 2002). The runners-up are Dec. 10th and 14th, with seven snows of an inch or more.
Curiously, it has NEVER snowed an inch or more on Dec. 7 since the record-keeping began. Zubrick doesn't think that would hold up as statistically significant, either, if he had a longer time scale to work with.
So maybe there's nothing special about the date. It just seems likely to snow on Dec. 5 in Baltimore, and not on Dec. 7. Whatever... Here are some other curious-but-probably-meaningless facts from Zubrick's data search:
* The date with the most frequent snowfalls of an inch or more for Baltimore: Jan. 7, with 13 such snowfalls since 1892.
* The runner-up, with 11 days: Jan. 28.
* Those are followed by a six-way tie, with 10 days each: Jan. 16, 19, 30, and Feb. 4, 6 and 17.
* January and February had the most days with an inch of snow or more: 206 days each since 1892.
The forecast for this coming Dec. 5 - Sunday - calls for partly sunny skies and a high near 43 degrees, after a morning low of 30. On the other hand, Eric the Red, our contributing meteorologist from Baltimore, says several computer models suggest the first significant storm of the season in a Dec. 7-8 time frame.
Maybe we'll see the first inch or more of snow on a Dec. 7 in Baltimore since records began in 1892. Stay tuned.
(SUN PHOTO: Top: Nanine Hartzenbusch, Dec. 6, 2005; Bottom: Amy Davis, Dec. 5, 2003)