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January 20, 2011

Forecast scaled back to 1-3 inches

Looks like this will be yet another annoying little snowstorm of just 1 to 3 inches. The storm approaching from the west just doesn't carry very much moisture, forecasters say. And the southern storm is expected to move out to sea without providing much energy or moisture to the game.

NWS/NOAAThe National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. has posted a Winter Weather Advisory , covering the northern tier of counties from Frederick to Carroll, Howard, Baltimore and Harford counties, including the City of Baltimore, and the northern counties of the Eastern Shore.

South of there, the forecast accumulations diminish and the potential impacts on travelers does the same. Little or no accumulation is expected in Southern Maryland or the Lower Eastern Shore. Here's how this morning's forecast discussion from Sterling put it:

"Northern Maryland, Potomac Highlands stand best chance at receiving a couple inches of snow accumulation. Could see southern counties struggling to get an inch out of this. And that's still subject to change. DC right now on the edge..." 

The snow is expected to reach the Baltimore area between 10 p.m. and midnight, tapering off around daybreak Friday, with the highest accumulations closer to the Mason-Dixon Line. Could this be another Hereford Zone storm?

As minor as it seems, the snow could still produce slippery walking and driving conditions. Temperatures overnight will be in the upper 20s, and will stay fairly cold on Friday. The forecast high for BWI-Marshall is only 31 degrees. Watch for re-freezing of earlier snow melt. I nearly took a header on some black ice this morning.

Friday night and Saturday will see some of the coldest temperatures so far this winter, with an overnight low near 14 degrees at BWI, and a Saturday high of just 25 degrees - 10 to 15 degrees below the averages for this time of year.

The weekend will remain unusually cold, with highs in the 20s and lows in the teens.

Then, there may be m ore disappointment ahead for snow lovers hoping that next week's storm will redeem all that have come before it this winter. Here, on the jump, is Eric the Red's dispiriting assessment of the various model solutions:

"The ECMWF and NOGAPS remain ominous, with a dual-part system impacting the region on Tuesday (a coastal low and a western upper-air low)... with heavy snow, sleet, and or freezing rain.

"On the other hand, the GFS has really backed off, and has a weak coastal low and not much else... with light snow on Tues. 

"The Canadian, which was all down and jiggy with a big storm in yesterday's runs, has totally backed off too... with light snow Monday night into Tuesday. 

"From this mess I can't really extract anything terribly confident... just that we'll keep an eye on early to middle of next week for a potential winter storm.  Persistence would dictate a miss, but we're due, right?! "

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:59 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Forecasts, Sky Notes


That just seems to be the pattern we are stuck in this year the "close, but no cigar pattern"

FR: Except for the unusually cold temperatures, that's pretty much the typical pattern for this area in La Nina winters. The real snow passes by to our north.

That was my thought this year. La Nina = near misses as far as heavy snow is concerned.

FR: The folks at Sterling have done a nice analysis of the La Nina winters in Baltimore and DC. They show they typically produce less precipitation and warmer temperatures, and less snow. There have been only a handful of big snowfalls here in moderate-to-strong La Nina winters like this one, including the blizzard of January 1996. Here's a link:

As long as there is a two hour school delay and no snow on the weekend, I'm satisfied.

After 1998 or 99 (can't remember which), when the collective forecasts held out for a huge snow event, only to have that day dawn mostly sunny, I've held it to be true: When it comes to Maryland snow, don't count it 'til it's on the ground. This winter seems determined to prove the hypothesis, much to the consternation of forecasters region-wide, the poor blighters.

So whatever happened to El Nino ?? I remember we had El Nino around 8 - 10 yrs ago, so now it La Nina?

FR: Actually, last winter was an El Nino winter, which explained the repeated storms moving across the Gulf and up the coast. Cold air from a negative Arctic Oscillation did the rest. The El Nino faded last spring, and the Pacific cooled, ushering in the La Nina (cool) phase of the cycle. The cycle repeats every 4 to 7 years or so..

At this rate, I'm never going to win the contest with my modest prediction of just 17.3".

"close, but no cigar pattern"

Is that what this area wants, big snow? I'd rather have non-disruptive small snows and avoid being essentially shut in for days, crippled roads, and inevitable back pain.

It was fun when I was 12, but, I'm not 12 any more!

The "snow hole" really has been amazing. Energy is just 'jumping" us to storm development too far north. I'd bet there will be at least one that will be far enough south to make a decent snowstorm.

FR: AccuWeather folks think so. We'll have to wait and see.

Froylance: That graphic has a nicely edged line on the Mason Dixon line. Is this Dixie snow, afraid of the angry, bitter, gun clinging Pennsylvanians, or out of radar range?

FR: Hahaha! Nope. It's not radar, just a computer-generated snow forecast map, and that Mason Dixon Line is the edge of the Sterling forecast area. Forecasters for Philly and in State College Pa. handle the Yankee side of the line.

I live in the eastern panhandle of Wv but
lived 30 yrs in the Annap Md area. In
this general geo we get a surprise Feb
snowstorm every few years. This may
be the year but last year may have been
the biggie for a while. Really don't care,
I'll just hunker down and enjoy the beautiful
snow covered mountains and forests.

Some of the mets on the American WX boards seem to feel positive about a heavy wet snow for Baltimore next week..

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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

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