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January 24, 2011

Official forecast leans to rain, changing to snow

National Weather Service forecasters out at Sterling seem to be moving toward  a more confident prediction for this week's winter storm. They're talking about a largely rain event for the I-95 corridor, but one that will likely see some changeovers to wet snow, with a snowy finish.

It's not all in the bag yet. There remains some considerable uncertainty about the precise storm track. And, as usual, only a small movement in the rain/slop/snow line could make all the difference for the densely populated I-95 corridor.

The official forecast for BWI-Marshall Airport calls for a 40 percent chance of rain or snowNWS beginning after midnight Wednesday morning. That would become all rain after noon on Wednesday, with daytime highs in the upper 30s. Rain and snow chances remain at 60 percent into Wednesday night, changing to all snow after midnight. Overnight temperatures  would drop into the upper 20s.

The action here is centered on a storm dropping out of the Rockies and developing on the Texas Gulf coast today. It will move east, gathering up lots of Gulf moisture and sending it north and east into the Southeast and mid-Atlantic states. Delays in that movement are expected to allow the arctic high-pressure system that's been making us so cold this weekend to move out of the way, moving our temperatures to moderate before the rain from the South gets here.

After that initial rain on Wednesday, NWS forecasters said: "THE SECOND PORTION OF THE SYSTEM...MOVES UP FROM THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS AND UP ACROSS THE CAROLINAS AND OFF THE VA TIDEWATER. AROUND THE BACKSIDE OF THE UPPER LOW WOULD BE DECENT
COVERAGE OF PRECIP AND W/ THE COLD AIR WRAPPED AROUND THE UPPER LOW
- BETTER CHANCES FOR WINTRY PRECIP /MAINLY SNOW/ ACROSS THE AREA
AccuWeather.comBEFORE THE FEATURE DRIFTS OFF THE COAST LATE WED NIGHT
."

AccuWeather.com's Brian Edwards this morning notes the potential for a significant snowstorm here if the storm tracks just right, but then concedes that is now less likely:

"A track just off the coast would bring the heaviest snow to the I-95 cities and the beaches, as we have seen before, thus sparing the Appalachians the worst ... It seems less likely at this point for a major snowstorm along the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City and along the Eastern Seaboard Tuesday night through Wednesday night.

"The brutal arctic cold that has been in place will be eroded on Tuesday as an area of high pressure retreats and a southeasterly flow off of the Atlantic Ocean pulls in milder air."

Foot's Forecast offers four scenarios this morning, but favors Scenario A: "The storm tracks along the coast Wednesday, bringing a mixture of rain and snow for the immediate I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia. Some snow would be possible for areas west of I-95 in western Maryland and western Virginia. Areas from Southern Maryland to the upper Eastern Shore would have a mix of rain and snow or just rain, with all rain for the Atlantic beaches. Liquid Precipitation totals for the I-95 corridor could exceed one inch in some places, however light snowfall amounts would be confined to a possible changeover to snow on the backside of the system."

We'll see. In the meantime, we are emerging from another very cold night on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, with a morning low at dawn today of 2 degrees. It's 7 degrees as I write this at 9 a.m.

BWI-Marshall reported a low of 8 degrees around 7 a.m. today. The record low for the date is 1 degree, recorded in 1963. The low at The Baltimore Sun's weather station, Calvert and Centre streets, was 16.7 degrees. Here (on the jump) are some other 7 a.m. readings from around the area. Feel free to report your lows in a comment.

Maryland Science Center:  17 degreesNOAA/NWS 7 a.m. temps.

Reagan National: 18 degrees

Dulles International:  6 degrees

Annapolis:  18 degrees

Martin State Airport:  12 degrees

College Park:  12 degrees

Westminster:  9 degrees

Hagerstown:  8 degrees

Cumberland:  7 degrees

Oakland:  9 degrees

Salisbury:  9 degrees

Ocean City:  13 degrees.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:44 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Comments

Low was 8.6 here at Catonsville this morning

It was -3 this morning in northern Carroll County, at the PA line.

Here's hoping for mostly rain.

It was 12 degrees at 8:30 at Howard County General Hospital

Frank,

What kind of equipment are you using at home? I'm looking into picking something up, but I'm not sure what is good quality.

FR: We use a Davis Vantage Pro 2 station both here at the paper and at home on the WeatherDeck. It has been very reliable for the four-plus year's we've been running it. Lots of interesting features and add-ons available.

No cold high to the north of the coastal low!!! Either we just get brushed on the northern fringe of the system and get wet snow with little accumulation or we get smacked with cold rain, possibly changing to snow Wednesday evening before ending. Either way little if any accumulation.

When is our next chance for snow after this?

FR: Nothing likely on the 7-day forecast after Wednesday. Another shot of cold air to start the new week, so that could lead to more opportunities sometime next week. The sweet spot for big storms around here has long been the 2nd and 3rd weeks of February. Six of the 10 biggest 1-3-day storms on record for Baltimore have occurred between Feb. 5 and 19.

1 degree F this morning; Highpoint, Harford Co. Think the Herford Zone - East.

The "arctic oscillation" that has kept us cold since Thanksgiving - when or will that go away???

FR: The AO usually cycles over a few weeks, not months. But it has been stuck in negative territory since mid-November. The models generally (though not all) push it back to the line during the next week, and then most send it well into positive territory in February, which might get us out of the freezer. But that doesn't show up yet in the forecast.

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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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