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May 31, 2011

BWI breaks a heat record at 97

The temperature reading out at BWI-Marshall Airport has reached 96 degrees this afternoon. That Heat Baltimorematches the record high for the last day of May, set in 1991.

UPDATE, 6 p.m.: The high temperature at BWI this afternoon was 97 degrees, breaking the 96-degree record set for the date in 1991.

It's the second-straight day of heat records for Baltimore. Monday's high was 98 degrees, tying the record for that date (and the month), also set in 1991.

Tomorrow's forecast calls for similar heat, but with the chance of thunderstorms. An approaching cold front should throw some water on the sizzling sidewalks and push the Bermuda High that's responsible for the heat out to sea. Highs for the balance of the week, and the weekend, should hold in the upper 80s, with much lower humidity, if the forecasters have it right.

(SUN PHOTO: Terrence "Goody" Granger, a laborer with P. Flanigan & Sons, takes a drink during an asphalt paving job in Southwest Baltimore Tuesday. By Barbara Haddock Taylor)

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

High of 98 at BWI ties record

Yesterday's high temperature of 98 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport tied the record for the date, set in 1991. Ninety-eight degrees is also the record high for the month of May, reached on several May dates in 1925, 1941, 1962, 1991 and, now, 2011.

It was 92 degrees on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, 96 at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets, and 99 degrees at the Inner Harbor.

Mary Ellen Hluska sent us the photo of the thermometer: "This was taken [around 6 p.m.] in southeast Baltimore. It's a meat thermometer measuring the SW wall of my house. The measurement time was approximately 3 minutes. It was still going up, but I had to go in." 

Today's forecast high for BWI is a relatively cool 93 degrees, although we can probably count on Mary Ellen Hluskaexceeding that by a bit. The record high for Baltimore on the 31st of May is 96 degrees, set in 1991, so that record may be within reach, too.

The National Weather Service has posted a Heat Advisory for the region again today until 8 p.m. That means the combination of high temperatures and high humidity will raise the risks of heat-related illness. The Baltimore Health Department has declared a Code Red Heat Alert for Tuesday, opening cooling centers across the city. Please check on neighbors, relatives and friends who may be vulnerable to the heat today. From the Weather Service:

"THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS TO DRINK PLENTY OF
FLUIDS. WATER AND SPORTS DRINKS ARE THE BEST CHOICES. IF YOU MUST
BE OUTSIDE...TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS IN THE SHADE DURING THE
AFTERNOON SUN. SPEND TIME IN AN AIR CONDITIONED ROOM DURING THE
HOTTEST PART OF THE DAY. NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN OR PETS IN A CAR...
TEMPERATURES INSIDE THE VEHICLE CAN EXCEED 130 DEGREES IN ANWS
MATTER OF MINUTES
."

There is also a Code Orange Air Quality Alert in effect again for this afternoon as air pollution rises to levels that pose a health risk to vulnerable populations, such as the very young, the elderly and those with respiratory problems. If you fall into those categories, stay indoors today, or in locations with air conditioning.

If there is any relief ahead, it could come with thunderstorms on Wednesday. Some of those storms could be severe, with damaging winds and large hail. Daytime highs should fall back into the 80s by Friday and through the weekend.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Solar milestones noted in June

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Maryland sunsetJune arrives at midnight tonight. The sixth month brings the earliest sunrise of the year (June 14), the longest day (with the solstice, June 21), and the latest sunset (June 28). Average high temperatures for Baltimore rise from 79 degrees to 86, while average lows move from 57 to 64 degrees. Our wettest June (9.95 inches) came with Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972; our driest was in 1954 (0.15 inch). BWI-Marshall Airport set four daily record highs in June last year, and twice topped 100 degrees. 

(SUN PHOTO: Elizabeth Malby, 2007) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 30, 2011

Cool waterspout video from Australia

How cool is this?

 
Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Catch ISS and Endeavour in Baltimore pass

If skies are clear overnight, Marylanders may be able to catch the International Space Station and the shuttle Endeavour as they fly almost directly over Baltimore. It may be the last chance any of us ever gets to see a space shuttle in flight. After Endeavour, only one more flight is scheduled - Atlantis, in July.

Unfortunately, it will mean some lost sleep.

Look for the pair to appear almost directly overhead at 3:38 a.m. Tuesday morning. Because they will be passing over well before sunrise, they will not be in a position to reflect sunlight until they are high overhead. But they should appear, one after the other, just east of the zenith (straight up), in the middle of the constellation Cygnus, the Swan.

I'm not sure, at this writing, which will appear first - the ISS or Endeavour. But hedge your bets and be outside a minute or two early, just in case, and stick around a minute or two after the first goes by.  The ISS will be by far the brighter of the two.

From there. Endeavour and the ISS will head northeast, disappearing at 3:41 a.m. as they pass over Nova Scotia. The shuttle is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.

Good luck.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:45 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Memorial Day began as northern Decoration Day

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Memorial Day was first proclaimed in 1868 by Gen. John Logan, commander, Grand Army of Memorial Daythe Republic, designating May 30 for decorating the graves of the Union’s dead. New York was the first to adopt the custom in 1873.

By 1890 all Northern states had joined in. The South held back until after World War 1, when the day was rededicated to honor all the nation’s war dead. In 1971, Congress moved the observance to the last Monday in May. It won’t fall on the 30th again until 2022.

(SUN PHOTO: Kenneth K. Lam, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 29, 2011

Heat Advisory issued for Monday, Tuesday

Temperatures in Baltimore are headed for the mid-90s on Memorial Day and even higher on Tuesday. The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for the entire region, effective from noon Heat AdvisoryMonday through 8 p.m. Tuesday. 

The Heat Index, combining the effects of temperature and humidity, will be in the upper 90s Monday, and between 100 and 105 degrees on Tuesday. The Heat Index numbers do not just give us more reason to complain about the heat. High humidity makes it more difficult for the body to cool itself by evaporating sweat from the skin, increasing the risk of overheating and of heat-related illnesses - in effect, making it feel hotter than it is.  

The Baltimore City Department of Health on Sunday evening declared a Code Red Heat Alert for the city on Monday and Tuesday. The city will open cooling centers across the city and begin reaching out to vulnerable populations.

Here are more details on the Baltimore Code Red program. Here are the locations of cooling centers and other resources. In the meantime, please check on friends, family and neighbors who are without air conditioning.

And, just to make things interesting, there's also a Code Orange Air Quality Alert for the Baltimore metro region. From the Maryland Department of the Environment:

"A CODE ORANGE AIR QUALITY ALERT MEANS THAT AIR POLLUTION
CONCENTRATIONS
WITHIN THE REGION MAY BECOME UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE
GROUPS. SENSITIVE GROUPS INCLUDE CHILDREN...PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM
ASTHMA...HEART DISEASE OR OTHER LUNG DISEASES...AND THE ELDERLY. THE
EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION CAN BE MINIMIZED BY AVOIDING STRENUOUS
ACTIVITY OR EXERCISE OUTDOORS."

Here's more on staying cool and being cool during a Heat Alert in Baltimore:

During periods of extreme heat, the Baltimore City Health Department recommends that city residents:
o Drink plenty of water or juice

o Avoid alcohol and caffeine

o Wipe skin with cool water as needed

o Reduce outside activities

o Wear light-weight and light-colored clothing
o Stay inside during the hottest time of day (11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

o Seek relief from the heat in air-conditioned locations

o Check on older, sick, or frail people in your community who may need help responding to the heat

o Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles, even for short periods of time

Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
o Confusion

o Nausea

o Light-headedness

o High body temperature with cool and clammy skin

o Hot, dry, flushed skin

o Rapid or slowed heart beat

o Seek medical help immediately if any of these symptoms occur

“Residents who are concerned about a neighbor can call 311. Call 911 if you are having a heat-related emergency,” said Baltimore City Fire Chief James Clack.
City residents who want information on the closest cooling center can call 311, the city serviceline. Any city resident experiencing the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke should call 911. For more information, please visit our Website at www.baltimorehealth.org/coderedinfo.
Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:43 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Friday's lightning captured in photo

Here's another terrific lightning photo snapped Friday night by James Willinghan, in Howard County. It shows you don't have to go far from home to get great weather photos. All it takes is patience and a little camera know-how. Thanks once again to James for sharing. This one's going on my desktop background.

James Willinghan photo

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Urban landscape can alter approaching storms

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Baltimore thunderstormDo thunderstorms often seem to split apart as they approach Baltimore? Researchers at Purdue University looked at 10 years of Indianapolis radar data and found that 60 percent of the storms – especially those that arrived with a daytime cold front – split and then reformed with more intensity beyond the city. When they duplicated the conditions in a computer model, with Indianapolis removed, the effect went away. They blamed the urban landscape - tall buildings, heat and pollution.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 28, 2011

Int'l Space Station over Baltimore early Sunday

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASASpace Cadets! I know you’re just dying to pop out of bed at 4 on a Sunday morning to see the International Space Station. So do it tomorrow, when the ISS will fly almost directly over Baltimore. Look for a steady, star-like object to appear high in the southwestern sky at 4:25 a.m. EDT, moving high overhead through the center of the Summer Triangle at 4:26 a.m. From there it will sail off to the northeast, fading out to the left of the crescent moon, low in the east, rising alongside bright Jupiter.

(NASA PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 27, 2011

Baltimore releases Code Red Heat Alert Plan

As we enter summer-like conditions this weekend, the city has released its Code Red Heat Alert Plan. When health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot declares a Code Red Heat Alert, the city will open emergency cooling centers, which will provide cool air and free water.

From the city's release:

The Community Action Program will operate five centers on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays:
• Northern Community Action Center -- 5225 York Road
• Southern Community Action Center -- 606 Cherry Hill Road (inside the shopping center
2nd floor)
• Northwest Community Action Center -- 3939 Reisterstown Road
• Southeastern Community Action Center -- 3411 Bank Street
• Eastern Community Action Center – 1400 E. Federal Street
The Office of Aging & CARE Services will operate five additional cooling centers on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.:
• Waxter Center -- 1000 Cathedral Street
• Oliver Center -- 1700 Gay Street
• Sandtown-Winchester Center -- 1601 Baker Street
• Hatton Center -- 2825 Fait Avenue
• John Booth -- 229 1/2 S. Eaton Street
• Zeta Center -- 4501 Reisterstown Road

Last summer, 919 patients entered city emergency departments with heat-related illnesses, according to the health department. Nearly one-third of patients were 65 or older, and there were 9 hyperthermia-related deaths.

For more information on the cooling centers, call 311 or visit www.baltimorehealth.org/coderedinfo.html.

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Heat waves
        

It's "Don't Fry" Friday

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

SunscreenToday is “Don’t Fry Day,” designated by the EPA and the National Council on Skin Cancer to remind Americans to protect themselves and their kids from too much sun.

 As you head off for the beach or park, they advise, slip on a shirt; slop on SPF 15+ sunscreen; slap on a hat and sunglasses. Also, seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to avoid most UV rays. Melanoma is the most common cancer among Americans aged 25 to 29. Save your skin, and maybe your life. Don’t fry.  

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, 2005)  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 26, 2011

BWI-Marshall hits 91 degrees

The mercury at BWI-Marshall Airport has topped 90 degrees for the first time this year. The 3 p.m. reading at the airport was 91, the first time it has hit the 90s since Sept. 25, 2010. It's not a record. The record high for a May 26 for Baltimore is 94 degrees, set in 1914.

The thermometer at The Sun's weather station, at Calvert and Centre streets was 92 degrees at 3 p.m. It's currently (4:30 p.m.) at 93. The dew point stood at a steamy 74 degrees.

The forecast calls for highs in the mid-80s for the weekend, with a high of 93 predicted for Memorial Day.

To our west, Washington and Allegany counties are under a Tornado Warning until 5 p.m. Washington County is under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 9 p.m., with a risk of damaging wind gusts, and large hail.

UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.: The Tornado Warning has been extended to Washington County, until 5:30 p.m. DO you have a NOAA Weather Radio?

A storm out near Keyser, W. Va. is reported to have "whitened the ground" with nickel-sized hailstones.

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:19 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Loaded propane tanker was imperiled by tsunami

Here's a terrifying story that seems to have escaped telling in the wake of the horrific-enough tsunami in Japan back in March.

Kashima port after quakeThe Maritime Professional website tells the harrowing tale of Capt. Mukesh Yadav and the 754-foot long liquified propane tanker Flanders Tenacity. The ship was in port at Kashima on March 11. It was waiting to unload 23,500 tons of liquid propane when the captain, in his cabin, felt the ship shake.

Concerned that someone had started the engines without authorization, he rushed out to discover it was an earthquake. Worse, a tsunami was expected within minutes. The prospect that his ship might be wrecked, and spill its cargo of propane across the port or explode set him to work in a frantic bid to get the ship out of the harbor.

He called for tugs, but the port was being abandoned ahead of the tsunami.  And when the waves began to toss the ship about, a collision with a jetty put a gash in the hull. Water poured in and threatened to submerge the compressors that kept the propane cold and under control. Electricity from the shore was knocked out by the earthquake.

It gets worse. Read the rest of the story here.

(PHOTO: Kashima port after quake, Toru Yamanaka, AFP/Getty Images)  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Earthquakes
        

AC working? Hot and humid ahead

If you liked last summer in Baltimore, you're going to love the next week or so. A summerlike Bermuda High spinning off the Atlantic coast will be pumping warm, humid air up from the tropics through next Wednesday, putting the Land of Pleasant Living into the steam bath.

AccuWeather.comThe National Weather Service is predicting a high of 93 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport on Memorial Day, with enough humidity to drive the Heat Index to between 95 and 100 degrees for several days early next week. And given Sterling's record of under-shooting our summer highs, I'd bet on temperatures reaching 95 or better.

 The record high for Baltimore on a May 30 (and any day in May) is 98 degrees, last reached in 1991.

Eric the Red, a professional forecaster from Baltimore and a frequent contributor here, seems to be thinking the same thing:

"Ooof. Just looked at some of the Wx charts for the latter half of the weekend, and things are trending hotter.  I'm thinking low- to now mid-90s for Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, the temp aloft (850mb/5,000 ft) is expected to be near ... 68°F, which translates to 94-95°F at the ground level.

National Weather Service"On Tuesday, the temp aloft is expected to be near ... 70°F, which is 96° or so at ground level. Ouch."

Out at Sterling, the morning forecast discussion includes this: "The synoptic [general] pattern next week is reminiscent of the predominant weather pattern from last summer that was associated with relentless heat ... Highs will generally be in the upper 80s to low 90s each day. Combined with dewpoints in the mid to upper 60s, heat indices between 95 -100F deg will be possible during the peak heating hours of the afternmoon."

For the moment, we are still waiting for low pressure over the Great Lakes - the system that has helped fuel the week's tornadoes - to weaken and move off to the northeast. It's that low, and the cold front draped from there down the Appalachians, that is keeping us in mixed sunshine andAccuWeather.com clouds, and at low risk (30 percent) of afternoon and evening showers.

They're calling for a high of 89 Thursday afternoon. I'll bet on hitting 90 or more for the first time this year for Baltimore, with cooler readings closer to the water, where the bay or ocean breezes prevail. The highest risk of severe weather may come tonight, mostly inland, to the west of I-95.

Cloud cover will keep things slightly cooler (87) Friday than today, forecasters say. And by Saturday night we should be done with the rain. The Bermuda High will push west and become dominant in our forecast, and we'll be set for some real Chesapeake summer weather.

Press "Cool."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:31 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Pronouncing those hurricane names

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Weather ChannelIt’s almost June 1, time for TV weatherfolk to brush up on their pronunciation of hurricane names. Happily, few foreign monikers are likely to trip them up in 2011.

But NOAA offers a phonetic guide, just in case. The 11th named storm will be Katia (say “ka-TEE-ah”). The 16th is Philippe (“fee-LEEP”). But how will they fare in 2014 with Isaias (can you say “ees-ah-EE-ahs?”), or Laura (“LOOR-ruh”)?

Tune in again in 2016 when they tackle Gaston (“ga-STAWN”), Hermine (“her-MEEN”) and Tobias (“toh-BEE-uss”).

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

May 25, 2011

Sunshine and showers, then a really hot holiday

The weather service has backed off its earlier forecast for shower chances this afternoon. But the risk returns Thursday through Saturday as a south wind continues to bring loads of warm air and humidity into the region ahead of a cold front approaching slowly from the Ohio Valley, and strong sunshine AccuWeather.comstokes the atmosphere.

For the most part, though, we will avoid the really dangerous weather still threatening the nation's midsection.

"The greatest potential for severe [stoms Thursday] looks to be east of the Blue Ridge currently, where maximum heating has the best chance to be realized," forecasters said in this morning's discussion. "Large hail and damaging wind gusts will be the primary threats. Front will stall across the [forecast area] by late Friday, but begin pushing northward during the weekend."

That push will begin to clear us out as high pressure builds in on Saturday. But southerly winds circling a high-pressure system out in the Atlantic will keep the heat on. Forecast highs for BWI-Marshall Airport reach 89 degrees on Sunday, 90 on Memorial Day and 92 on Tuesday as we all head back to work. Summertime in May.

The long-term average for high temperatures at BWI in late May are in the upper 70s, so we're looking at heat 10 to 15 degrees above the norm as we turn toward the beginning of June.

Things look considerably better for those headed for the "ayshun" this weekend. Cooled by the Atlantic, Ocean City is expecting highs only in the upper 70s, with lots of sunshine from Friday on. The ocean water temperature, however, is still a bit puckersome, at 62 degrees. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:08 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

You Tube: As close as you want to be to a tornado

If you haven't seen these two videos of the F-5 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. Sunday, you should take a few minutes to watch. If nothing else, they will teach you the importance of listening to tornado watches and warnings, and having a safe place to take shelter.

These folks sought protection in a convenience store as the warnings went off. They eventually retreated to what appears to be a beer cooler, where they rode out the storm. Somehow, they all survived, but the second video shows how fortunate they really were. The beer cooler protected them, but by daylight it's apparent it was a close call. It had collapsed, and left them a pretty narrow escape route. 

Thanks to Eric the Red for sending me the links. Here's how he describes the scene:

"If you haven't seen this video of the Joplin tornado, it is a must see. Actually, it's more of a must-hear, cos you really can't see anything. But you will note a few things...

- The power being out adds to the surreal feeling

- The waiting had to be excrutiating; the tornado doesn't arrive til 2:00 into the video.

- The glass blowing out from the windows denotes the outer portions of the tornado's wind field, but not the core of the tornado.

- After they all safely get into the Walk-In, you will hear what sounds like machine gun fire; that is the debirs being hurled at the exterior of the "box" they now find themselves in at incredible speeds (200 mph plus). Also puts to rest the idea of the movie "Twister" showing the couple strapped to a pole as an F5 goes overhead and surviving. Throw a pebble thru the air at 200 mph at your head, and you won't be around to talk about it."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:41 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Queen Anne's twister began as waterspout

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

That funnel cloud reported last Thursday during a stormy afternoon in Queen Anne’s County has been confirmed as an EF-0 tornado. That brings the total for Maryland this spring to 20. The NWS forecast office in Mt. Holly, N.J. said the storm began as a waterspout in the Chester River around 12:15 p.m., then came ashore at Ralphs Wharf, moving northeast. It cut a 3-mile path, with top winds of 65 mph before lifting at 12:35 p.m. Damage was “minor,” most of it on Union Church Road.  

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Phenomena
        

May 24, 2011

Fireball comet strikes Earth

A NASA fireball camera in Georgia has captured a fragment of a comet as it entered Earth's atmosphere last Friday at 10:47 p.m. It has been identified as a member of the Halley's Comet family of objects. It was about six feet wide when it hit the atmosphere, but it broke into at least four pieces as it plummeted through the air at 86,000 mph.

The fireball was the brightest seen in the three years the meteor network cameras have been operating.  Here's more from SpaceWeather.com

And here's the video from the NASA camera, shown at 1/3 the actual speed.

 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:44 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Phenomena, Sky Notes
        

Mercury crowds 90 by Friday; more showers due

There seems to be little letup in sight for this showery weather. The National Weather Service has posted chances for showers and thunderstorms in Central Maryland right through Saturday as we remain stuck alongside a stalled cold front just to our north. The most likely period for storms will Thunderhead May 23, 2011be today (Tuesday) and tonight, with probabilities of 50 to 70 percent.

But that hardly seems notable given all the wet weather we've seen this month. What's new in the forecast is the first prediction of 90-degree weather for the year. That would come Friday, if the folks out in Sterling, Va. have it right. Think heat AND humidity.

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: The updated forecast now calls for a high of 89 on Friday at BWI. Given the NWS habit of low-balling hot weather at BWI, I think we're quite likely to make 90. And a sunny forecast for Sunday through Tuesday has boosted the predicted highs to 89, 90 and 92 degrees. So how's your AC working?

We're behind last year's pace for 90-plus days in Baltimore. By this time in 2010 we had already seen two (April 6, 7) and would experience three more before the month ended. We tallied 59 before the year was out, a new record.

The week won't be entirely gray. Mostly or partly sunny skies are expected (between the showers) each day through Saturday. And there is no mention of rain for Sunday or Monday - Memorial Day. So at least part of the long holiday weekend will be drip-free.

We are still dealing with a Coast Flood Advisory for the Western Shore until 6 a.m. Wednesday. High tides will run 1 to 2 feet above the norms.

The thunderstorm photo above was sent to me this morning by Karen Pierce-Blandamer, in Pasadena. It was shot Monday, looking east across the Chesapeake Bay. "Our 6-year-old daughter came in from outside yesterday evening saying, 'Doesn't this look like a mushroom cloud?'" she wrote.

It does, but thankfully it's a pretty classic thunderstorm "anvil" cloud that has caught the evening sunilight. Thanks for sharing it.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:27 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

2011 Hot-in-Baltimore Contest is now open

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

The WeatherBlog is already hearing from readers (okay, one) eager to compete in this year’s Hot in Baltimore Hot-in-Baltimore Contest.

Try to guess the number of 90-degree-plus days at BWI (coming closest without going over). We ended 2010 with 59, a record, and Angel Hernandez, of Easton nailed it.

So, the 2011 contest is open, accepting guesses until June 10 at frank.roylance@baltsun.com. The BWI average is 29 days, but we’ve had none so far.

Winner gets a cheap Sun trinket. And glory.   

(SUN PHOTO: Larry C. Price, June 1999)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Notes to readers
        

May 23, 2011

Severe Storm Warning moves to Howard, PG

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
  HOWARD COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND...
  MONTGOMERY COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND...
  PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND...

* UNTIL 700 PM EDT

* AT 613 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
  SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HAIL UP TO THE SIZE OF
  QUARTERS AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH.  THIS STORM WAS
  LOCATED NEAR BOYDS...OR NEAR POOLESVILLE...AND MOVING EAST AT 20
  MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...

  BOYDS...
  GERMANTOWN...
  NORTH POTOMAC...
  GAITHERSBURG...
  GERMANTOWN...
  MONTGOMERY VILLAGE...
  ROCKVILLE...
  ASPEN HILL...
  OLNEY...

Also, the Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been canceled west of Frederick County, but extended to 8 p.m. in the I-95 corridor.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:16 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Severe T-storm moves toward Montgomery, Frederick

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been posted until 6 p.m. for parts of Mongtomery and Frederick counties, and the storm is moving east at 25 mph. The storm could produce large hail and winds to 60 mph. Here's more from the NWS:

...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 600 PM EDT
FOR LOUDOUN...MONTGOMERY AND FREDERICK COUNTIES...

AT 521 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HAIL UP TO THE
SIZE OF QUARTERS AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH.  THIS STORM
WAS LOCATED NEAR PURCELLVILLE...OR 7 MILES NORTHWEST OF LEESBURG...
MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
  LEESBURG...
  LUCKETTS...
  LANSDOWNE...
  TUSCARORA...
  ASHBURN...
  BEALLSVILLE...
  POOLESVILLE...
  DICKERSON...
  COUNTRYSIDE...
  BARNESVILLE...

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Warmer, more humid and showery week ahead

Seems like everyone on the block raced to get their grass cut over the weekend, taking advantage of what now looks like a brief break in our rainy weather.

The National Weather Service's 7-day forecast keeps thunderstorm chances on the boards for every day through next Sunday. We will see sunshine during the week. But the solar heating will only serve to make the rising humidity more apparent, and to stoke chances for afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been posted until 6 p.m. for the entire state between the Chesapeake Bay and Allegany County, and south to St. Mary's County.   

AccuWeather.comThe main actors this week will include high pressure offshore. Clockwise circulation around the high will be pumping warm, humid air our way from the Atlantic and the Gulf. (Feel like summer by the Cheseapeake yet?) Add a series of disturbances working their way east from the Midwest and you get a showery forecast for the entire week.

The first round comes Monday afternoon as the remains of the storm system that pummeled Joplin Mo. overnight make their way east, up the Ohio Valley and across the Appalachians. That should bring us showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening hours. Some of those storms are already showing up on radar as they move through Ohio.

Stronger storms are in the forecast for Tuesday as a cold front drapes across the region and stalls near the Mason-Dixon Line. Strong wind gusts and large hail are possible with those storms as they develop near the front.Tides Online

And that's about how things will remain through much of the week. Sunshine and clouds, showers and storms each day and some overnight ... Daytime highs will remain in the 80s, with Tuesday (87 degrees) and Thursday (86 degrees) now expected to be the warmest of the bunch. Average daytime highs at this time of year in Baltimore are about 77 degrees, so we will be running 5 to 10 degrees above the norms.

Take an umbrella. 

And maybe waterproof shoes. The NWS has posted a Coastal Flood Advisory until 6 a.m. Tuesdayfor the Western Shore again as southerly winds again keep the water bottled up in the bay and pressed against the western shore. Minor flooding is possible in the usual low-lying spots.

Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen says sandbags will once again be available downtown and in Eastport as the bay rises over portions of Dock, Compromise and Newman streets at high tide. The sandbags can be picked up at the 2nd Street pumping station, Mills Liquors and the Market House at City Dock.

High tide times for Maryland's Western Shore are below.

HERE ARE THE TIMES OF THE NEXT HIGH TIDES
FOR A FEW LOCATIONS FROM NORTH TO SOUTH...
ON THE CHESAPEAKE BAY...
HAVRE DE GRACE...3:18 PM AND 3:58 AM...
BOWLEY BAR...12:56 PM AND 1:36 AM...
FORT MCHENRY BALTIMORE...12:05 PM AND 12:45 AM...
ANNAPOLIS U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY...10:35 AM AND 11:15 PM...
CHESAPEAKE BEACH...9:18 AM AND 9:58 PM...
SOLOMONS ISLAND...7:27 AM AND 8:07 PM...
POINT LOOKOUT...6:37 AM AND 7:17 PM...
Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Record highs now solidly in the 90s

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Eighty-six years ago today, the mercury began rising in the early morning and didn’t stop until itDeer at Loch Raven reached 98 degrees. That set a new record for May in Baltimore. It’s been matched three times since then – in 1941, 1962 and again in 1991.

Record highs for Baltimore are all above 90 degrees after May 3. They begin to poke into the 100s on June 5. There are 60 dates after that with record highs of 100 degrees or more, until Sept. 11, when they all drop back into the 90s, and to the 80s by Oct. 23.

(SUN PHOTO:  Gene Sweeney Jr., August 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 22, 2011

Sunrises creep north as solstice nears

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Sunset ChesapeakeRussell Loy, in Cockeysville, notes that the sun rises and sets much farther north at this time of year, compared with the winter. “What is the maximum … number of degrees between [where] the sun rises above the horizon at its extremes in winter and summer, and is that the same for … the sunset?” It depends on your latitude. But for Baltimore, at about 39 degrees north, the difference between sunrises at the winter and summer solstices is about 63 degrees. It’s the same for sunsets.

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, May 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 21, 2011

Lest we forget May's beautiful weather

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

May rain BaltimoreAs incessantly rainy as it has seemed, May just does not look all that bad on paper. Officially, at BWI-Marshall Airport, the rain total through Thursday totaled 2.33 inches. That’s actually 0.02 inch below the long-term average for the month to that date. Sure, there were rainouts, tornadoes, and 11 days (out of 19) with at least a trace of rain. But we also had that beautiful week, from the 8th through the 12th, with glorious sunshine and highs in the 70s. Ah, how quickly we forget.

(PHOTO: Greg Fiume, Getty Images, May 19, 2011)   

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 20, 2011

Foot's Forecast for the Preakness

Mr. Foot and his students have hummed up a pretty nice forecast for Preakness Saturday. Here it is:

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Water torture ending; sun will come out, tomorrow

In the past seven days Baltimore has had six days of rain, a slow water torture that added up to 1.5 inches at BWI-Marshall Airport. And there was plenty more if you happened to be under one of the drenching thunderstorms that swept the region. The misery even came with a few tornadoes, but let's not go there.

Finally, if forecasters down at the National Weather Service offices in Sterling can be believed, it's AccuWeather.comabout to end. Saturday's forecast calls for "mostly sunny" skies and high temperatures around 80 degrees. The infield at Pimlico may still turn into a muddy slop-fest, but at least it won't be raining.

We have a few more showers to endure today first. Scattered showers are in prospect Friday, with perhaps a thunderstorm in the afternoon and early evening. The flood crest moving down the Potomac, past Little Falls and Point of Rocks today will mean high water and Flood Warnings for Washington, D.C. and Alexandria for a few more days.

But then the lazy low that has been responsible for dragging all this Atlantic moisture into the region all week, is expected to drift off to our northeast. Tonight, as high pressure begins to build into the region behind the departing low, skies will actually begin to clear, the forecasters insist.

By Sunday, winds will have swung around to the south, bringing in more humid air from the Gulf. Daytime temperatures will warm into the mid-80s, with some added risk of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.

But the forecast for the early- to mid-week period calls for sunny skies and highs in the mid-80s. Maybe I'll finally get the grass cut.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Big spring storm raging, but it's far away

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Cassini SaturnSick of all the showers and thunderstorms yet? Well, imagine a “springtime” thunderstorm that begins in December and is still raging in May. This one, fortunately, is on Saturn.

It boiled out of the depths of the planet’s shroud of gas. Its cloud tops surged high into the atmosphere and spread around the planet, making it visible in backyard telescopes.

It is only the sixth such storm recorded since 1876, and the first to be watched by an orbiting spacecraft, NASA’s Cassini.

(NASA CASSINI PHOTO) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 19, 2011

Clip and save: 2011 hurricane predictions

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season opens June 1, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has finally weighed in with its forecast. So it's time to make note of all the springtime predictions for the coming storm season so we can check again Dec. 1 and see how these folks did. Here's how they lay out:Isabel aftermath

NAMED STORMS:

AccuWeather.com:  15

Colorado State U.:  16

WeatherBug:  13-14

NOAA:  12-18

Long-term average: 9.6

HURRICANES:

AccuWeather.com:  8

Colorado State:  9

WeatherBug:  7-8

NOAA:  6-10

Long-term average:  5.9

"MAJOR" (Cat. 3+) STORMS: 

AccuWeather.com:  3

Colorado State:  5

WeatherBug:  4

NOAA:  3-6

Long-term average:  2.3

(SUN PHOTO: Solomons, Sept. 19, 2003, Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

And now, waterspouts?

FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: 

FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS...
EASTERN BAY
CHESTER RIVER TO QUEENSTOWN MD
CHESAPEAKE BAY FROM SANDY POINT TO NORTH BEACH MD
CHESAPEAKE BAY FROM POOLES ISLAND TO SANDY POINT MD

AT 415 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A WATERSPOUT AND WIND GUSTS IN
EXCESS OF 34 KNOTS OVER LOVE POINT...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 10 KNOTS.

THIS THUNDERSTORM WILL BE NEAR...
  CHESTER RIVER TO QUEENSTOWN MD.
  CHESAPEAKE BAY FROM POOLES ISLAND TO SANDY POINT MD.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

WATERSPOUTS CAN DEVELOP SUDDENLY AND CAN EASILY OVERTURN BOATS AND
CREATE LOCALLY HAZARDOUS WAVES. SEEK SAFE HARBOR IMMEDIATELY.

WIND GUSTS OF AT LEAST 34 KNOTS...LARGE HAIL...LOCALLY HIGH WAVES AND
DANGEROUS LIGHTNING CAN BE EXPECTED. BOATERS SHOULD SEEK SAFE HARBOR
IMMEDIATELY UNTIL THIS STORM PASSES

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Funnel reported on Eastern Shore; no damage

Emergency personnel in Queen Anne's County on Maryland's Eastern Shore scrambled this afternoon to check out reports of a tornado in the northern portions of the county. But Kevin Aftung, the director of emergency services says his crews have found no signs of any damage or injuries.

"Every place where there has been a report has had at least a crew there to look, but they have seen no damage," he said. "At this point we're clear. We continue to search."

The National Weather Service forecast office in Mt. Holly, N.J., which covers the northern Shore, had issued a tornado warning for the area, Aftung said. It came without the usual precursors of severe storm warnings and tornado watches. And as quickly as it was posted, it was canceled, he said.

"The sky got darker, like there was going to be a storm," Aftung said. "It kinda developed very quickly and moved off very quickly."

But then the phones started ringing. "We have five reports of funnel-shaped clouds in the sky during the height of the storm," he said. But "we have no evidence of a touchdown of any of the funnel clouds." He said it was posible the reports came from five people observing the same funnel.

The calls came from the northern portion of the county near the communities of Church Hill, Rolths Wharf and Duck Neck.

WJLA-TV Channel 7 in Washington has a photo of a funnel on its website which it says was taken near Worton, in Kent County. It's not clear whether the funnel is a tornado or a waterspout.

Elsewhere, the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va. has posted a Flash Flood Warning for northwestern Baltimore County, including Boring, Upperco and Glyndon, until 3:15 p.m. Slow-moving showers and thunderstorms were expected to drop as much as 2 inches of rain on the area.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Storm reports
        

Weds. rain tops 2 inches in Baltimore County

The showers and thunderstorms that rolled up through parts of Baltimore and Harford counties Wednesday, triggering tornado warnings as they went, dropped more than an inch of rain in many locations, with the total topping 2 inches in Jacksonville. Talbot County also reported some hefty rain amounts from the thunderstorm that struck the Eastern Shore. Here are some numbers from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Jacksonville:  2.35 inches

White Marsh:  1.95 inches

WeatherDeck in Cockeysville:  1.72 inches

Long Green: 1.53 inches

Fallston:  1.40 inches

Hamilton, Baltimore City:  1.24 inches

St. Michaels, Talbot:  1.01 inches

BWI-Marshall Airport reported only 0.25 inch.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:03 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Two tornadoes confirmed in Tuesday's storms

NOTE: An earlier version of this post stated the storms struck Wednesday evening. They were on Tuesday evening, but were confirmed on Wednesday.  My bad.

National Weather Service survey teams have confirmed that two tornadoes touched down in Maryland during Tuesday's storms. The most powerful was an EF-1 twister in Washington County that traveled on the ground for more than two miles, with top winds speeds reaching 90 to 100 mph.

No one was injured in either storm.

The first tornado touched down at 5:35 p.m. north of Wolfsville, in Frederick County. In about four minutes it cut a path about 75 yards wide and more than a mile long. Most of the damage was to trees in its path, although NWS surveyors noted "minor" shingle and siding damage to buildings in the path. A backyard play center was snapped from its bolted moorings and rolled, they said. Top winds reached 75 mph.

The second tornado touched down at 8:10 p.m. near Maugansville, in Washington County. It traveled on the surface for five minutes, along a path 200 yards wide. Trees were uprooted or snapped, and several outbuildings were toppled or destroyed. A garage door was blown in and the building's roof was lifted.

In several neighborhoods, trees were snapped, uprooted or stripped of their branches. An RV home was knocked on its side and blown 45 feet into the next yard. Shingle and roof damage also was noted.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:24 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

Bad news traveled slowly in 1986

For all anyone in Baltimore knew on this morning 25 years ago, the Pride of Baltimore, the rakish replica clipper ship that had raised the city's spirits and sailed off to tell our story to the world, was somewhere out on the Atlantic, making its way back to the Chesapeake after a successful, year-long European tour.

The last contact with Pride offices was a telephone call on May 9 from the U.S. Virgin Islands. The ship was about to set out on the final leg of its journey, they reported, homeward bound. The crew Pride of Baltimorewas young but well-seasoned, and its captain, Armin E. Elsaesser 3rd, had made the crossing many times. There seemed to be no particular reason to worry.

The first word of the calamity that had befallen the ship came from Joe McGeady, of Severna Park. A veteran of two years aboard the Pride, he was an experienced ocean sailor at 26.

At 4:30 a.m., he called his mother, Emily, by radio-telephone from the Toro, a Norwegian tanker sailing from New York to Venezuela. The Pride had sunk in a storm, he told her. He and seven other survivors had drifted in a rubber life raft for more than four days. Four crew members were missing, including Capt. Elsaesser. Survivors reported seeing two bodies before they drifted away.

Now, word began to spread more quickly as other survivors called their families, and Pride officials in Baltimore. Sometime in mid-morning, I picked up the phone in the old Evening Sun newsroom, three floors above where I sit today on North Calvert Street. It was Chris Hartman, secretary of the Pride's board of directors, who filled me with as much information as he had. I could hardly believe what I was hearing.

As soon as he hung up, I alerted editors to the astonishing news. They began assigning storiesPride of Baltimore II and tearing up plans for the paper's afternoon editions. There was no online edition then, only paper and the next run of the presses.

I was assigned to write the main story. By the time the final edition closed a few hours later, 10 reporters and uncounted editors and librarians had pitched in to report, write, edit and file four stories for the main section, with photos and maps. We re-made much of the paper and had it out on the streets on deadline.

"PRIDE OF BALTIMORE SINKS," the banner headline screamed. "8 rescued; 4 missing; 2 dead reportedly sighted"

It was one of the saddest, most exhilarating days I have had in 40 years in the newspaper business. It was the Evening Sun at its breaking-news best.

The tragedy would continue to unfold in the days and months that followed, and we stayed with it. We immediately flew several reporters and photographers to Puerto Rico. The Pride survivors were being airlifted by Coast Guard helicopters from the Toro to the Coast Guard base at Borinquen, and the Evening Sun was there to report it. There would also be an emotional news conference at Martin State Airport when they returned to Baltimore.

And there would be a Coast Guard hearing at the Customs House in Baltimore, where the details of the sinking and its aftermath were explored in days of painful testimony by the crew and others. The Pride had been caught in a microburst - a violent downdraft of cold air from a nearby thunderstorm that capsized the ship and sent the Atlantic pouring in through an open companionway. 

Reporters for the old News American covered the hearings alongside the Sun and the Evening Sun. They stayed on the story until someone passed word to them that their owners were closing the paper, forever. Then they stood up and left.

The following winter, the National Transportation Safety Board issued its report on the sinking. It concluded that the microburst had heeled the ship over beyond its ability to right itself, allowing water to pour in.

It said Capt. Elsaesser had reponded properly to the gust, but faulted him and the Pride organization for not storing life vests on the open deck, and failing to maintain more regular communications with the vessel. The NTSB also faulted a Spanish maintenance firm for improperly inserting plugs in the Pride's life rafts during servicing. One of the rafts deflated after Schaefer on the Pridethe sinking, and the survivors had to inflate the other by mouth as they treaded water, struggling to stay afloat.

The Coast Guard report on the sinking found no evidence of misconduct or negilgence by anyone connected with the ship, but suggested several changes if the city ever chose to replace the ship. .

In the aftermath of the sinking, the city debated, and agreed, with state and private support, to build a replacement ship. The Pride of Baltimore II was designed with slightly less faithfulness to the swift but dangerous 1812 Baltimore clippers. It would have a higher freeboard, more modern communications and better safety equipment. Today's Pride crews would never again go 10 days without calling home.

The day word of the Pride's sinking reached Baltimore, then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer - who had long been a champion of the Pride and its mission for the city - spoke tearfully about the ship and her crew. It was the most eloquent comment I've ever read about the tragedy, which affected him deeply.Pride of Baltimore Inc.

"I don't know if any of you went down to the Inner Harbor today and saw the Pride," he said. "I did. I saw it turn, with all its bright lights on, and sail out to sea."

Last Friday, a month after Schaefer was laid to rest, staff members of the Pride of Baltimore Inc., the non-profit that took ownership of the Pride II last year, gathered at the Pride Memorial on the Inner Harbor with current crew members and family of some of those lost on that May day a quarter century ago.

It was a brief and private observance at the families' request, said Linda Christenson, executive director of the organization. Someone hung a wreath on the mast and read a message Capt. Elsaesser had sent to Baltimore just before the ship set sail for home:

"What lies ahead is unknown – a source of mystery and apprehension – perhaps the allure of the sailing life – always moving, always changing, always wondering what the next passage will be like and what we will discover at the other end.  This time our destination is home – the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore.  It is always a relief for the captain, and I suspect the ship, to have our lines ashore and fast where Pride is safest, the Finger Piers at the Inner Harbor.”

(PHOTOS: Top: Pride of Baltimore in 1986, handout. Second: Pride II, Jed Kirschbaum, 2010. Third: Sun Photo, Lloyd Pearson, 1980. Bottom: Pride of Baltimore Inc.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: History
        

May 18, 2011

Tornado Warning, Baltimore County, until 4:45 p.m.

At 4:10 p.m.:

THE NATL WEATHER SVC IN STERLING VA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR.

 BALTIMORE COUNTY IN N. MD.

 HARFORD COUNTY IN N. MD.

* UNTIL 445 PM EDT

* AT 410 PM EDT.NATL WEATHER SVC DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A  SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR MIDDLE  RIVER.MOVING NW AT 25 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE.

 WHITE MARSH.

 PERRY HALL.

 CARNEY.

 KINGSVILLE.

 PLEASANT HILLS.

 FALLSTON.

 JARRETTSVILLE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS.

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING & AVOID WINDOWS. IF OUTDOORS OR IN A MOBILE HOME OR VEHICLE.MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER & PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:15 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Tornado Warning for Baltimore, Harford counties

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
  BALTIMORE COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...
  HARFORD COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...

* UNTIL 300 PM EDT

UPDATE: Extended to 3:30 p.m. Western Talbot and southwestern Queen Anne's County were also added to the tornado warning area.

Clay Stamp, emergency manager for Talbot County, said he had received no damage reports. "We had reports of what we think was a waterspout coming across the Choptank. It moved onto Oxford and dissipated." Elsewhere, he said, "The sky looked bad, but there was no rotation." 

Here's the earlier warning:

* AT 226 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
  SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR
  KINGSVILLE...OR 7 MILES SOUTHWEST OF BEL AIR...MOVING NORTHWEST AT
  25 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
  JARRETTSVILLE...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING AND AVOID WINDOWS. IF OUTDOORS OR IN A MOBILE HOME OR
VEHICLE...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

A tornado was also reported Tuesday night by a trained observer in Maugansville, in Washington County. "LARGE TREES DOWN AND SHINGLES OFF ROOF...," he said in a NWS report. No confirmation yet from weather service surveyors. I guess they're a bit busy today.

A Flash Flood Warning has also been issued for eastern Baltimore County and western Harford County as the same thunderstorm moves north and west along the county line. Details follow on the jump. The entire region is under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch:

 

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
  EASTERN BALTIMORE COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...
  WESTERN HARFORD COUNTY IN NORTHERN MARYLAND...

* UNTIL 545 PM EDT

* AT 244 PM EDT...SEVERAL THUNDERSTORMS WERE MOVING ROUGHLY ALONG
  THE BALTIMORE AND HARFORD COUNTY LINE. RADAR ESTIMATES SHOW ONE TO
  TWO INCHES OF RAIN HAS FALLEN IN THE GUNPOWDER FALLS BASIN IN THE
  LAST HOUR...WITH ADDITIONAL RAIN EXPECTED. THIS RAIN WILL LIKELY
  PRODUCE FLASH FLOODING.

* SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL CONTINUE TO BE AFFECTED BY THE HEAVY RAIN
  INCLUDE BOWLEYS QUARTERS...CARNEY...COCKEYSVILLE...DUNDALK...
  ESSEX...FALLSTON...JARRETTSVILLE...KINGSVILLE...MIDDLE RIVER...
  PARKVILLE...PERRY HALL...PLEASANT HILLS...ROSEDALE...ROSSVILLE...
  TIMONIUM...WHITE MARSH...BACK RIVER...EASTPOINT...MILLERS ISLAND
  AND NORTH POINT STATE PARK.
Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:41 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

So where's all the rain?

So I've been sitting here on Calvert Street for days, cranking out posts to relay dire warnings from the weather service about showers and thunderstorms and flash flooding. There have been watches and warnings and ... So where's all the rain?

BWI-Marshall Airport is reporting just 0.38 inch since early Tuesday morning. We've had only 0.13 inch here at The Sun's weather station. It seems like there's been more water lapping over the City Dock in Annapolis than has been falling across the region.

It appears that most of the rain with this stubborn "cutoff low" has been falling to our west, in the mountain counties of Maryland and down in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Accident, in Garrett County reported 1.88 inches by 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to the CoCoRaHS Network.

The Potomac River is expected to crest at Paw Paw at 25.8 feet at 2 p.m. today, forecasters said - just above flood stage. Hancock was headed for 23.5 feet tonight - just below flood stage. Harper's Ferry and Sheperdstown should see peaks tomorrow, with Point of Rocks and Little Falls cresting on Friday.

The National Weather Service is reporting more than 2 inches in parts of Western Maryland, and upwards of 3 and 4 inches of rain down in parts of Virginia and West Virginia. Here's a sampling from both sources:AccuWeather.com

Winchester, Va.:  3.4 inches

Jones Springs, W.V.:  3.25 inches

Hollymead, Va.:  2.59 inches

Bridgewater, Va.:  2.32 inches

Eldersburg, Carroll Co. Md.: 0.90 inch

Columbia, Howard Co.:  0.75 inch

La Plata, Charles Co.:  0.69 inch

Severn, Arundel:  0.66 inch

Westminster, Carroll Co.:  0.49 inch

Bel Air, Harford Co.:  0.09 inch

That's not to say we've dodged the rain here in Baltimore. NWS forecasters continue to warn there's more coming. Showers and thunderstorms this afternoon and evening could produce heavy rain and flash flooding. Some could be severe, with damaging winds, large hail and even an isolated tornado.

Central Maryland remains under a Coastal Flood Warning as persistent southeasterly winds keep water bottled up in the Chesapeake. The winds, coupled with a full moon, are making for high Tides Onlinetides in excess of two feet above normal today.  

Showers and thunderstorms remain in the forecast through Friday as the sluggish low drifts north from the southern Appalachians into the Ohio Valley.

"The heaviest rainfall is expected late this morning through this afternoon when instability will be at its highest," forecasters said.

The low is forecast to continue pumping loads of Atlantic moisture into the region, keeping us gray and drippy. Whenever solar energy is able to trigger thunderstorms, they are likely to drop heavy rain, with a risk of large hail and and damaging winds.

"This has been one of the most persistent upper lows I've ever experienced here," one forecaster said in this morning's forecast discussion. "But the end will be occurring soon."

By Friday the low will have moved into New Jersey. We'll still feel its effects, but they will be easing. And by Saturday we should see partly sunny skies with highs near 80 degrees.

Are we having fun yet?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:51 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers, Forecasts
        

Behind rain clouds lies our galaxy

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Milky WayAll these showers and clouds have made it easy to forget there are still stars out there. Guy Ottewell’s Astronomical Calendar reminds us that in May, the disk of the Milky Way – our spiral galaxy – lies flat around the horizon. That makes it hard to see. But late on May evenings, if you walk toward the constellation Cygnus the Swan, in the northeast, you are traveling in the same direction our solar system is orbiting around the galaxy. The galaxy’s center is 25,000 light years to your right.  

(NASA PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 17, 2011

Preakness forecast looks sunny

As soggy as we're likely to be for the rest of the week, the stubborn low-pressure system that has sent us all this rain and kept the bay lapping at our feet will be moving off by the weekend.NWS

The National Weather Service is predicting partly sunny skies and a high near 80 degrees for Preakness Day on Saturday. So while the infield may still be wet and muddy from a week of rain, at least there should be no new water falling from the sky.

Sunday looks a bit warmer and sunnier, but then the risk of showers and thunderstorms returns for the new work week. Sorry.

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Western Shore now under coastal flood warning

The flood watch posted earlier today for Maryland's Western Shore has become a Coastal Flood Warning, with water along the bay and tidal creeks expected to rise 1 to 2 feet or higher at high tides tonight and Wednesday, enough to cause minor to moderate flooding.

In Annapolis, which has seen flooding at the usual low spots around the City Dock in the past week, Mayor Joshua Cohen has reminded residents and business owners that sandbags will remain available for the next few days, until the flood threat finally goes away.

Cohen said the high tides could rise 3 feet or more above normal levels as persistent southeasterly winds keep water bottled up in the upper bay.

The sandbags are available in two locations: the 2nd Street Pumping Station in Eastport, and at Mills Liquors and Market House at the City Dock.

The Coastal Flood Warning is in effect from midnight tonight until noon Wednesday. Coastal Flood Advisories remain in effect before and after those times, and until 6 a.m. Thursday. Here's more from the NWS on tide times:

"HERE ARE THE TIMES OF THE NEXT HIGH TIDES
FOR A FEW LOCATIONS FROM NORTH TO SOUTH...
ON THE CHESAPEAKE BAY...
HAVRE DE GRACE...10:30 PM AND 11:07 AM...
BOWLEY BAR...8:08 PM AND 8:45 AM...
FORT MCHENRY BALTIMORE...7:17 PM AND 7:54 AM...
ANNAPOLIS U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY...5:47 PM AND 6:24 AM...
CHESAPEAKE BEACH...4:30 PM AND 5:07 AM...
SOLOMONS ISLAND...2:39 PM AND 3:16 AM...
POINT LOOKOUT...2:26 AM AND 2:43 PM...

"NOW ALONG THE POTOMAC RIVER...
ALEXANDRIA...9:13 PM AND 9:25 AM...
INDIAN HEAD...8:41 PM AND 8:53 AM..."

Much of Maryland is also under a Flash Flood Watch as showers and thunderstorms capable of dumping 1 to 2 inches of rain approach the region later today. The watch is in effect until 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:08 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Flooding
        

Wet and wetter; rain, storms and coastal flooding due

There may be no getting away from water today, whether it is falling on your head or lapping at your shoes. Central Maryland is under a list of watches, warnings and advisories. Here are two of the most important:

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF THE WASHINGTON AND BALTIMORE
  METROPOLITAN AREAS...NORTHERN MARYLAND...CENTRAL AND LOWER
  SOUTHERN MARYLAND...NORTHERN AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA...AND
Storms May 16, 2011  EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA.

* THROUGH LATE TONIGHT

* SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING LOCALLY
  HEAVY RAINFALL. RAINFALL RATES OF ONE TO TWO INCHES PER HOUR ARE
  POSSIBLE IN THE HEAVIER SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. LOCALLY HEAVY
  RAINFALL MAY CAUSE STREAMS AND CREEKS TO QUICKLY RISE OUT OF
  THEIR BANKS ALONG WITH THE POTENTIAL OF FLASH FLOODING IN URBAN
  AND LOW LYING AREAS.

COASTAL FLOOD WATCH... DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-HARFORD-SOUTHERN BALTIMORE-PRINCE GEORGES-ANNE ARUNDEL-CHARLES-ST. MARYS-CALVERT-WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM LATE TONIGHT
THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. THE COASTAL FLOOD ADVISORY IS NOW IN
EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT EDT TONIGHT.

* TIDAL ANOMALY...AROUND ONE FOOT ABOVE NORMAL THIS MORNING RISING
  TO 1 TO 2 FEET ABOVE NORMAL THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. TIDAL
  ANOMALIES WILL HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO REACH OVER 2 FEET ABOVE
  NORMAL LATE TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY.

* TIMING...NEAR TIMES OF HIGH TIDE.

* EXPECTED IMPACTS...MINOR TIDAL INUNDATION TODAY THROUGH THIS
  EVENING. POTENTIAL FOR MODERATE TIDAL FLOODING LATE TONIGHT
  THROUGH WEDNESDAY.

And here's a timely reminder: Don't attempt to drive through standing water. That puddle may be deeper and swifter than you think. And it doesn't take much to float your car, yourself and your kids down the river. Don't risk your life or those of the rescuers who may have to try to pluck you from your car, or a tree. Here's more: Turn Around, Don't Drown.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance, May 16, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Can tornadoes strike at night?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

November twisterDonald Gansauer, in Canton, asks: “Can tornadoes occur at night? I can’t recall of ever hearing a report of one during darkness.”

They sure can. NOAA says most tornadoes occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., when daytime solar heating fuels thunderstorms. But they can and do strike at all hours. An EF-1 twister ripped Baltimore City and County at 1:35 a.m. last Nov. 17. Nighttime tornadoes are especially deadly because people sleep through warnings. Buy a NOAA Weather Radio.

(SUN PHOTO: Laura Dixon, Baltimore, Nov. 18, 2010) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 16, 2011

No NOAA Weather Radio? Now, there's an app

You've thought about buying a NOAA Weather Radio. After all, it could wake you up in the middle of the night when a flash flood or tornado threatens, or some other weather emergency has come Weather Decision Technologiesup. But you've never quite taken the plunge.

Now, there's an app for that. Weather Decision Technologies, Inc., is marketing iMapWeather Radio for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. (an Android version is due later this year.)

iMapWeather Radio provides weather alerts whenever watches or warnings are issued by the National Weather Service for your GPS-enabled device's location, or for any four other locations you select.  You'll get a series of alert beeps, then a brief description of the watch or warning, much like you get with a (now retro) NOAA Weather Radio.

The app is available for $9.99 through the iTunes store. But on Thursday, May 19, the first 100,000 people who download the app will get it for free.

I've never seen or used it, so I can't vouch for this app. If you have it, let us and our readers know what you think. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:23 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Wrecked Cessnas linked to another April 27 twister

Extensive damage to three small airplanes at an airfield in Prince George's County on April 27 has been linked to radar evidence of a tornado in the area. That has prompted the National Weather Tornado Clinton MD 4/27/11Service to add an 18th twister to their list of the tornadoes that struck the region on that day and the next.

"The National Weather Service has classified this as a tornado and rated it as EF-0. [Maximum] winds were estimated at 70 mph, with a width of 75 yards and a path length of 0.4 miles," the weather service said.

The winds struck at 7:06 p.m. April 27 at Potomac Airfield, a mile southeast of Friendly in Prince George's County. That was about 10 minutes before a tornado struck near Andrews Air Force Base, just a few miles northeast of Friendly.

Although no airport structures sustained significant damage, and no tree damage was seen by the survey team, the winds tossed small aircraft around like toys. Six were damaged as the twister moved alongside the airport's single runway.

"A Cessna 182 had its tie-down lines snapped and then was tossed 120 feet northeast across a taxiway," the NWS report said. "A Cessna 172 was lifted up and smashed nose first into the ground. A Cessna 335 Skymaster was tossed about 25 feet and smashed alongWrecked Cessna tornado the ground. All three planes were damaged extensively even though all were securely tied down."

"Several other aircraft were moved about but stayed tied down and suffered little or no damage," the report said. 

The survey team looked at the damage, photographic evidence and radar data to document the storm. Weather spotters in the area also had reported seeing a funnel cloud.

The tornado tally for the two-day outbreak now stands at 18. Ten were in Maryland, eight in Virginia. Twelve were rated at EF-0, the weakest category. Five were rated at EF-1, and one was an EF-2.  Of the Maryland storms, nine were rated EF-0, and one, in St. Mary's County, was an EF-1.

(PHOTOS: Courtesy of David Wartofsky, Potomac Airfield, via the National Weather Service)

Here's how Steve Zubrick, at Sterling, described to me how his office used on-scene damage to help reach its conclusions about the airfield tornado:

"Someone sent us a link on Friday (May 13) to a video clip from a local news station showing planes damaged at the airport the evening of April 27.

"We watched the clip and said, "Wow!". There's damage there!

"I contacted the airport manager on Friday afternoon. He relayed what had happened to the aircraft and sent picture. From imagery available on Google Earth, his was able to tell how the planes were typically parked in their assigned spaces...and how they ended up after the storm.

"Visual inspection of one of the airplane damage pictures showed how the initially the tied-down plane began rotating to the left (as evident by the scoured mark of the front wheel as it gouged out a 2 foot piece of sod...then the two mid-wing wheels gouged out a path showing the plane rotating to the right...with presumably the front wheel lifted off the ground...then the plane broke all it's tie downs and was physically thrown about 25 feet to the NW....smashing the wings/tail in the process. This showed there was a strong rotation that caused the plane to spin around, break free and sail 25 feet across the field."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:49 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

Enough yet? More showers and storms due

One of these days, between work and the rain showers, I'll get to cut the grass. But for now, it's just going to keep growing as we continue to entertain showers and storms that just won't leave.

Low-pressure parked pretty much on top of us continues to spin in a counter-clockwise direction. AccuWeather.comAnd that is spooling in loads of moisture from the Atlantic Ocean. Add some daytime solar energy, and we will be kicking off more showers and thunderstorms for the immediate future.

Forecasters out at Sterling are giving us a 30 percent chance for rain this afternoon, rising to 70 percent overnight. The risk then climbs to 100 percent on Tuesday and Tuesday night before gradually diminishing to 60 percent Wednesday, 40 percent Thursday and 30 percent Friday.

During that period, we could see anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain, they say. And if you happen to find yourself beneath a thunderstorm, the totals could exceed that.

If they're right, Tuesday would seem to present our greatest risk of heavy rainfall and flash flooding. Keep an eye peeled for Flash Flood Watches and warnings.

Sterling has cancelled the Coastal Flood Advisory that has stood for several days on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake. But they expect to reinstate it early Tuesday. Coastal Flood Avisories continue in effect along portions of the Eastern Shore of the bay, and in southern portions of the Western Shore as onshore winds and high tides combine to raise high tides 1 to 1.5 feet above normal. Minor flooding in low-lying areas remains a risk.

We were down near Tilghman Island over the weekend and the high tides were just lapping at the tops of the bulkheads, and the bottoms of the piers. Folks there told us some of their piers had been underwater at high tides earlier in the week.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:23 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

How long is the full moon "full?"

Full moonFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Austin Zang, in Columbia, writes: “Some of my co-workers believe that the full moon lasts for three days, while I believe the full moon is only visible for …one night.”

Who’s right? Define “full.” Technically, the moon is “full” only at a precise moment. This month it’s at 7:07 a.m. EDT on Tuesday. But we won’t see it until moonrise (in Baltimore) at 8:55 p.m., almost 14 hours after it’s begun to wane. Is that still “full”?

Or, it may depend on your eyesight. To me, if it’s not round, it’s not full.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 2004)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 15, 2011

Brood XIX cicadas are back, but not here

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

17-year cicadaAs if floods and tornadoes weren’t enough, residents of Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and parts of the Deep South are also dealing this spring with cicadas. It’s Brood XIX of the 13-year “periodical cicada.” The noisy little critters have emerged again to court, mate and die, leaving it to their offspring to do it all again in 2024. A few Brood XIX cicadas can turn up in extreme Southern Maryland. But it’s nothing like our big, 17-year, Brood X event. Those bugs are due back in 2021.

(SUN PHOTO: David Hobby, 2004)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Phenomena
        

May 14, 2011

Saturn patrols the night sky

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASAWith Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter all gathered in tight formation in the dawn sky this month, the only naked-eye planet left to patrol the night sky is Saturn. Weather may spoil the view this weekend, but if and when skies clear, the planet is easily visible high in the southeast each evening. Look for a bright, yellowish object. If we get lucky tonight, look for Saturn about a hand’s width above the moon. It’s also a good time for a look through a telescope at Saturn’s iconic ring system.

(NASA PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sky Notes, Sky Watching
        

May 13, 2011

UM Clark School team lofts human-power 'copter

Here's the YouTube video of Thursday's (hopefully) historic liftoff of Gamera, the A. James Clark School of Engineering bid to establish a world record in human-powered flight.

Final adjudication of the record claim will be done by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, in Switzerland. That could take several months. In any case, it's the first time a human-powered helicopter has achieved liftoff with a female pilot, and only the third time anyone has gotten airborne in such a craft. (The other two were not observed or certified for a world record.) 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Get used to it: showers and T-storms through Thurs.

If you were planning any gardening, camping, hiking, parties or weddings during the next seven days, the forecast from the National Weather Service will not be a pleasant read for you today.NWS

There is no sunshine to be seen in the document, just words like "scattered showers, cloudy, possibly a thunderstorm, new rainfall amounts," and, finally, for four days running next week, "a chance of showers and thunderstorms."

At least the new grass will get a good start, right? And the pollen counts should be lower. I know I can be thankful for that.

AccuWeather.comOh, and the Coastal Flood Advisory posted a few days back has been extended to 8 p.m. Saturday, as south and east winds continue to hold water in the Chesapeake. High tides will run 1 to 2 feet above normal Friday and Saturday, with "minor" flooding in low-lying areas. The Hazardous Weather Outlook posted Friday morning also notes that the onshore winds will strengthen this weekend, and could increase the flooding to "moderate."

The problem appears to be a low-pressure area in the Ohio Valley that is drawing moisture up from the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected to stall for the next few days, so the counter-clockwise circulation around the low will continue to bring us unsettled weather into the middle of next week. Nice.

The highest risk for rain, storms and flash flooding today will be in the western counties. Flash Flood Watches are already up for Allegany County, including the cities of Frostburg and Cumberland. One to two inches of rain are expected there today. Amounts could be higher in thunderstorms.

The big rain risks for Central Maryland come Saturday night and Sunday, when the chances rise to 70 and 80 percent. Forecasters aren't entirely sure how bad it may get here. But they do seem to be hinting that Sunday could be more problematic than Saturday.

Not that it matters much. Wet is wet.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

May 12, 2011

Beautiful weather goes downhill from here

It's been sweet, all this sunshine, comfortable temperatures and cool nights. But it's coming to an end over the next few days as the high pressure moves off and a couple of storm systems move our way from the Plains states. Next week looks as rainy as this one was sunny.

We'll be in the mid-70s again this afternoon, with plenty of sunshine. Friday should see some sunshine, but there will be more moisture moving up from the south, adding to our cloud cover for AccuWeather.comthe first time in quite a while. That will keep afternoon highs in the low 70s.

But forecasters out at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling say a low developing over the Central Plains will be moving slowly eastward by then, dragging a cold front our way. Our first shower chances comes late Friday.

Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the rain headed this way.

Moisture continues to rise on Saturday. And depending on how unstable the air becomes, there is a 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday, rising to 80 percent Saturday night. Periods of showers and storms continue into Sunday, and there's some chance we could see heavy rain and a risk of flash flooding.Tides Online

Forecasters seem a bit skeptical of what the models are telling them. But they've gone ahead and posted a Hazardous Weather Outlook that includes notice that showers and thunderstorms Sunday could produce "very heavy rain." A few of those storms could also generate damaging wind gusts.

In the meantime, persistent breezes out of the south are piling water into the Chesapeake and up against the western and eastern shores. the NWS has issued a Coastal Flood Advisory until 6 p.m. Thursday noting the possibility of high tides 1 to 2 feet above normal. That could mean "minor" coastal flooding at the time of high tides.

Here are some of the upcoming tide times:

HAVRE DE GRACE...5:48 PM AND 6:39 AM...
BOWLEY BAR...3:26 PM AND 4:17 AM...
FORT MCHENRY BALTIMORE...2:35 PM AND 3:26 AM...
ANNAPOLIS U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY...1:05 PM AND 1:56 AM...
CHESAPEAKE BEACH...11:48 AM AND 12:39 AM...
SOLOMONS ISLAND...9:57 AM AND 10:48 PM...
POINT LOOKOUT...9:07 AM AND 9:58 PM...

NOW ALONG THE POTOMAC RIVER...
WASHINGTON CHANNEL...4:04 PM AND 4:40 AM...
INDIAN HEAD...3:50 PM AND 4:26 AM...
AQUIA CREEK...2:36 PM AND 3:12 AM...
GOOSE BAY...11:56 AM AND 12:32 AM...
COLTONS POINT...10:46 AM AND 11:22 PM...

 

CAMBRIDGE MD........1153 AM
BISHOPS HEAD MD.....924 AM
CRISFIELD MD........821 AM
LEWISETTA VA........945 AM
WINDMILL POINT VA...630 AM

HIGH TIDE TONIGHT...

CAMBRIDGE MD........1244 AM
BISHOPS HEAD MD.....1004 PM
CRISFIELD MD........902 PM
LEWISETTA VA........1021 PM
WINDMILL POINT VA...715 PM

HIGH TIDE FRIDAY...

CAMBRIDGE MD........1252 PM
BISHOPS HEAD MD.....1024 AM
CRISFIELD MD........926 AM
LEWISETTA VA........1050 AM
WINDMILL POINT VA...734 AM
Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Another 2011 hurricane forecast is in

Earth NetworksEarth Networks, parent company of WeatherBug, has issued its 2011 Atlantic hurricane forecast. Like AccuWeather, and Colorado State, they see an “active” season ahead. But their predictions come in just below the others, with 13-14 named storms, 7-8 hurricanes, and 4 “major” storms. They reason that Atlantic waters are cooler than last year, and La Nina is weakening. But they hint at an increased risk of U.S. landfalls. NOAA’s official 2011 forecast is due next week.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

May 10, 2011

Final damage survey finds one more twister

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

A final damage survey by the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling has confirmed another tornado touch-down, on April 28, two miles west northwest of Hereford in Baltimore County. It struck at 9:54 a.m., uprooting or topping nearly two dozen trees. Maximum winds were estimated at 70 mph, making it an EF-0 twister. That brings the April 27-28 Maryland total to nine tornadoes. The total for the region, including northern Virginia, is 17.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:01 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Tornadoes
        

Venus and Jupiter rising together before dawn

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASA JupiterPlan to be up early Wednesday morning? If skies stay clear, find aNASA Venus spot with a good view of the eastern horizon and plant yourself there 45 minutes before sunrise (which occurs about 6 a.m. for Baltimore). The two brightest star-like objects in the sky – the planets Venus (the brighter of the pair) and Jupiter – will rise less than a degree apart. Mercury is just below and to the right; Mars farther away, to the left. Take binoculars. Had a good report on the spectacle from my South Africa correspondent.  Here's how the planets will re-arrange themselves in the coming days. 

(NASA PHOTOS: Jupiter at left, Venus at right)  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 9, 2011

Wet April topples records, adds to record flooding

NOAA has run the numbers for April and in addition to historic flooding, a record-breaking tornado outbreak and huge wildfires, the month ended as the 10th wettest since national record-keeping began in 1895.

The average temperature across the Lower 48 states was 52.9 degrees, about 0.9 degrees above the 20th century average. Precipitation in April was 0.7 inches above the norm.

The heaviest rain fell in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys (map above; click to enlarge). The Ohio Valley region saw its wettest April on record. It was the second-wettest in the Northeast. West Virginia and Pennsylvania had their wettest Aprils since 1895. Kentucky saw an astonishing 11.88 inches of rain in April, obliterating the previous record for the month - just 7.61 inches in 1972. It was three times the long-term average for April in Kentucky.

The soaking suffered by the middle of the country is in stark contrast with the terrible drought in the Southern Plains. Texas saw its fifth-driest April on record. Ninety-four percent of the state is in Severe Drought or worse. Wildfires in April burned across 1.79 million acres of the nation, and Texas alone has seen 2.2 million acres charred since January.

Mid-Atlantic states enjoyed unusual warmth in April. Delaware saw its warmest on record; Virginia had its fourth-warmest; West Virginia its eighth warmest. Marylanders recorded their 10th warmest April on record.

The Northwest was unusually cool, with Washington state recording its second-coolest April on record - 5 degrees below the norm.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Beautiful week ahead - sunny, 70s

All those rainy days, all those chilly, damp days ... Put them all behind you this week. Forecasters are serving up at least four more days of perfect spring weather for Central Maryland.

After a fine weekend, we're looking at partly to mostly sunny weather right through Thursday, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s and 50s. We can thank a big high-pressure system that is expanding out of Canada's Hudson Bay into the mid-Atlantic region with relatively cool, dry air.

Coupled with a low out over the Atlantic, the Canadian high is drawing the cool air southward. It is also acting as a block to prevent the advance of storm systems from the Plains states to our west. It's also keeping away the record heat they're expecting in the Southern Plains. 

By week's end, however, the high will have moved far enough east to admit the low-pressure trough from the west. We'll also begin to feel the return flow from the clockwise movement of air around the high, bringing more humidity in from the south.

Cloud cover by Friday will prevent temperatures from rising very much, forecasters say. So we're looking for rising chances for showers and thunderstorms Friday night, persisting through the weekend. High temperatures will hold near 70 degrees.

So, nice workweek, with rain risks for the weekend.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Record low tied Friday at BWI

These cool May mornings feel wonderful, and if it weren't for the pollen, it would be great to have the windows open at night and pull a blanket up. Alas, we've been forced to keep the windows closed and the furnace fans running (to circulate the air through the filters).

Friday's low temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport was 40 degrees, which matched the record low for the date, last reached on May 6, 1925. It's a relatively easy target. The rest of the record lows for the first half of the month are still in the low to mid-30s.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

System 91L, the April tropical storm that wasn't

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASA 91LThe new hurricane season opens in 3 1/2 weeks, and we’ve heard forecasters calling for an “active” summer and fall.

What many of us missed, though, was the tropical low that spun up April 20 northeast of Puerto Rico. Forecasters gave it a 20 percent chance of becoming the 2011 season’s first named storm.

Dubbed System 91L, it displayed strong thunderstorms, moderate rainfall, gale-force winds and 10- to 15-foot seas. Three days later it had fizzled, torn apart by wind shear.  

(NASA PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 8, 2011

Thunderstorm brings rainbow, unusual clouds

Received an email message today from Leigh, Matt, Colleen and Patrick McGivern:

Rainbow Mt. Airy 5/6/11"We live in Mt. Airy and on Friday night after the storms we had a beautiful rainbow and these very unusual clouds. We were wondering if you could tell us anything about them. Thank you."

Great shots! That's why I always try to have a camera handy. But I missed this one.

The clouds are called "mammatus," which for obvious reasons derives from the Latin word "mamma," for "breast" or "udder." They indicate especially unstable air, typically appearing across the base of cumulonimbus clouds, often called anvil clouds or thunderheads. When you see them, you know it is a particularly strong storm, and it could produce a tornado. 

Meteorologists have proposed all sorts of theories about what, exactly, is going on to produce this curious effect, apparently with no real agreement on any of them.

The common thread appears to have something to do with surges of cold, moist air (called hydrometeors) descending from the high tops of the thunderstorm and colliding with the warmer, drier air at the base of the cloud, where their descent stops.

Given their appearance, that makes some intuitive sense. But nobody seems to have nailed the science yet. Good Ph.D thesis for someone.

These are terrific images. Thanks for sharing them.

Mt. Airy mammatus 5/6/11

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:53 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Mild winter, wet spring, and Lyme Disease

CDC PhotoFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

It’s nearly high season again for Lyme Disease in Maryland. It’s also Lyme Disease Awareness Month, so time again to remind Marylanders to watch for, and take precautions against the deer ticks that transmit it to humans.

The latest data from the CDC show 2,024 confirmed or suspected cases here in 2009, the second-highest toll on record for Maryland. Onset peaks in June and July.

A mild winter and wet spring may have been good for the ticks, bad for dogs and people.

(PHOTO: Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 6, 2011

April 27-28 tornado count up to 16; eight in Md.

Survey teams from the National Weather Service continue to inspect wind damage across the region from last week's storms. Their conclusions have boosted the tally of tornadoes in Maryland PG County tornadoand northern Virginia to 16. With four more added this week, the total for Maryland now stands at 8.

The additions include two EF-0 twisters in Allegany County - north of Town Creek and northwest of Green Ridge. There was another EF-0 in Montgomery County north of Poolesville, and another EF-0 with a 1.8-mile track in Lusby, Calvert County. That one looks like it might have been related to the EF-1 that struck the Breton Bay area of St. Mary's County 18 minutes earlier.

All tolled (or is it "all told"?), the outbreak in the region began around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, the 27th in Stafford County, Va., continued throughout the night in both states, and wrapped up just before noon on the 28th in Lusby.

Here is the full rundown.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:53 AM | | Comments (1)
        

Dance of the planets this month

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Planets at dawnMercury, Venus and Jupiter stand within a narrow circle 30 minutes before dawn in the coming week. It’s part of a complex dance by four of the five naked-eye planets, playing out low in the east each morning this month. They’ll be difficult, or impossible to see without a clear view of the eastern horizon and a haze-free morning. It’s a tall order. Binoculars will help. The two brightest – Jupiter and Venus - will be less than a degree apart on the 11th and 12th, and still close through the 16th. 

(PHOTO: Stan Honda, AFP-Getty Images) 
Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 5, 2011

Summer outlook leaning to cool, wet

It's not entirely clear how the approaching summer season will turn out for Central Maryland. The region seems to be just outside of the regions where the forecasters' greatest confidence lies. We're in the "EC" zone, which means "equal chances" for warmer or cooler, wetter or drier than average.

But if it means anything at all, we seem to be closer to regions where the predictions lean toward relatively mild and rainy weather from June through August.

Here are the long-range forecast maps for the nation, from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

 
Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:06 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Int'l Space Station crosses B'more skies tonight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASASpace Cadets! The forecast looks promising tonight for a good view of the International Space Station as it flies from high over the Great Lakes, across the Jersey Shore and out to sea.

Look for a bright, steady, star-like object, rising above the northwest horizon at 8:21 p.m. EDT. It will climb more than halfway up above the northeast horizon, passing through the handle of the Big Dipper at 8:24 p.m. Then it zips off toward the southeast at 17,500 mph, disappearing at 8:27.

(NASA PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Sky Notes, Sky Watching
        

May 4, 2011

Showers and cold air slow to depart

Overnight rain dropped more than a half-inch on The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets, with the highest rain rates around 6 a.m.  The rest has been dribs and drabs, but it adds up.  

Sun Weather Station

Other spots have seen more, especially south of Baltimore. Anne Arundel County had some serious storms, with at least five schools closed this morning due to power outages. Here's more from the CoCoRaHS Network:

South Gate, Anne Arundel:  1.18 inches

White Marsh, Baltimore Co.:  0.78 inch

Severna Park, Anne Arundel:  0.75 inch

Herald Harbor, Anne Arundel:  0.70 inch

Cockeysville, Baltimore Co.: 0.65 inch

BWI-Marshall Airport:  0.62 inch

Bel Air, Harford:  0.55 inch

Taneytown, Carroll:  0.42 inch

The clouds, cold air and drizzle will be slow to depart the region, forecasters say. Today's showers should dissipate by 2 p.m. or so, although there will be some lingering risk until sunset. Temperatures will struggle to reach 60 degrees. We haven't quite reached 50 here at The Sun, at noon. The average high for this time of year at BWI is 70 degrees.

The cold front that crossed the region overnight has moved off the coast, but the trailing rain is taking its time. As skies finally begin to clear late tonight, radiation cooling will drop the overnight lows deep into the 40s. Western counties could see the 30s, and the weather service has issued frost and freeze watches for portions of western Virginia and West Virginia. "This could potentially damage spring crops sensitive to a freeze," forecasters warned.

Northwest winds Thursday will bring drier conditions, and sunshine will push daytime highs into the upper 60s - still cool for the season.  Low pressure  off the coast of Maine (see map; click to enlarge), and high pressure in the Ohio Valley will combine to make Thursday a windy one. Showers and thunderstorms become a factor again Friday and Friday night as new disturbances move by. 

For the weekend, Saturday is your best bet for outdoor activities, with  mostly sunny skies predicted, and a high near 70. Showers return on Sunday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Some tornadoes have no visible funnels

TornadoFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Jeff Brauner, in Baltimore, writes: “An EF-0 tornado was confirmed near Westminster, but witnesses just saw strong winds and some things blown over. Is it possible for the actual funnel of an EF-0 tornado to go completely unnoticed?”  Yes. Funnels become visible when air pressure in the vortex drops enough to condense water vapor. Weak ones may not form that “condensation funnel.” Some tornadoes can produce high surface winds while the visible funnel remains high overhead. 

(NOAA PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes, Tornadoes
        

May 3, 2011

Waikiki waterspouts caught on video

Many Hawaiians caught this pair of waterspouts on video Monday as Oahu dealt with heavy rain and thunderstorms. Here, below, is how they looked from one person's vantage point.

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:39 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

More showers, storms tonight with cold front

Forecasters are once again talking about the approach of a cold front, with rising chances for more showers and thunderstorms late Tuesday and overnight. Some of those storms could become severe, with a risk of damaging winds, large hail and an isolated tornado or two.

As if we haven't seen enough tornadoes for one month - four in Maryland last week at last check.

The chance of showers begins to climb after 5 p.m., according to National Weather Service forecasters in Sterling, Va.  Those chances rise to 80 percent overnight, with thunderstorm risks beginning between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., and then more showers into Wednesday morning.

The NWS has posted a Hazardous Weather Outlook for today and tonight in Central Maryland, noting the potential for thunderstorms to become severe, especially along and west of I-95. There's also a Coastal Flood Advisory, as onshore winds combine with high tides to boost tidal maxima one to two feet above normal.

The cold front should push through the area late Tuesday, ushering in cooler temperatures, with highs in the 60s  through Saturday. Today's warmth - highs in the 80s - will be short-lived.  

The sun should return late Wednesday, with clear skies overnight into Thursday allowing radiational cooling that could take the lows deep into the 40s. High elevations to our west may need a frost or freeze warning. We'll see mostly sunny skies Thursday, and clear enough Thursday evening to watch a nice flyover by the International Space Station. Watch this space.

We could see some passing showers Friday. But Saturday looks great, with mostly sunny skies again, and highs near 70. Another disturbance on Sunday could bring a passing shower or two.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Tornado outbreak recalls 1994 storms

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

April tornadoSome readers were surprised by the number of tornadoes confirmed in Maryland and Virginia in the wake of last week’s storms – up to 11 at last check, including four in Maryland. Outbreaks like that are uncommon here.

But it brought to mind the July 27, 1994 outbreak, which saw 21 tornadoes touch down in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Fourteen struck in Maryland. The four strongest, rated F-2, hit Charles, Anne Arundel and Kent counties. Four people were hurt, one in Maryland. 

(PHOTO: MMdrummer3153, screen shot from the YouTube video) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

May 2, 2011

A wet April leaves reservoirs at capacity

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Rainout in BaltimoreApril delivered more than 3.5 inches of rain, well above the 3.0-inch norm for what is, statistically, the driest month of the year in Baltimore. Most of it (1.29 inches) fell on one day – that stormy Saturday, the 16th. The longest stretch of rain was from the 22nd through the 25th, with 0.83 inch over four days. All this water helped keep the region’s three reservoirs topped off at 100 percent of capacity. Temperatures were also well above average, with seven days reaching the 80s. 

(PHOTO: Rob Carr, Getty Images)  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

May 1, 2011

NWS raises tornado total to 11; four in Md.

The National Weather Service's official count of tornados in Maryland and northern Virginia last week has jumped to 11, with four added since the initial ground surveys came in late last week. Two of the four were  confirmed in Maryland with damage surveys and eyewitness reports. That brings the tally in Maryland to four - in Breton Bay, St. Mary's County; Camp Springs, Prince George's County; Westminster, Carroll County, and in northern Baltimore County east of Hampstead.

The Maryland additions:

1. An EF-0 tornado was confirmed in Westminster, Carroll County, touching down at about 7:46 a.m. Thursday, April 28. The twister traveled for about 0.6 mile , cutting a path 50 yards wide from near Old Westminster Pike, across Ralph and Center streets, then lifting off the ground as it crossed Route 97.  No injuries were reported, but the tornado uprooted or snapped several treets and broke several large branches. Top winds were estimated at 65 mph. 

2.  An EF-0 tornado was confirmed two miles east of Hampstead, touching down at 8:09 a.m. Thursday near the Baltimore County line and moving for about 1.1 mile along Mt. Carmel Road and across Marshall Mill Road. It snapped or uprooted several trees and knocked down several large branches. No injuries were reported. Top winds were estimated at 65 mph.

Here's the full list.  

In all, the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va., issued 40 tornado warnings in Maryland and Virginia between Tuesday evening and 11:22 a.m. Thursday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

Happy Beltane, Baltimore!

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

May Pole dance BaltimoreToday is Beltane, one of four “cross-quarter” days on the year’s calendar – halfway between the equinox and the solstice. Guy Ottewell’s Astronomical Companion says we can consider the date to be mid-spring. But others in our collective past regarded it as the first day of summer. The summer solstice, the sun’s highest point in the northern sky, marked mid-summer. Beltane was celebrated with bonfires, as were many Celtic festivals. May Pole dances and May Day marches followed.  

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2009)

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        
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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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