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June 30, 2011

Did you see last night's rocket launch?

The Sun's Jessica Anderson reported that the satellite launch went off Wednesday night just after 11 p.m. from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. A couple of people commented on the article as well as on this blog, sharing what they saw.

Anyone else see it last night? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:29 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

July in Baltimore sizzles

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

July heat BaltimoreJuly arrives at midnight, the hottest month of the year for Central Maryland. Average daily highs peak at 88 degrees between the 16th and the 25th before the sizzle starts to cool. The hottest day on record for Baltimore was July 10, 1934, when the mercury downtown reached 107 degrees. We set four 100+ record highs last summer, the hottest, 105 degrees, on July 6. The wettest July on record here was in 1889, when 11.03 inches of rain drenched the city. The driest was in 1955, with 0.3 inch of rain.

(SUN PHOTO: Adrees A. Latif, 1998)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

June 29, 2011

Int'l Space Station over Baltimore tonight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

International Space StationSpace Cadets! Wednesday night should be mostly clear, a good opportunity to see the International Space Station fly almost directly over Baltimore.

The ISS will be very bright, rising above the northwest horizon at 10:11 p.m. EDT. Look for a bright, steady, star-like object passing right through the stars of the Big Dipper, and then near the zenith (straight up) at 10:14 p.m.

From there, it flies off the Delaware coast and disappears into the Earth’s shadow at 10:15 p.m.

(NASA PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

June 28, 2011

A look at NASA's Orion P3 airplane

We told you yesterday that NASA postponed their plans to send low-flying aircraft over the Baltimore-Washington area to measure air pollution levels so they can raise more awareness of the project. They held a media day today, and videographer Leann Adams went to check it out. Her video is below. And here's the full story Frank Roylance wrote about the project.

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:24 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Year's latest sunset is tonight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Sunset ChesapeakeDavid Blumberg writes from Baltimore:While I see that sunset for about 11 days straight is 8:37 p.m., I wondered if you could tell me which actual evening has the latest sunset.”

The latest sunset comes this evening, at 8:37 p.m. EDT for Baltimore. But sunrises have been coming later each day since June 14. On balance, the days stopped getting longer on the 21st, and we’re now losing 3 or 4 seconds of daylight per day. That will accelerate to nearly two minutes a day by July 31.

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

Gone fishin'

This turned out to be an unlucky week to take a vacation, what with the ORS-1/Minotaur-1 launchFishing Baltimore scheduled for Tuesday night down at Wallops Island, Va. Wish I could get down there to cover it.

But it's that time, and plans are plans. I will be away from the WeatherBlog for a few days, recharging my batteries and spending some quality time with my favorite teacher and friends. Others will be checking in here to post your comments and other items.

You may talk amongst yourselves. 

(SUN PHOTO: David Sinclair, Patuxent Publishing 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Notes to readers
        

June 27, 2011

NASA overflights postponed

NASA's plans to send low-flying aircraft over the Baltimore-Washington area to measure air pollution levels have been postponed to allow more time to increase public awareness of the flights.

The first test flights of the Discover-AQ campaign were to have begun Monday morning, with a four-engine turboprop aircraft making passes over portions of I-95, the Baltimore Beltway and the NASA P3 OrionBaltimore-Washington Parkway. Science flights are still set to begin July 1 and will continue through the month.

Parts of the day-long flights will be just 1,000 feet above the ground. And as they begin those low-level segments, pilots will be spiraling their Orion P3 airplane toward the ground from higher altitudes. That raised some concern that people on the ground, including motorists, might be startled or worried by the unusual maneuvers.

Rani Gran, a spokeswoman for the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, said NASA officials decided they "needed to create more awareness with the public."

So, NASA has invited local news media to BWI-Marshall Airport Tuesday for a "plane and pilot availability." That will yield more coverage of the flights on the evening news, and the added public awareness the space agency is seeking.

The first test flights are now scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the weather, which for now looks quite sunny.

The airborne air pollution measurements are part of Discover-AQ. It's an effort by NASA to improve the reliability of its satellite-based air quality monitoring, which has difficulty detecting pollutants near the ground.

By studying the movement of air pollutants on the surface and at various altitudes - and as it evolves during the day - NASA expects to be able to improve the air quality models used to process satellite data. That should improve air quality forecasts, and will also be used to inform the design of the next generation of satellites. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:18 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

Weather problematic for Tuesday launch at Wallops

Preparations continue for Tuesday night's planned launch of a four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. But the forecast carries a 60 percent risk of showers and MARS spaceportthunderstorms during the evening launch window.

If weather or some other issues scrub the launch attempt Tuesday evening, they'll try again nightly through July 10, except for a three-day window around the planned launch of the shuttle Atlantis from Cape Canaveral, in Florida. That's still scheduled for July 8. NASA's Wallops tracking systems are needed for shuttle launches, which fly up the East Coast.

Forecasters say the storms are due ahead of a cold front that's expected to cross the region Tuesday. That will bring us cooler (low 80s) and drier weather for the balance of the workweek. If so, a delayed launch would have a better shot at liftoff starting Wednesday night.  The weekend looks headed for the 90s, with a return of showers and storms, as high pressure moves off the coast. 

Once skies are clear and the Minotaur launch goes ahead, the rocket's climb toward orbit with an Air Force ORS-1 battlefield imaging satellite aboard could be visible from North Carolina to Massachusetts, and as far west as West Virginia. Here's our weekend story on the project, in case you missed it.

If you're not at the beach this week, and you can't make the drive down to Wallops Island on Virginia's Eastern Shore (or even if you can), you can follow the launch preparations via Webcast, Twitter and various other media. Here, on the jump, are the specifics, which didn't make it into Saturday's print story. 

(PHOTO: Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport - MARS)

Launch status information

NASA Wallops: 757 824-2050

NASA Wallops Radio: 760 AM

Twitter: @NASA_wallops

www.facebook.com/NASAWFF

Launch webcast (1:30 p.m.):

http://sites.wff.nasa.gov/webcast

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:47 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

What is it with men and lightning?

Waiting out the stormFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Let’s see if we can get some conversation started across the breakfast table. AccuWeather.com says 648 Americans were killed by lightning between 1995 and 2008. Of those, 82 percent were men. John Jensenius, a NWS lightning expert, said, “Men are less willing to give up what they’re doing just because of a little inclement weather.” Instead, they keep on with their fishing, camping or golfing, “things that make them vulnerable.” So ladies, what is it with these guys?

(PHOTO: Charlotte Observer, 2011)

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

June 26, 2011

Duck! Asteroid headed for Earth

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

asteroidA newly-discovered asteroid is hurtling toward Earth this morning. I’m happy to report it will NOT strike us, and this is not the end of the world as we know it. But the space rock – Asteroid 2011MD, as big as 65 feet across – will skim within just 7,500 miles of the South Atlantic at about 9:30 a.m. Monday.

That’s VERY close as these things usually go, well inside the orbits of our geo-synchronous communications satellites. Rocks this size get this close once every six years, on average.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

June 25, 2011

On the matter of Civil Twilight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Twilight driveJoe Bollinger, in Glen Burnie, asks: “What time did twilight begin and end on June 21st, and is the length of twilight the same on the winter solstice?” Civil Twilight begins when the center of the sun’s disk is 6 degrees below the horizon, and ends when it’s 6 degrees below the horizon after sunset.

Civil Twilight on June 21 began at 5:08 a.m. EDT, 32 minutes before sunrise. It ended at 9:09 p.m., 32 minutes after sunset. On the winter solstice, Dec. 22, twilight will be 30 minutes long.  

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

June 24, 2011

Last weekend in June will be beautiful

Got a wedding scheduled this weekend? A family barbeque? A roofing job? Or do your plans involve nothing more than a beer, a boat or a tiki bar? If so, you have been living right.

Forecasters out at Sterling have served up a perfect weekend, with highs in the mid-80s, a little breeze, lots of sunshine and stars. The high humidity of the past few days should be dissipating today as a (mostly) dry cold front sweeps through and high pressure builds into the region from Baltimore weatherthe north.

Some spots to our west could see some scattered showers this afternoon. But mostly, for better or worse, we're done with showers and storms until next week.

By late Sunday, the high pressure will be moving offshore, and that will put us into the return flow, from the south, around the backside of the clockwise-spinning high. That will bring in more humidity from the South, and raise the risk of showers and storms by late Sunday night. Daytime temperatures shouldn't change much, however.

That will start to change by Monday, as low pressure moving through the Great Lakes begins to draw more heat and humidity into our region ahead of the next cold front. That will mean highs moving back into the low 90s by Tuesday and Wednesday, and rising storm chances.

High pressure returns after mid-week, if the forecasters are right, bringing us back into drier air. But temperatures will still flirt with the 90s as we get closer to July, and the peak of the hot season for Baltimore.

Speaking of heat, the high at BWI Thursday was 87 degrees. That was far from the record. The low temperature dropped to 74 degrees before midnight, so we just missed tying the record high minimum for the date - 75 degrees, set in 1943. And that's okay.

(SUN PHOTO: Gene Sweeney Jr., 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:04 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June has the most daylight, but July is hottest

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Maryland sunriseJohn Polyniak, in Lake Shore, asks: “What month has the most daylight (sunrise to sunset)?  I know it’s either June or July.” It’s June, as you might expect, given that the longest day of the year comes at the summer solstice, June 21.  Daylight in Baltimore on June 1 lasts 14 hours, 45 minutes. It rises to 14:56 from the 16th to the 26th, then diminishes to 14:54 by July 1. By the end of July, there are just 14 hours, 14 minutes of daylight here. Even so, average daily temperatures peak in mid-July.  

(SUN PHOTO: Chiaki Kawajiri, 2005) 

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

June 23, 2011

Some shipwrecks are funnier than others...

I've been working on a story about the growing potential for oil spills from old shipwrecks off the U.S. coast, many sent to the bottom during 1942, when German U-boats lay off the coast attacking coastal shipping.

So, I was looking through the Dictionary of Disasters at Sea, a seemingly endless listing of grim, often horrific sinkings as far back as 1824. And I came across this one, which was so bizarre and tragic and hilarious, I had to share. It's the story of the Royal Tar, a 164-foot wooden paddle steamer (not the one below, which is the Italie, on Lake Geneva) out of St. John, New Brunswick in the Canadian maritimes. The skipper was Capt. T. Reed. The dictionary picks up the story:

"In October 1836, she was chartered to carry Dexter's Locomotive Museum and Burgess' Collection of Paddle steamerSerpents and Birds from St. John, N.B. to Maine, as well as an elephant, two lions, a tiger, two camels, several horses, and a large number of smaller animals.

"For the accommodation of these unusual travellers a huge Noah's Ark-like tent had been erected to cover the whole afterpart of the steamer.

"In addition to the animals there were the circus personnel, which included a full brass band, as well as private passengers and crew, making 93 all told.

"On the morning of October 21st, 1836, the steamer left St. John harbor in fair weather, but towards the end of the day a strong west wind forced her to anchor in Eastport [Maine] Harbor, where she remained until Tuesday, 25th.

"Shortly after leaving this anchorage she was again forced by the high winds to seek shelter off FoxCircus tiger Island.

"The next day a fire was kindled under the boilers without previously ascertaining the depth of the water in them, which was very little. The small amount of water soon evaporated and the boilers became red hot, setting fire to nearby woodwork. The vessel was still at anchor.

"The wooden steamer blazed with fierce intensity, the two funnels falling overboard and causing much havoc. Soon there was terrible panic, in which human beings and animals struggled together to reach some place of safety. Meanwhile the captain had given orders to slip the cable to allow the vessel to drift landwards, as she was at the time anchored two miles offshore.

"Many persons were drowned in getting away the boats, and the elephant jumped from the deck onto a raft, sinking it and drowning all its occupants. Of the 93 persons on board 32 lost their lives, as did a large number of the unfortunate animals.

"Capt. Reed behaved with great presence of mind and it was due to his efforts that so many people were saved. In recognition of his devotion he was presented with a purse containing 700 dollars by the citizens of St. John, and some years later he became harbour-master of the port."

(PHOTOS: Top: AP 1998. Bottom: AP 1999)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:21 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Events
        

Tropical humidity continues; relief on the way

Opened the door this morning and thought I was in Florida. This high humidity, straight from the Gulf of Mexico, is forecast to continue today. But there is some relief in the cards by Sunday.

First though, we're looking at another high near 90 degrees today. And the NWS is once again AccuWeather.compredicting a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Even higher probabilities forecast for Wednesday came to nothing for most of us. Forecasters seem to be doubting their models again today. So maybe ... or maybe not.

We can use whatever falls, although the extent of moderate drought in Maryland has not changed since last week.

Wednesday's high of 91 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport was a long way from the 100-degree record for the date, set in 1988. But the overnight low this morning of 76 degrees appears to have beaten the previous record-high minimum of 75 degrees, last matched on June 23, 1943. If we don't drop below that before midnight tonight, we should have a new record for warm nights on June 23.

So far this season BWI has recorded nine days with highs of 90 degrees or higher. We may well top 90 again today, and there's a 90-degree high predicted for Friday, too. There may be still more in the cards next week before the month ends on Thursday.

But so far we're running well behind the pace of 2010. By this time last year we had racked up 14 days in the 90s, with seven more to come before the end of June. Doesn't look like we're going to be anywhere near that hot.

The humidity should be with us through Saturday. By Sunday, another cold front and a wind shift should bring us some dry air flow out of Canada, and seasonable highs in the mid-80s through Tuesday before the 90-degree heat and humidity return.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:06 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Forecasts
        

St. John's Eve, a night for bonfires

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

bonfire MarylandTonight is St. John’s Eve, the evening before the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, six months (or so) before Christmas. The Feast of St. John also served to mark the summer solstice, which was celebrated in many parts of Europe with bonfires the night before. That practice likely evolved from pre-Christian Celtic rites seeking blessings for their crops. Celebrants may also seek to prove their courage and cleanse their sins by jumping through the flames. We don’t recommend it.

(SUN PHOTO: David Hobby, 2001)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

June 22, 2011

U2 fans may face a stormy evening; or not...

UPDATE, 6 p.m.: Looks like good news for U2 fans. The risk of storms this evening has dropped to 20 percent - "slight." And there is nothing on radar ATM. Enjoy. 

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: Now it's a tossup. NWS forecasters have eased back slightly - from 60 percent to 50 percent - on the chances downtown Baltimore will see showers and thunderstorms this evening. That slips to 30 percent overnight.

Nevertheless, they said: "THUNDERSTORMS ARE STILL EXPECTED TO DEVELOP LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. SOME OF THE STORMS MAY BECOME SEVERE...CAPABLE OF
PRODUCING LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WIND GUSTS."

Earlier post below:  

Tens of thousands of U2 fans headed for the M&T Bank Stadium this evening should come prepared for the possibility of showers and thunderstorms. And some of those storms could Lightning Ravens Stadiumbecome severe, with up to a half-inch of rain, hail and damaging winds

Sound like fun? Maybe not. The concert and the storms come in the middle of Lightning Safety Awareness Week. If you can hear thunder, you are at risk of being struck by lighting. And the safest place to be is inside. Or, as the National Weather Service puts it: "When thunder roars, go indoors!"

Heat near 90 degrees and tropical humidity are expected this afternoon as the 7 p.m. concert time nears. Forecasters out at the regional forecast office in Sterling, Va. are calling for a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mostly after 4 p.m. A quarter- to a half-inch of rain is possible.

The storm risk continues until about 8 p.m., with another quarter- to a half-inch of rain possible into the evening. But some showers and storms could linger into the overnight hours.

"Some of the storms may become severe, capable of producing large hail and damaging wind gusts," forecasters said in a Hazardous Weather Outlook posted early this morning. 

John Jensenius, a NWS lightning expert based in Gray, Maine, said concert-goers should not depend on lightning arrestors at the stadium to protect them, should a thunderstorm strike. "When you look at events that have happened in other parts of the world, there have been soccer teams that have been struck in the field. People attending the event have to consider whether or not it is a good idea to be there" in an electrical storm.

In June 1998, several concert-goers were struck by lightning on the first day of the Tibetan Freedom Concert at RFK Stadium outside Washington.  And in August 2005, a Miami Dolphins video director survived a strike on a practice field that was surrounded by lightning arrestors. 

"If there is something coming down close to the field, it could very well strike the field or the stands without hitting the arrestors," he said. "Do they help? Yes. If you're asking whether they eliminate the threat, then the answer is no."

"Obviously, if you want to be safe, you have to get inside," Jensenius said. Or, if the stadium's inner reaches are full, "if you can get to your car, that's probably even better."

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, 1998)

Here's more from Chris Strong, the warning coordination meteorologist at NWS Sterling, who plans to attend the concert, though not in an official capacity:

"Staying in your seats or on the field is a bad idea. In this case, 'When thunder roars, at least get to the ground level concourse or any enclosed area.'  While it's not the best situation, it is making the best of a bad situation.  That's what I'll be doing if a thunderstorm comes tonight.

"Staying informed also helps tremendously. For those who have smart phones, stay in touch with a local radar internet page to see what is around and what is approaching!  Many media outlets and the NWS all have such pages and phone apps to monitor (such as our page ... http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=lwx&product=N0R&overlay=11101111&loop=no )

"Lastly, people should certainly follow instructions from the stadium authorities (stadium screens, announcements) if they are given."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:18 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Forecasts
        

The odds of being struck by lightning

Lightning BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

It’s Lightning Safety Awareness Week. A bolt from the blue is the gold standard for risk-takers. “You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than …” So what are the odds?

NOAA says with 280 reported U.S. deaths and injuries each year, your odds are roughly one in a million. Estimated deaths and injuries are higher, bringing it to one in 775,000.

Your odds of being hit in an 80-year lifetime fall to one in 10,000, but the chance you’ll be affected by someone being struck are one in 1,000.

(SUN PHOTO: Jerry Jackson, May 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

June 21, 2011

"Unsettled" weather brings showers, storms

While it doesn't look like we're going to see another stretch of 90-degree days this week, as some forecasts last week had suggested, we are in line for a string of days in the upper 80s to, perhaps AccuWeather.com90 degrees, with plenty of humidity to justify keeping the AC on.

The problem is a slow-moving low-pressure system over the Northern Great Plains. The counter-clockwise circulation around that big low is drawing warm, humid air north from the Gulf of Mexico into the southeastern part of the nation. The heat and moisture are making the air very unstable, touching off showers and thunderstorms in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys.

Forecasters say Central Maryland can expect warm (upper 80s), showery weather right through Saturday as this system moves ever-so-slowly to the east. A few of the storms could be strong to severe.

The showers could persist into Saturday. But as the big low moves into eastern Canada, we'll begin to feel the backside of the circulation, with winds shifting to the northwest. With a little luck, that will drop afternoon highs into the mid-80s by Sunday, with drier air and sunnier skies.

  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:52 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Solstice marks the start of winter south of equator

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Cape of Good HopeWe often forget about our cousins in the southern hemisphere. There’s more ocean down there, after all, so less land and fewer people. And their seasons are, well, all wrong. For them, today marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the start of another winter.

Cape Town, South Africa, didn't see the sun rise until almost 8 a.m. today, and it sets at 5:45 p.m. At least it’s mild. At just 34 degrees south latitude, the coastal city’s looking for highs this week in the 50s and 60s.  

(PHOTO: Cape of Good Hope, Mary Ann Anderson/MCT)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

June 20, 2011

Summer arrives Tuesday with the solstice

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

It seems like summer’s already well underway. We’ve had eight days over 90 degrees this spring, and one that reached 100. But for the Northern Hemisphere, summer doesn’t officially begin until Tuesday, with the summer solstice at 1:17 p.m. EDT. “Solstice” comes from the Latin, “sol stitium,” meaning the “sun stands still.” It appears to pause directly over the Tropic of Cancer, the line around the globe at 23 degrees, 26 minutes north latitude, before heading south again, toward winter.   

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

June 19, 2011

June 1943 was Baltimore's hottest June, not 2010

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Last Sunday I wrote about a 1925 prediction by James H. Spencer, who ran the Weather Bureau office in Baltimore. After a record-hot June that averaged 78.7 degrees, he predicted that record would stand “for centuries.” I checked the NWS tables online and declared the 1925 mark stood until 2010, which I called the new hottest June on record, at 78.9 degrees. An alert reader said I’d skipped over June 1943, which averaged 79.8 degrees in Baltimore. He’s right. I’m having my glasses checked.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:03 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Notes to readers
        

June 18, 2011

Temperature readings from planet Earth

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

A few notes from NOAA about Earth’s temperatures so far this year: Combined global land and sea-surface temperatures in May were the 10th warmest for a May since records began in 1880, 0.9 degrees F above the 20th century average. Averages from March through May also ranked 10th warmest, and January through May they rank 12th-warmest. Arctic sea ice extent in May ranked third-smallest since records began in 1979. Antarctic sea ice ranked 14th smallest.

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

June 17, 2011

More showers on tap, and 90s return next week

You didn't think we were going to have dry, sunny, 80-degree weather all summer did you? Of course not. This is Tidewater Maryland, and it's not even officially summer yet.

So, forecasters out at Sterling continue to call for showers and thunderstorms clear through the weekend. We're stuck beneath a stalled cold front, and every little disturbance that moves along the front brings the potential for more showers and thunderstorms.

They're giving it a 50 percent chance for thunder Friday afternoon, with highs near 85 degrees at BWI.  Things will calm down overnight, but there is more of the same on the schedule for the weekend.

By Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week, they're predicting we will be counting 90-degree days again.James Willinghan photo

Last night's storms brought plenty of lightning  to places south of Baltimore. James Willinghan has once again nabbed some nice bolt shots in Howard County.

Most of the rain also fell on Southern Maryland, where it is badly needed. The CoCoRaHS Network reported more than 2 inches in La Plata and Leonardtown. Nearly 2 inches fell in Severn (although that reading would seem to conflict with the pattern suggested below). Here are some other reports:

Waldorf:  1.25 inches

Laurel:  1.07 inches

Havre de Grace:  0.99 inch

Manchester:  0.61 inch

Elkton: 0.59 inch

College Park:  0.53 inch

Pasadena:  0.48 inch

Reisterstown:  0.40 inch

Easton:  0.23 inch

Jarrettsville:  0.17 inch 

Hamilton (Baltimore City):  0.13 inch

Towson:  0.05 inch

(PHOTO: James Willinghan. Used with permission.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

A tornado in February?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Jared Klein, at the NWS in Sterling, sent me an article from the Democratic Advocate reporting a storm that struck Westminster, Feb. 19, 1893. Roaring wind toppled a chimney; destroyed a stable and barn; unroofed a dorm at Western Maryland College and blew down the steeple at St. Paul’s Reformed. The winds appeared cyclonic, and damage fell along a path less than a half-mile wide.

Klein calls it “the closest account to a ‘snow tornado’ that I have personally come across ... It seems suspect that a tornado occurred on a day where the high temperature nearby [in Baltimore] was only in the low 40s, but I do not have any other meteorological information/evidence to accept or reject the tornado report," he said.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:03 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: History, Tornadoes
        

June 16, 2011

Clouds, sprinkles, showers and storms are welcome

They're calling it "unsettled" weather out in Sterling. It's a complex set of low-pressure systems in eastern Canada and the Great Lakes, and an approaching cold front, which is forecast to stall across the forecast area and return as a warm front next week.

It all adds up to plenty of clouds for Central Maryland through the weekend, with periods of sprinkles, showers and thunderstorms.

md_dm.6.16.png

Daytime temperatures will struggle to reach 80 degrees today, but they will begin to creep higher tomorrow and Saturday, settling in the upper 80s through the weekend to near 90 degrees by the middle of next week.

Whatever rain falls will be welcome. We can use the moisture. The weekly Drought Monitor report released this morning shows "abnormally dry" conditions have continued to spread north into Central Maryland since last week, to southern Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties. They now encompass 63 percent of the state.

Dry conditions are worst on the Lower Eastern Shore, with everything south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge now in "moderate" drought. Extreme Southern Maryland - including the lower half of St. Mary's County and the southern tip of Calvert - is also now in moderate drought. In all, the drought conditions cover 25 percent of Maryland's territory.

The latest Weather & Crops Report from the USDA quotes a Delaware report saying: "Some storms came through with some maintenance rain to keep the corn alive and the beans coming up, but a lot more is needed." A Maryland report said: "The hot, dry weather has been tough on crops but good for hay making."

 

Topsoil moisture is reported "short" or "very short" in 52 percent of the state. Subsoil moisture is "short" or "very short" in 35 percent.

Rainfall for the year in Salisbury is 7.75 inches below the long-term average.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:34 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Drought, Forecasts
        

Alaska, Antarctica excluded from extreme cold data

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Ella Wilkerson, in Owings Mills, asks if the national temperature extremes reported next to my mug shot include Alaska and Hawaii: “I have never seen Alaska with the lowest temperature. I find it hard to believe … since it includes land above the Arctic Circle.” Good call, Ella. They don’t. The “National Extremes” are for the contiguous 48 states only, and the “World Extremes” exclude Antarctica. If it were otherwise, we’d see Alaska there all winter, and Amundsen-Scott Station all summer.  

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

June 15, 2011

Do we need a Washington, D.C. forecast?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Washington DCTom Kusterer, in Ellicott City, writes: “Why doesn’t The Baltimore Sun’s weather page list [Washington] D.C. in its United States cities’ weather and temperature listings, or for that matter, anywhere on The Sun’s weather page?”  That other burg down the road? Actually, we do show their temperature forecast on the Maryland map. And, being just 35 miles away, their weather is much like ours. We could add D.C. to the national forecast, but which city to delete? Okay, maybe Pittsburgh...

(PHOTO: Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:03 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

June 14, 2011

Tomorrow's lunar eclipse won't be visible here

There will be a total eclipse of the moon on Tuesday, but unless you're living in eastern South America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Southern or Southeast Asia, Australia or floating in the Lunar eclipse Baltimore 2004Indian Ocean, you won't see any of it.

Now, one person in a fine position to watch the eclipse is my old friend and regular WeatherBlog reader Jack Starmer, director and founder of HealthCare Nepal, who is currently leading a medical mission to that mountain republic.

He and his team should take a break from their work at 18:23 UT and watch the moon drift into the shadow of the Earth. The eclipse will become total at 19:22 UT, and end at 22:04 UT.

Should be a spectacular sight with the moonlight on the Himalayas.

For the rest of us, the next total lunar eclipse visible in full from the mid-Atlantic states will be on April 15, 2014.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 2004)

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:48 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Sky Notes, Sky Watching
        

Two chances to see Int'l Space Station ... maybe

Marylanders headed for tonight's Flag Day celebrations at Fort McHenry (and anyone else who happens to be outdoors this evening) may get a glimpse of the International Space Station as it ISS and Endeavoursoars up the Eastern Seaboard. The flyover could come just after the fireworks display.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast calls for isolated thunderstorms, and "mostly cloudy" conditions Tuesday night. We may get a better look on Wednesday evening, when skies are expected to be only "parly cloudy." Here are the particulars:

TUESDAY: Stick around after the fireworks, and at 9:10 p.m. EDT, start looking for a bright, steady, star-like object rising above the southwest horizon. It will pass just below yellowish Saturn, climbing about halfway up the southeastern sky, above the rising almost-full moon at 9:13 p.m. From there, the ISS will fly off toward the east, disappearing at about 9:16 p.m.

WEDNESDAY:  If the weather fails to cooperate Tuesday night, try again Wednesday evening. Look for a slightly less bright ISS to appear above the southwest horizon at 9:41 p.m. EDT, climbing to about halfway above the northwest horizon by 9:44 p.m. From there it will drift off toward the northeast, disappearing at 9:47 p.m.

And as always, stop back here and share the experience.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:09 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Sky Watching
        

National test of Emergency Alert System Nov. 9

President ObamaFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

We’ve all heard those annoying bleats on the radio when stations test the Emergency Alert System. “Had this been an actual alert…

Last week, FEMA announced it will conduct the first nationwide test of the system, designed to enable the President to address the nation in an emergency. It’s scheduled for 2 p.m. EST on Nov. 9, a Wednesday.

But unlike the mercifully brief local tests, this one will last 3 1/2 minutes, on every broadcast, cable and satellite system in all U.S. states and territories.  

(PHOTO: Gary Fabiano, Bloomberg, 2009)

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

June 13, 2011

Beware those "lesser" hurricanes

We have a natural tendency to discount the "weaker" hurricanes, those Cat. 1 and 2 cyclones that seem so run-of-the-mill compared with the Cat. 4 and 5 beasts that show up from time to time.

But the smaller tempests are sometimes the ones that cause the most destruiction. Here's some food for thought: The top 10 most destructive hurricanes, from Daily Finance via CNN Money:

1. Hurricane Katrina, 2005: Landfall category: 3. Damage: $81 billion.

2. Hurricane Andrew, 1992: Landfall category: 5. Damage: $35 billion.

3. Hurricane Wilma, 2005:  Landfall category: 3. Damage: $20.6 billion.

4. Hurricane Ike, 2008:  Landfall category: 2. Damage:  $18 billion.

5. Hurricane Charley, 2004:  Landfall category: 4.  Damage: $14 billion.

6. Hurricane Ivan, 2004:  Landfall category: 3. Damage: $13 billion.

7. Hurricane Rita, 2005:  Landfall category: 3. Damage: $10 billion.

8. Hurricane Hugo, 1989: Landfall category: 4. Damage:  $9.7 billion.

9. Hurricane Frances, 2004:  Landfall category: 2. Damage: $8.86 billion.

10: Hurricane Agnes, 1972: Landfall category: 1.  Damages: $8.6 billion. 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricane background
        

If you hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning

Terrible to read this morning about the Pasadena man who was struck by lightning just before 6 p.m. Sunday on the fishing pier at Fort Smallwood Park. Elmer Coreas, 29, was listed in critical condition today the at Maryland Shock-Trauma Center in Baltimore. First responders found him in Lightningcardiac arrest.

We hope for his recovery, and that his experience will awaken others to the dangers of staying out in the open when thunderstorms threaten.

An average of 58 people are killed each year by lightning in the U.S. Hundreds more suffer permanent injuries. The National Weather Service says these can include "a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, chronic pain, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and more."

The most important thing to remember about lightning is this: The 50,000-degree Fahrenheit lightning bolt that triggers the thunderclap can travel 10 miles. And the sound of that thunder can be heard 10 miles away from the strike. So if you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning from that storm. Take shelter. 

Substantial buildings and hard-topped cars will work. Standing under a tree just makes you a target, along with the tree. And standing out on a pier, the tallest thing out there, is not a good plan, either.

(SUN PHOTO: Gene Sweeney, Jr., June 9, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:41 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Lightning
        

Perfect ...

In winter, we grouse about the weather systems the Canadians send us. They're typically too cold, or too snowy. But in summer - and the weather we had last week was decidedly summer-like, the calendar notwithstanding - our cousins to our north send us these delightfully cool and dry intervals between the oppressive bouts of heat and humidity dished up by the Bermuda Highs.

RainbowSo it's Canadian high pressure that arrived with a bang late Sunday. And we have been cooling down and drying out overnight. The year's almost-earliest sunrise on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville (the earliest is Tuesday morning) came this morning with clear blue skies, crisp, cool air and (way too early) birdsong.

Temperatures at BWI through Thursday promise to be 15 to 20 degrees cooler than last week's, with daytime highs near 80 degrees. That's near normal for this time of year, but it will feel much cooler than that, especially in the north and northwest breezes predicted to be gusting to 20 to 25 mph.

There's a slim chance for light and scattered showers Tuesday, with an afternoon high of just 77 at the airport. But mostly we're in the clear through Thursday. At that point, the next low-pressure system will move toward the Ohio Valley, drawing warmer, more humid air up from the Gulf. We may get more showers and storms out of it by Thursday night and Friday, forecasters said.

Our temperatures will climb toward the mid 80s by the weekend. The low could stall along the way, with more showers and storms for the weekend. But for now the weekend forecast continues to show sunshine and highs in the mid-80s.

Thanks again to James Willinghan, down in Howard County, for this shot of the eerily close rainbow that appeared across the street from his house after yesterday evening's thunderstorms. Some Maryland communitiers saw trmendous rain from these storms. Here's a sampling from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Berlin, Worcester County:  3:26 inches

Jarrettsville, Harford:  2.51 inches

Pasadena, Anne Arundel:  2.43 inches

Hollywood, St. Mary's: 1.30 inches.

Kingsville, Baltimore County:  1.21 inches

Towson, Baltimore County:  1.07 inches

Bel Air, Harford:  1.02 inches.

 

 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:54 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

The sun makes its earliest appearance Tuesday

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Sunrise MarylandRising with the sun is a real chore in June. Tomorrow’s sunrise will be the earliest of the year. Sol’s disk pops above the horizon at 5:39 a.m. EDT for Baltimore, and 5:36 for lucky ducks at the beach. Sunsets continue to get later, at a faster pace than sunrises, until the summer solstice on June 21 marks the longest day of the year. The latest sunset occurs on the 28th. Then it, too, reverses. Sunrise and sunset both draw closer together, and the days grow shorter until December.

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, 2011)

 

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

June 12, 2011

Tornado and thunderstorm warnings

 Uprooted tree

As you'll see on the Baltimore Sun's weather page, there are some weather warnings in effect and even a funnel cloud sighting. According to the National Weather Service:

A tornado warning in Harford Co. until 5:30 p.m. Sunday:

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 530 PM EDT FOR HARFORD
COUNTY...

AT 505 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS
TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR PERRYMAN...OR 6 MILES SOUTH OF ABERDEEN...
MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 20 MPH. A FUNNEL CLOUD WAS REPORTED BY LOCAL
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT IN ABINGDON NEAR INTERSTATE 95 AND ROUTE 924
AROUND 445 PM.

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.

 And a severe thunderstorm warning in effect in Baltimore City and Baltimore and Harford counties, also until 5:30 p.m. Sunday:

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 530 PM EDT
FOR THE BALTIMORE CITY...AND HARFORD AND BALTIMORE COUNTIES...

 

Did you see the funnel cloud or catch a picture of amazing lightning? You can share your weather photos with us.

The above weather photo from Harford County is from Trif Alatzas.

Posted by baltimoresun.com at 5:09 PM | | Comments (0)
        

People die, their predictions live on

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Washington DC, 1925Weather can humble you, even after you’re dead. On July 1, 1925, James H. Spencer, who headed the U.S. Weather Bureau office in Baltimore, looked over his June record books and told The Sun: “There will not be another June like the one just past, for centuries.” Temperatures in Baltimore had reached 101 once, and topped 90 degrees 13 times — eight in a row. The month averaged 78.7 degrees.

The record stood for just 85 years, until June 2010 averaged 78.9 degrees.

UPDATE and CORRECTION: Statistics can humble you, too, even when you're alive. An alert reader checked my "facts" and called with a correction. The hottest June on record for Baltimore was June 1943, which averaged 79.8 degrees. It was NOT June 2010, which actually comes in second, at 78.9 degrees. So Mr. Spencer's bold prediction fell even shorter. It lasted for just 18 years. And I need to get my glasses checked. 

(SUN File photo, 1925)

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

June 11, 2011

Those Oakland forecasts just seemed too hot

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Oakland forecastsAlert reader Menalcus Lankford wrote to say that our print weather map for Maryland “seems quite confused about Oakland in Garrett County.”  The temperature forecasts we’ve been reporting are much higher than for nearby towns. “Please correct these … absurd predictions.” We checked, and sure enough, AccuWeather.com has been posting forecasts for the wrong Oakland, Md. Turns out there are five, in Anne Arundel, Carroll, Caroline, Garrett and Prince George’s counties. It’s been fixed. 

   

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

June 10, 2011

No more bets, please; Hot-in-Baltimore Contest is on

We're off to a running start, with eight days already this year reaching highs of 90 degrees or more. And 25 daring WeatherBlog readers have risked embarrassment for the chance to win a fabulous Sun trinket by correctly guessing the number of 90-plus days we'll have in 2011.

RouletteWe have 25 entries, a healthy increase from last year's total (although it's a laughable fraction of the 16,000 WeatherBlog page views we typically get in a week). Like I said, this takes daring-do.

The average number of 90-plus days in a year at BWI-Marshall Airport is 29.4, but last year we set a new record of 59.

Our players took those cues, considered La Nina, and the long-range forecasts from the Climate Preciction Center, and ran the numbers through their sophisticated climate models ... or, they added up the ages of their children, and placed their bets.

They range from a low of 15 days, to a high of 56. Median= 40; mean=36.24. No one guessed above last year's record, although we are now ahead of last year's pace. The majority - 19 guesses - came in higher than the average, anticipating another hot summer, if not one to match last year's. 

And now the wait begins. We will close the contest and award our prize (or prizes; we have three doubles) on or about Oct. 15, unless we're still seeing 90-plus highs. (Please, God, no!)

The winner will be the person closest to the actual total, without going over. Good luck!

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Sure it's hot, but is it REALLY bothering you?

Here's something for WeatherBlog readers to toss around today:

air conditionerIt's REALLY, REALLY hot outside. It's the second 90-plus heat wave of the season, and it's not even summer yet, officially. Humidities are stifling and Marylanders who don't have, can't afford, or don't want air conditioning, and have to wait, in the oven-that-is-Baltimore, for a bus, are truly suffering.

But let's face it, in what is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, most of us probably have AC at home, AC at work (if we have work), and AC in our cars. If you fall into this lucky category, you spend - what? - five minutes a day in the heat, walking from home to car, car to workplace, etc, etc.

Let's hear from those people. Have you effectively banished Chesapeake Summers from your lives through the magic of HVAC? Can you mostly ignore it? Do you thank your lucky stars each night when you step in that door? Or is it a struggle and a worry to keep it running?

Can we simply hope for a day when everyone, from Baltimore to India, Brazil and China can afford the pleasures of air-conditioning, and then mix another Mai Tai and drink to the geniuses at Trane and York and Carrier? Or is there more to consider?

(SUN PHOTO: Kenneth K. Lam, 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:16 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Heat waves
        

More heat, more storms, more sweat

What? All those Severe Thunderstorm Watches late yesterday and your place got zilch? Yeah, me too. A little thunder, a few flashes of lightning, and not a drop of rain on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. We were watering the grass again this morning.

But rest assured there were some serious storms last evening. CoCoRaHS Network observers report Deale, in Anne Arundel County, got more than 1.5 inches of rain. Over in Queenstown, in Queen Anne's County on the Eastern Shore, they reported more than an inch. Columbia, Easton and St. Michaels all saw more than a half-inch Baltimore lightningof rain in storms.

Even Hamilton, in Northeast Baltimore managed more than a third of an inch.

BGE crews went to work and restored nearly 45,000 customers who lost power as a major storm crossed the central portion of ithe utility's  service area. BGE expects they'll all be back online by this evening. And then repair crews can tackle whatever the next round of storms brings.

Forecasters expect a 60 percent chance of more storms Saturday, slipping to 40 percent Sunday, with highs in the mid-80s.

Thursday night's storms put on quite a show in some places. William " Bear" Stifler, in Hampden, shot this great image of lightning over Baltimore. He may get more chances today. The National Weather Service says there's a 30 percent chance that "scattered" showers and storms will pop up again late this afternoon. AccuWeather.com

Thursday's 100-degree readings at BWI (it was 103 at the Inner Harbor) took their toll on the region's most vulnerable citizens. The Baltimore Health Department reported at least 14 patients were taken to emergency rooms Thursday, including six cases of heat exhaustion.

The department's spokesman, Brian Schleter also noted that  area emergency rooms saw a spike in asthma-related admissions on Wednesday. Forty-one were reported, about 14 more than normal. "Poor air quality is the likely culprit," he said. A Code Orange Air Quality Alert is posted again Friday for Central Maryland. That means breathing the air outdoors may be unhealthy for vulnerable groups.

The city also recorded 480 visits to cooling centers at the city's senior centers on Wednesday, when the high was 99 at BWI. 

In the meantime, while it may not feel quite as hot today (Friday) as it was yesterday, the high temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport is headed back into the 90s this afternoon. The official forecast high is 92 degrees, well short of the record of 97 degrees, set in 1964. But then again, the NWS almost always undershoots the mark on summer highs in Baltimore...

Dew points remain high, too, so it will continue to feel sticky and stuffy. But, as my sainted mother always assured me, "It will be better Monday."

(PHOTO: WIlliam "Bear" Stifler, Hamilton. Used with permission.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Overnight storms bring damage, some heat relief

 

BGE said it is working to restore power to an estimated 10,000 people after Thursday's thunderstorms. More than 53,000 people total had lost power. UPDATE: We'll be posting storm updates here.

The rain has brought some relief to this week's heat wave.  Today's high is forecast to be 92, but with a dewpoint of 67 degrees, it will still be muggy. There's a 30 percent chance of showers later this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Trees were spotted down on Charles Street near Cathedral Mary Our Queen (pictured). Anyone else spot any damage? Tell us in the comments. 

Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:07 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Storm reports
        

June 9, 2011

NWS predicts high today of 103 downtown

Sun weather station

The National Weather Service is now predicting a high temperature Thursday afternoon of 103 in downtown Baltimore, and 101 at BWI-Marshall Airport. The downtrown Heat Index could reach 109 degrees.

UPDATE, 5:00 p.m.: The high on Thursday at the Maryland Science Center, on Baltimore's Inner Harbor, was 103 degrees. The airport high was 100 degrees, breaking the 98-degree record first reached in Baltimore on this date in 1874, and most recently matched in 1933.

The record high for Baltimore in June is 105 degrees, reached downtown on June 29, 1934.

If forecasters are right, this would be the first 100-plus reading at BWI since last July 25, when it was 100 degrees.Sun weather station

One other hot fact: Thursday's Baltimore temperatures topped 95 degrees for the fifth time this year. That ties with 1895, but remains one less than the record six days with 95-plus weather before June 9, in 1925.

Whew!

BTW, here are a few forecast highs today from across the nation's "Hot Belt":

Miami, FL:  86 degrees

Atlanta, GA:  95 degrees

Dallas, TX:  94 degrees

Las Vegas, NV:  93 degrees

Los Angeles, CA: 71 degrees 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:39 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Dry conditions in Maryland expand

The extent of moderate drought conditions in Maryland has begun to expand out of the three southern-most Eastern Shore counties.

The June 7 U.S. Drought Monitor report, released this morning, shows 17 percent of the state is now experiencing moderate drought, including Somerset. Wicomico and Worcester counties, and now portions of Dorchester and Caroline, too.

"Abnormally dry" conditions now include the rest of Maryland's Eastern Shore south of Cecil COunty, and the Western Shore as far north as southeastern Baltimore County. 

In all, dry conditions now encompass 45 percent of Maryland's geography, up from 22 percent in last week's Drought Monitor report.

So far, farmers don't appear to be having difficulty with the scarcity of rain. In fact, the USDA's Weather & Crops report on Tuesday noted that farmers in North Central and Southern Maryland were taking advantage of the weather to complete hay harvests and spring planting.

But farm reports from the Delaware noted the dry weather was "putting stress on growing crops."

Topsoil moisture was rated "short," or "very short" in 41 percent of the state. Subsoil moisture was short or very short in 26 percent.

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drought
        

100s possible today; not much better Friday

The only hopeful note in today's forecast for Central Maryland is the possibility of some showers and thunderstorms. The rest is dismal: temperatures near 100 degrees (I'm betting BWI tops that, as Frederick did Wednesday), and the prospect of more hot (mid-90s) and humid weather Friday.

If you're just done with this stuff, then curl up beside the air conditioner and do nothing until AccuWeather.comMonday, when forecasters promise we'll see the start of several delightfully dry, sunny days with highs in the low 80s.

But if you venture outdoors, there is plenty of misery on tap between now and then.

Thursday seems likely to be the hottest day of this bout of July-in-June weather. The forecast high for BWI-Marshall Airport today is 99 degrees, which would beat the record for the date, which has stood since 1933, by a degree. And the forecasters note that "a few locations will reach the low 100s this afternoon." Count on it. And look for Heat Index readings around 105 degrees or more.

It's no better at the beach if you're not in the water. Ocean City reported 97 degrees at 1 p.m. 

All the by-now-familiar warnings are up: A Heat Advisory for all of Maryland weast of the mountains and on the Upper Eastern Shore; a Code Red Heat Alert in Baltimore, and a Code Orange Air Quality Alert for all of Maryland east of the Appalachians. 

Hot BaltimoreWe are victims of a summer-like Bermuda High parked over the Atlantic. The clockwise spin around the high is dragging hot, humid air off the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico and sending it our way.

Add a southwesterly component to the winds, and you get air moving over the Appalachians, and down the eastern slope. That compresses the air and heats it even more.

What relief we get today will come in the form of upper-level disturbances that will be riding along with the breeze, triggering some showers and thunderstorms.

Forecasters say the storms, and perhaps an isolated severe storm with hail and damaging winds, will be felt first in the mountains to our west. They could last long enough to affect the I-95 corridor by early evening, but as the air cools, the activity will diminish toward midnight.

UPDATE: 1:15 p.m.: The NWS has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Maryland from Carroll and Frederick counties west to Garrett. 

Unfortunately, the storms aren't the cure we need. Hot and humid weather will persist into Friday, with a forecast high of 94 for BWI, our fourth-straight day in the 90s. Scattered showers and thunderstorms may wet us down a bit, especially toward late afternoon and evening. 

The arrival of a "back-door cold front" - a kind of warm-front moving in reverse that approaches from the northeast rather than the northwest - will stall here, keeping us in unsettled weather, with showers and thunderstorms on Saturday. But daytime highs will hold in the mid-80s.

Better yet, a real cold front is due by Sunday, clearing the air, lowering the humidity at last, and dropping daytime highs to the low 80s into next week. And it will be OK to go outside again.

(SUN PHOTO: Kenneth K. Lam, June 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:18 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Where have all the weather fronts gone?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

weather mapDonald Gansauer, of Canton, asks: “Why don’t TV weathermen show fronts on their surface maps anymore? The position of these fronts is very important to understanding what’s going on.” Hadn’t noticed, so I asked WJZ’s Bernadette Woods: “I agree … We don’t usually place the fronts on our satellite/radar maps because they are shown in a repeated moving format that is constantly updating … It would look so jumpy. We do place fronts on our [48-hour] forecasted surface map.”

(MAP: NOAA)

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

June 8, 2011

Hot enough to fry an egg on the ... car?

I know, it's supposed to be on "... the sidewalk." But our own Leeann Adams thought she'd try it on a car. Thank god it wasn't mine, after we paid all that money for "Paint Protection."  Oh, that's nasty...

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:34 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Heat reaches 99 at BWI, sets new record

UPDATE: The official high temperature Wednesday at BWI was 99 degrees, reached at 2:38 p.m. With a dew point of 69 degrees, the Heat Index reading works out to 106 degrees, according to Carrie Suffern, a NWS meteorolgist at Sterling, Va.

The temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport reached 98 degrees early Wednesday afternoon, breaking the old 97-degree record for the date, set in 1999.

It was the fourth 90-plus record temperature for Baltimore in the last 10 days.

The mercury at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets read 100 degrees just before 4 p.m. It was 99 at the Maryland Science Center. Frederick Airport is reporting 102 degrees.

Annapolis, cooled by a bay breeze, topped out at a positively chilly 87 degrees. Ocean City reached 93.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:49 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Heat advisory prompts Baltimore to open 2 city pools

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the city will open the Druid Hill and Patterson Park pools Wednesday and Thursday. Hours are 3-8 p.m. The pools have been open on the weekends since Memorial weekend, but the high temperatures and humidity have prompted the weekday opening.

"In addition to the Cooling Centers open throughout the city as part of our Code Red plan, the large park pools will provide an opportunity for young people and families to stay cool and safe," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.

Admission is $1.50. For more information, call (410) 396-3838.
Posted by Kim Walker at 2:40 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Int'l Space Station and Endeavour on rare video

Here's the video version of the still images shot of Endeavour recently when it was docked to the International Space Station. The pictures were taken from a departing Russian Soyuz craft. So very cool.

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Satellite cameras capture spectacular solar flare

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and other solar observatories have captured video of a spectacular solar flare that erupted from the sun's surface on Tuesday.

The blast was rated a (moderate) M-2 flare, but only a (minor) S-1 class radiation storm. 

The solar particles and magnetic waves hurled across the solar system by the blast - called a coronal mass ejection - are expected to give Earth only a "glancing blow," according to scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. Even so, observers in northern latitudes should be watching for auroral displays tonight and tomorrow night.

Here's how it looked:

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:52 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Three more days in 90s for Central Maryland

On Tuesday, the instruments at BWI-Marshall Airport didn't reach 90 degrees until 2:54 p.m. And that was the day's high. Today, Wednesday, the airport is already reporting 89 degrees shortly before 11 a.m. 

The forecast from here isn't much better. The National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, AccuWeather.comVa. is calling for a high of 97 degrees at BWI today, and 96 degrees on Thursday. The prediction is for 98 degrees in downtown Baltimore today, and 97 Thursday.

There is a Heat Advisory posted for Central and Southern Maryland from noon to 8 p.m. today, warning of temperatures and humidity that will combine to produce Heat Index numbers as high as 105 degrees. We can probably count on the same tomorrow.

Also again today: A Code Orange Air Quality Alert, covering the entire state east of the mountains. It means that breathing the air outdoors today will be unhealthy for sensitive groups. And, Baltimore's Code Red Heat Alert remains in force through Thursday, with cooling shelters open again across the city.Heat Baltimore

The first relief is likely to be a weak cold front due here late on Thursday, forecasters say. The NWS is calling for a 40 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms, mostly before midnight Thursday.

But as refreshing as that sounds, hot air at the surface isn't likely to be changed much by this front, which the NWS called a "so-called cold front" in this morning's forecast discussion. That will mean MORE 90-degree weather on tap for Friday, reaching 92 degrees at the airport, if the forecasters are right.

Keep in mind that the long-term averages for Baltimore at this time of year are in the low 80s. This is weather we expect to endure in mid-July.

More significant relief, bringing high temperatures back to the averages, will have to wait until Saturday. A lingering frontal boundary will keep clouds in the sky on Saturday, with a continuing 30 percent chance for storms. Each will help bring daytime highs back to the low 80s. But it will remain quite humid.

Finally, on Sunday, a stronger cold front will sweep all this stuff away, leaving us with sunshine and drier air to start the new week.

For the Record Watch, here are the marks we're aiming for in the next two days:

Wednesday: Baltimore's record high for June 8 is 97 degrees, set at BWI in 1999. Record-high minum is 76 degrees, last reached downtown in 1925

Thursday:  Baltimore's record high for June 9 is 98 degrees, last reached downtown in 1933. Record-high minimum is 78 degrees, also set in 1933.

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Stormy Caribbean could bring Cuba drought relief

NHC/NOAAFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

We can be thankful, again, for those engineers who had the foresight to build Baltimore’s fine reservoir system, and for rainfall we can (usually) depend on. Cuba is suffering through another severe drought. It’s affecting crops, livestock and even urban water supplies. Many wait for deliveries by government water trucks. Nature may bring relief shortly. Thunderstorms moving north from the Caribbean are not expected to organize into a tropical storm, but could bring needed rain.

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

June 7, 2011

Baltimore County schools announce early dismissal

Baltimore County will close schools 2 hours early on Wednesday due to the excessive heat and humidity in the forecast. There will be no afternoon kindergarten.
Posted by Kim Walker at 4:15 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Fab new photos of the ISS and Endeavour

NASA recently went out of its way to nab some rare, high-quality photos of the International Space Station with a docked space shuttle - Endeavour (top center). They were snapped from a Russian Soyuz ship as it pulled away en route to a landing. Pretty impressive, and perhaps the last of their kind.

ISS Endeavour

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:15 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Heat Advisories posted for Central Maryland

The National Weather Service has posted Heat Advisories for Central Maryland, effective from noon through 8 p.m. Wednesday. The forecast says temperatures will be in the mid-90s, with Heat Index values - a measure of the expected combined effect of heat and humidity - as high as 105 degrees.

"A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES
IS EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH
HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT
ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY IN AN
AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM...STAY OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK IN
ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS.

"TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE.
WHEN POSSIBLE...RESCHEDULE STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES TO EARLY
MORNING OR EVENING. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT
EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE. WEAR LIGHT WEIGHT AND LOOSE
FITTING CLOTHING WHEN POSSIBLE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:18 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Heat waves, Watches and warnings
        

Code Red Heat Alert posted for Weds., Thurs.

Baltimore's Health Department has declared Wednesday and Thursday - June 8 and 9 - Code Red Heat Alert days in the city.

That means the city will open 11 cooling centers to help residents without access to air conditioning a chance to cool off and rehydrate.

The Community Action Program will operate five centers around the city. These centers will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday:

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 Health Department’s Office of Aging and CARE Services will operate six additional cooling centers. These centers will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday:

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

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

Record highs possible Weds., Thurs.

If you liked those record highs in the upper 90s last week, you're going to love the middle of this week. Forecasters say with summer-like high pressure settling over the region, Central Maryland can expect high temperatures Wednesday and Thursday in the upper 90s, at least. And on Thursday, they said, "It's entirely possible 100 can be attained within the [forecast area]."

Heat humidity BaltimoreAnd, we will have dew points in the 70s again, too, just like last week. That means mid-summer Chesapeake humidities. So look for Heat Index readings well into the low 100s, Code Red Alerts and Air Quality Alerts, as well.

In fact, the Maryland Department of the Environment has already posted a Code Orange Air Quality Alert, from Frederick County to Cecil, and south to the Potomac River. The alert means that air pollution levels will be sufficient to be unhealthy for people in sensitive groups, including children, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses.

Today may be the best we can do until a cold front arrives Friday morning to cool things down and water the dirt. The forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 89 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport, although we can probably count on going a few degrees beyond that. There is some chance of an isolated thunderstorm. NWS

The real misery begins Wednesday, with a forecast high of 95 degrees, which would threaten the record of 97 degrees, set on that date in 1999. Skies should be mostly clear, with no relief from the sun, heat and humidity.

Thursday looks even worse, with a forecast high of 98 degrees at the airport (and 99 downtown).AccuWeather.com Count on something a few degrees higher. The record for a June 9 in Baltimore is 98 degrees, set back in 1933, so I'm watching for a new record.

Friday's high is forecast to reach 90 degrees, but the passing cold front will bring more chances for some thunderstorms, and usher in cooler, more seasonable highs in the 80s for the weekend.

The count of 90+ days at BWI so far this year stands this morning at four. At this time last year we had seven. But we may add three or four more this week.

The Sun's Hot-in-Baltimore contest will accept entries through Friday. Guess the total number of 90+ days this year at BWI and win a cheap Sun trinket. So far, we have 21 contestants, with guesses ranging from 15 to 56. The long-term average for BWI is 29.4 days; the record (in 2010) is 59. Leave a comment or send me an email message with your guess.

(PHOTO: Sam Friedman, Patuxent Publishing, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:03 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

June 6, 2011

Md. hummingbirds holding their own

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

hummingbirdJane Buxton Brown, in Baltimore, says she had several hummingbirds at her feeder until early May, but few since. “Do you have any information about the scarcity of hummingbirds this season?” David Curson, at Audubon Md.-D.C., said, “Hummingbird populations have been holding steady in Maryland for the last 40 years.” It could be a change of flowers in the yard, or a random fluctuation. He reminds hummingbird fans to keep feeders clean and bacteria-free, and to avoid fluid with red dye.

(PHOTO: Francis Gardler, Patuxent Publishing, 2011)

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

June 5, 2011

June 1972 weather records still stand

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

June of 1972 left a lasting mark in Baltimore’s record books. It remains the wettest June on record here, with 9.95 inches of rain at BWI. Much of that came with Tropical Storm Agnes. The storm passed well off the Maryland coast, but combined with a non-tropical low to unleash tremendous rainfall on June 21 (2.19 inches) and 22 (3.84 inches). Both still stand as daily records. Then it turned cool, with record-low highs (66 and 60) on the 22nd and 23rd, and a record low of 50 on the 24th. Below is flooding at the Patapsco Avenue Extension Bridge.

(Sun Staff photo by Frank R. Gardina) 

Tropical Storm Agnes Baltimore 

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

June 4, 2011

Some sights in the early June night sky

Crescent moon BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

If predicted storm clouds hold off, tonight will be a good opportunity to step out and get your bearings in the night sky.

After 9 p.m. or so, look to the west as the crescent moon – just three days past new – begins to set. The two bright stars just above and to the right are Castor and Pollux, the heads of the Twins in Gemini.

High in the southeast is bright, orangey Arcturus, guardian of the Great Bear. Below Arcturus, and to the right, about halfway up the southern sky, is yellowish Saturn.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 2001)

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

June 3, 2011

Sunday storms only bump in fine forecast

If you've got a wedding planned, or a roofing job, or a retirement party, the next seven days will be just what your planners ordered.

NWSThe forecast from the NWS forecast office in Sterling, Va., sports a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. But the rest of the grid looks perfect, with sunny to mostly sunny skies, and highs mostly in the low- to mid-80s - just a few degrees above the long-term norms for the region.

And look at this dew-point forecast map. DPs in the 40s! Sweet! Outdoor dining at its best.

The overnight low Friday morning was 50 degrees at BWI, and we'll likely be back into the 50s tonight. Some locations in the mountains to our west could see lows in the 40s, forecasters said.

Our first chance for a thunderstorm would come late Saturday, most likely after 8 p.m. as a cold front slowly approaches the region. Chances may be a bit better for storms Sunday afternoon.

"Severe threat is not certain," forecasters said. "But if one exists, hail would be the primary concern."

Some rain would be welcome, especially down on the Lower Eastern Shore. Three counties there are experiencing moderate drought, the northeastern-most extension of the far more serious dry conditions that have been ravaging agriculture in Texas, New Mexico and parts of the Deep South.

Behind the cold front, on Monday, skies should be mostly sunny again through mid-week, with highs in the 80s. The next chance for rain would come with the next cold front passage, on Thursday, forecasters said.

And this note to Weather Blog readers: If you've tried to post comments, you've noticed the feature has been shut down. That's temporary, in response to what's being described as a "particularly aggressive" spam attack: tens of thousands of comment spam messages last night that knocked down the platform used by all The Sun's blogs. 

The IT folks are working on it, and will restore the comment feature as soon as possible. Thanks for your understanding. If you need to contact me in the meantime, email is still working.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Region's reservoirs are ready for summer

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Loch Raven ReservoirIf you drink, shower, shave or splash in water from the Baltimore City reservoir system you will be reassured to know that there is plenty of H2O available as we head into the hot season.

Rainfall in the watershed has kept the three lakes pretty nearly full. The city’s Public Works folks report that Loch Raven and Prettyboy are at 100 percent of capacity, while Liberty stands at 98.9 percent. In all, there are 75.45 billion gallons on hand.

Conservation is always wise. But for now, bottoms up!

(PHOTO: Brendan Cavanaugh, P3 Imaging, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

June 2, 2011

Reader recalls deadly Flint tornado in 1953

I received this note recently from Nadine Lord, in Elkridge:

"On the evening of June 8, 1953, my family and I were shopping in downtown Flint, Michigan. On our way home, I kept looking out the car window at a cloud formation I'd never seen before: a pillar of white clouds with lightning running through it. We got home just before the rain.

"After the storm we kept seeing and hearing police cars and ambulances behind our apartment on a normally quiet road. We thought there had been a bad road accident, never dreaming that an F-5 tornado had touched down on streets of houses built on cement slabs. The warning to those residents had been 5 minutes only.

"The number of deaths and injuries was heartbreaking, as you well know. The saddest of all was the next day, when I watched hearses and ambulances go quietly by hour after hour.

"I was born in Ohio on Lake Erie and grew up with storms, but I learned to fear tornadoes that awful June night. ... Most sincerely, Nadine Lord."

Ms. Lord (that's not her in the video) has a good memory. The tornado she remembers from that day was part of a three-day outbreak that moved across the Midwest and Northeast, from Colorado to Massachusetts, killing hundreds. 

The Flint tornado was one of only three F-5 tornadoes ever to strike Michigan. It touched down around 8:30 p.m. just north of Flint. When it was over, whole neighborhoods of Flint and Beecher - hundreds of homes - were gone, 116 people were dead, and more than 650 were injured. It was the 10th deadliest U.S. tornado on record. Here's more on the outbreak.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: History
        

Prayers answered; cooler and dry ahead

Those "scattered" thunderstorms seem to have scattered away from Baltimore as the promised cold front pushed through yesterday. We could see tremendous thunderheads to the south and east of the city early Wednesday evening (photo), but the rain all stayed away.Thunderhead Baltimore

Here are some rain totals from the CoCoRaHS Network, just to prove that some locations did, in fact, see rain.

St. Michaels, Talbot Co.:  0.46 inch

Bowie, PG Co.:  0.30 inch

Camp Springs, PG Co.:  0.26 inch

Forestville, PG Co.:  0.22 inch

Dunkirk, Calvert Co.:  0.18 inch

No matter. We all are feeling the relief today (Thursday) as cooler, and much drier air presses in from the northwest behind yesterday's cold front. Temperatures could reach 87 degrees this afternoon at BWI-Marshall Airport. But that's 11 degrees cooler than yesterday, and dew points have dropped from the 70s yesterday to the 40s today, ending the suffocating humidity we've had to cope with since the weekend.

So open those windows tonight and enjoy the breeze. You might even need a blanket as overnight lows fall into the 50s.

NWSThe fresh air is coming with gusty winds. Forecasters out at Sterling say we could see northwest gusts to 25 or 30 mph. The combination of winds and low humidity has raised the danger of wildfires during the afternoon and early evening. So crush those smokes.

Looking ahead, forecasters see even cooler temperatures Friday and Saturday, with highs in the low 80s. There is a low risk of thunderstorms Saturday and Saturday night as more moisture arrives from the Gulf. But mostly skies will remain sunny into next week.

Temperatures will also begin to climb into the mid- to upper-80s again as the new week begins. And humidity levels will climb with the arrival of moisture from the Gulf.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance, June 1, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Dew point forecasts help you prepare for Md. humidity

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Regular readers of our print weather page may have noticed a change in how we report humidity levels. Until recently, we reported the relative humidity percentages recorded for the previous day. But, as readers pointed out, those don’t tell readers how sticky it will feel during the day ahead. So now we’re posting dew point forecasts. A dew point above 65 degrees begins to feel humid. But when it tops 70 you can prepare for a really steamy Chesapeake summer day.    

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

June 1, 2011

BWI beats 1895 record for June 1, hits 98 degrees

UPDATE, 5 p.m.: The National Weather Service says a final review of its temperature records for BWI this afternoon showed the mercury reached 98 degrees briefly at 12:55 p.m., setting a new Baltimore record for June 1. Earlier post below: 

The mercury at BWI-Marshall Airport reached 97 degrees at 2 p.m. Wednesday. That tied the record high for the date, set (downtown, in those days) in 1895. It is the oldest daily high record on the books for Baltimore in June, and the only June record daily high remaining from the 19th century.Sun Weather Station

There are several more hours for temperatures to rise a bit higher. But thunderstorms are still expected to move in this afternoon. That will bring in some clouds and reduce the solar heating, and then the rain will start to cool things down. It remains to be seen whether BWI can establish a new record high for the date.

In the past three days, we have tied two record highs and broken a third.

Monday: High of 98 tied the record for May 30, set in 1991

Tuesday: High of 97 broke the May 31 record of 96, set in 1991

Wednesday: 2 p.m. reading of 97 tied the June 1 record, set in 1895

(Graph shows temperature and dew point recorded by The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:05 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Atlantic storm pops up on Opening Day

Floridians are looking at an unusual storm system moving onto the peninsula from the Atlantic Ocean today, the first official day of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. This weird disturbance actually began as a squall in Michigan.

The concentration of thunderstorms and gusty winds turned up Tuesday about 200 miles off the Jacksonville coast, and is moving south and west toward a Wednesday landfall in Central Florida. It's an area NOAA/NHCthat badly needs rain, so the storm is not at all unwelcome. Better still, it won't have time to develop tropical characteristics and grow to more dangerous levels.

AccuWeather.com notes that much of Florida has received barely a quarter to a half of its usual rainfall this spring.

While we're on the topic of hurricanes, AccuWeather.com has posted a start-of-season update to its hurricane forecast. The only change is the addition of one major storm to the spreadsheet. So they're calling for 15 named storms, of which 8 are predicted to become hurricanes, and 4 will reach Cat. 3 status (sustained winds of 111 mph or more).

"We believe the highest potential for early season development will be near and off the southeast U.S. coast and from the southern and southeastern Gulf of Mexico southward over the western and southern Caribbean," the statement said.AccuWeather.com

"For the middle of the hurricane season, we see the greatest threat for the U.S. from the Texas coast eastward along the northern Gulf coast, as well as all Florida and Carolina coastal areas. Areas north of the North Carolina coast have a lower chance for direct impacts. We caution that just because this area has a lower chance does not imply no impact. There could also be indirect impacts from storms making landfall well to the south or even from the Gulf of Mexico. Those indirect impacts would include the potential for heavy flooding rainfall."

Out at Colorado State University, hurricane forecasters William Gray and Phil Klotzbach have updated their forecast, but they have not changed their forecast numbers.  

They do offer some landfall probabilities, however. "Based on our historical analysis along with our AccuWeather.comcurrent forecast, the probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline is approximately 72 percent," Klotzbach said. They're assuming that a more active season will mean more landfalls. But last season was one of the most active on record for the Atlantic, and there were no U.S. landfalls at all.

Breaking that down a little farther, Gray and Klotzbach say the chance of a major storm making landfall on the East Coast, from Florida northward, is 48 percent. The long-term average is 31 percent.

Both forecast teams base their expectations for an active season partly on the same factors: Persistent warm surface water temperatures in the Atlantic, especially in the hurricane "nursery" zones; "neutral" La Nina/El Nino conditions in the Pacific, which reduce the westerly Atlantic wind shear that can stifle hurricane formation; low air pressure in the hurricane development region of the Atlantic and westward into the Caribbean, and off West Africa.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Severe t-storms possible as heat breaks

A cold front drifting south and east out of the Ohio Valley today is expected to bring Central Maryland some badly needed relief from the heat summer-like heat of the past three days. But it will come with a 50 percent risk of severe thunderstorms.James Willinghan photo

The front is due here during the late afternoon or early evening. The showers and thunderstorms may start to show up after 2 p.m., forecasters said. Some may produce damaging winds and large hail. The risk continues until about 8 p.m.

Once the front goes through, we should begin to see a sharp drop in temperatures AND in the stifling humidity that has added to our misery since the weekend. Dew points will fall from the 70s, to the 40s or 50s.

Until then, however, we will have to endure another day with highs in the mid-90s. It's already 93 at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets downtown. With a relative humidity at NWS62 percent, and the dew point at 79 degrees, the Heat Index value works out to 112 degrees. Good grief!

Obviously, the National Weather Service has posted a Heat Advisory again today from noon to 8 p.m., warning of high temperatures in the lower to middle 90s, and Heat Index values around 105 degrees (beat that already).

There is, once again, a Code Red Heat Alert in Baltimore City. Cooling centers are open. Please check on your neighbors and family members, especially the very young and the elderly, who may be without air conditioning in this weather.

And, if you are breathing, be advised the Maryland Department of the Environment has once again posted a Code Orange Air Quality Alert, warning of pollution levels that may be unhealthy for those in sensitive groups. You know who you are. Just stay indoors and avoid outdoor activity.

Up ahead, afternoon highs in the low- to mid-80s, northwest winds, clear skies and low humidity. The next chance of thunderstorms comes with the next cold front, on Saturday.

(PHOTO: James Willinghan, Howard County, May 27, 2011. Used with permission.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

May tied a record low, and a record high

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

May got off to a cool start at BWI, tying a record low of 40 degrees on the 6th, and racking up five days at or below the daily averages during that first week. It was gloomy, too, with rain in the air on five days. Then skies cleared for a beautiful stretch during the second week. Temperatures warmed a bit for the third week, but the rain returned. There’s been little rain since, and temperatures have soared, tying the record high of 98 on the 30th. May ended about 4 degrees above average, and dry.

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