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September 30, 2011

Ophelia reaches Cat. 3, Bermuda on watch

Hurricane Ophelia has become the third "major" hurricane of the Atlantic season, a Cat. 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with top Hurricane Opheliasustained winds of 115 mph. The storm was located  about 620 miles south-southeast of Bermuda, moving to the north-northwest at 12 mph.

There's a Tropical Storm Watch in effect on the island. Fortunately, the forecast storm track would carry it about 100 miles to the east, of the island, putting Bermuda on the more benign west side of the circulation. The storm is expected to fluctuate in strength in the next 24 hours before weakening.

Bermuda's residents have been told to expect tropical-storm-force winds by Saturday afternoon, with hazardous surf on the south beaches. Rainfall could reach an inch. 

Here is the latest advisory on Ophelia. Here is the forecast discussion. And here is the forecast storm track.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Or not ... Gray, rain may return for weekend

Seems like only yesterday that forecasters were promising some sunshine with the cool temperatures this weekend. In fact, it was Wednesday.

AccuWeather.comWell, all that seems to have gone away now. The National Weather Service folks in Sterling now say the same low-pressure system that has been powering our nearly incessant clouds and showers all week STILL has not left the premises.

We're enjoying a fine break today. But the low-pressure system, while it has moved east a bit from Lake Michigan, is now loitering in the eastern Great Lakes. And clouds are just to our west, poised to move in. 

Now forecasters say the low will hang out to our north this weekend. Combined with a new coastal low that's forming, we can expect increasing clouds and showers starting late Friday.

Temperatures will be falling, too, reaching the 30s - with a chance for rain and wet snow in the higher elevations to our west - to the 40s in the western suburbs and 50s along the Western Shore. (The "RealFeel" temperatures in the map above are AccuWeather's system for combining effects of temperature, humidity, wind, elevation and other factors to express how conditions will "feel.")

The forecast calls for more of the same Saturday and Sunday, with the added feature of daytime temperatures only in the 50s as colder air rushes in.

Forecasters are still saying the new workweek should bring sunny skies as the big bad low FINALLY departs. Temperatures will begin to moderate, reaching 70 degrees or so by Tuesday and Wednesday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:57 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Forecasts
        

A time of toppling records

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Snowy CatonsvilleJust so you know: Since December 2009, Baltimore has endured its snowiest winter (2009-2010) since record-keeping began; second-snowiest December (2009); snowiest February (2010); snowiest month (same); biggest two-day snowstorm (Feb. 5-6, 2010); hottest summer (2010); most 90-degree days (2010); most 100-degree days (2010, a tie with 1988); wettest September (2011); wettest 30-day period (Aug.13-Sept. 11, 2011); and most combined Aug./Sept. rain (2011).

(PHOTO: Catonsville, Feb, 10, 2010. Nicole Martyn, Patuxent Publishing)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:07 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

September 29, 2011

Ophelia is now a hurricane, but no threat here

OpheliaTropical Storm Ophelia is now Hurricane Ophelia, only the fourth hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season. The storm is no threat to the U.S. coast. It was centered northeast of Puerto Rico, moving north-northwest in the Atlantic at 9 mph, on a course that would take it close to the island of Bermuda late Saturday.

Top sustained winds are blowing at 75 mph, just above minimal hurricane force, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. 

Here is the latest advisory for Ophelia. Here is the forecast discussion. Here is the forecast storm track.   

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Wet snowflakes in forecast ...

... for the Allegheny Highlands. Sorry. I couldn't resist. Although we here in Central Maryland are looking at a cool weekend, with highs only in the 50s Saturday and Sunday at BWI-Marshall Early snowAirport, there is no mention of anything frozen here. Our lows will hold in the upper 40s. The earliest snow on record for Baltimore (a trace) fell on Oct. 9, 1903.

But this morning's forecast discussion from Sterling does include this for Western Maryland:

"Forecast high temperatures Saturday below 60 F. all areas, with higher elevations barely above 40 F. Cannot rule out a few wet snowflakes Friday night, early Saturday along Allegheny Front..." Check out the map from AccuWeather.com

We're looking for more scattered showers and thunderstorms this afternoon with the passage of the first cold front. This is the western half of the system that has kept us gray and showery for the past week, and it's finally getting by us today as the jet stream scoops south, picks it up and moves it along. Finally.

Friday looks nice, with dry, partly sunny skies and seasonable highs in the mid-70s. We'll likely see a few more showers late Friday and early Saturday as the next cold front rolls by and drops our temperatures again on strong northwest winds. But then our long, soggy September will be behind us at last.

There's clear sailing ahead into next week. And the brisk weekend temperatures will moderate into the 60s and 70s as we start the new week.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:28 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Forecasts
        

It takes two storms for a record soaking

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Port Deposit floodingContinuing today with more wet-weather statistics from the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. Science Officer Steve Zubrick points out that it was Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee that made Aug. 13-Sept. 11 Baltimore’s wettest-ever 30 days (18.90”). Similarly, it was Hurricane Diane and Connie that made August 1955 the city’s wettest calendar month (18.35 inches). Finally, this year’s precipitation starting Jan. 1 would rank 6th highest here since 1871.

(SUN PHOTO: Port Deposit flooding. Karl Merton Ferron, Sept. 8, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:07 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers, From the Sun's print edition
        

September 28, 2011

October will arrive with a nip in the air

Forecasters are saying now that we'll finally get rid of this dank, gray weather this weekend. But October will arrive Saturday with some bite. High temperatures Saturday and Sunday are now expected to stall out in the upper 50s. The last time that happened at BWI was way back on April 22.

AccuWeather.comFirst, forecasters say, the midwestern "cut-off" low that has been sitting and spinning out there for a week, helped to drag incessant, damp, sub-tropical moisture this way from the Gulf and the Atlantic, will finally get kicked out of the region by Thursday. That will be followed on Friday by two quick waves of low pressure and increasingly strong cold fronts - each with a risk of scattered thunderstorms. Some could become severe, but they don't expect widespread severe weather.

They do expect temperatures to drop with each event, however. 

"These repeated surges of increasingly cooler air will scour out any low-level moisture and cause temperatures to drop into very autumn-like ranges," forecasters said. Northwest winds will trigger showers on the western slopes of the mountains, "some of which could become wintry Saturday night as minima fall into the 30s," they said.

There. That's our first mention of "wintry" in a forecast this season. Here's AccuWeather.com's take on flakes.

For now, however, we're just looking at more of the same. The NWS expects showers and thunderstorms, mainly after noon Wednesday. Some could become severe and produce heavy rain. Ditto for Wednesday night. Expect more of the same Thursday and Thursday night, too, as the cut-off low lumbers by.

We get a break Friday, with partly sunny skies and a high near 74, but rain risks tick up again Friday night as the last of the cold fronts goes past. The weekend still looks increasingly sunny as high pressure builds in, with cool highs in the 50s, rising into the 60s early next week. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:42 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Wettest 30 days in Baltimore

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Cockeysville floodingWe already know that September has already been the rainiest September on record for Baltimore, with 12.78 inches. Now the folks at NWS/Sterling have run more numbers. Science Officer Steve Zubrick discovered that the 30-day period from Aug. 13 through Sept. 11 was the wettest 30 days on record for Baltimore, with 18.90 inches at BWI. August through September was also the wettest such period on record here, with 23.16 inches at BWI. More here tomorrow.

(SUN PHOTO: Cockeysville flooding, Brian Krista, Sept. 14, 2011)

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

September 27, 2011

Remnants of Ophelia perking up in Atlantic

ex-OpheliaThe disorganized remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia appear to be perking up and getting better organized as they near the northern Leeward Islands. Forecasters in Miami are giving the storm an 80 percent chance of regaining tropical storm strength in the next two days.

The showers and thunderstorms were located a few hundred miles east northeast of the Northern Leewards.  Locally heavy rains were forecast for the islands through Wednesday. Computer models all seem to steer whatever Ophelia becomes to the north, where it will be a threat only to Bermuda and ships at sea.

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

More showers, clouds, gray, blah, blah, blah

So here we are, still stuck between the same cutoff low spinning over Illinois, blah blah, blah... Bermuda high hanging off the coast, blah blah,...  preventing these systems from moving away, still combining to send warm, moist air up the East Coast from the Gulf and the Atlantic, and blah, Foggy Baltimoreblah, blah.

Have you heard this before, too? Fog, clouds, drizzle, blah, blah, blah ... A bit more rain, rainiest September, yada, yada... Cold front due, but not yet ... yada, yada.  Onshore winds, minor coastal flooding again... for a while longer...

There is relief on the way, forecasters insist ... we'll believe it when skies clear. Maybe Thursday, they claim. Sure.

Best hope we can pass along: Cold front clears the region late Thursday, skies clear by Friday, air dries out and temperatures drop. They're predicting a high Saturday of only 62 degrees - almost 20 degrees colder than today. Then sunny into next week. 

Maybe then I can cut the grass. Yay...

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:33 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Why do some temperature records endure?

Old Man of the MountainsFR0M TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

The human brain is wired to seek patterns in its environment. From babyhood we look for faces, and see them everywhere – in clouds, wallpaper, even rock profiles. I see and wonder about patterns in weather statistics.

 For example, why have 10 of the 30 record-high daily minimum temperatures for Baltimore in September endured since the 1800s?

One streak of four from 1881 still stands: From Sept. 27 to 30, the daily low never fell below 73.

And 24 of the 30 records were set before 1933. Why?

(PHOTO: New Hampshire's Old Man of the Mountains. The profile collapsed in 2003. Wikipedia Commons)

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

September 26, 2011

When that mosquito carries West Nile virus

We've been writing about the mosquito-borne West Nile virus since 1999, when it first turned up in New York City and began sickening and killing people. It was the first West Nile outbreak ever in the U.S., and it was followed by piles of dead crows and other birds, and a rapid spread across the continent. It is now endemic here.

The assault peaked in Maryland in 2003, with 73 human cases and 230 equine cases. So far this summer, human infections have been reported in 36 states (dark green on the map, below). Of the 268 cases reported nationwide so far, 13 have been fatal. 

But aside from the occasional obituary mention, we have rarely been able to tell the human victim's side of the story. State health authorities release little data - and no names - on the cases they know about - 12 so far this year in Maryland - and don't know anything about the cases that aren't diagnosed. (Most infections produce no symptoms; some cause flu-like symptoms, and fewer than 1 percent result in serious "neuroinvasive" cases, with inflammation of the membranes around the brain or spinal cord.) 

Lisa Simeone, of Baltimore, believes she may have been the lone West Nile case diagnosed in the city so far this season. And she agreed to tell her story:

"I was apparently the first confirmed case this summer of West Nile Virus in Baltimore City.  I think 'confirmed' is the operative word here, because I have to believe other people must've gotten it, too, only they were never diagnosed.

"I was diagnosed in July.  Was sick for the whole month.  And I'm 54, which ... means I had a higher risk of developing more severe symptoms, which, luckily, I didn't.

West Nile activity"Every summer I get so consumed by mosquitoes if I don't slather every inch of myself with DEET (citronella, garlic, "natural" repellents -- all worthless) or wear long sleeves/pants that I rarely venture outside in normal summer clothes.  I don't eat in outdoor cafes, much as I love them, I don't sit on our back deck, much as I would like to (neither do our neighbors sit on theirs), because the mosquitoes are just too much.  I wear shrugs (little mini-sweaters) over sleeveless dresses.  Nevertheless, I still go out occasionally unprotected -- walking 15 feet to the trash can and back, which takes all of about 7 seconds; hanging the wash on the line in the middle of the day, moving constantly; riding my bike, though I'd think the wind whipping off one's skin would be protection enough.  Despite my precautions, I git bitten every summer.

"This summer I had a nasty cold.  No big deal.  The cold itself healed, but headaches, fever, fatigue, and occasional muscle aches replaced it.  Because I'm used to headaches (lifetime of migraines), I didn't think much of it except that sometimes it would go away completely -- I'd wake up without one -- but by mid-morning it'd be back with a vengeance and get worse as the day progressed.  No pain relievers worked.Asian tiger mosquito  Sometimes the pain was so bad I felt nauseated.  Mostly I felt stunned.  The headache was not only all-consuming, but so forward in my face that I thought it must be a sinus infection.  Assuming it was viral, I thought I'd just wait it out (I'm not one of these people who abuses antibiotics).

"But after three weeks I still wasn't getting better.  So I finally saw my doc.  When I took off my ubiquitous shrug and she saw all the bites my arms, she said, 'I wonder if you have West Nile Virus.'  Her brother had just had it in Colorado, so it was on her mind.  (Plus, she's a smart cookie.)  She ordered a blood test.  Sure enough, I had WNV antibodies.  There's nothing to do about it, as you know, except wait 'til your body kicks it.  Which mine did, in about 4-5 weeks total.

"I first saw tiger mosquitoes in our back yard years ago. Their black and orange stripes [actually, black and white - FR] are unmistakable.  Hubby used to joke, 'Well, if anyone gets West Nile Virus, it'll be you.'  I don't get sick often, but when I do, it's usually something weird.

"But hey, at least I didn't get encephalitis!  (Though can Dengue Fever be far behind?)

"Of course, it's also possible that a mosquito got in the house, and I was being repeatedly bitten by it.  Who knows?  I counted the bites on my arms -- 19 on the right, 15 on the left.  No, it's not pretty.  Thank god for shrugs and make-up."

(PHOTO: Asian tiger mosquito, Mike Raupp, University of Maryland)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:57 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Observer reports
        

Tropics still active, but no threat here

Forecasters predicted a busy season in the tropical Atlantic this year, and they were right. But neither of the current hot spots seems to pose a threat to the U.S. mainland.

We've reached the letter "P" now, with Tropical Storm Phillipe spinning in the eastern Atlantic, about 680 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. The storm has developed top sustained winds of 60 mph, and it's moving northwest at 12 mph. On that course the storm will not become any sort of threat to the Americas. 

The other disturbance hurricane forecasters are watching is an area of showers and thunderstorms Roke remnantsa few hundred miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands. It's actually what's left of Tropical Storm Ophelia, which developed last week and faded over the weekend. Strong wind shear is preventing more development, forecasters say. The system is moving west-northwest at 5 to 10 mph, with just a 20 percent chance of regaining tropical storm strength in the next two days.

Curiously, on the other side of the continent, theRoke remnants of Typhoon Roke, which was born in the western Pacific, pounded Japan last week and later crossed the International Date Line, is now battering the Northwest Coast of Canada and the United States.

The fierce autumn storm is bringing high winds - gusts to 105 mph - and as much as 8 inches of rain to the Vancouver and Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia. Gales are also blowing on the coast of southern Alaska, Washington and Oregon.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Finally, dry and cool by the weekend

Looks like we're going to be stuck with this tropical humidity and a threat of showers and storms for a few more days. But if you're impatient for the cooler, drier weather that should come with the arival of autumn in Maryland, you need only wait out this week.

The National Weather Service says we can the chances for rain and showers to increase late today, Bike trailrising to 70 percent on Tuesday and 60 percent Tuesday night. Wednesday, too, could bring more showers, with chances for Wednesday night rated at 50 percent.

Thursday looks better as the cold front begins, finally, to push through. And by Friday afternoon, forecasters say, this stalled weather pattern we've been suffering with for something like a week now will finally be moving off to our east. That will get us out of the southerly flow that has been channeling tropical moisture from the Atlantic since last week, pushing our rain totals to historic levels.

By late Friday and the weekend, we should be seeing overnight lows dropping into the 40s, with daytime highs only in the low 60s - even under dry, sunny skies. Western counties could see some frost and freeze watches, forecasters say. But it will be a great weekend for the bike trail, a jog in the park or a hike in the woods. Shut off the AC, open the windows and get the place aired out.

On the down side, I'm seeing the stink bugs begin to crowd around the doorways, looking for a chance to break in. And I've already sent a handful of the intruders off to explore the city's sewer system. How about you? Are you seeing more stink bugs this fall, or fewer? Or is it still too soon to tell?

(SUN PHOTO: Lloyd Fox, 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:42 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

September 25, 2011

Hurricanes or typhoons, they're all bad news.

Hurricane John track 1994FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

A colleague asks: “Are there any differences between hurricanes and typhoons as far as damage, stamina? Meteorologically, they’re all tropical cyclones. They’re called “hurricanes” in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific; “typhoons” in the North Pacific, and “tropical cyclones” elsewhere.

 Damage depends on human factors. Stamina? Pacific Hurricane John (1994, left) holds the record (31 days). It crossed the dateline, became Typhoon John, then crossed back again as Hurricane John.

Hurricane John actually began as a tropical wave off West Africa on July 25. It never made tropical storm strength until Aug. 11, after it had crossed into the Western Pacific off Acapulco. By Aug. 22 it had become a Cat. 5 storm, and after wandering in the Pacific for more than two more weeks, finally expired south of the Aleutian Islands on Sept. 10 without ever having much effect on any land mass.

Clearly, a slow pace and loads of empty space in the Pacific contributed to John's longevity. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 24, 2011

Summers are warmer on average, but not wetter

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Ella Wilkerson, of Owings Mills, says, “The past few summers have been amongst the warmest we have had. Has [that] changed how much rain we’ve gotten?” Not much. The summer of 2011 was the fifth-hottest on record for Baltimore, and came a year after the hottest summer, in 2010. It ended with the fifth-wettest August on record here. But June and July were dry. Since 1970, summer temperature averages for Baltimore have trended up by 0.53 degree. Precipitation has decreased by 0.06 inch.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

September 23, 2011

Had enough yet?

Rainbow BaltimoreBy 6 p.m., the intermittent, but sometimes torrential showers had brought Baltimore’s total September rainfall to 12.73 inches, breaking the 12.41-inch record for September rainfall, set in 1934, the National Weather Service has confirmed.

Since Aug. 1, the airport has recorded more than 23 inches of rain, more than half the city’s annual average in less than two months. And while the heaviest rain is probably behind us, there are rain chances in the gloomy forecast through Wednesday.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers
        

Flash Flood Warning for Baltimore & vicinity

A band of torrential rain has reached Baltimore and it's surrounding counties, with rainfall amounts of more than 4 inches an hour at times. The heaviest rain should be brief, but will cause urban flooding. 

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for the city and surrounding counties:

"...BRIEF VERY HEAVY RAIN TO AFFECT BALTIMORE...HOWARD...ANNE
ARUNDEL...AND PRINCE GEORGES COUNTIES...AND BALTIMORE CITY...

"AT 1219 PM EDT...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED AN AREA OF TORRENTIAL RAIN
CENTERED NEAR FORT MEADE...MOVING NORTH AT 25 MPH. RAINFALL UP TO AN
INCH IN A HALF HOUR IS POSSIBLE...WHICH WILL CAUSE PONDING OF WATER
ON ROADWAYS. IF MORE HEAVY RAIN DEVELOPS BEHIND THIS...FLASH
FLOODING WILL BECOME A CONCERN. REMAIN ALERT FOR POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

"LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE GEORGETOWN...JESSUP...SAVAGE...ELKRIDGE...
HANOVER...ILCHESTER...CATONSVILLE...BEECHFIELD...OELLA AND ARBUTUS."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings
        

In for another soaking

Looks like Central Maryland will be in the chute again as stalled weather systems to our east and west conspire to channel a few more days of tropical moisture, showers, rain and thunderstorms this way.

With nearly 20 inches of rain in the bucket since the beginning of August, forecasters are saying we should prepare for as much as another 3 to 6 inches in the next few days. And the I-95 corridor could see the worst of it, if you can believe some of the forecast models.

"The model consensus for the axis of heavy rain fall is near the I-95 corridor, with west to east variability of this axis ranging from just east of the Blue Ridge to the Chesapeake Bay. Rainfall totals of 2 to 3 inches with isolated amounts of 4 to 5 inches are possible within this band, which is AccuWeather.comenough to produce flash flooding," said National Weather Service forecasters in Sterling, Va., in this morning's forecast discussion.

Flash Flood Watches are in effect for the entire Western Shore, from Frederick County east to the bay and south to the Potomac. "The best chance for the heaviest rain will be near and east of the I-95 corridor," the watch said.

UPDATE, 11:30 a.m.: A Flash Flood Warning was issued for portions fo Frederick and western Carroll counties as heavy rains crossed the area with rain rates of up to an inch an hour.

Eric the Red, a professional meteorologist in Baltimore and frequent contributor here, said this rain event won't compare with that from remnants of Tropical Storm Lee earlier this month, but he had this analysis to offer:

"Stalled upper-air low to our west and a stationary high to our east puts us between two spinning pinwheels, pulling all sorts of tropical moisture into our area. The problem with this forecast is there is no easy-to-identify trigger mechanism (no stalled front or tropical storm) ... so we're left with a ton of moisture, high rainfall potential, but nothing to grasp in terms of where this rain will fall. This is readily apparent in the models, which all have heavy rain falling, but they are all over the place as to where."

Wherever is falls, he said, "This rain will come down in torrents ... so be prepared to deal with street flooding and all the other fun that comes with this. Throw in the 10-15" of rain that has fallen over the past 2-3 weeks, and you can see why we're under a Flash Flood Watch."

Here's AccuWeather.com's take on what's ahead.

For the record, August ended with 10.38 inches of rain at BWI-Marshall Airport, the fifth-wettest on record for the city. Through midnight last night, the airport had received 9.57 inches. Three more inches this weekend would make this the wettest September on record for Baltimore, beating the 12.41 inches in 1934. 

We've had more than a foot of surplus (above average) rain since Aug. 1.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:32 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Flooding, Forecasts
        

Straight winds or rotating? It matters

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Ocean City tornadoDan Swegon, in Fallston, asks: “Why is there so much interest, after the event, as to whether heavy wind was a tornado? Severe windstorms cause damage whether the winds were twisting or straight.”

It’s for science and safety. Tornado winds are Nature’s most sudden and powerful. Saving lives and property demands accurate and timely warnings. That requires an understanding of when, where and why tornadoes occur. And scientific understanding demands precise, reliable data. 

(PHOTO: Tamara Ivan, in Ocean City, Md., Sept. 15, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes, Tornadoes
        

September 22, 2011

Heavy rain Friday; more showers through Tues.

We just can't seem to shake these clouds and persistent chances for rain. And rains could become heavy Friday and Friday night, with several inches possible before it's over. And showers remain in bthe forecast right through the weekend. The word "sunny" doesn't return to the forecast without AccuWeather.coman accompanying threat of showers until Wednesday.

The problem remains a stubborn low over the Ohio Valley that just doesn't want to move, and an associated cold front to our west. They're combining to draw warm, moist air north from the Gulf and the Atlantic. We get clouds and showers - isolated, scattered, all varieties - and the occasional thunderstorm.

Rain 90 pctThe wettest day will be Friday, with several inches on tap for the I-95 corridor if the forecasters are right. Rain chances at put at 90 percent during the day, and 80 percent Friday night. Forecast models differ on how much to expect. But forecasters today decided to issue a Flash Flood Watch for Friday from Carroll and Harford counties south to Prince George's and Arundel. 

By the weekend, the cold front will have stalled on the coast. Central Maryland will remain in the plume of moist air from the south, and shower risks remain in the 30 to 60 percent range under cloudy skies. "Partly sunny" appears in Sunday's forecast, and again on Tuesday, both with a chance for showers. 

Had enough yet?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:36 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Autumn arrives at 5:06 a.m. tomorrow

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

If it feels ominously dark and autumnal this week, it should. Today is the last full day of Druids gather for equinoxsummer. At 5:06 a.m. EDT tomorrow the sun will appear to cross the plane of the Earth’s equator, marking what many regard as the start of autumn.

That hasn’t always been true. Celtic societies saw the equinox as the height of autumn. The season would end at Samhain, with the “cross-quarter” day on Oct. 31, when ghosts wandered by night, and the cold and deprivation of winter began.

(PHOTO: Druids gather in London for the autumn equinox. Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images, 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:04 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

September 21, 2011

Summer ends, and the alarm rings in the dark

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:Alarm clock

As we get nearer to the autumnal equinox on Friday, our family is really starting to notice how much darker it is when the alarm goes off in the morning.

By the end of next week, the sun won’t rise for Baltimore until 7 a.m. EDT, almost an hour and a quarter later than at the solstice in June. And sunset comes 90 minutes earlier, around 7 p.m.

The daylight now grows shorter by about three minutes a day; we’ve already lost nearly two hours and 45 minutes since June.

(SUN PHOTO: Barbara Haddock Taylor, 1994)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:06 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

September 20, 2011

Rain persists, could be heavy by week's end

Light rains today are expected to taper off this afternoon, with a "dry" night expected Tuesday into Wednesday. But we're still in for a pretty wet week, with the possibility of some substantial rainfall by Thursday and Friday.

Who needs this, right?

Forecasters say we're stuck in a pattern of slow-moving weather systems, with rain along and AccuWeather.comahead of a cold front loitering to our west, and a stubborn high to our east that's preventing much movement of these systems through the mid-Atlantic region - a kind of meteorological constiptaion.

The result will be a rainy week as warm, moist tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic is drawn north ahead of the front. Forecasters are projecting that our rain chances will increase from 40 percent on Wednesday to 70 percent by Friday. Some thunderstorms are possible by Thursday, they say, but the cloud cover will stay pretty thick, reducing the chances for sunshine to provide the heat needed to fire them up.

Forecasters seem more concerned that the cold front to our west, once it finally gets moving through our region, will set off heavier rains: "Increasing the concern for the potential of heavy rainfall across portions of the [forecast area] Thursday and Friday." 

AccuWeather.com blogger Elliot Abrams is showing one model that sports a prediction of 2 to 5 inches of rain across Maryland before these systems clear out. But disagreement among the forecast models leaves some uncertainty there, too.

There's also more uncertainty now about the weekend. Although the forecast looked good yesterday, there is now a 30 percent chance for rain posted for Baltimore on Saturday. The problem is the cold front, which is expected to stall this weekend somewhere on the eastern seaboard on its way out of the region. Just where it settles will determine who gets more rain and who will finally see some sunshine.

I vote for sunshine.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:06 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Next storm now organizing in the Atlantic

A big tropical low is getting better organized in the central Atlantic Ocean, and forecasters are giving it a 70 percent chance of becoming the next named storm of the 2011 Atlantic season, sometime in the next 48 hours.

NOAA/NHCThe storm is already kicking up thunderstorms and looks pretty healthy from orbit. Forecasters say conditions in the region are favorable for continued development. If it does reach tropical storm strength, it would become Tropical Storm Ophelia, the 14th named storm of the season.

The count is now approaching the lower end of pre-season forecasts for the number of named storms this season, which ranged from 13 to 16. But hurricane counts remain low. Only three storms have made it to hurricane strength - Irene, Katia and Maria. The major forecasters have predicted at least 6 to 9 hurricanes this season. 

Only two of this year's hurricanes reached "major" Cat. 3 strength or higher. Irene was a Cat. 3 storm at sea, but weakened to Cat. 1 at landfall in North Carolina.  Katia was a Cat. 4 at sea, but never made landfall until it reached the United Kingdom. Maria was a tropical storm for most of its life, reaching Cat. 1 strength over the open Atlantic, with no U.S. landfall.

Forecasters had predicted at least 3 to 5 of this year's storms would reach Cat. 3 or higher.

The season ends officially on Nov. 30.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

NASA satellite in fiery plunge this week

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

UARS/NASANASA’s defunct UARS satellite is expected to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere in a fiery, uncontrolled plunge sometime in the next few days.

UARS was launched in 1991 from the shuttle Discovery. Designed to study the upper atmosphere for three years, the bus-sized spacecraft was finally decommissioned in 2005.

It orbits between 57 degrees north and south latitudes, and will fall somewhere within that range. The pass nearest to Baltimore was over N.J., at 5:29 a.m. today.

(NASA PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:09 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

September 19, 2011

Rain risks grow this week; weekend looks sunny

Just in case you haven't had enough rain yet this month, forecasters have ginned up a pattern of increasing rain chances this week, with a "plume" of moist air headed our way out of the Gulf of Mexico. But they seem to have spared the weekend, which looks sunny, in the 70s.

For the moment, we are enjoying a high pressure system that is responsible for Monday's sunshine. But close behind it to the west there's a cold front approaching the Appalachians. It's currently draped from the parent low over the central Great Lakes, south and west to the Texas Gulf Coast.

By tonight, the high will be moving out over the western Atlantic, making room for the front to move in behind it, with its associated showers and thunderstorms.

The chances for showers and storms grow from 40 percent after 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, to 50 and 60 percent by Thursday.

The problem is this: The high we're enjoying today will move off the coast as a Bermuda High and hold there, blocking the cold front from doing its thing here, and moving on. Instead, it's expected to stall here, drawing moisture north from the Gulf and the Atlantic. As the front intensifies, we get more rain. Four days of drippy showers and storms.

At that point, Thursday night into Friday, the front will move on again, passing by sometime early Friday. And with that, rain will taper off and skies will clear for the weekend.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:54 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Eleven human West Nile cases in Md. so far

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Mosquito bitesMaryland’s count of human cases of West Nile fever has climbed to 11. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says six cases were diagnosed in Capital Region residents, the other five in Central Marylanders. There have been no deaths.

Two cases have been identified so far this month. There were seven in August and two in July. No Maryland horses have been sickened. Ten of 13 infected mosquito pools, and all three birds tested were from Montgomery County.

(PHOTO: Michael Raupp, University of Maryland) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

September 18, 2011

Isabel struck eight years ago today

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Isabel 2003Today marks the eighth anniversary of Isabel’s 2003 landfall near Morehead City, N.C. It was a Cat. 2 hurricane at landfall, and weakened as it drove inland toward Western Maryland.

The 2.13 inches of rain on the 18th set a new daily record for BWI. But it was wind on the storm’s east side that drove a destructive, 8.5-foot storm surge into the Upper Chesapeake, breaking records set during the Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane in 1933, and flooding Baltimore and Arundel shorelines.

(SUN PHOTO: Riviera Beach. David Hobby, 2003)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: History, Hurricanes
        

September 17, 2011

Do the worst hurricanes bear female names?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Hurricane Katrina deadKatrina, Hazel, Camille … all terrible hurricanes, and all female names. Someone asked me whether most of the worst storms had female names.

It’s not a fair question, really, since ALL hurricanes bore female names from 1954 to 1978.

But of the top 10 costliest hurricanes since then, four have had male names (Ike, Andrew, Ivan, Charley). Of the top 52 deadliest, only 18 were named. Of the seven since 1978, four had male names (Floyd, Alberto, Andrew and Ivan).  For more on the deadliest and costliest hurricanes, click here.

(PHOTO: A Katrina casualty, one of 1,200 dead. Barbara Davidson, Dallas Morning News/Getty Images, 2005)

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

September 16, 2011

Sunny here, rainy at the beaches this weekend

This may be the weekend for folks down at the beaches to come to Baltimore and Central Maryland for a little getaway.

AccuWeather.comForecasters are calling for a cool, but sunny weekend on the Western Shore. Highs will hold in the 60s, with partly to mostly sunny skies. That's thanks to the big, Canadian high-pressure system that rolled in behind yesterday's cold front.

But down at the beaches , in addition to a very noisy Bike (read "Motorcycle") Week in Ocean City, forecasters are looking for clouds and rain as low pressure develops off the Carolina coast.

Counter-clockwise winds around that low will bring the resorts 20 to 40 percent rain chances and a chilly onshore wind of 10, building to 25 mph.

Speaking of cool September weather, the low of 45 degrees at BWI overnight tied with Sept. 16, 2001 as the third-lowest reading on record for the date, going all the way back to 1872, according to the National Weather Service. The lowest was 41 degrees, registered on the same date in 1873.

 

 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:10 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Like "Tatooine," new planet has two suns

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Tatooine, from Star WarsAstronomer Alan Boss, of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, is reporting the discovery of a Saturn-sized planet orbiting a dual-star system. The discovery recalls images of fictional Tatooine, the sun-baked desert planet that was home to Luke Skywalker and Jabba the Hut in the “Star Wars” movie series. Tatooine was depicted with two suns in a hazy sky. Boss and his team detected the real planet with the orbiting Kepler observatory by monitoring eclipses of the two stars and their planet.

(PHOTO: Tatooine, from "Star Wars: A New Hope")

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:08 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

September 15, 2011

"Funnel cloud" causes minor damage at OC

Ocean City officials are reporting only minor damage and no injuries after a windstorm described as a "funnel cloud" swept across the island near 75th street Thursday afternoon.

"There was some damage, but nothing widespread," said Donna Abbott, the spokeswoman for the OC tornadotown. "There is a building here and there with roof damage or some siding damage ... Building inspectors are double-checking some building sin the area."

The most significant damage appeared to be to the roof of a three-story condo building at 75th Steet and the ocean front. The damage is over the elevator shaft, which had to be shut down, limiting access to the top two floors.

"Building inspectors require egress from two areas on a floor," Abbott said. So 11 people on those floors had to be relocated to other units. Repairs are expected to be finished Friday.

"Everything else around town is fine. We're very lucky," Abbott said.

The National Weather Service office in Wakefield, Va. received reports of a "funnel cloud" or aWaterspout off OC Maryland waterspout at mid-afternoon in Ocean City. "We are unable to confirm any tornado damage," said meteorologist Mike Montefusco. "We're going to have to go up and look at it." Or, they could check out this video from Matt Buerhaus.

UPDATE, SEPT. 19: The National Weather Service has confirmed that this was an EF-0 tornado, with top winds of 60 to 70 mph.  The path on the surface was 40 yards wide and half a mile long, causing "minor damage" but no injuries. Earlier post resumes below:

Forecasters received reports wind damage to "awnings and marquees" at 75th Street on the ocean front, and elsewhere between 65th and 90th streets.

"We had some ... sightings of a water spout and funnel clouds," he said. But for now, "we're calling it thunderstorm wind damage."

The NWS has posted thunderstorm warnings for the offshore area southeast of Fenwick, Del. around 3:38 p.m. Meteorologist Dan Proch, also at Wakefield, said, "There was a cell that formed over the area very quickly and moved offshore very quickly also."

Were you there? Send us a comment and describe what you saw. Have a photo? Email it to me at frank.roylance@baltsun.com

UPDATE, Sept. 19: Diane Burton was there, staying at the Coral Seas, at 76th and the Bay. She sent me this account:

"Our condos suffered a lot of damage. On the rooftop pool deck, the glass panels were shattered as well as panels on other floors that left glass all over the ground. The underneath where the parking is had several pieces of siding thrown with insulation hanging out of it.

"My husband's heavy duty truck with a 6x12 trailer attached to it was lifted off the ground and moved. The sound was like a freight train when it passed and friends watched it go out to sea."

(PHOTOS: Top, Tamara Ivan, from 57th street; Bottom: Unknown photographer, via Ken Burkhammer)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:43 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Tornadoes
        

At last! A new, local phone number for weather

Baltimoreans! Do you miss the old Verizon weather line for checking the weather forecast? Do your Weather phonefingers still want to dial WE-6 1212 whenever the skies look threatening?

The number was disconnected in June, and since then we've been limited to Verizon's Washington line and the DC forecast, or the BGE/Fox45 number (410 MOB-WACK) and its ads. 

Well, you're in luck. The National Weather Service has found a way to hook up a phone line to its NOAA Weather Radio forecast for Baltimore.

And you can call it now, at 410 500-4450. It's a robot, but he sounds like a nice enough guy. And there are no ads.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:13 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Notes to readers
        

Clouds moving in with cold front, rain

Sure, the sun is shining out there this morning, and it's a pleasant 75 degrees or so. But it's not going to last long.

The National Weather Service radar and satellite data clearly show there's a front with much cooler air behind it, poised on Thursday morning just to our west. It comes out of the Ohio Valley with plenty of clouds. And as it moves across Central Maryland later today, there's a 50 percent chance it will announce itself with some showers and thunderstorms.

Forecasters are calling for less than a tenth of an inch of rain with the frontal passage, or more in BWI radarthunderstorms. The colder Canadian air behind it could arrive with gusty winds, and small hail. But it will clear off quickly, and then late-afternoon temperatures will begin to drop into the 50s.

Some locations at higher elevations to our west will fall into the upper 30s tonight. "[For t]he first time in several months the words 'patchy frost' have entered my mind," one NWS forecaster said in this morning's forecast discussion. He doesn't really think there will be frost, though. "Still a touch too warm for frost formation," he said.

But, as we've been saying for days, we are looking at some much cooler weather for the weekend, with highs only in the 60s. Next week looks sunny and warmer, with daytime highs at BWI climbing slowly back toward 80 degrees by mid-week.

Meanwhile, out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Maria, with top sustained winds at 65 mph, is passing immediately west of Bermuda. A Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning are posted for the island. Tropical storm winds and 1 to 3 inches of rain are forecast there. The storm could reach hurricane force briefly before weakening in the next few days, the National Hurricane Center said.

UPDATE, 11 a.m.: Maria now has top winds of 70 mph, just below hurricane force. It is now expected to become a hurricane later today. 

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: Maria is now a minimal hurricane, with top winds of 75 mph. It is only the third storm this season to reach hurricane strength. A Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning have been issued for southeastern Newfoundland as Maria accelerates to the north northeast at 36 mph.

There is a "moderate" rip current risk at the beaches. And the weekend at the shore looks problematic, with east winds, clouds and rain chances both days.

Here is the latest advisory on Maria. Here is the forecast discussion. Here is the forecast storm track.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Cold days in September

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Most of September still qualifies as summer, and record highs for Baltimore are all in the 90s or higher. But cold weather can and does intrude. Average lows sink to the low 50s by month’s end. And the record lows have reached the mid-30s. The records for Sept. 15 and 16 are among our oldest, at 40 and 41 degrees. Both were set in 1873. In 1983, we recorded lows of 40 and 39 degrees on the 23rd and 24th. Our coldest September day reached 35 degrees, on Sept. 25, 1963.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers, From the Sun's print edition
        

September 14, 2011

Summer's final weekend will top out in 60s

Lots of sunshine, highs in the mid- to upper-80s, and the threat of late-day thunderstorms ... Sure sounds like summer, doesn't it? Well, enjoy it while you can, because today may well be the last Mushroomstruly hot summer day of the year.

After the first of two cold fronts moves through with some showers and storms tonight, daytime temperatures Thursday will hold in the mid-70s. And after a second front rolls by with some storm chances late Thursday into Friday, the real Canadian air will arrive, and our highs will hold in the 60s until Monday. 

Next week looks beautiful, with sunny skies. But temperatures will hold in the 70s. And summer will officially end on Friday, the 23rd.

What we'll all probably notice most will be the chill in the air overnight later this week.

The National Weather Service is predicting lows early Friday morning in the 40s to the west of the I-95 corridor. Higher elevations in Western Maryland could record some lows in the 30s. Closer to the relatively warm Chesapeake Bay, we should hold in the 50s overnight, although the BWI forecast for Thursday night into Friday calls for a low of 48 degrees.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance. Still looking for an ID on these mushrooms. Anyone?  Can we saute them?)

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

A chill in the air

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

September weatherPassage of a cold front tonight will make it feel like autumn for a few days in Central Maryland. Forecast lows dip into the low 50s, but suburbs north and west of the urban centers will drop into the 40s for the first time since early May.

It could be worse. Minneapolis expects a record low of 35 Thursday morning. Chicago will drop to a near-record 38 degrees by Friday.

We won’t see that kind of cold, but we will clock in some heating degree days. Where’s the electric blanket?

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, Sept. 1997)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:08 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

September 13, 2011

Tropical Storm Maria will stay at sea

Hurricane forecasters are predicting that Tropical Storm Maria will turn to the north, then northeast while still well out to sea. The storm is expected to pass just west of Bermuda on Thursday.

TS MariaThis morning, the storm was located about 300 miles east of the southeastern Bahamas, moving to the north northwest at 6 mph. A Tropical Storm Watch was posted for Bermuda.

Puerto Rico was expecting  total rains of 4 to 8 inches from Maria, with isolated amounts of 15 to 20 inches at higher elevations. Life-threatening mudslides and flash floods were possible.   

The storm's top sustained winds were blowing at about 50 mph. Some modest strengthening is possible in the next day or two. But southwesterly shear has been limiting development. And now the southwesterly winds out ahead of the front moving off East Coast are expected to turn the storm and accelerate its movement to the north and northeast. It is likely to lose its tropical characteristics by the weekend.

In the meantime, at the Maryland beaches, the weather service is warning of a moderate risk of rip currents. Swimmers and surfers should continue to monitor advisories as the storm moves north this week.

Here is the latest advisory for Maria. Here is the forecast discussion. And here is the forecast storm track

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:19 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

A chilly end to the week ahead

We'll have a couple more days in the mid-80s this week. But by Thursday, after a frontal passage Wednesday evening into Thursday that could trigger some showers and storms, the season's first chilly Canadian cold front will bring Central Maryland a taste of autumn. High temperatures from Thursday right through the weekend will struggle to reach 70 degrees.

Air conditioners, at least, will be silenced. But a few of us may be tempted to awaken the heaters as overnight lows drop to the low 50s, and even into the 40s to the north and west of I-95. I see BWI rainfallwe already picked up the season's first two degree-days last Tuesday. The high that rainy day was 64; the low was 62, for an average of 63 degrees. That was 8 degrees below the norm. 

We'll have a bunch more before the week is out. Some parts of the country may see their first frost this week. But not us.

The average highs for Baltimore at this time of year have slipped into the upper 70s. The average lows are now in the 50s. So it really is time for us to have some days like those we'll see by week's end. At the same time, it's still possible for highs to reach the 90s.

Every date in September has a record high of 91 degrees or more. The record for the month isBWI precip 101 degrees, reached on Sept. 7, 1881. 

Finally, I need to acknowledge the beautiful Harvest Moon that rose over Baltimore last evening. Busy as we've been with earthquake, hurricane, Grand Prix and flooding, this one got past me.

The Harvest Moon is defined as the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The equinox this year occurs at 5:06 a.m. on Sept. 23. That's 11 days after the September full moon. The next full moon occurs on Oct. 11. That's 18 days after the equinox, so that one's the Hunter's Moon. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

September 12, 2011

Last week's rains defied the odds

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Just how unlikely were the heavy rains the region received last week from remnants of Tropical Storm Lee? NWS hydrologist Jason Elliott has done some calculations using data from the Integrated Flood Observing and Warning Systems. He found a rain rate of 4.57 inches in three hours at a Bowie gauge. That was a once-in-200-year rainfall. Near Ellicott City the rains ranked as a 50-to-100-year event. Fort Belvoir, Va. reported 7 inches in 3 hours, more than a once-in-1,000-years deluge.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:40 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

We've skipped El Nino; it's La Nina again

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

La Nina is back. The cooler-than normal sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific that influence weather around the world, have returned after a summer in “neutral” territory between cool La Nina and warm El Nino. It’s the same regime that brought us a comparatively easy winter in 2010-11 with a below-average 14 inches of snow. It’s also been blamed for the severe drought across the South, heavy snow and spring flooding to our north and west. And, it tends to mean more hurricane activity.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

September 11, 2011

Sept. 11, 2001, a perfect day for flying

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

ContrailsOf all the memories we have of Sept. 11, 2001, one of the most vivid for me is the weather on that day.

It was an achingly beautiful late-summer day, perfect for flying. Skies were clear and dry, with temperatures near 80 degrees.

I was on assignment in Philadelphia. Editors asked me to go to New York, but I had no car, northbound trains were canceled, and I could not find a rental.

So I came home by train, amazed by the deep blue skies, swept clear of jet contrails.

(PHOTO: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP 2002)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:07 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

September 10, 2011

Where's the missing tropical storm?

TD 10FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Don Dobrow, in Baltimore, wonders why Tropical Storm Maria was described as being the 14th storm of the season: “M is the 13th letter of the alphabet.”

It is. But what the National Hurricane Center is counting are “tropical depressions” — areas of heavy rain, with winds below 39 mph. Until they organize enough to push top winds to 39 mph, they aren’t officially “tropical storms,” and don’t get a name.

Tropical Depression 10 last month (map, left)never topped 35 mph before expiring on Aug. 27.

(IMAGE: National Hurricane Center)

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

September 9, 2011

Has river crested at Conowingo?

After the water level at the Conowingo Dam seemed to be leveling off, or coming down, the Exelon Energy Corp. said this afternoon they may have to open up to three more flood gates (from 41 to 44) tonight to deal with a surge of water coming down the Susquehanna.

That raises the issue of when the river will crest, or whether it already has. Here's how the river has been behaving at Conowingo since the flood began. What do you think?

Conowingo water levels

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Flooding
        

The week's rainfall, mapped by the NWS

Here's a pretty impressive rainfall map from the National Weather Service, showing estimated totals from Monday afternoon through 11 a.m. Friday. The Newburg area of southern Chalres County looks like the winner ... or loser... with more than 15 inches of rain. The estimates are derived from radar returns and ground measurements. The political boundaries are hard to see, but click the map and it will enlarge.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:54 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Flooding
        

Where have all the 90s gone?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Cooler weather has us wondering whether we’ll see any more 90-degree days this year. The count stands at 40. That’s a lot; the long-term average is about 29 days. But we stand well below last year’s record 59 days. At this point in our Hot-in-Baltimore Contest we have two readers in a tie for the prize: Mike Inlow, and LJ Kirk. Both guessed 40 days, but we’re not done yet. Last September, BWI- Marshall Airport recorded seven days in the 90s. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:54 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

September 8, 2011

Port Deposit ordered to evacuate

The mayor of Port Deposit, Md. has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the town starting at 8 p.m. Thursday as waters continue to rise on the Susquehanna.

"All residents of Main Street should prepare to evacuate," the order said. "A shelter has been established at Perryville High School on Perrylawn Avenue.  You are encouraaged to take an emergency kit with you.  Some suggested items are non-perishable food, water, a battery powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, a change of clothes, and medications."

The dam's owners, the Exelon Corp., said 32 of the dam's 53 flood gates were open at noon Thursday. "We are preparing to open up to 50 gates within the next 48 hours when the dam crests at about Saturday morning at 6 a.m.," said company spokesman Bob Judge.

It would be the first time since Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972 that Conowingo has opened 50 crest gates, he said.

The gates are likely to remain open "at least through Monday" as waters begin to fall, he said.

NOAA Conowingo

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:35 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Flooding
        

All those prayers for rain? Here's what you get

Here's a pretty cool rainfall estimation map, courtesy of Eric the Red. It shows the rain totals for the mid-Atlantic states from the date Hurricane Irene blew through in late August, through Thursday morning, Sept. 8, as derived from radar returns and surface measurements. You may now cease your summertime prayers for rain. Please.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:22 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Cool pictures
        

Somebody turn off the rain machine!

The epic rainfall that has hosed Central Maryland since Monday continued overnight. And it's not over yet.

Doppler radar rain estimateThe three-day total at BWI had reached 6.67 inches by midnight. We've had 5.74 inches here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. But some locations have seen even more than that in just the past 24 hours.

The map at left is AccuWeather.com's Doppler radar estimate of rain totals for the 24 hours ending at 6 a.m. Thursday. No scale was provided, but you get the idea. 

Somehow, it was not a record. BWI reported 3.40 inches of rain Wednesday. The Baltimore record for a Sept. 7 is 3.84 inches, set in 1934.

Many roads are closed this morning by high water or fallen trees. The WeatherDeck, and the four developments around us, were an island last night, blocked by high water from all directions. I - and perhaps 100 of my neighbors - didn't get home to our families and pets until the waters receded at 10 p.m. And I'm told by police that at least one of the exits is blocked again this morning by a fallen tree.

And forecasters say the relatively narrow plume of tropical moisture being channeled our way from Florida by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee is still aimed right for us. (That's Hurricane Katia swirling off the coast.)

Here are some 24-hour rain totals reported this morning by the CoCoRaHS Network:

Waldorf, Charles County:  8.71 inches

Catonsville, Baltimore County:  7.87 inches

Ellicott City, Howard: 8.49 inches

Crofton, Anne Arundel:  7.00 inches

Elkridge, Howard:  6.78 inches

Severn, Arundel:  4.12 inches

Towson, Baltimore County:  3.74 inches

Mt. Airy, Carroll: 2.08 inches

Here's another tally from the National Weather Service, showing an unofficial Parkville station with a storm total of 9.42 inches.

The rain totals map above shows the heaviest amounts smack on top of the Susquehanna River watershed, so we can expect to see historic flooding in Harrisburg, and serious worries for communities as far downstream at Port Deposit in Maryland. Here's some of the thinking from AccuWeather.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:52 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Flooding
        

What does a "60 percent chance of rain" mean?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Heavy rain BaltimoreJohn Mitsak, in Baltimore, looks at a weather forecast predicting “a 60 percent chance of rain,” and writes: “I don’t know how to evaluate the 60% chance of rain. Maybe you can shed some light.” I’ll try. The percentages state how frequently in the past, under the same circumstances, it has rained anywhere in the forecast area . Chances from 60 to 70 percent may also be expressed as “likely.” Above 80 percent and rain is “categorical.” Forecasters would say, “Rain this afternoon.”

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, Sept. 7, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:05 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

September 7, 2011

More flood gates opening at Conowingo

Rising water on the Susquehanna River is forcing the owners of the Conowingo hydroelectric dam to open more floodgates, raising the risks of flooding downstream in the town of Port Deposit. Twelve gates were reported to be open Wednesday morning.

Conowingo in floodExelon spokesman Bob Judge said the company is considering opening between 18-20 gates between now and Friday, based on the high level crest predictions.

The spill hotline, at 1-877-457-2525, said as many as 30 gates could be opened during this event.

At 14 gates, Rte. 222 into Port Deposit would be closed between the town and the dam because of spot flooding. At 18 gates, residents on west and north sides of Main Street will experience flooding in basements. At 21 gates, back yards will flood and at 25 gates residents face decisions on whether move out under an optional evacuation.

Judge said Exelon has notified the town. The river is forecast to crest around 6 a.m. Friday. 

(SUN PHOTO: Conowingo flood gates open in September 2004 during runoff from Tropical Storm Ivan. Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:38 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Flooding
        

5"-6" of rain coming; "Turn Around, Don't Drown!"

UPDATE, 1:20 P.M.: The weather service has issued a Flash FLood Emergency UNTIL 2:30 P.M. for Baltimore's western and southern suburbs:

"THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION! RAINFALL OF TWO TO FIVE INCHES HAS FALLEN IN
THE LAST THREE HOURS. HEAVY RAIN WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE INTO THIS
AREA AND ANOTHER ONE TO TWO INCHES OF RAIN IS LIKELY...WITH ISOLATED
HIGHER AMOUNTS.

"LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO WOODLAWN...
REISTERSTOWN...RANDALLSTOWN...PIKESVILLE...OWINGS MILLS...OAKLAND...
MILFORD MILL...MANCHESTER...LOCHEARN...HAMPSTEAD...GAMBER...ELLICOTT
CITY...ELKRIDGE...ELDERSBURG...COLUMBIA AND CATONSVILLE"

TADDForecasters at the National Weather Service office in Sterling are warning of extraordinary rainfall in the region Wednesday afternoon, and urging residents of Central Maryland NOT to try to drive through flooded streets.

"Due to the large string of heavy rain that extends to the south, this will likely be a big story this afternoon and into the evening," said Christopher Strong, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at Sterling.

"Some of this rain is expected to fall at 2 inches per hour rates, and some of our area may see up to 5 or 6 inches of rain this afternoon," Strong said. "I would expect in the DC Metro and western Baltimore metro that there will be many water rescues and flooded roads."

"Please encourage people to 'Turn Around/Don't Drown" for flooded roads, and to have kids stay away from flooding culverts (there have been several deaths over the years from this)."

UPDATE:  The State Highway Administration is warning of a difficult commute due to high water on roads and heavy rain. Plan accordingly.

Rain over SE Baltimore HarborMeanwhile, Ellicott City is being hit hard. Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services are responding to several calls of flooding and motorists stranded, a spokesperson said. Areas of concern are Main Street in Ellicott City and Frederick Road at the Rogers Avenue intersection. See a YouTube video of the flooding here.

The Baltimore City Fire Department is also busy dealing with flooding issues. BCFD units are on the scene in the 3400 block of Spellman Road in Cherry Hill assisting residents from their homes due to flooding, a spokesman said.

Are you out in this stuff? Tell us what you're seeing. Email photos if you can take them safely. 

(PHOTO: Thanks to Andy Blumberg. Looking southeast from the Legg Mason Tower)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:01 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Notes to readers
        

More action in the tropics

As if we didn'ty have enough to contend with after Irene, and with more rain and flooding from what remains of Lee, the tropical Atlantic continues to gin up more storms.

Hurricane Katia continues to spin its way across the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Maria formed east of NHC/NOAAthe Antilles just this (Wednesday) morning, and another tropical wave seems likely to become a problem in the Gulf of Mexico (or possibly a desperately-needed rain-maker for Texas).

Katia was reported about 320 miles southwest of Bermuda, with top sustained winds of 85 mph. It was moving to the northwest at 10 mph. Hurricane forecastyers said they expected the storm would curve to the north and later tothe north-northeast by late Thursday. That would take Katia between the Carolina coast and Bermuda by Thiursday without a landfall at either place.

It is already affecting the beaches, however, with dangerous surf and riptides. High Riptide Risk notices are posted from Duck, N.C. to the Maryland/Delaware border. Waves are forecast to reach 4 to 6 feet today.

Here is the latest advisory for Katia. Here is the forecast discussion. Here is the forecast stormNHC/NOAA track.

Tropical Storm Maria formed this morning about 1,300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It was packing sustained winds of 50 mph, moving to the west at a brisk 23 mph. Forecasters said some stregnthening is expected in the next two days. The forecast storm track looks much like Irene's for the moment.

Here is the latest advisory on Maria. Here is the forecast discussion. And here is the forecast storm track.

Finally, forecasters are watching the next potential tropical storm, now located in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. It is given a 60 percent chance of reaching tropical storm strength in the next 48 hours, and earning the name Nate. It's close enough to the Texas coast to raise hopes that it might throw some badly needed rain toward the Lone Star State, which is suffering through an historic drought and terrible wildfires.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

A month's rain in a week

The slow-moving remnants of Tropical Storm Lee continued to unload on Maryland Wednesday morning, pushing rivers ands creeks toward flood stage, inundating many roadways and slowing the morning commute to a crawl.

Barely a week into the new month and already the airport has seen nearly a full 30 day's worth of rain.

With Lee's remains stalled to our south and west, Maryland is on the receiving end of wet, tropical air flows from the Gulf and the Atlantic. Forecasters said Central Maryland can expect rain to continue in showers and thunderstorms through Monday, with probabilities declining slowly from 100 percent today and tonight, to 30 percent by Monday.

Adding to our misery, Hurricane Katia, while still more than 450 miles east of Delmarva and not expected to make landfall here, is still funneling dangerous swells onto the coast and moist tropical air to help fuel the rain forecast here for the weekend.

On top of the rain today, forecasters say there is risk of damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes Wednesday afternoon along the I-95 corridor.

The past 24 hours have seen more than 3.3 inches of rain in White Marsh, with more than 2 Heavy rain slows commuteinches in places as widespread as Leonardtown in St. Mary's County, Elkton in Cecil, Williamsport in Washington County, and St. Michaels in Talbot. All these data are from the CoCoRaHS Network.

BWI-Marshall Airport is reporting 3.27 inches from Monday morning through midnight last night, 3.43 inches in all, with more to come through Monday. The average for September is 4.03 inches, Baltimore's rainiest month.

A Flash Flood Warning was posted for Baltimore  City and Central Baltimore county through 12:45 p.m. Wednesday as heavy rain bands crossed the region, dropping a quick inch of rain.

Flash Flood Watches have been in effect for days, and will remain in effect at least through Wednesday evening. Forecasters said heavy showers and scattered thunderstorms stoked by the remnants of Lee are capable of adding 2 to 3 inches to the rain totals today. Some locations could see 5 inches. Forecasters said:

"VERY HEAVY RAIN MAY CAUSE RAPID RISES IN CREEKS AND STREAMS, AS WELL AS SIGNIFICANT PONDING IN URBAN AREAS. DO NOT DFRIVE THROUGH ROADWAYS COVERED WITH WATER."

"THE THREAT OF HEAVY RAIN WILL PERSIST THROUGH AT LEAST THURSDAY, WITH A CONTINUED RISK OF FLASH FLOODING."

Rivers and creeks are rising quickly. The U.S. Geological Survey is forecasting that the Potomac AccuWeather.comRiver at Point of Rocks, Md., which stood at 1.2 feet Wednesday morning, will crest Friday at 31 feet. Flood stage is at 16 feet.

The Susquehanna, at 3.6 feet this morning, is forecast to crest Friday at 23 feet. Flood stage is 17 feet. And the Juniata River, in south-central Pennsylvania, stood at 3.7 feet Wednesday morning. It was forecast to rise to 27 feet by Friday, five feet above flood stage.

The National Park Service declared a "Flood Emergency" Tuesday morning along the C&O Canal National Historic Park, describing what's coming as "what could be one of the top ten major floods in our area."

Areas of the park were being closed, including campgrounds, boat ramps, visitor centers and day use areas. Portable toilets were being emptied and closed on Tuesday. 

"Visitors are being asked to refrain from entering the park and respect all safety barriers. There is a risk of being swept away by swift water or becoming stranded along the towpath  as the waters rise," the park service advised. "The rising water will be carrying extremely hazardous debris, trees and man-made objects."

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance. Main Street Ellicott aCity video from dreed876, courtesy of Sarah Angerer)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:20 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: By the numbers, Flooding
        

Celestial wonders in Dundalk

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Dundalk ObservatoryThe autumn stargazing calendar for the Dundalk Observatory is out. The facility is run by the Community College of Baltimore County’s School of Mathematics and Science, 7200 Sollers Point Road. They have a big, 14-inch Celestron 1400 XLT telescope. Planets, nebulae, comets … all sorts of wonders can be seen from Dundalk. The six free observing nights this fall begin at 8 p.m., Sept. 16. Call 410 282-3092 no earlier than 7:15 p.m. to see if weather has canceled the event.

(PHOTO: CCBC)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:05 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

September 6, 2011

How hot was August at BWI? Not very

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Impress your friends with August trivia from the NWS: We may remember August 2011 as hot. But after six of the first 10 days topped 90 at BWI, the next 21 days didn’t, the longest stretch of sub-90 summer weather since 2009. No daily temperature records fell, the first month that’s happened since January 2010. It was the wettest month (10.91 inches) so far this century. The wettest before that was September 1999, when remnants of Hurricane Floyd helped boost the total to 11.5 inches. 

 

 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

September 5, 2011

Who picks these storm names, anyway?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Hurricane KatiaJeffrey Brauner, in Baltimore, asks: “Who chooses new hurricane names … and why are there some that are rather irregular forms? Why Gert instead of Gertrude, Katia instead of Kate or Katie?” When names of the most deadly or costly storms are retired, an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization chooses new ones. They favor names drawn from all the region's cultures, that are also short, distinctive and easily communicated in various languages.

(NASA PHOTO: Hurricane Katia seen from the International Space Station)

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

September 4, 2011

Summer was eighth-hottest on record here

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Hot summerOur long, hot (meteorological) summer is over. It was the hottest since, well, last summer. Temperatures at BWI averaged 77.8.0 degrees. That’s well short of last year’s sizzling record of 79.3 degrees, but the eighth-hottest since 1871.

We saw a high of 106 degrees on July 22, and a low of 50 on June 3 and 4. Cooling degree-days ran 30 percent above the long-term summer average. The drought was erased by Irene. The summer delivered 16.66 inches of rain, 6 inches above the norm. 

(PHOTO: Rob Carr, Getty Images)

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

September 3, 2011

Be careful with that fallen ash tree

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Ash treesStill cleaning up downed trees? Are any of them ash trees? The Maryland Emergency Management Agency reminds property owners that the Maryland emerald ash borer quarantine prohibits the transport of ash wood, or mixed wood of unknown species, to the Eastern Shore, over the Susquehanna River or out of state. It can be moved among the quarantined counties. The ash borer, an invasive pest from Asia, is fatal to ash trees. Call 410 841-5920 with questions. 

The quarantined jurisdictions are Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s and Washington counties, and Baltimore City.

(SUN PHOTO: Jen Rynda)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

September 2, 2011

Rain risk fades for Grand Prix on Saturday

The chances for rain on the Baltimore Grand Prix on Saturday have disappeared. The National Weather Service has dropped the 30 percent rain chances that were in the forecast this morning. Now, they're calling for partly sunny skies and a high of 85 degrees Saturday.

The 30 percent rain risk remains for Sunday, however, mostly after 2 p.m., as a trough of low pressure comes to dominate ahead of an approaching cold front. It will be hot and humid, with highs near 90. And Monday looks like a wet one, cloudy and cooler (80), with 60 percent chances for thunderstorms Monday and Monday night.

Chances for showers and storms continue for the rest of next week at 30 to 40 percent as the stalled cold front drags tropical moisture north with the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. Forecasters said:

"THE WARM MOIST TROPICAL AIR MAY OVERRIDE COOLER AIR IN PLACE
CAUSING A PROLONGED PERIOD OF PRECIPITATION DURING THIS TIME.
HOWEVER...THERE IS STILL A GOOD DEAL OF UNCERTAINTY IN THE EXACT
TRACK OF
TROPICAL STORM LEE. WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR OVER THE
NEXT SEVERAL DAYS."

 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Big, wet Gulf storm unlucky for all

Tropical Depression 13 continues to linger off the northern Gulf Coast Friday, with modest winds but formidible rains for the region, and for wherever the storm decides to go next week.

Forecaster expect TD13 to reach tropical storm strength later today, becoming Tropical Storm Lee. Tropical Depression 13For now, it is centered roughly 210 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving north at 1 mph. Actually, forecasters can't be certain precisely where the storm is centered, where it's headed or how fast it's moving. That's because its center is hard to find, and its movement is both slight and erratic.

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: TD13 is now Tropical Storm Lee, with top sustained winds of 40 mph. Forecasters have not ruled out the possibility that Lee will reach hurricane strength. Earlier post resumes below.

The offshore oil rigs are reporting tropical storm winds  north and east of the storm's center, forecasters said. And rain bands are now soaking coastal Louisiana.

What they do know is that it is packing a lot of rain, and is likely to strengthen. There is a Tropical Storm Warning in effect from Pascagoula, Miss. west to Sabine Pass, Texas, including the low-lying city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. And the warnings predict 10 to 15 inches of rain, with the potential for as much as 20 inches through Sunday before this dawdling rain maker finally leaves.

UPDATE, 12:30 p.m.: Just got off a teleconference call with Bill Read, director of the National Hurricane Center. There was some discussion of whether the New Orleans-area pumps will be able to keep up with the heavy rains that are forecast with this storm. We may be seeing footage of water rising in the streets in that city before TD13 is through.

What really caught my attention were his comments on what happens down the road, when the tropical rains move north and east: "When the storm moves out," he said, "it will bring heavy rain northward into the Appalachians." He pointed to scenes we've seen this week out of Vermont, and said they may be repeated in the Southern Appalachians. "Unfortunately ... that's the kind of terrain where flash flooding is fast and it's violent. The exact timing and locations [of such events] are yet to be seen."

At least TD13 (or Lee) will be "gone before Katia's even in the picture," he said.  

The forecast models are still a mess. But the consensus seems to be that TD13 will approach the coast of southern Louisiana this weekend, then turn gradually toward the northeast.

NWS forecasters in Sterling, Va. are anticipating that "a plume of tropical moisture from what should be named Lee will stream across the mid-Atlantic from the middle of next week into the weekend. This, along with an onshore flow, could create a significant rainfall event for the region."

Meanwhile, out on the high seas, Hurricane Katia has been demoted to a tropical storm.

UPDATE, 11:00 a.m.: Katia has regained minimal hurricane strength, with top sustained winds of 75 mph. 

Wind shear from the south is putting hobbles on the storm's ability to strengthen. But after a few more days that problem is expected to abate, and Katia is likely to restrengthen, forecasters said.

The other issue is Katia's course. Forecasters say the storm is rounding the southwestern rim of a large high-pressure ridge over the mid-Atlantic. That is expected to allow her to curve more to the northwest for a time.

But the consensus seems to be that the ridge will restrengthen farther to the west, turning Katia back to the west-northwest. That means the storm will get back to a course that brings it closer to the U.S. East Coast before turning north.

Then the issue becomes, "How close?"

Here are some of the forecast model tracks for Katia. Here is the latest advisory. Here is the forecast discussion. And here are the NHC forecast track maps.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Monday looking wetter thanks to Gulf storm

Baltimore Grand Prix fans may see some showers or thunderstorms on Saturday or Sunday. But forecasters have become even more certain that Labor Day Monday will bring significant rain to the region as a low-pressure system begins to draw tropical moisture this way from the Gulf.

Baltimore Grand Prix racing events should will be completed by Sunday. But Monday is scheduled as a make-up day if Saturday or Sunday events are postponed by weather or some other issue. 

The wet weather on Monday will include moisture from what hurricane forecasters expect will become Tropical Storm Lee later on Friday. The slow-moving storm is loitering in the northern Gulf of Grand Prix St. PetersburgMexico, and is forecast to dump as much as 20 inches of rain on portions of the northern Gulf Coast. More on that in the next post.

The National Weather Service's regional forecast office in Sterling, Va. says there's a 30 percent chance for rain at BWI-Marshall Airport on Saturday, with showers and thunderstorms most likely to appear after 2 p.m., just as the main events at the Grand Prix are getting underway. Forecasters expect less than a tenth of an inch of rain, unless you happen to be under a thunderstorm.

Rain chances on Sunday are the same - 30 percent - and so are the expected accumulations and the timing. On Sunday night and Monday, however, the predicted rain chances jump to 60 percent, with "thunderstorms likely."

Later in the week, forecasters expect the region will begin to feel the direct effects of whatever is left of that Gulf Storm:

"Long range models suggest a plume of tropical moisture from what should be named Lee will stream across the mid-Atlantic from the middle of next week into next weekend. This, along with an offshore flow, could create a significant rainfall event for the region, particularly for east-facing ridges, such as the Blue Ridge."

(PHOTO: Mike Ehrman, Getty Images, March 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Forecasts
        

Irene never made landfall in Maryland

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Irene at the coastThe National Hurricane Center says Irene never made landfall in Maryland. “Landfall” occurs when the storm’s center crosses the coastline. Irene had three in the U.S.– in North Carolina, New Jersey and New York. But its center passed 10 miles off Ocean City’s beaches.

NHC’s Dennis Feltgen says only two hurricanes have made landfall here since 1851 – a Cat. 2 storm in 1878, and a Cat. 1 in 1893. But others, including Hazel in 1954, have arrived by land with hurricane winds.

 

(NASA PHOTO: Irene at the North Carolina coast)

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

September 1, 2011

Plenty of uncertainty about Katia, Gulf storm

There's plenty of activity in the tropics this morning, but also plenty of uncertainty about where these two storms might pose a threat.

The most immediate concern is with the thunderstorms and gusty winds in the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are giving it a "high chance" - 70 percent - of becoming a tropical storm (Lee) during the next 48 hours. They say conditions in the region are forecast to become more favorable for development in a few days.

UPDATE, 2:15 p.m.: The hurricane center has boosted the storm's chances of becoming Tropical Storm Lee in the next 48 hours Lee to 80 percent.

Meteorologists at AccuWeather.com say there's plenty to worry about:

"[T]his will be an extensive, slow-moving system, capable of affecting the same areas for days with downpours, stormy seas and rough surf conditions. Rough seas alone have potential to shut down [oil] rigs in the Gulf for an extended period.

"From 10 to 20 inches of rain may fall on part of the north-central Gulf Coast beginning late this week and continuing into next week, and could in itself result in disastrous flooding."

For now, this would-be Lee is drifting slowly to the northwest. But the forecast models are still having trouble dealing with the light steering winds in the Gulf. Their forecast tracks make no sense at all.

Meanwhile, far out in the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Katia graduated to hurricane overnight. The Cat. 1 storm is sporting top sustained windsof 75 mph. It was located 1,065 miles east of the Leeward Islands, moving to the west at 20 mph. 

Forecasters expect a slow turn more to the west-northwest and some slowing in the next few days. Some additional strengthening is forecast, too, and some models predict Katia will reach Cat. 3 (sustained winds of 111 mph) by the weekend.

The track models look much more together than those for the Gulf Storm. Most continue to take Katia generally to the west-northwest, in a line that, if unchanged, would bring the storm to the southeastern U.S. coast late next week.

But forecasters, and some models, put a curve in Katia's path as it encounters the cold front coming off the eastern U.S. They would curve the track to the northwest, north and later to the northeast before Katia gets close to the coast.  That could put Bermuda in harm's way.

The bottom line on Katia is that it's too soon to tell whether she will become a threat here, or merely good news for surfers.

Here's the latest advisory on Katia. Here's the forecast discussion. And here's the forecast track.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Rain chances for Grand Prix at 30 to 40 percent

It's still looking like race fans will see showers or thunderstorms sometime during the three-day Baltimore Grand Prix "Festival of Speed" this weekend.

Grand Prix wet trackThe National Weather Service at Sterling, Va., says an approaching cold front will bring clouds and the threat of rain beginning sometime after 2 p.m. Saturday. It doesn't sound like a gusher of rain - unless a thunderstorm passes right over downtown Baltimore.

But a wet track and wet grandstands could make it an interesting weekend for drivers and fans. The chances are set at 30 percent on Saturday, rising to 40 percent on Sunday and Monday. Don't let the clouds fool you into skipping the sun block.

Once the cold front gets by us on Monday, Central Maryland will be seeing some cooler weather. Lows by Tuesday are forecast to hold in the 70s for only the fifth time since June 1. Same for Wednesday.  

Starting to feel like autumn is just around the corner. But late summer is a beautiful time of year in Maryland. Enjoy it. 

(PHOTO: Grand Prix South Korea 2010. Peter Parks, AFP/Getty Images)

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

August was fifth-wettest for Baltimore

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Rain in MarylandOur very soggy August is finally over. Rainfall at BWI-Marshall Airport totaled 10.38 inches. That’s more than 7 inches above (and three times) the 30-year average of 3.29 inches. A big slice of the rain came from Hurricane Irene, of course – 4.69 inches.

It was the wettest Baltimore August in 40 years, and the 5th-wettest on record. But get this: Four of the five wettest Augusts occurred in years ending in odd double digits: 2011, 1955, 1933 and 1911. (The 4th-wettest was 1971.) Weird.

(SUN PHOTO: Todd Spoth, Patuxent Publishing)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers, From the Sun's print edition
        
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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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