Laura Kirk cops second weather contest prize
So who is this Laura Kirk person, really? For the second time this year, Ms. Kirk has copped a major award from The Sun, correctly guessing that BWI would record 40 days of 90-degree-plus weather this past summer.
Last December, the Owings Mills technical writer also correctly guessed that Baltimore would record 14 inches of snow during the Winter of 2010-2011. The actual amount was 14.4 inches, making her the closest without going over. Laura collected a fabulous prize, but I forget what it was.
"I'd like to assure your gentle readers that you and I are not related, have never met, and aren't even 'Facebook' friends," she said. "My new hobby is Weather Divinator. I may take it on the road. Who knows?"
She will share her Hot-in-Baltimore Contest prize with Mike Inlow, of Baltimore, who also predicted 40 days of 90-degree heat in 2011.
"My guess of 40 days was just that - a guess," Mike reports. "No science involved in any way, shape or form."
Laura and Mike were among 24 contestants who submitted their guesses last spring. The prizes will be in the mail shortly.
In the average summer, Baltimore sees just over 29 days of 90-plus heat. The record, set in 2010, is 59 days. The 2011 entries ranged from 15 days to 56 days. Contestants generally guessed high - not surprising after last year's record. The average of the guesses works out to 35.5 days, with a median of 39 days. That puts our two winners pretty much in the middle of the pack with their entries.
Laura explained her "technique for winning" this way: "Years of study of the sciences (10%); divination (30%), and sheer dumb luck (60%). I like to start my guess based on the average, factor in the way the weather has been over the past few months, then factor in any recent changes in weather patterns. I glean hard information (the 'science') mostly from your blog posts and articles."
Mike's reasoning went like this: "Last year (2010) we set two records - amount of snowfall (2009-2010 season) and number of days at or above 90 degrees. I was not surprised we had less snowfall this year (2010-2011 season), though a bit surprised at the dramatic drop, and I figured that we also wouldn't set a record for days at or above 90 degrees (but with global warming, I figured the number would probably be above the long-term average).
"So basically, I guessed at some point in between. I originally thought it might be closer to the 45-50 range, but I dropped the number a bit to 40 for no other valid reason than dropping the guesstimated number a bit. If Laura has a more valid reason for picking 40, the entire prize should be sent to her, and please allow me to be first in line to congratulate her!"
In the end, here's how the hot season in Baltimore played out:
May: 3 days
June: 7 days
July: 24 days (Whew!)
August: 6 days
Thirty-four Marylanders died between May 27 and Sept. 5 of causes deemed heat-related.
The hottest day was July 22, when the mercury jumped to 106 degrees at BWI. It was one of five 100-plus days this past summer, and the second of three in a row that week. By a cruel quirk of Baltimore bookkeeping, it was not a record.
The city's official all-time record high remains at 107 degrees, set downtown in 1936, when the U.S. Custom House was the station of record. The downtown high on July 22, recorded at the Maryland Science Center, was 108 degrees, but that wasn't an official record, either, because the station of record is now at the airport.
The heat triggered extended air conditioner shut-offs across BGE's service area as the utility sought to reduce demand. The action came at the request of the PJM Interconnection, managers for the multi-state regional power grid. But technical issues, the length of the shutoff in the extreme heat, and poor communications with affected customers, led to a firestorm of criticism directed at BGE.
Honorable mentions go out to Cy Governs and Bonnie Dennis, who each predicted 38 days of 90-plus heat, and to Ben Steinberg and Michael Albrecht, whose aim was close, but a tad high, at 42 days each.
Thanks to everyone who participated. Anyone for a Second Annual Snow Contest come December?
(SUN PHOTO: Top, Frank Roylance; Bottom: Barbara Haddock Taylor)