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October 28, 2011

Trick or Treat? Five or more in. of snow due Sat.

This is some sort of cruel joke, right? The old weather guy goes out with not just a farewell cake, but an October snowstorm, too? Really?!?

Alas, that appears to be the case. The National Weather Service has posted a Winter Storm Watch for all of Western Maryland, and for the northern tier of counties including Carroll, Frederick, Harford and northewrn Baltimore County.

The Watch calls for the "potential" for five or more inches of snow in portions of the state on Saturday. It would begin overnight tonight as rain, then change over to snow Saturday morning and continue through Saturday afternoon.

The snow forecast map (clickable, above) is a bit less outrageous. It shows a small pocket of 6-inch accumulations in extreme northwestern Carroll and northeastern Frederick, surrounded by gradually diminishing totals of 4, 2 and 1-inch totals. For Baltimore and its immediate suburbs, they're looking for less than an inch. And to the south and east of I-95, there's just rain.

But, hey ... it's still October, already. Not even Hallowe'en. The snowiest day on record for Baltimore in October was the 2.5 inches that fell Oct. 30, 1925. In fact, there have been only four days since official record-keeping began here that ANY measurable snow has fallen on Baltimore.

Oct. 30, 1925:  2.5 inches

Oct. 19, 1940:  0.4 inch

Oct. 20, 1940:  0.9 inch

Oct. 10, 1979:  0.3 inch

An inch of snow at BWI this weekend could make this the second-snowiest October day on record for Baltimore. 

Here's how sees the storm, which could deliver as much as 6 to 12 inches from western Virginia and Maryland to central New England. And here (below) is some of what Eric the Red and Prof. Jeff Halverson, at UMBC, are saying about Saturday's snow forecast:

Eric the Red: "The models agree that the storm will deepen rapidly and ride up the coast. If it takes a more westerly track, then we'll get into warmer air -especially aloft - and we'll see mostly cold rain, changing to wet snow befpore ending.

"If the storm tracks a bit farther east, many areas - especially north and west of I-95 and DC -  will experience a rare significant October snowfall.

"The official forecast has northern Maryland in a 1-4" snow forecast, while locales closer to I-95 are in a Trace to an inch category ... I think the chance of accumulating snow is high across much of northern and western MD, while rain could dominate in the primary urban areas."

Prof. Halverson: "This storm is predicted to have classic, if not textbook, dynamics...including phasing of northern and southern jet stream energy, and it will tap very significant amounts of Atlantic moisture.   It will be quite vigorous and is expected to "bomb out" or deepen rapidly off the coast, as it retreats north of Baltimore.

"The trend in the models has been towards a colder solution, with the snow
accumulation swatch creeping ever closer (southward) toward D.C./Baltimore.  I still think the
bullseye will be just north of Mason-Dixon, w/ a 6"-12" swath running across eastern PA into
northern NJ.  

"Snowfall rates could approach 2"-3" w/ thundersnow, as one or more stationary
snow bands will likely set up along or north of Mason-Dixon.   This will likely be a very wet,
dense snow.  Because so many trees still bear foliage, there is the potential for unprecedented,
widespread power outages, and temporary closure of major interstates such as I-78

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:23 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Winter weather


We're supposed to drive to New York City tomorrow morning. Right now, it looks like we'll skate ahead of the change-over. At least going by most of the forecasts. What time are you seeing the switchover happening? Morning in Frederick is different from morning in Owings Mills. If it's morning in Owings Mills, I'm concerned about driving up in poor weather.

FR: You'll need to use your own judgment on that. Hard to imagine I-95 having a surface cold enough to pose problems. But check with the State Police before leaving.

Oh. Also just wanted to bid you a fond farewell. Hope retirement treats you and your wife spectacularly well!

Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, aurorae, and early snow. Mother Nature has a strange way of saying "So long", doesn't she?

Thanks for all the reporting, and best wishes for a long and happy retirement.

I also wish you a happy retirement. I have enjoyed your writing for several years and will be sorry to miss them. The Sun has been the better because of you.

Nothing like going out with a bang. I've been a reader of your blog/articles for many years. You've done a great job. Enjoy your retirement!

Selfishly, I am very sad to hear that you will no longer be writing this blog/column. I have not lost my two favorite writers in you and Candace "Outdoors Girl". I wish you all of the best in your next endeavor and thank you for all of the great reads over the years.

I've been reading the Baltimore Sun for 30 years. I've never heard of you. If I want to know about weather I click on the weather icon in the corner of my computer screen. Onward and upward, the Sun needs to meet the needs of the current readership.

Sorry to see you go, Frank. Your weather blogs and local coverage of cosmic events has always been a highlight of my trips to I wish you the best in retirement!

Well congrats to you Mr. Frank!! Ahhh retirement at last!! I can only dream of it...

Mr. Roylance, there's no better way for you to go out than with exactly the sort of weather phenomena that led me to discover your blog in the first place. When I moved to Baltimore in 2007 I had never lived anywhere with snow before. Your blog expertly instructed me on Mid-Atlantic weather, and did so in a comfortable, conversational style.

By the time I left the area in 2011, I was addicted to your blog and it's was the first link I checked whenever something "big" was forecast, or if something cool was about to happen in the night sky. It's therefore logical that the way I learned of your retirement was because I heard from a friend it was snowing way too early back in MD, and without hesitation I went straight to your blog to get the full story. I'm not happy to hear you're leaving but I have a feeling you will be amazing your grandson with tales of storms and stars for many years to come.

I've enjoyed your work thoroughly, quoted you, and shared your work with friends as we leaned on snow shovels or talked about tropical storms swirling off the coast. Job well done. You will be missed. Have fun with the family!

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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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