October 21, 2011

On average, globe was warm last month


Hot in LondonGlobal climate averages for September are in. NOAA says global land surface temperatures averaged 1.57 degrees F. above the 20th century norm, the fourth-warmest September since record-keeping began in 1880. (Eastern Asia and the central U.S. were cool.) Ocean surface temperatures were 0.72 degrees F. above the 20th Century average, the 14th warmest on record. The UK had its sixth-warmest September in 100 years. Arctic sea ice shrank to its second-smallest extent since 1979. 

(PHOTO: Warm September weather in London, Dan Istitine, AFP/Getty)   

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers, From the Sun's print edition

October 3, 2011

Second-coldest start to October here since 1899

Darn right it's cold. Steve Zubrick, science officer at the National Weather Service regional forecast office in Sterling, Va. says this has been the second-coldest two-day start to an October in Baltimore in 112 years.

Steve said the two-day average temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport over the weekend was 50.8 degrees. That ranks second only to the 48.0-degree start to October in 1899. The 30-year average temperature for the first two days of the month is 61.5 degrees.

Looking at the highs for the two days, Zubrick found they averaged just 55.5 degrees. That ranks as the coldest high-temperature average on record here for the first two days of October, breaking the record of 57.5 degrees, also set in 1899. The normal average high for those two dates is 72 degrees.

Also, as noted in a previous post, Sunday's high of 51 degrees was the coldest maximum temperature for that date on record for the city. The old record was 53 degrees, set 72 years ago, in 1939.

And it's back to the 40s tonight. Can you keep your hands off the thermostat? Zubrick couldn't: "I've been running my furnace since Sat. afternoon," he said.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:25 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

October 2, 2011

A wet nine months, but not nearly a record


Rainy day in BaltimoreWe noted here a few days back that the period from Jan. 1 through September would rank as the fifth-wettest such period on record for Baltimore. We saw more than 46 inches in those nine months, nearly 5 inches more than our annual average.

Someone asked how close we came to the record. Another inch would have put us in fourth place, ahead of 1933, which also saw Baltimore’s wettest day (7.62 inches on Aug. 23). But we fell well short of the 51.11-inch record set Jan.-Sept., 1889.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:03 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers, From the Sun's print edition

September 29, 2011

It takes two storms for a record soaking


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

Wettest 30 days in Baltimore


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 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

September 15, 2011

Cold days in September


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 7, 2011

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:



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

September 1, 2011

August was fifth-wettest for Baltimore


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

August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene rain and wind maps for Maryland

Here are the wind and rain maps for Hurricane Irene, just released by the National Weather Service regional forecast office in Sterling, Va. Click to enlarge.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:46 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers, Cool pictures, Hurricanes

August 28, 2011

Irene's winds topped 70 mph on Western Shore

The National Weather Service's forecast office in Sterling, Va. has posted top wind gusts during Irene's passage across its coverage area west of the Chesapeake. Looks like Calvert County recorded some of the worst conditions on our side of the bay:

Top sustained winds:  56 mph, Calvert Cliffs.

Top wind gusts:  73 mph, Cobb Island buoy; 72 mph, Calvert Cliffs, Chesapeake Beach, Gaithersburg

Top rain total:  12.96 inches, West Plum Point, Calvert County; 12 inches, Perry Hall


Point Lookout: 43 mph

Middle River:  42 mph

Solomons:  41 mph


Bay Ridge:  69 mph

Highland Beach:  68 mph

Solomons:  68 mph

Patuxent River:  64 mph 

North Beach:  64 mph

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:03 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers, Hurricanes

More than 11" of rain in Southern Maryland

The first numbers are starting to come in for Hurricane Irene's impact on Maryland, and Southern Maryland seems to have been hit hardest on rainfall.

BWI-Marshall Airport is reporting 4.6 inches of rain at 7 a.m. The heaviest rates were between 1 and 2 a.m., when 2.14 inches fell. Top sustained wind velocity was 30 mph, with gusts to 51 mph. The low barometer reading was 29.02 inches at 3 a.m.

The instruments at Ocean City Municipal Airport stopped reporting at 9 p.m. Not sure why. But the town's Office of Emergency Management issued a release this morning noting a rain total of 12 inches. Top sustained winds overnight were blowing at 60 mph, with gusts to 80.

With daylight, Ocean City officials were assessing damage at the resport. For now, the access routes onto the island remain closed until the damage assessment is complete and unsafe conditions secured.

Hurricane Irene made its second landfall at 5:35 a.m. near Little Egg Inlet, N.J., according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Winds were clocked at 75 mph. The barometric pressure there was 28.36 inches.  

Here is a tally of rain totals for Maryland west of the bay, from the NWS/Sterling.

Here are some statewide 24-hour rain totals for Maryland, from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Denton, Caroline:  11.55 inches

Leonardtown, St. Mary's County:  11.35 inches

Easton, Talbot:  11.34 inches

Hollywood, St. Mary's:  10.11 inches

Bishopville, Worcester:  7.71 inches

Elkton, Cecil:  7.10 inches

Waldorf, Charles: 6.55 inches

Hamilton, Baltimore City:  4.54 inches

Catonsville, Baltimore:  4.30 inches

Columbia, Howard:  3.61 inches

Taneytown, Carroll:  2.54 inches

Frederick, Frederick:  0.97 inch

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:22 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers, Hurricanes

August 22, 2011

Sunday storms were hit-or-miss, again

Woke up and heard all this talk about trees down and outages in the region due to Sunday's storms. But all we had out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville were a couple of brief morning showers. The rest of the day was humid, but mostly rain-free. 

Oh, we heard some thunder, in the distance. But no rain to speak of beyond the morning showers.

It was another day of hit-or-miss storms across Central Maryland. The Sun's weather station, at Calvert and Centre streets, shows 1.72 inches. BWI-Marshall Airport reported 0.99 inch.

Here are some of the totals, from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Columbia, Howard County:  2.00 inchesBWI Precip August

Catonsville, Baltimore County:  1.91 inches

Laurel, PG:  1.66 inches

Columbia, Howard:  1.64 inches

Severn, Anne Arundel:  1.34 inches

Jarrettsville, Baltimore County:  1.17 inches

Hamilton, Baltimore City:  1.06 inches

Pasadena, Arunde:  0.88 inchBWI Temps August

Crofton, Arundel:  0.85 inch

Towson, Baltimore County:  0.49 inch

Bel Air, Harford:  0.40 inch

Salisbury, Wicomico:  0.25 inch

Taneytown, Carroll:  0.06 inch


Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:32 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers, Events

August 19, 2011

Arundel got the big rain Thursday

Looks like Southern Maryland and the lower Eastern Shore missed Thursday's rain. This time it was Anne Arundel County that really dropped into the crosshairs of the late afternoon and evening storms, with well over 2 inches in some locations. BWI Airport picked up 1.72 inches, with 1.4 of that falling between 4 and 5 p.m.  

More showers and thunderstorms are expected again late Friday afternoon and evening, with more of the same due right through the weekend. There is a Flash Flood Watch in effect for all of Central Maryland.

Here are some of the local rain tallies, from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Green Haven, Anne Arundel:  2.82 inches

South Gate, Anne Arundel:  2.35 inches

BWI-Marshall Airport:  1.72 inches

Severn, Anne Arundel:  1.44 inches

White Marsh, Baltimore Co.:  1.25 inches

Bel Air, Harford:  0.57 inch

Taneytown, Carroll:  0.47 inch

Towson, Baltimore County:  0.18 inch

Baltimore City:  0.02 inch

The forecast from Sterling says there's a 60 percent chance the storms will resume Friday after 4 p.m., with up to a quarter-inch possible, and another quarter-inch to follow overnight. More rain is possible in thunderstorms. Like yesterday, some storms could become severe, with damaging winds and hail, localized heavy rain and flash flooding.

Rain chances continue, at diminished probabilities, through the weekend. But there's a cold front due to pass through Sunday or Monday. That should clear the air and leave us with sunny weather next week, and seasonable temperatures.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:47 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

August 10, 2011

Two-digit temperature records rare in July


Cooling offJo-Ann Orlinsky, in Baltimore, writes: “I have been noticing that during July, the daily records for many days has been 100 degrees or more. I am wondering if there are any days in July where the daily record has not hit 100.”  

When July began, Baltimore had four: July 12th (97 degrees); July 13 (99); July 29 (99), and July 30 (98). Record highs for all the rest range from 100 to 107 degrees.

The July 29 record, set in 1954, was broken this year when BWI hit 101 degrees. Then there were three.

(PHOTO: Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images)

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

August 9, 2011

July was fourth-warmest for lower 48 states

cooling off in BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

July was Baltimore’s hottest month on record. We weren’t alone. NOAA’s entire South climate region – Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas - also had the warmest month on record for any U.S. climate region.

Only seven of the lower 48 states had near or below-average Julys. The average U.S. temperature in July was the fourth-warmest on record, 2.7 degrees above the 1901-2000 average.

But, the Northwest region tied its second-coolest May-July period, NOAA said.

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2011)

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

August 4, 2011

Thursday's high at BWI a mere 80 degrees

What a difference a day or two make. Two days after the end of our 17-day streak of 90-plus days, Thursday's official high temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport was just 80 degrees.

It is the first time the mercury at the airport has failed to rise beyond 80 since June 20, when the high was 79. There have been just four days that cool since June 1.


It can't last, of course. The NWS predicts highs of 87 for the next two days, and we'll likely be back into the 90s by Sunday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:43 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

August 3, 2011

It's hot, but summer 2010 was hotter through July


Cooling off in BaltimoreDon Dobrow, in Baltimore, asks whether this summer, so far, is Baltimore’s hottest. Not yet. Summer 2010 was Baltimore’s hottest. And while last month may have been the city’s hottest July, June 2010 was hotter than June 2011 by more than 3 degrees.

So far (June and July), this summer is averaging 1.4 degrees cooler than last. This summer also trails 2010 on the number of 90-degree days (36 to 30), and the number of 100-degree days (7 to 5) through July.  

(SUN PHOTO: Barbara Haddock Taylor, June 2011)

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

August 1, 2011

July was hottest July, hottest month ever for B'more

The month just ended was the hottest July and the hottest month on record for Baltimore. And those weren't the only records broken. Here's a rundown from the National Weather Service regional forecast office in Sterling, Va.:

2010...JULY 1995...AND JULY 1872.

101F ON THE 29TH...OR TIED...102F ON THE 23RD.

OR BETTER...22...IN JULY 1988 AND JULY 1999.


IN 1936 ON JULY 10TH.



Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

July 31, 2011

July 2011 looks like hottest on record for Baltimore

It won't be official until all of today's numbers are in. But it looks from here like July 2011 will finish tonight as the hottest July on record for Baltimore.

Through Saturday, the average temperature for the month at BWI-Marshall Airport in July was 81.6 degrees. If that holds, it will place this month ahead of the current three-way tie for the hottest July - 81.5 degrees - set in 1872 and matched in 1995 and 2010. Third place would go to 1934 and 1949, at 81.4 degrees.

UPDATE 12 noon: The NWS says the average temperature for July was 81.7 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport. That makes it the hottest July on record for Baltimore. The long-term average for July is 76.5 degrees. Earlier post resumes below. 

July 2011 is ending with a streak of 90-plus weather that has lasted 15 days, the third-longest such streak on record for Baltimore. The long-range forecast calls for a high of 89 next Saturday. If it proves accurate, that would end the streek at 20 consecutive days in the 90s, just short of the second-longest on record - 21 days.  

July 2011 also included four days of 100-plus weather at BWI, peaking at 106 degree on July 22. The 106-degree high was a record for BWI, but not for the city. A 107-degree reading downtown on July 10, 1936 remains the official record high for Baltimore. A 108-degree high at the Maryland Science Center on the 22nd, while unofficial because the NWS station-of-record moved to the airport in 1950, is the highest temperature ever recorded downtown.



Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

July 29, 2011

104 downtown; Heat Index 109 degrees

The NWS thermometer at BWI-Marshall Airport has reached 101 degrees at 5 p.m. That's a new Baltimore record for the date, beating the previous mark of 99 degrees, set in 1954. The Heat Index is 105 degrees. Sterling says that will be the max for today.

The station at the Maryland Science Center shows 104 degrees. The Heat Index is 109.

It was 102 degrees at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets at 5 p.m.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers, Heat waves

BWI ties record at 99 degrees

UPDATE, 4 P.M.: The 4 p.m. reading at BWI was 100 degrees, setting a new record high for Baltimore on a July 29. It was 103 downtown, with a Heat Index of 109 degrees. Ho hum...  Heat Index this time last week was 120 degrees.

Earlier post resumes:  

The temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport reached 99 degrees at 2 p.m. today, tying the Baltimore record for the date, set at the airport in 1954. The Heat Index was 105 degrees.

It was 101 degrees at the Maryland Science Center at 2 p.m. (Heat Index 108), and 99 degrees at The Sun's weather station, at Calvert and Centre streets.

It was 101 degrees at Reagan National, breaking the 99-degree record set there in 1993. Dulles International Airport reported 99 degrees, breaking the 97-degree record set there in 1993.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:04 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers, Heat waves

July 28, 2011

Streak of 90s could become Baltimore's third-longest


Wednesday’s official high at BWI-Marshall Airport was 90 degrees, the 11th straight day with highs of 90 degrees or higher. The seven-day forecast calls for the streak to continue, with 90-plus forecasts each day, at least through Tuesday, bringing the total to 17.

By Monday, at 16, it will become the third-longest stretch of 90-degree weather since Baltimore record-keeping began. The record is 25 days, set July 12 to Aug. 5, 1995. Second longest was 21 days, from July 29 to Aug. 18, 1988.

(PHOTO: Rob Carr, Getty Images)

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

July 23, 2011

More records broken or tied Saturday

Another record-hot day in Central Maryland.

Saturday's high at BWI-Marshall Airport was 102 degrees. That tied the record set for this date in 1991. The downtown high looks like it was 103 degrees. 

Down at Washington-Dulles International Airport, they also tied the record set there on this date in 1991 - 99 degrees. (Sounds downright cool, doesn't it?)

At Reagan National, the airport set a new record-high minimum temperature for the date. The low for the day was 84 degrees, breaking the record of 81 set on this date in 1978.

Once again, for those who missed this bizarre bit of weather statistics:  The high temperatures on Friday at both BWI and in downtown Baltimore were the highest ever recorded at either location. It was 108 downtown and 106 at the airport.

But neither one stands as a new record. That's because the official station of record for Baltimore moved from downtown to the airport in 1950. So the 108-degree reading at the Inner Harbor on Friday doesn't qualify as an official record for the city. And the 106-degree reading at BWI, while an official new record for the date, is NOT an official all-time record for the city, because there was that 107-degree reading downtown in 1936, when THAT was the station of record.

Got it? Good. There will be a quiz in the morning.

Be cool. Forecast highs for Sunday: 96 at BWI, 98 at the Science Center downtown.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:25 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

Which July day at BWI is the hottest?


An online comment from “Mike” says: “The average high for the period July 16 to July 25 is listed as 88 degrees, but those temps are rounded to the nearest full degree… Which day or days during the above period are actually, on average the hottest?” Steve Zubrick, at NWS/Sterling, says the averages are computed by something called a “cubic spline” method, which yields only round numbers. But the mid-point in the period of highest daily average temps is July 21.

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

July 22, 2011

Friday's heat shattered records all over the place

Here are some of the high temperature records broken and set on Friday, from the National Weather Service:

Newark, NJ:  108 degrees, breaking the 101-degree record for the date, and the 105-degree all-time high set Aug. 9, 2001. Records began in 1931.

Washington Dulles:  105 degrees, breaking the daily record of 98 degrees set in 1998. It is also the highest temperature on record for the airport - 104 degrees, set  July 16, 1988 and matched Aug. 20, 1983.

Hartford, CT:  103 degress, breaking the 101-degree daily record and the all-time record of 102 degrees., set July 6, 2010.

Bridgeport, CT:  103 degrees, tied the daily record and the all-time record, both set in 1957.

New daily records were also set in New York City (104 degrees in Central Park); Atlantic City (104 degrees); Philadelphia (102 degrees); Georgetown, DE (103 degrees); Trenton, NJ (103 degrees); Bangor, ME (97 degrees), and Boston, MA (103 degrees, a tie).

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:32 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

Official high for Baltimore: 106 degrees at BWI

The offical high temperature for Baltimore Friday was 106 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport. That broke the 101-degree record for the date, set in 1957. It was also the highest temperature ever at the airport. The previous record was 105 degrees,  reached twice before, on Aug. 20, 1983 and July 6, 2010.

The high reading at the National Weather Service's unofficial station at the Maryland Science Center was 108 degrees. That is the highest temperature ever recorded in downtown Baltimore, beating the 107-degree record set on July 10, 1936.

But the 108-degree downtown reading won't go into Baltimore's record books because, since 1950, the station of record for Baltimore has been at the airport. Offically, Baltimore's highest temperature remains 107 degrees, in 1936.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:55 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers, Heat waves

Heat climbs to 107 downtown; Heat Index 120 degrees

The National Weather Service instruments at the Maryland Science Center at the Inner Harbor were reporting a temperature of 107 degrees at 3 p.m. Friday. The Heat Index - what it feels like with the humidity inhibiting our ability to cool off by sweating - was 120 degrees.

That ties the all-time record high temperature for Baltimore, recorded downtown on July 10, 1936. Sun weather stationBut because the official weather station for the city moved to the airport in 1950, today's Inner Harbor reading won't go into the record books.

The official reading for Baltimore at 3 p.m., out at BWI-Marshall Airport, was 104 degrees, with a Heat Index value of 117 degrees. That breaks the record for the date, 101 degrees, set in 1957. It's also the hottest official temperature for Baltimore since ... well, since last year. It was 105 degrees on July 6, 2010, and on four other dates since record-keeping began in 1871.

That said, the afternoon is still young, and we could still get higher readings at either station. Stay tuned. And stay cool.

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.: The 4 p.m. reading at BWI was 105 degrees. It's the second summer in a row that we've reached a 105-degree high at the airport, and the sixth time since record-keeping began the official high for Baltimore has been that hot. They are:

Aug. 6 and 7, 1918 (downtown)

June 29, 1934 (downtown)

Aug. 20, 1983 (BWI)

July 6, 2010 (BWI)

July 22, 2011 (BWI)

Only one other date has topped it. It was 107 degrees in downtown Baltimore on July 10, 1936.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:53 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: By the numbers, Heat waves

BWI at 99 degrees at noon; record is 101

The National Weather Service is reporting a temperature of 99 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport at noon Friday. The Heat Index is at 115 degrees.

At the Inner Harbor, the temperature was 102 degrees, with a Heat Index of 119 degrees.

And I'm about to head out into the teeth of it. This ... is journalism.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

Inner Harbor reaches 100 degrees at 11 a.m.

The National Weather Service is reporting 100 degrees at 11 a.m. at the Maryland Science Center in downtown Baltimore. The dew point was 77, for a Heat Index value of 112 degrees. The forecast high downtown is 105 degrees.

It was 97 at BWI Marshall Airport, with a dew point also at 77 degrees. That gives us a Heat Index of 116 degrees. The forecast high for BWI is 103 degrees.

This week's heat comes to us thanks to a huge dome of high pressure over the eastern half of the nation. Clockwise circulation around the high is bringing hot, humid air up from the South, the Gulf and the Atlantic.

Subsidence of the air in the dome is suppressing the development of cooling thunderstorms, which need a column of rising air to form. Our first chance for relief should come tonight or Saturday afternoon as the high moves farther east, and our rain chances begin to rise again.

Any storms that do form, forecasters warn, could become severe, with a potential for damaging winds and heavy downpours.

Real relief is still a few days away, with thre arrival of a cold fron Sunday or Monday. High temperatures early next week should rop into the high 80s - pretty nearly average for this time of year.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:07 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

Hot start to a record-breaking day

Here's the rundown on temperatures and Heat Indices for the region at 10 a.m.:

BWI:  Temperature 96 degrees + dew point 76 degrees = Heat Index 109 degrees

Md. Science Center:  Temperature 97 + dew point 76 = Heat Index 111 degrees.

The Sun:  Temperature 97 degrees + dew point (not real reliable) 84 degrees = Heat Index 132 degrees.

PJM InterconnectionI don't think there's much doubt that BWI will be setting a new daily heat record for Baltimore today. The hottest July 22 on the books for Baltimore reached 101 degrees, in 1957. We're just 5 degrees short of that mark at 10 a.m. and there's no rain in sight today. So I'd bet we will knock that record down this afternoon.

The official forecast high for today is 105 degrees downtown, and 103 at the airport

Speaking of records, the PJM Interconnection - the regional power grid that includes Maryland and parts of 12 other states plus the District of Columbia - reported this morning that the region set a new record Thursday for power consumption. We soaked up 158,450 megawatts of electricity. One megawatt is enough to power about 1,000 homes.

The previous record was set Aug. 2, 2006. After some adjustments for changes in the grid since then, PJM estimates the 2006 peak would have been 158,258 megawatts.

The demand for power to keep things cool across the region was met "without problems," the agency said. "Our efforts in fine-tuning how we forecast electricity demand and plan transmission improvements are paying big dividends for our system operations," said Michael Kormos, senior VP for operations.

(PHOTOT: Vicki Valerio, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2003)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:17 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers, Forecasts

July 21, 2011

Inner Harbor hits 103 degrees; Heat Index 117

The temperature at the Maryland Science Center reached 103 degrees at 3 p.m. Thursday. It's not Baltimore's official reading; that's taken at BWI-Marshall Airport, where it was a mere 98 degrees at the same hour.

But it's a good sampling of what anyone who ventures outside in the downtown area is experiencing. And with the dew point at 75 degrees, it adds up to a Heat Index value of 117 degrees. That's how it "feels," the combined effect of heat and high humidity on the bady's ability to cool itself.

Here at Calvert and Centre streets, our instruments read 99 degrees, with a (suspect) dew point of 82 degrees. That produces a Heat Index reading of 127 degrees.

Oh, by the way, Friday's forecast calls for a high of 104 degrees downtown. With a dew point at 75 again, that would yield a Heat Index of 119 degrees.

Is anybody actually out in this stuff?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:10 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

July 8, 2011

Spotty storms drop up to 3.5 inches

Overnight thunderstorms dropped as much as 3.5 inches of rain in some locations across Central Maryland. But while the slow-moving tropical downpours were intense, they were also spotty, dropping more than in inch, for example, in Bel Air, but almost nothing in Elkton. BWI reported just 0.10 inch.

The highest rain totals in the region were recorded north of Towson. Jacksonville reported 3.58 inches in the 24 hours ending at 8 this morning. We clocked 3.06 inches on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville overnight, bringing the 24-hour total to 4.14 inches. That's more than a month's worth of rain in 24 hours.

The deluge flooded sections of Papermill Road and York Road at Beaver Run. Downed trees and power outages were widespread elsewhere across the region. For more, click here.

The lightning shot is another great photo from James Willinghan, in Howard County.James Willinghan

Here are some other 24-hour rain totals from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Cockeysville: 2.17 inches

Ellicott City:  1.33 inches

Bel Air:  1.08 inches

Catonsville:  1.02 inches

Columbia:  0.76 inch

Baltimore:  0.58 inch

Reisterstown:  0.52 inch

Towson:  0.32 inch

Severn:  0.13 inch

Westminster:  0.07 inch

The forecast from Sterling calls for more of the same later today (Friday). As much as 1 to 2 inches of additional rain is possible overnight tonight, then ending Saturday morning.

(PHOTO: James Willinghan. Used with permission.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:03 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: By the numbers

June 8, 2011

Heat reaches 99 at BWI, sets new record

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 1, 2011

BWI beats 1895 record for June 1, hits 98 degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May tied a record low, and a record high


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

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

May 31, 2011

BWI breaks a heat record at 97

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

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

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

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

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


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

High of 98 at BWI ties record

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

May 26, 2011

BWI-Marshall hits 91 degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

May 19, 2011

Weds. rain tops 2 inches in Baltimore County

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

Jacksonville:  2.35 inches

White Marsh:  1.95 inches

WeatherDeck in Cockeysville:  1.72 inches

Long Green: 1.53 inches

Fallston:  1.40 inches

Hamilton, Baltimore City:  1.24 inches

St. Michaels, Talbot:  1.01 inches

BWI-Marshall Airport reported only 0.25 inch.

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

May 18, 2011

So where's all the rain?

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

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

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

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

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

Winchester, Va.:  3.4 inches

Jones Springs, W.V.:  3.25 inches

Hollymead, Va.:  2.59 inches

Bridgewater, Va.:  2.32 inches

Eldersburg, Carroll Co. Md.: 0.90 inch

Columbia, Howard Co.:  0.75 inch

La Plata, Charles Co.:  0.69 inch

Severn, Arundel:  0.66 inch

Westminster, Carroll Co.:  0.49 inch

Bel Air, Harford Co.:  0.09 inch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are we having fun yet?

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

May 9, 2011

Wet April topples records, adds to record flooding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Record low tied Friday at BWI

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

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

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

April 28, 2011

Tuesday's low broke record for the date

The low temperature Tuesday at BWI-Marshall Airport was 68 degrees. That broke the record-high minimum temperature for the date - 66 degrees - set in 1990, according to the National Weather Service.

Similar records were broken at Wednesday at Washington's Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport in Virginia. The instruments in Washington on the 27th showed a low of 66 degrees, breaking the 65-degree record set in 1908 and matched in 1990 and 1994.

Out at Dulles, the low temperature was 68 degrees, breaking the 63-degree record set on the same date in 2009.

The mild overnight temperatures were the result of a deep low-pressure system over eastern Canada that had dragged a warm front north of the region in advance of the low's trailing cold front, which finally passed through the region Thursday afternoon.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

April 11, 2011

85 at BWI ties record for the date

Instruments at BWI-Marshall Airport this afternoon show the temperature at 4 p.m. had reached 85 degrees. That ties the record high for the date, set 124 years ago, in 1887.

TulipThe temperature at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets was 86 degrees. It was 73 closer to the bay in Annapolis, and 75 degrees at Martin State Airport in Middle River.

It is the second Monday in a row that the mercury has reached a record high in the 80s at BWI. For the Orioles' home opener April 4, the high was 86 degrees at 5 p.m. That broke the old record of 83 degrees, which had stood since 1956. The average high for an April 11 in Baltimore is 63 degrees.

Temperatures this time began to drop after clouds thickened ahead of tonight 's rain. It was 84 at 5 p.m. Forecasters said the 4 p.m. reading was likely to be the day's high at BWI.

Records at Washington's Reagan National Airport and Dulles International seemed safe this afternoon. It was 82 at Reagan at 4 p.m., where the record set in 1930 for the date is 91. At Dulles, the 4 p.m. reading was 84, and the record set in 1977 is 87 degrees. 

The heat won't last.

"The high tomorrow [Tuesday] will only be ... 62 for Baltimore," said NWS meteorologist Heather Sheffield, from the regional forecast office in Sterling, Va. "The cold front moves through and the rain will continue into tomorrow."

"We have a kind of a low forming as the front goes through, and that will keep the showers around tomorrow," she said. "It looks like by late tomorrow [Tuesday] night the low will be moving off the coast."

That should bring the sun back sometime Wednesday or Thursday, forecasters said. More showers and thunderstorms are forecast for late Friday and Saturday. Daytime highs drop back to the 50s early next week.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance, 4/11/11)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers, Sky Notes

April 8, 2011

Summer heat, economy, drove electric demand


Summer heat BaltimoreThe PJM Interconnection, which manages the electric grid across all or part of 13 states, including Maryland, has issued its 2010 annual report. Last summer’s heat drove electric demand above 100,000 megawatts on more than 70 days, a new record. Consumers in the mid-Atlantic were asked to curtail demand on three dates. After adjusting for the heat, summer demand still grew by 1 percent over 2009, the largest such increase since 2006, attributed to a recovering economy.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, July 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

April 4, 2011

BWI hits 86 degrees, breaks record

Record high temp. Baltimore 

UPDATE, 5 p.m.: The mercury at BWI-Marshall Airport touched 86 degrees at 5 p.m. Monday, establishing a new record high for the date. The previous record for an April 4 in Baltimore was 83 degrees. It had stood for 55 years, since 1956.

This is the second time this year the thermometer has topped 80 degrees at the airport. The first was on March 18, with a high of 81, also a record for the date.

The 1956 record of 83 degrees was the lowest daily record high for April. The lowest record high now is 84 degrees, set on April 5, last year. 

Washington's Reagan National Airport reported a high of 85 degrees, tying the record set there in 1956. Dulles International reported 84 degrees, breaking the 81-degree mark set on this date in 1999. 

This is the warmest weather Baltimoreans have seen since an 91-degree reading on Sept. 25, 2010. Perfect weather for Opening Day.

The graph above is for The Sun's weather station, not BWI. We reached 85.6 degrees at 4:50 p.m., after a climb from 46.9 degrees at 5:20 a.m., a gain of 38.7 degrees. 

By the way, the NWS is predicting rain and snow showers behind the cold front early Tuesday morning for the high ridges of the Maryland mountains. Really.

Here are some other 5 p.m. readings from around the region:

Continue reading "BWI hits 86 degrees, breaks record " »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

How close to record heat today?

The National Weather Service is predicting an afternoon high Monday of 78 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport. That's not a record. But Sterling pretty regularly underestimates high temperatures for Baltimore, so there's a good chance the airport will see something more than 78.

The record for Baltimore on an April 4 is 83 degrees, set in 1956. It just happens to be the lowest daily high-temperature record on the books for April, so it's low-hanging fruit. 

The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies today. The April sun is strong, so provided clouds don't dim the afternoon rays, we could well slip into the low 80s for the second time this year. The first, you'll recall, was the record high of 81 degrees, reached on March 18.

The welcome mild weather is the result of a warm front that passed through the region overnight. It is the precursor of a Midwest cold front that is approaching the Appalachians to our west. Its NOAA/NWSapproach will be marked by gusty winds, showers and possibly thunderstorms, most likely after 11 p.m. Up to a quarter-inch of rain is possible, with more in thunderstorms. Damaging wind gusts and heavy rain are also in the cards tonight.

The front is due to pass over the Chesapeake Bay around sunrise Tuesday. Showers and storms are forecast to linger into the day, with another three-quarters of an inch of rain possible. Behind it they're expecting brisk northwest winds. They will begin to dry things out, clear the skies, and cool daytime highs back down to about 60 degrees for Wednesday.

Thursday remains sunny in the forecast, with highs warming to the mid-60s. But there's another chance for rain with a cold front due to pass by Friday afternoon and evening. If the forecast holds up, Saturday will bring mostly cloudy skies with highs in ther mid-60s. Sunday brings another chance for rain, but with milder temperatures in the mid-70s.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:33 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

March 23, 2011

Cold front: 40s here, 70s in southern Va.

One of the fascinating things about springtime weather in these parts is the battle between persistent cold air to our north and rapidly warming air to our south. And today provides a terrific example.

With a low-pressure system approaching from the Midwest, the counter-clockwise flow around the low is drawing cold, wet Atlantic air in from the sea, giving us this chill, drizzly weather. It's snowing hard across northeastern Pennsylvania and Upstate New York. Forecasters NWS/NOAAdon't expect us to get much above 50 degrees this afternoon.

At the same time, the flow around the same low is dragging much warmer, wet air from the Gulf states, driving today's temperatures to our south into the 70s to near 80 degrees. Charlottesville, Va. is expected to see a high today of 75 degrees.

And as the low passes through the region later today, and the associated cold front passes by, we're likely to see thunderstorms, some of which could become severe.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service say the storms could kick up after 4 p.m., with between a tenth- and a quarter-inch of rain possible, more in thunderstorms. The chance of storms continues into the evening, ending around 2 a.m. with a nother quarter-inch possible. But showers could persist until 8 a.m. Thursday. There's some chance the overnight precipitation could mix with snow, both in the mountains to our west, and in higher elevations along the Mason-Dixon line.

Looking toward the weekend, daytime temperatures will hold in the 40s - 10 degrees below theNWS/NOAA average - after the cold front passes by, and Canadian air moves in. Nighttime lows will drop to freezing or below from Thursday night right through the weekend.

The next storm system arrives Saturday night, and there's a 50 percent chance the rain could mix with snow by Sunday morning. No significant accumulations are likely, but forecasters caution that their confidence in the forecast this far out is low.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

March 18, 2011

Thermometer reaches record 81 degrees at BWI

Baltimore temperatures

Our little one-day "heat wave" has pushed temperatures near Baltimore into the 80s this afternoon.

The official thermometer at BWI-Marshall Airport stood at 81 degrees just before 5 p.m. That seemed likely to stand as the day's high, but was already enough to set a new record for a March 18 in Baltimore. The old mark was 80 degrees, set on March 18, 1989.

It was also the first time Baltimore has reached the 80s since last Oct. 12, when the high was 81 degrees.

Elsewhere, temperatures pushed into the upper 70s and low 80s across the region. It was 82 degrees at the Maryland Science Center at 5 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. It was 81 at Martin State Airport in Middle River, in Frederick, and at The Sun's weather station (top)at Calvert and Centre Streets in Baltimore. Charlottesville, Va. reported 80 degrees.

It was 79 at Dulles Airport, also a new record, according to the National Weather Service. Annapolis reported 77 degrees; so did Reagan National Airport in Washington.

This will be it for this kind of weather for a while. The weekend looks sunny, but there's a cold front pushing through later today, so the weekend highs will only be in the 50s.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:59 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

March 14, 2011

Brides: Sept. 1 is least-likely day for rain in B'more


Rain Baltimore

Kary Anne Tamblyn writes from Ellicott City: “In Baltimore, what day of the year has precipitation the most often and what day … has precipitation the least often?” Brides take note: I asked Steve Zubrick and Jared Klein at NWS Sterling. Jared said the date with the LEAST-frequent measurable rain is Sept. 1, at 17 percent. The date with the MOST frequent measurable precipitation is March 13, at 45 percent. But Zubrick believes the spread is largely due to random chance.

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, Feb. 25, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

March 11, 2011

Baltimore city and county tops in rainfall stats

The stats are coming in from Thursday's record-breaking rainfall, and it looks like locations in Rainy day in BaltimoreBaltimore County and in the city topped the charts, with totals of well over 3 inches in some locations.

In fact, an observer in Pimlico, in Baltimore City, reported 3.86 inches - the highest in the tallies so far from the National Weather Service or the CoCoRaHS Network.  I also had a call this morning from a reader in Pikesville who recorded 3.9 inches on his rain gauge.

We had 3.10 inches on the Weather Deck in Cockeysville. And The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets recorded 2.69 inches for the storm.

Many Harford County locations also reported rains in excess of 3 inches.

The official count at BWI-Marshall Airport was 2.61 inches for the date, and 2.63 inches for the storm. That broke the 1.74-inch record for a March 10 in Baltimore, set in 1883. Average March rainfall for Baltimore in March is 3.93 inches, the second-wettest month of the year after September.

Here are the first returns from the National Weather Service:


   1 W ARNOLD            2.34   422 PM  3/10  MESONET
   1 N BALT-WASH INTL A  2.32   400 PM  3/10  ASOS
   2 NW RIVA             1.51   145 PM  3/10  TRAINED SPOTTER
   1 NNW PAROLE          1.20   945 AM  3/10  TRAINED SPOTTER
   CHURCHTON             1.20  1000 AM  3/10  TRAINED SPOTTER

   1 ENE RUXTON          3.63   505 PM  3/10  MESONET
   1 NE LUTHERVILLE      3.45   519 PM  3/10  MESONET

   PIMLICO               3.86   530 PM  3/10  TRAINED SPOTTER
   1 ENE BALTIMORE       2.78   513 PM  3/10  MESONET
   1 SSE DOWNTOWN BALTI  2.41   400 PM  3/10  ASOS

   MANCHESTER            2.70   524 PM  3/10  MESONET

   2 W CHURCHVILLE       3.58   447 PM  3/10  MESONET
   3 N HICKORY           3.52   524 PM  3/10  MESONET

   1 S DANIELS           2.83   519 PM  3/10  MESONET

   LAUREL                1.57   200 PM  3/10  PUBLIC

   1 NE MAUGANSVILLE     0.81   400 PM  3/10  ASOS

The heavy rains are still running off the land and into area rivers and streams. Many are running at record-high levels for the date. Check out this streamflow map from the US Geological Survey. Dark blue dots represent flows over 90 percent of the record. Black dots indicate record high flows.

(SUN PHOTO: Jerry Jackson, March 10, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:09 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

March 10, 2011

Wet day for us; 6 in. of snow tonight for Garrett

We have already booked nearly a half-inch of rain here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. And down in portions of Virginia - "upstream" in this river of rain we're facing today - they're reporting totals that are already well over an inch. Here are some early rainfall totals for the region:

Culpeper, Va:  1.25 inchesNOAA/NWS

Long Green:  0.80 inch 

White Marsh:  0.75 inch

Elkton:  0.65 inch

Bowie:  0.56 inch

Catonsville:  0.52 inch

BWI-Marshall Airport:  0.50 inch

WeatherDeck, Cockeysville:  0.49 inch

Westminster:  0.31 inch

Here's more from the CoCoRaHS Network.

The National Weather Service has posted Flood Warnings (bright green) for portions of Washington and Frederick counties, where the Monocacy and Potomac rivers are expected to flood today. There are Coastal Flood Advisories (yellowish green) for the Maryland portions of the Chesapeake, as east and southeast winds drive water into the Upper Bay and the tidal creeks.

If you see flooding today, and can safely take pictures, email them to me and we'll consider them for posting here. Your comments and reports on the weather you see around you are always welcome.

All of Central Maryland is under a Flood Watch through this evening, as 2 to 3 inches of rain could cause flooding in low-lying spots and poorly drained urban settings almost anywhere.

And, just to keep things interesting, Garrett County, in far western Maryland, is under a Winter Storm Watch for tonight. More than 6 inches of heavy, wet snow is possible overnight as the storm passes by and draws cold air down from the north behind the cold front.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

March 1, 2011

NWS weather summary for February is in

For those who love statistics, here is the monthly weather summary for Baltimore, just in from the National Weather Service:


DAYS IN 1976.






(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, Feb. 28, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

February 20, 2011

Final tally on Saturday's winds

Some windstorm. Trees, branches down, wildfires and building fires get stoked and keep fire fighters on the run.

We were in Manhattan for most of it. There were times when it was all we could do to prevent the gusts from knocking us down as they funneled through the urban canyons. And temperatures had dropped into the 30s. Brutal.

Wildfire MarylandAnd every bit of trash buried by the heavy snows up there over the past couple of months, and exposed by recent mild weather, was suddenly airborne. It was amazing. Driving to our hotel in NJ Saturday night was a wrestling match. We were pelted by trash. And on the drive home Sunday, the amount of tree debris and trash along the roadsides, and plastic bags snared by fences and trees, was monumental.

Apparently Baltimore experienced the same thing. We saw this appeal today from the city's Public Works Department:

"Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx asked Baltimore City residents to assist city crews today in cleaning up the debris resulting from yesterday’s high winds. 'The winds that swept through our area yesterday caused many problems including blowing trash along our streets and alleys. We have crews out today going to major problem areas and working with DOT and Recreation and Parks on medians and parks. We are also going to address business districts, corner cans, and dirty streets and alleys.'

"Director Foxx emphasized the need for help from City residents. 'We can’t do it alone. We are asking residents to help by just spending 15 minutes to a half an hour cleaning up in front and rear of their homes, including the gutter, and along the street. Make sure you put the trash in a trashcan and keep it for your next scheduled trash day.'

"Residents can also assist by calling 311 to report problem areas, especially dirty streets and alleys. Many problems yesterday resulted from trash bags left on street corners. Baltimore City law requires the use of trashcans. Trash and recycling needs to be stored until the next regularly scheduled collection day."

Good luck with that.

Below, on the jump, is a pretty comprehensive rundown on peak wind gusts during the storm Saturday, from the National Weather Service. Flint, in Frederick County, takes the gold ring, at 63 mph. Parole, in Anne Arundel County, reported a gust at 60 mph. BWI topped out at 55.

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, Feb. 20, 2011)

Continue reading "Final tally on Saturday's winds" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

February 19, 2011

Gusts to 58 mph noted

Here are some early reports on overnight wind gusts in Maryland, courtesy of the National Weather Service. Flint, in Frederick County, appears to get the gold ring at 58 mph. Top gust in Baltimore was 48 mph:


   1 W GLEN BURNIE         48   104 AM  2/19  MESONET
   1 N BALT-WASH INTL A    48   617 AM  2/19  ASOS

   3 W SPARROWS POINT      51  1200 AM  2/19  MESONET

   1 SW BALTIMORE          48  1149 PM  2/18  MESONET
   1 ENE BALTIMORE         46   428 AM  2/19  MESONET

   1 SE MANCHESTER         46  1245 AM  2/19  MESONET

   2 SW FLINT              58   402 AM  2/19  AWOS
   1 E BRUNSWICK           55  1254 AM  2/19  MESONET
   1 W PLEASANT WALK       48   357 AM  2/19  MESONET
   2 ENE PETERSVILLE       48  1257 AM  2/19  MESONET
   MIDDLETOWN              47   239 AM  2/19  MESONET

   1 SSW ILCHESTER         47   530 AM  2/19  MESONET

   2 SW DAMASCUS           46   239 AM  2/19  MESONET

   SPRINGDALE              46  1259 AM  2/19  MESONET

   1 E HAGERSTOWN          49  1135 PM  2/18  MESONET
   1 NE MAUGANSVILLE       48  1248 AM  2/19  ASOS

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

February 14, 2011

Mercury hits 65 at BWI

The noontime temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport was 65 degrees, the wamest reading there since Nov. 23.

Kite BaltimoreIt was 64 here at Calvert and Centre streets, 66 at Washington's Reagan National Airport, 63 at Dulles International, 65 at Charlottesville, Va. and 63 at Annapolis.

UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.: Looks like the front has passed; the barometer is headed up again, and the temperature is headed down. Looks like 66 will be the day's high at BWI, 70 at Washington. UPDATED UPDATE: The FINAL, OFFICIAL high was 67 degrees.

Cooler weather lies ahead as a cold front moves through this afternoon, but we should be back in the 60s by Thursday and Friday.

So what are you doing to enjoy this break in what has been a pretty persistently cold winter? With all the wind that's going to pick up this afternoon, it seems like a perfect day for kites.

(SUN PHOTO: Lloyd Fox, Jan. 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:50 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

February 2, 2011

"America in Miniature," with temperatures to match

I've always loved that old marketing slogan for Maryland - America in Miniature. From the beaches WISP web camto the mountains, yadda yadda.

Today we are America in minature, from the balmy to the deep freeze.

At 4 p.m. or so, the temperature at the Wisp Resort in McHenry, Garrett County, was 25 degrees as cold air rushed in behind the ice storm. In Baltimore, here at The Sun (our thermometer is working again) it was 48 degrees, one of the mildest readings we've seen in a while. It's even above average for this time of year.


And out in Salisbury, on the Eastern Shore, the reading was 61 degrees under sunny skies. That springlike weather won't last, of course. The cold air will reach the Shore eventually. But how amazing that we can see such contrast across such a tiny state.

(PHOTO: Wisp Web cam, McHenry; Kite Loft web cam, Ocean City)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

January 31, 2011

Big BGE bills at your door this month

Dave G. left a comment on this blog Sunday about his high BGE bill, just arrived at his home. He was actually responding to a post we wrote a year ago, when THAT January's bills were coming in BGE billafter a cold December - 2009.

I've picked up Dave's comment and I'm re-posting it here because I suspect a lot of people are choking on their own bills at the moment. So here's an opportunity to commiserate. 

Here's Dave query, and my response:

"What is the difference in degree days for December, 2010 and December 2011?  My usage was 55% higher this year than last. - Dave"

FR: Bill, I'll assume you meant Dec. 2009 and December 2010.  According to the NWS, the total degree-days in December 2009 was 929. That increased to 1,003 in December 2010. That's an increase of almost 8 percent.

I just checked by own bills, and my electric usage (heat pump & lights, etc.) increased 11.7 percent. My gas (furnace and water heater) consumption was up 13.6 percent.  During the same period, according to the bill, the average temperature was the same (32 degrees) both years. NWS/NOAA Temperatures Dec. 2009

Now, you do need to consider that your billing cycle probably doesn't match the calendar month of December, so you would not expect the average temperature during your cycle for those two months to track precisely with these HDD numbers for the calendar month. Mine, for example, runs from mid-December to mid-January. Plus, only about half of our annual utility bills arise from heating and cooling. 

Also, the number of degree days is based on daily average temperatures - the day's high, plus the low, divided by two. That may not reflect the number of hours we actually spent at or below 32 degrees, where heat pump auxilliary heat coils typically switch on. NWS/NOAA Temperatures December 2010

BGE released a statement  Jan. 21 noting that the hours below 32 degrees in November-December 2010 jumped 43 percent compared with the year before. They warned that bills would be high in this cycle as a result. For that full release, click here.

This last billing cycle may also have been a day or two longer than the same one a year ago. Mine was 34 days this time, 33 days last time. That adds one day of usage. And, you may have other usage issues, like relatives who won't leave and teenagers taking 30-minute showers.

All that being said, Dave's 55 percent usage increase would seem to be pretty high. Maybe it's time for an energy audit.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:01 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: By the numbers

January 22, 2011

Mercury reaches 12 degrees at BWI

Pretty cold night. We fell to 9 degrees here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The low was 12 at BWI, the coldest of the season so far. Here are some readings from around the region at 6 a.m. They are not necessarily to night's lows, but probably pretty close.Icicle

Reagan National: 17 degrees

Dulles International:  14 degrees

College Park:  19 degrees

Gaithersburg:  12 degrees

BWI-Marshall:  14 degrees

Martin State Airport: 16 degrees

Md. Science Center:  17 degrees

Baltimore Sun:  16 degrees

Annapolis:  17 degrees

Ocean City:  19 degrees

Salisbury: 18 degrees

Frederick:  10 degrees

Hagerstown:  11 degrees

Westminster:  10 degrees

Oakland:  0 degrees

Cumberland:  12 degrees

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:20 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

January 14, 2011

Cold? This isn't cold. Forty-below is cold

The mercury here at The Sun is struggling to top the freezing mark today. Ten of the last 11 days have been below the seasonal norms at BWI-Marshall Airport. And 23 days in December were below the long-term averages, too. The average high for this date in Baltimore is 41. Our persistent cold weather comes to us courtesy of something called the Arctic Oscillation. You can read more on that, and La Nina, here. 

Sun thermometer

But we're a long way from the record-cold days our parents and grandparents experienced. Thursday was the 99th anniversary of the day in 1912 when thermometers in Oakland, out in Garrett County, registered 40 degrees below zero. That was, and still is, the record-cold reading for the state.

The high reading in Baltimore that day (Jan. 13, 1912) was 11 degrees, still a record low maximum for the date. The next morning, the low in Baltimore was minus-2 degrees, also still a record for a Jan. 14.

Cold in 1955Thirteen years later, on Jan. 28, 1925, the low reading in Oakland was minus-31 degrees. Twice in the following 30 years the temperatures in that far Western Maryland burgh reached a negative 25 degrees. And on Jan. 28, 1955 they reached minus-26 degrees, according to our clips from the time.

Trust me, that's cold. Not long after we were married, my wife and I were living in Hanover, N.H. During our first or second winter there, the overnight temperatures fell to minus-27 degrees three days in a row. We quickly learned to bring our car battery indoors for the night, or face the certainty that the old crate would not turn over in the morning.

We later purchased a crankcase heater, and used that to keep the engine warm overnight. It consisted of little more than a heated dipstick with an electrical cord.

But with no place to plug it in at work, I was reduced to visiting the parking lot every two hours, during coffee breaks and lunch, to start and run the engine for 15 minutes. If I hadn't, by quitting time it would have been as inert as New Hampshire granite. The highs on those days failed to reach zero.

But I digress. On Jan. 28, 1955, The Sun reported that the low in Baltimore was 14 degrees above zero at daybreak. Cumberland reported a reading of zero. The Sun observed:

"The air, particularly cold because it had moved here rapidly from the Arctic, put heavy coatings of ice on lakes and ponds and gave skating enthusiasts continued sport.

"In the harbor, plumes of thick frost decorated masts and rigging and ships and coated piers. Service stations did a land-office business throught the night..."

(Thanks to Sun Librarian Paul McCardell)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

January 12, 2011

NOAA: 2010 was wettest globally, tied for warmest

The climate stats for 2010 are coming in. Here are the highlights, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. You can read the full release here.


Smoke, heat in MoscowSurface Temperature: Combined land and water temperatures averaged 1.12 degrees F above the 20th Century average. Tied with 2005 as the warmest since records began in 1880.

Land temperatures averaged 1.8 degrees F above the 20th C. average, the warmest on record. Ocean surface temperatures averaged 0.88 degrees F. above the average, the third-warmest on record.

The year was also the 34th straight year with global temperatures above the 20th Century average.

Precipitation: Global average precipitation was the most on record, but patterns varied widely across the globe. The Pacific hurricane season was the least active since satellite observations began in the 1960s. The Atlantic season was the third-most-active for tropical storms; the second-most-active for hurricanes.

Storms: A negative Arctic Oscillation last winter sent arctic air south, producing record cold and heavy snows in parts of Eastern North America, Europe and Asia. In February, the AO Index was the largest negative reading since records began in 1950. An unusually strong jet stream twisted north into Russia, and then south into Pakistan, contributing to record summer heat in Russia, and severe flooding in Pakistan. The Russian heat wave was accompanied by forest fires that sent thick smoke in Moscow. (Photo)


Surface Temperatures: Surface temperatures in 2010 in the U.S. ranked as the 23rd-warmest onBlizzard Baltimore record, and the 14th straight year averaging above the 20th Century average. Since 1895, surface temperatures have increased at an average rate of 0.12 degrees F per decade.  Twelve states had a record-warm summer (June through August). New York, Philadelphia, Trenton and Wilmington broke summertime records.

Precipitation: The average precipitation in 2010 was 1.02 inches above the long-term average. Since 1895, precipitation rates have increased by an average of 0.18 inches per decade. Seasonal snowfall records were broken in Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Atlantic City. Wisconsin had its wettest summer on record.

Storms: The year ranked among the 10 busiest for tornadoes since 1950, with 1,302 recorded. Minnesota had the most for the first time, with 104 confirmed. Increased precipitation helped shrink drought areas to less than 8 percent of the Lower 48 states. Hawaii experienced near-record dryness for most of the year.

(PHOTOS: Top: Natalia Kolensnikova, AFP Getty. Bottom: Sn Photo by Jed Kirschbaum, Feb. 9, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:45 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

January 3, 2011

Mild Sunday, but no record

The weekend's mild temperatures sure provided a welcome break from the otherwise pretty cold days of December - the coldest since 2000. They almost had me out there raking the last of the autumn leaves. But ... nah.

The mercury at BWI-Marshall Airport climbed to 59 degrees on Saturday, and 60 on Sunday. We Mild January day in Baltimorereached 59.5 degrees here at The Sun's weather station, at Calvert and Centre streets. It was a reminder of the first day of December, which hit 62 at BWI before cold winter weather finally struck.

But January highs in the 60s aren't all that rare in Baltimore. We reached the 60s in January as recently as last Jan. 25, when it was 66 degrees - in the middle of the snowiest winter on record here.

The records for the 1st and 2nd are 67 degrees (2005) and 71 degrees (1876), respectively. We've reached the 70s on 22 of the 31 dates in January. The record high for Baltimore in January, at least since they started keeping records in 1871, was 79 degrees, on Jan. 26, 1950.

But let's not forget where we are on the calendar. January's daily cold records range from minus-7 degrees (on three January dates), to 8 above zero, on Jan. 7, 1988. The average snowfall for this month in Baltimore is 7 inches. The snowiest January day was Jan. 28, 1922 (23.3 inches). And the snowiest January was in 1996, with 32.6 inches.

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, Jan. 6, 1997)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

December 23, 2010

December's cold continues


Our cold weather continues. December at BWI saw 13 days with highs below 40 in the first three weeks. It’s only the fourth time since 1871 that’s happened, says NWS forecaster Chris Strong. The record was 18 days below 40, in 1910. Ten Decembers since 1871 have been colder in their first three weeks than this one. The coldest was in 1989, with an average of 27.1 degrees. We’ve averaged 31.4 degrees so far. The next-coldest in recent years was 31.8 degrees, in 2005.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 1996)

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

December 17, 2010

St. Mary's wins Thursday snow lottery

The totals are in for the season's little starter snow on Thursday, and it looks like St. Mary's County wins the prize for this one, with the Lower Eastern Shore a close second. Most of the rest of us saw 1 to 2 inches. The official tally at BWI-Marshall was 1.2 inches. It was hardly a memorable storm, unless it was your car that slid into the ditch.Snow in Baltimore

Here is a snow map from the NWS. Here are some totals from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Ridge, St. Mary's County:  3.2 inches

Colton's Point, St. Mary's:  3.2 inches

Frederick, Frederick:  2.3 inches

Prince Frederick, Calvert: 2.2 inches

Princess Anne, Somerset:  2.2 inches

Waldorf, Charles:  2 inches

Cumberland, Allegany:  2 inches

Elkridge, Howard:  1.8 inches

Columbia, Howard:  1.7 inches

Severn, Anne Arundel:  1.1 inches

Towson, Baltimore:  0.8 inch

Bel Air, Harford:  0.5 inch

Westminster, Carroll:  0.5 inch

(AP PHOTO: Rob Carr, Baltimore, Dec. 16, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

November 30, 2010

Thirsty? Plenty of water in the reservoirs

Loch Raven ReservoirWith December arriving tonight along with what is expected to be a heavy rain, you could say we're entering the recharge season for the region's reservoirs.

Despite a summer of hot, dry weather, the city's reservoir system stands at 86 percent of capacity, according to the Department of Public Works. There are some 65 billion gallons in storage, about 10 billion short of capacity.

Liberty Reservoir is at 83 percent; Loch Raven is at 90 percent, and Prettyboy stands at 87 percent.

That's probably pretty good for this time of year, said Kurt L. Kocher, spokesman for the DPW:

"There have been so many fluctuations over the years that what is typical is hard to pinpoint.  In the mid 80s percent range is solid to a bit above average. We started out the year and went through most of last year with full or close to full reservoirs. We hit a dry spell in the summer with very hot temperatures which increases water usage. Higher temperatures meant high evaporation as well, then we had that one tropical event. Usually we would see a couple tropical storms replenish summer losses, but this is still quite good for late fall."

And with most vegetation now dormant for the winter, whatever falls in the watershed from now on will mostly seep into groundwater or flow into the surface system, recharging it for next year.

(SUN PHOTO: Barbara Haddock Taylor, Loch Raven Reservoir, November 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:32 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

November 10, 2010

New from Sterling: Top B'more snowstorms

Last year's blizzards buried Baltimore. But the storms also exposed problems with the way the Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office in Sterling, Va. was measuring, classifying and ranking snowstorms for the region.

They have since worked through the problems, revisited the data, and posted a new system of ranking the biggest storms. All three of last winter's blizzards made the top 10 for two-day storms in Baltimore.

Let us know what you think of the new rankings.

While we're at it, here's more on how Maryland has fared in past La Nina Winters like the one we're heading into this year. Forecasters say they're expecting a "moderate to strong" La Nina to prevail in the Pacific this winter. 


Top Ten 1-, 2- and 3-Day Snowfall Totals (inches) on Record at Baltimore, MD

(Snowfall record dates back to 1892)
Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:51 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: By the numbers

November 9, 2010

Recovery helped boost electric demand

It wasn't our record-setting heat alone that explains the region's all-time peak in demand for electrical power this summer.

The PJM Interconnection, the outfit that manages the production and distribution of power across the grid in Maryland, parts of 12 other states and the District of Columbia, said that after adjusting for the record heat, a reviving economy added another 1 percent to the jump in highest electrical demand.

"It may seem like a small increase, but it's consistent with expected effects of economic recovery," saidSummer heat Baltimore Michael J. Kormos, PJM's senior vice-president for operations. "It's also a significant change from the reduction in peak demand experienced in 2009, and is the largest increase in weather-adjusted peak demand since 2006 when we recorded our all-time peak."

Peak demand is defined as the maximum demand over one hour. It's the mark that power production facilities must be built to supply, and it is typically reached in summer because of the region's demand for air conditioning.

The Summer of 2010 saw a record-high peak in electric demand across the PJM region, reaching 203.7 million megawatts. That broke the previous record of 203.4 million megawatts, set in 2005. It was 37 percent higher than the average summer peak. 

It was the hottest summer on record for Baltimore, averaging 79.3 degrees for the months of June, July and August. That broke the previous record of 79.1 degrees, set in 1943. The city also suffered a record 59 days of 90-degree weather in 2010, and tied the record for the number of 100-degree days (7). 

(SUN PHOTO: Lloyd Fox, July 22, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:47 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

October 28, 2010

Nearly 10 months in, it's been a very warm year

October is nearly finished and temperatures out at BWI-Marshall Airport are running more than 2 degrees above the average for the month. And there's cooler weather ahead this weekend, so that number may not hold. But it is likely to wind up as the second-most-nearly-average month so far in 2010.

Take a look at these numbers (departures from the 30-year averages for each month) for a sense of how unusually warm it's been since we got past February's cold and snow:

JANUARY:  + 0.04 degreesHeat wave Baltimore

FEBRUARY:  - 4.6 degrees

MARCH:  +4.8 degrees

APRIL:  +3.9 degrees

MAY:  +4.4 degrees

JUNE:  +7.0 degrees

JULY:  +5.0 degrees

AUGUST:  +2.9 degrees

SEPTEMBER:  +3.6 degrees

OCTOBER (through Weds.):  +2.3 degrees

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston June 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

BWI sees another record-warm low temperature

The low temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport on Wednesday was 67 degrees. That is the warmestPansey low for any Oct. 27 since record-keeping began for Baltimore in 1871, breaking the previous record of 66 degrees set 90 years ago, in 1920.

It was also the second day in a row of record-warm lows at the airport. On Tuesday, the low temperature was 62 degrees, tying the previous record set in 1908.

After another mild day today - the forecast high for the airport is 73 degrees, about 10 degrees above the average for this time of year - things will return to the norm. The forecast high for Friday is just 58 degrees, after an overnight low of 48. Friday night's low will sink into the 30s.

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:14 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

October 27, 2010

2010 weather records update

The Baltimore weather records just keep falling this year. Here's an updated and re-organized version of the tally we ran last month:

1. Most snow: The official total (for the season, which includes December 2009) was 77 inches.February blizzard Baltimore That broke the previous record of 62.5 inches at BWI, set in the winter of 1995-96.

2. Snowiest month/snowiest February: The total was 50 inches, beating the previous record of 40.5 inches, set in February 2003.

3. Most rain: The 6.02-inch deluge on Sept. 30 swamped the 1.6-inch record for Sept. 30, set in 1920. It also beat the 5.97-inch record rain total for any day in September, set on Sept. 24, 1912. The total is now the second-largest rainfall for any calendar date since record-keeping began for Baltimore in 1871, after the 7.62 inches that fell Aug. 23, 1933.

4. Most 90-degree days: The total stands at 59 days, and seems unlikely to change. That broke the previous record of 54 days, set in 1988.

5. Most 100-degree days: Seven days, actually a tie, matching the record total set in 1988.

6. Hottest summer: The average temperature at BWI-Marshall from June through August (the meteorological summer) was 79.3 degrees. That broke the previous record of 79.1 degrees, set in 1943.

7. Record-high daily temperatures were set or tied on 11 dates: April 5, (84 degrees); April 5, (90 degrees); June 23, (97 degrees); June 24, (100 degrees); June 27, (100 degrees); June 28, (99 degrees); July 6, (105 degrees); July 7, (101 degrees); July 24, (101 degrees); July 25, (100 degrees); Sept. 24, (95 degrees).

Cooling off Baltimore8. Record-high minimum daily temperatures: set May 3, (69 degrees); July 24, (82 degrees); tied Oct. 26, (62 degrees); Oct. 27, (67 degrees).

9. Record-low maximum daily temperature: Oct. 4, (54 degrees).

10. Warmest month/warmest July: Temperatures in July averaged 81.5 degrees. This matched the record for the warmest month and the warmest July, first set in 1949 and matched in 1995.

11. Hottest average daily high temperature: July's daily highs averaged 92.5 degrees. That beat the previous record of 91.9 degrees, set in 1988.

(SUN PHOTOS: Top, Amy Davis, February 2010; Bottom, Karl Merton Ferron, July 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:35 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

Balmy overnight weather could break record

Got up just before 5 a.m. today to toss a blanket off the bed and open the window. It was raining pretty steadily, but we really needed the air. Temperatures overnight just never cooled off, and the house was stuffy.

The National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va. says the low temperature at BWI-Rainy commuteMarshall this morning was 68 degrees, nearly 30 degrees warmer than the average low for this time of year in Baltimore.

If that remains the day's low until midnight, it would set a new record for the date. The current record high minimum temperature for Oct. 27 in Baltimore is 66 degrees, set in 1920.

On Tuesday, we tied the record for the warmest low temperature for Baltimore on an Oct. 26. The low at BWI was 62 degrees, matching the record set on that date more than a century ago, in 1908. 

The mild weather is a consequence of the powerful low-pressure system, centered north of the Great Lakes, which has been dragging a violent cold front across the Midwest and South. Warm, moist air ahead of that front is sweeping up from the south and southwest, keeping us warm, even overnight.

We recorded just under a half-inch of rain overnight here at The Sun. The airport saw a little over a half-inch. Parts of Montgomery County saw nearly an inch of rain. Here are some other reports from the CoCoRaHS Network.Great Lakes storm

The front is now parked pretty much on top of us. Until it gets moving again, we'll see scattered showers and thunderstorms and plenty of clouds. By late today, however, winds will diminish and skies will start to clear.

Forecasters say it will be another day before the cold, dry air that typically moves in behind a cold front  actually arrives. So Thursday should be sunny and mild again, with highs in the low 70s.

But temperatures will start to drop Thursday night into Friday, with a forecast high on Friday of just 57 degrees, and overnight lows into Saturday in the 30s. Frost advisories may be posted for the western suburbs.

The weekend, including Hallowe'en, should remain sunny and more seasonably cool, if the forecast holds up, with highs only in the 60s, sliding toward overnight lows in the 40s.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

October 22, 2010

Mercury touches 30s overnight

The official thermometer out at BWI-Marshall Airport dipped to 39 degrees overnight, the first time we've seen that territory since May 11. 

It wasn't a record. The coldest reading for an Oct. 21 in Baltimore is 26 degrees, set in 1952. The coldest Oct. 22 was also in 1952, when the mercury reached 31 degrees.

But it was a signal that colder weather, and winter, are on the way. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its Winter Outlook on Thursday. They see no strong trends either way for winter precipitation or temperatures in the mid-Atlantic states.

A strengthening La Nina event in the Pacific Ocean is expected to produce a cold, snowy winter across the northern tier of states, and a mild and very dry winter across the southern tier. But for us, they can't see more than equal chances for above- or below-average numbers for the coming winter.

Of course, a middling winter would be just fine with many Marylanders after last winter's snow Wintry mixcircus. Three blizzards and a flurry of lesser storms dropped an official 77 inches on BWI-Marshall. Western Maryland saw totals well into the triple digits. Common sense is enough to suggest we couldn't see that kind of weather again soon. 

I spoke with Ken Reeves, at for today's story on the winter forecasts. His shop believes we'll see near- or below-average temperatures in November and December, which could give us an early taste of winter. By January, they expect the theme will be mostly mixed-precipitation events. Those would seem more typical of Baltimore than last year's performance, which put places like Buffalo and Erie to shame. And it would still be enough to send lots of Marylanders into winter-weather panics.

I think most of us would agree icy storms are scarier than big snows. Yes?

When I pressed him for a snow-total prediction for BWI, he hesitated, but finally offered 20 to 25 inches. That would top the long-term average for the city, which stands now at 18 inches. But he cautioned that he was more likely to be too high than too low with that forecast. I told him it was the same estimate I got last year from AccuWeather's Joe Bastardi when I asked him the same question. Obviously, Joe erred on the low side.

So, let the winter games begin!

The more immediate forecast calls for a warming trend this weekend. After our dip into the 30s this morning, we'll look for Friday's high to struggle for 60 degrees. There may also be some patchy frost in the area north and west of the urban centers tonight as temperatures again drop NWS/NOAAinto the upper 30s. There are freeze watches in some mountainous areas of Virginia and West Virginia.

But as this high-pressure system (map, left) moves off the coast, we should begin to get some return flow from the west and southwest. And that will bring the weekend highs into the 70s by Sunday, where they will stick for most of the coming week.

Indoors at the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, temperatures have sunk to 67 degrees, and the indoor humidity has climbed to 51 percent. The thermostat was very tempting last night, but we stuck with sweaters and the electric blanket. With milder weather just ahead, we have high hopes of making it to Nov. 1 before we turn to BGE for heat.

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, Dec. 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:45 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

October 21, 2010

Sun website links to airport weather data archive


sailing Chesapeake bayRichard Rosenbaum, of Arnold, says high wind damaged his boat on the Magothy in June. But his insurance company “denies any significant weather event… Can you suggest any way to access weather archives to determine wind speed?”

The National Climatic Data Center has the official numbers. But you can see unofficial hourly data for BWI back to 1948 at Scroll down to “Resources and Sun coverage,” and click on “Baltimore weather archive.”  

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, 2007) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

October 1, 2010

Region sees months of rain in two days

Looks like the rain has finally stopped. But the high water will be running off for some time, and the records set in the past two days will last a long, long time.

The official total at BWI-Marshall Airport topped 6 inches for the 29th and 30th. Additional rain after midnight Friday will likely push the total to about 6.4 inches when the official number is tallied.

Thursday's BWI total of 6.03 inches obliterated the record for the date - 1.60 inches, set in 1920. It also established a new record for a single day in September, breaking the old mark of 5.97 inches, set nearly a century ago, in 1912.

The September total of 8.26 inches makes it the 8th wettest September on record for Baltimore.Clouds Baltimore

1934:  12.41 inches 

1999:  11.50 inches

1876:  10.52 inches

1882:  9.38 inches

1912:  8.75 inches

1975:  8.62 inches

1966:  8.50 inches

2010:  8.26 inches

As impressive as that is, other locations around Baltimore, and especially in Southern Maryland recorded far more rain than that. Some spots took in a couple of months of normal rainfall in a couple of days. Here is a sampling of two-day totals, from the CoCoRaHS Network:Rainy commute

Hollywood, St. Mary's Co.:  11.79 inches

Leonardtown, St. Mary's Co.:  9.92 inches

White Marsh, Baltimore Co.:  9.50 inches

Deale, Anne Arundel Co.:  9.39 inches

Havre de Grace, Harford Co.:  8.43 inches

Severna Park, Anne Arundel Co.:  7.77 inches

Park Hall, St. Mary's Co.:  7.22 inches

Annapolis, Anne Arundel Co.:  6.93 inches

Frederick, Frederick Co.:  3.64 inches

Cumberland, Allegany Co.:  2.41 inches

Salisbury, Wicomico Co.:  2.21 inches

(SUN PHOTO: Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:31 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: By the numbers

September 30, 2010

Overnight rains tops 2" - 4" south of Baltimore

Woke to the sound of rain on the WeatherDeck well before dawn Thursday. We've recorded nearly an inch already in Cockeysville. But some locations, mostly south of Baltimore, have reported well over 2 inches today, with a full day of additional precipitation on tap.

Flash Flood Warnings are posted for all of Central Maryland, from Frederick to Harford and south to St. Mary's County.

It's a sprinkling compared with what Wilmington, N.C. has seen since Sunday - more than 20 inches, according to

Here are some of the early Maryland numbers from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Park Hall, St. Mary's Co.: 6.95 inches

Bowley's Quarters, Baltimore Co.:  5.30 inches 

Leonardtown, St. Mary's Co.:  4.77 inches

Hollywood, St. Mary's County:  3.90 inchesNOAA/NWS

Kingsville, Baltimore Co.: 2.57 inches 

Deale, AA Co.: 2.37 inches

White Marsh, Baltimore Co,: 2.35 inches

Bowie, PG Co.:  2.10 inches

Crofton, AA Co.: 2.0 inches

South Gate, AA Co.:  1.88 inches

Baltimore Sun, downtown: 1.75 inches

North Beach, in Calvert County, is reporting some roads closed due to flooding.

Route 244 in Beauvue, St. Mary's County was under water.

Rock Creek, in Rockville, Montgomery County was also reported to be in flood at Rte. 28 and Avery Road.

Forecasters are still predicting 2 to 4 inches of rain in the region before the precipitation ends overnight tonight.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:50 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

September 27, 2010

Record heat in L.A. - 112 at 12:45 p.m. PDT

Sure it's gray and drippy here. And there are no palm trees anywhere. But at least we're not in Los Angeles, which is sweltering in record 112-degree heat this afternoon. They've long-since broken the daily record (106 degrees in 1963). Now they've matched the all-time high for the city - 112 degrees. (Five days ago it was in the 70s, with lows near 60.)

And it's not even the hottest time of the day yet.

UPDATE: The NWS is now reporting 113 in downtown LA, the hottest reading there since record-keeping began in 1877.  

Here's the forecast discussion. This from the LA Times:

"As of noon, reported that downtown L.A. was broiling at 109 degrees; Santa Monica hit 106, NOAA/NWSWest Hollywood was at 111 and Long Beach was at 107. [Updated at 12:52 p.m.: As of 12:50 p.m.: downtown L.A. had hit 112 degrees, close to an all-time record.]

"The National Weather Service warned of extreme heat and red-flag fire dangers Monday. A small fire broke out in Ladera Heights but was quickly put out. Another small brush fire was contained Sunday night in South Pasadena. 

"On the energy front, California consumers are expected to use more than 45,000 megawatts by peak afternoon hours, said Gregg Fishman, a spokesman for Cal-ISO, which coordinates power for 85% of the state's grid. 

"Though the expected energy consumption is high for this time of year, increased usage is not expected to cause any serious problems, Fishman said. Still, Cal-ISO is recommending residents avoid using heavy appliances in the afternoon."

But it's a dry heat.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:58 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

September 13, 2010

Welcome rains top 1 inch in spots

The rain that arrived before dawn on Sunday were not the tropical soaking we really needed. But they did top 1 inch in a few places in Central Maryland, and for that anyone with a farm or a garden or a lawn is really grateful.

"JS" left this comment on the Weather Blog: "People [at] work were cheering because it rained, it was headlines in Frederick, for us, the first rainfall in 29 days, 0.5 inches. Still about 7 inches short but we'll take anything...."

Here's how the Frederick News-Post sees the drought in Western Maryland. And here are a few more two-day totals from across the region, from the CoCoRaHS network:

Pasadena:  1.31 inches

Annapolis:  1.22 inches Puddles

Bowie:  1.14 inches

Hamilton (Baltimore City): 0.94 inch

BWI-Marshall: 0.83 inch

Towson:  0.82 inch

Ellicott City:  0.81 inch

Jacksonville:  0.66 inch

College Park:  0.63 inch

Easton:  0.63 inch

Westminster:  0.52 inch

Bel Air:  0.35 inch

How badly do we need rain? The Weather & Crops report for last week showed 83 percent of the state's subsoil and topsoil were "short" or "very short" of moisture. 

Forty-seven percent of the pasture was in "poor" or "very poor" condition. Forty-six percent of the state's corn, 40 percent of the soybeans were in similar straits.

Thirty-three percent of the state last week was in "moderate" to "severe" drought. Streamflow was in the lowest 10th percentile in eight of 24 monitoring sites in Maryland - all in Western Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore. Groundwater was in the lowest 10th percentile in wells in Allegany, Charles, Wicomico and Somerset counties. 

So how did you greet the rain? Giddy dancing in the garden? Wild puddle-splashing in the streets? An extra two hours of sleep (like me)? Drop us a comment.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

September 10, 2010

Send some here; huge rain totals from Texas


Weather just isn't fair. Western and Southern Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore are parched, while parts of Texas are deluged by rain from what was once Tropical Storm Hemine. Just take a look at these storm totals:

GEORGETOWN                          15.62                     
FRISCO 1.9 N                           14.82                     
ANDERSON MILL 1.4 NW             13.19                     
JOLLYVILLE 2.1 SSW                  13.14                     
CEDAR PARK 1.0 ESE                  12.99                     
LEANDER 2.5 ESE                        12.71                     
KILLEEN 2.9 SSW                        12.38                     
AUSTIN 10.7 N                           11.95                     
BRUSHY CREEK 1.4 S                  11.87                     
WEST LAKE HILLS 2.4 NNW           11.69  

(AP PHOTO: Star-Telegram, Joyce Marshall)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

September 8, 2010

2010: a tally of busted/tied weather records

So let's see if I can gather up a complete record of all the Baltimore weather records broken or matched so far this year. Feel free to add more if you think I've missed something:

1. Hottest summer: The average temperature at BWI-Marshall from June through August (the meteorological summer) was 79.3 degrees. That broke the previous record of 79.1 degrees, set in 1943.

Summer heat 20102. Most 90-degree days: The total now stands at 56 days, counting Wednesday 9/8. We broke the previous record of 54 days set in 1988.

3. Most snow: The official total at BWI was 77 inches (for the season). That broke the previous record of 62.5 inches set in the winter of 1995-96.

3. Snowiest month/snowiest February: The total was 50 inches, beating the previous record of 40.5 inches in February 2003.

4. Most 100-degree days: Seven days. This was a tie, matching the total in 1988.

5. Record-high daily temperatures were set on 10 dates: April 5 (84 degrees); April 6 (90 degrees); June 23 (97 degrees); June 24, (100 degrees); June 27, (100 degrees); June 28 (99 degrees); July 6 (105 degrees); July 7 (101 degrees); July 24 (101 degrees); July 25 (100 degrees);

6. Record-high minimum temperatures: set May 3 (69 degrees); July 24 (82 degrees)

7. Warmest month/warmest July: Temperatures in July averaged 81.5 degrees. This matched the record for the warmest month and the warmest July, first set in 1949 and matched in 1995.

8. Hottest average daily high temperature: July's daily highs averaged 92.5 degrees, beating the previous record of 91.9 degrees, set in 1988.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:25 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

September 2, 2010

Mercury tops 90 again, tying 1988 record

Ocean City, MDThe thermometer out at BWI-Marshall Airport topped 90 degrees just before noon today. That makes it 54 days this year that temperatures have reached 90 degrees or more, tying the record for Baltimore, set in 1988.

The forecast high for BWI on Friday is 89 degrees, giving us a fighting chance to set a new record before a cold front sweeps through and sends daytime highs into the low 80s for a while.

Here, month by month, is how we got to 54 days of 90-plus weather:

April:  2 days

May:  3 days

June:  16 days

July:  20 days

August:  11 days

Sept.:  2 days

(AP PHOTO: Laura Emmons, Salisbury Daily Times)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:17 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: By the numbers

September 1, 2010

(Unofficially) the hottest summer for Baltimore

It's all still unofficial and preliminary and blah, blah, blah. But the National Weather Service's first crack at the numbers for the (meteorological) Summer of 2010, which ended Tuesday, finds that it has been the hottest since record-keeping here began in 1871.

Here's the word from the folks at Sterling:





Well, we've already nabbed one of those days. The high at BWI-Marshall Wednesday was 95 degrees. That makes 53.

Down in Washington, DC, they've had their warmest summer, as well. They've tied the record there (Reagan National) for the most 90-degree days through August. But they're still short of the 67 needed to match the record for 90-degree days in a calendar year. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

August 3, 2010

NWS update: July tied for hottest month on record

The National Weather Service has recalculated. Now forecasters say that July 2010 tied with three other years for the hottest July on record for Baltimore, and the hottest single calendar month. Period.

Baltimore heatWhen we posted on the July heat yesterday, we were using the web site for the NWS Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office in Sterling, Va. That listed July 1872 as the hottest July on record for the city, with an average temperature of 81.7 degrees.

July 2010 came in at 81.5, putting it in a tie with July 1995 for second place. Or so I thought.

Now, Sterling has consulted the final arbiter on such things - the National Climatic Data Center - and concluded that their own web site was wrong. The correct average temperature for July 1872 was listed by the NCDC as 81.5 degrees.

That would put this past July in a three-way tie with 1995 and 1872 for the hottest July on the books for Baltimore.

But wait. There's more. Steve Zubrick, science and operations officer at Sterling says 1949 also finished with an average temperature of 81.5 degrees, making it a four-way tie. That, despite the fact that the Sterling web site lists 1949 with an average of 81.4 degrees.

UPDATE: Steve tells me the problem appears to be differences in the protocols established for rounding temperature averages. For example, when you take the average monthly high and low for July 1949, add them and divide by two, you get 81.45 degrees. The weather service in 1949 appears to have rounded that DOWN to 81.4 degrees. Today's protocol at the NCDC would roundNOAA/NWS it UP to 81.5 degrees.

Zubrick has asked the NCDC to explain past and current policies on rounding. Math teachers: here's a teachable moment.  

So, that's the story. Sterling has always said the "text file" on their web site contains "preliminary data," and that the NCDC has the last word. In the meantime, Zubrick said, "We're going to review that text file." Stay tuned.

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 1996)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:02 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

July 27, 2010

Coolest night since July 4; more coming

Could hardly believe how cool it felt when we stepped outside this morning. It was 62 degrees on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The overnight low at BWI-Marshall was 66 degrees. That's the lowest reading there since the morning of July 4, when the mercury dipped to 59 degrees.

Yesterday's airport high halted at 89 degrees. That matched the forecast, and it ended the 11-day Druid Hill Park poolstretch of 90-degree weather. But not for long. Sterling expects Baltimore will pop back into the 90s Tuesday and Wednesday, as high pressure builds and clear skies prevail. As the high begins to move off shore, we'll fall under the return flow out of the south. Temperatures will rise a bit more, as will the humidity.

That will increase the chances for showers and thunderstorms by late Wednesday - 50 percent by Wednesday night. Thursday, too will feel hot and muggy.

But that looks like the end of this hot spell for a while. Forecasters say the next cold front will push through out of the Great Lakes sometime on Thursday. Just how severe the storms accompanying the frontal passage will be remains in doubt. Forecasters say it depends on the timing.

If the front moves through in mid-afternoon - at the peak of the daytime heating - we could see aSix Flags gusty storm front like the one on Sunday, they say.

Behind the front we are told to expect cooler, drier conditions. "Lows Thursday night may even drop into the 50s in higher elevations," according to this morning's forecast discussion.

"Northwest flow aloft will provide relief to the summer heat and humidity. Daytime highs in the low to mid-80s during these days will be the lowest in at least two weeks. with overnight lows in the 50s and 60s being the coolest since the first few days of the month."

So far, July 2010 is averaging 82 degrees, which is 5.5 degrees above the average July at BWI. The average is likely to drop some this week as cooler conditions prevail. But if the month ended today, this would rank as the hottest July for Baltimore in 138 years, beating the current record of 81.7 degrees, set in 1872, the year after they began keeping official records.

(SUN PHOTOS: Top: Druid Hill Park pool, Karl Merton Ferron; Bottom: Six Flags, Jerry Jackson, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:07 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

July 26, 2010

Oh, are we going to pay ...

I do NOT want to see my next bill from BGE. Here are some factoids from the PJM Interconnection - the power grid than manages electrical distribution for the middle Atlantic states and Washington, D.C. Our thirst for power - electrical power - just keeps increasing.

Calvert Cliffs power stationBased on National Weather Service data, the amount of air conditioning demanded by consumers in the region has been 77 percent higher this summer than last summer, and 44 percent higher than the average. (Last summer was unusually mild.)

The highest demand for electricity so far this summer was 136,684 megawatts. That's nearly 10,000 megawatts more than the peak demand last year - 126,805 megawatts.

Every day last week, the demand for power across the PJM region exceeded last year's July peak of 116,599 megawatts. So far this month (through the 24th) our electrical consumption has topped last year's peak on 16 different days. 

Last weekend, consumers in the PJM region set a new all-time peak demand record for a Saturday. The peak was 128,452 megawatts, breaking the old record by more than 8,000 megawatts. PJM says that bump is enough juice to run a major city. The previous record was 120,324 megawatts, set Aug. 13, 2005. 

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

July 24, 2010

Temperature record falls at BWI-Marshall

The official temperature for Baltimore topped 97 degrees sometime between noon and 1 p.m. Saturday. By the 1 p.m. reading it was 99 degrees, breaking the old record of 97 for the date, last reached in 1987.

UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: The temperature at BWI reached 100 degrees at the 3 p.m. reading Saturday. The dew point is 72 degrees, yielding a Heat Index value of 110 degrees. It is the sixth day of 100-plus temperatures at BWI this year. That has happened in only three other years since record-keeping began in 1871 - in 1900, 1930 and 1988.

UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: The high today at BWI was 101 degrees. It was 102 at the Inner Harbor. Here's more from the NWS:


BWI 101 97 /1987...1968/
DCA 101 96 /1987...1968...1884/
IAD  99 97 /1987/

Earlier post resumes below:

NOAA/NWSThe forecast high for the day at BWI is now 102 degrees. The dew point stands at 72 degrees, putting the Heat Index number at 109 degrees. Downtown, at the Maryland Science Center - and alongside the water - it's "only" 98 degrees. The forecast high is 103 degrees.

It's 100 degrees at The Sun, Calvert and Centre Streets, with a dew point of 80 degrees (It always seems to read high; that would yield a Heat Index of 123 degrees).

And if you haven't been outside yet today, you can't begin to know how really suffocating this heat and humidity really is. I just visited a dry cleaning establishment in Cockeysville, and they are working without air conditioning. Instead, they have all the doors and windows open, with a powerful fan blowing somewhere, drawing a gale of hot air in off the parking lot and through the front door.NOAA/NWS It's like standing in front of glass furnace.

With four or five more hours of solar heating ahead, we will be setting new records for this date just about every hour at BWI. The all-time record high for Baltimore in July - or any other month - is 107 degrees, set on July 10, 1936. 

Obviously, there is an Excessive Heat Warning posted for the region through 10 p.m. Saturday. Heat Advisories, Code Orange Air Quality and (in Baltimore) a Code Red Heat Alert are also on the boards today.

Have you been outside in this stuff? Let's hear about it.  

And for more from the NWS on toppling records this weekend, continue reading below.

Continue reading "Temperature record falls at BWI-Marshall" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:29 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: By the numbers

July 23, 2010

Playing out the string ... of 90-degree days

Now that the mercury out at BWI-Marshall has topped 90 degrees for Friday, we are looking at a consecutive string of nine days at 90 or more. That seemed like a lot until I looked back at June Ice creamand realized we had an 11-day stretch of 90-plus weather, from June 19-29.

I've had a little exchange on the topic with Steve Zubrick - science officer for the National Weather Service forecast office out in Sterling Va. With more hot weather forecast this weekend, I thought we might be nearing some kind of record.

We are, but not for consecutive days at 90 or more. Steve pointed out that the record for consecutive days at 90 or above is 25 days, set July 12 through Aug. 5, 1995. How quickly we forget.

If the Sterling forecast holds, however, Steve observed that by July 29, we will have extended the string of 90-plus days at BWI-Marshall to 15 days. That's still well short of the record. However, that would bring the month's total (not consecutive) number of days in the 90s or worse to 22 days. And THAT would tie the record for the greatest number of days in July with highs of 90 or above (set in 1999). It would also bring the year's total to 43 days.

Then, if we suppose just one of the last two days of this month (beyond the current forecast) tops 90, and add only the average number of 90-degree days in August and September (10), we would have a total of 54 days at 90 or above for the year. And that would tie the record of 54 days for one year in Baltimore.

And the temperature forecast calls for an above-normal August and September.

"It does appear, based on the above analysis, that Baltimore will probably break its single calendar year record of 90-plus days," he said, landing somewhere between 55 and 60 days.

Please, spare us.

(SUN PHOTO: Tasha Treadwell, 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:53 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: By the numbers

July 16, 2010

Welcome to the Hot Zone

Artscape crowd BaltimoreToday marks the start of what is, statistically, the hottest week (nine days, by one count) of the year for Baltimore. From July 16 through the 25th, the average high temperature at BWI (based on a 30-year average from 1971-2000) is 88 degrees.

After the 25th, the averages begin to go down again, headed for the lows of mid-January. Actually, they probably start down before then, around the 20th, but due to rounding by the National Weather Service, the whole-number averages read 88 degrees until the 26th.

Which, of course, is why the powers that be always schedule Artscape ("Three days of sweat, sunburn and claustrophobia") for this week. Makes perfect sense. 

The high today at BWI-Marshall was 98 degrees, after a high of 95 on Thursday. The forecast calls for highs in the low 90s right through the end of next week, 3 to 5 degrees above the average each day, with no more than a 30 percent chance for a cooling shower or thunderstorm. 

(SUN PHOTO: Christopher T. Assaf, 2004)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:10 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

90-plus heat breaking records, triggering alerts

Temperatures at BWI-Marshall Airport are headed up past the 90-degree mark again today. When they get there, it will mark the 30th day this year with 90-plus heat.

With the 29th day with such heat on Thursday (BWI high was 95 degrees), Baltimore beat the previous record for 90-degree weather by July 15, according to the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling. NWS science officer Steve Zubrick says the last time we came close was in 1991, with 28 days in the 90s Baltimore heatby that date. By the time that year ended, the airport had recorded 51 days of 90-plus weather.

Today, with 30 days of 90-degree heat under our sweat bands, we will top the average number of 90-degree days for an entire year in Baltimore (29.4 days), based on the 30-year average from 1971-2000.

The greatest number of 90-degree days for Baltimore in a single year was 54 days, in 1988.

By contrast, during last year's relatively cool summer, the airport recorded only 4 days of 90-degree temperatures by July 15, and three of those occurred in April.

So, you might think we must be experiencing the hottest year ever. Not quite. Zubrick said cooler temperatures last winter are holding down our average. So far, the period from Jan. 1 through July 15 is averaging 54.8 degrees. That's tied for the 22nd warmest Jan. 1-July 15 period on record for the city.

As for 100-degree days, the airport has reported five so far. That's only happened four times before this year. The record is seven days, in 1930 and again in 1988.

There is a Heat Advisory posted for all of Central and Southern Maryland  from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. today, with an afternoon high Calvert County droughtexpected to reach 98 degrees at BWI-Marshall Airport. With the humidity factored in, Heat Index numbers will rise to between 100 and 105 degrees.

And there is more 90-plus weather in the forecast right through next Thursday.

Baltimore has declared another Code Red Heat Alert for Friday, with cooling centers now open. And the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a Code Orange Air Quality Alert. High levels of ozone will make the air we breath outdoors unhealthy for sensitive groups, including the very old, the very young, and those with respiratory and heart problems.

Be careful out there. Thirteen Marylanders have died so far this summer from heat-related causes, many because they have not gone to cool places, or have not turned on their own air conditioners. 

Watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in yourself, your family and neighbors. Check on vulnerable family, friends and neighbors and call 911 if they appear to be in trouble from the heat. 

(SUN PHOTOS: Top: Barbara Haddock Taylor/ Bottom: Calvert County drought, Amy Davis)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:32 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

July 5, 2010

June was second-warmest on record for Baltimore

The numbers will only add the weight of statistics to what every miserable creature who has ventured outdoors in recent weeks already knows. And it's soon to get worse. But here we go anyway:

The average temperature at BWI in June was the second highest on record for the city of Baltimore in Heat and droughtJune, at 78.8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.  That is 7 degrees warmer than the 30-year average (1971-2000) used for comparisons, and more than 2 degrees warmer than the July average. Only June of 1943 was hotter, at 79.8 degrees. And back then they measured the official temperatures in downtown Baltimore. Official record-keeping in Baltimore began in 1871.

The mercury at the airport reached 90 degrees or more on 16 days in June. The average is just under six days. This year's tally was the second-highest on record, behind only the 18 straight 90-plus days recorded in June 1943. 

We hit 100 degrees on June 24 and 27. Both days set new daily record highs. That was the first time Baltimore has recorded 100 degrees or more on two separate days in June. It was also the first 100-degree day in June since June 15, 1994, and just the 10th one-hundred-degree June day on record for the city. 

Another new high was established for June 28, at 99 degrees. The 97-degree high on the 23rd tied the record first set on that date in 1894.

The 11 straight days of 90-plus weather we suffered last month was the second-longest 90-plus streak on record for the city in June. The longest was a 12-day stretch, on June 13-24, 1994.

Had enough yet?NOAA/NWS

Sorry. There's more. The low temperatures on June 24 and 29 tied record high minimums.

June was also the driest June in Baltimore in nearly 20 years. The 1.55 inches that fell was less than half the normal rainfall for the month.

There. Now we're done.

Except for the forecast, which calls for bad air, (gray on the map) heat advisories (orange) and highs near 100 degrees through Wednesday. The highs won't fall back into the (upper) 80s until the weekend, with more 90-plus weather ahead next week. And, Baltimore's Health Department has declared a Code Red Heat Alert extending through Wednesday, opening its cooling centers.

Sorry. Oh, and don't look at the tropical weather forecast. It looks messy for the Gulf.

Now I'm done.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:11 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: By the numbers

June 25, 2010

Friday's BWI high of 93 marks a week in the 90s

The National Weather Service has reported a high of 93 degrees at BWI-Marshall airport on Friday. So much for the break we were supposed to get today. At least the humidity was a little lower.

Cooling offThe heat marked the seventh straight day of 90-plus temperatures for Baltimore. The last time that happened was Aug. 16-22, 2008.

Forecasters out at Sterling said it's only the 17th time since record-keeping began in Baltimore in 1871 that a seven-day streak in the 90s has occurred before July 1.

And if their forecasts hold up, we will have 10 days of 90-degree weather on the books by Monday. And Tuesday will be a close call. The only times Baltimore has recorded 90-degree streaks longer than 10 days was when one 12-day streak ended on July 7, 1901, and another ended June 28, 1943.

Streaks of 90-plus temperatures before July 1 in Washington have happened five times. The longest was an 18-day streak that ended July 14, 1872. 

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, 2006)

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Categories: By the numbers

May 31, 2010

Mercury reaches 90s again at BWI

The temperature at BWI-Marshall airport topped 90 degrees again on Monday, reaching 91 degrees during the afternoon.

UPDATE: The official high Monday at BWI was 92 degrees. Earlier post resumes below. 

It was 93 degrees at The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets downtown. Temperatures also reached the 90s at Hagerstown, Martin Airport, Washington Reagan National Airport and Dulles Airport in Virginia.

The high was not close to the record for the date - 96 degrees set back in 1991.

Memorial Day heat BaltimoreMonday was the fifth day of 90-degree weather for Baltimore so far this year. We hit 90 degrees at BWI on April 6 and 7. The high on May 26 was 91 degrees, and we went one degree higher - 92 - the following day.

The average daytime high temperature for Baltimore on May 31 is 79 degrees. It climbs to 86 degrees by the end of June, and tops out at 88 degrees in the third week of July.

May 2010 ends with an average temperature of about 67 degrees, which is more than 4 degrees above the long-term average for the month, and the warmest May since 2004, which averaged 69.8 degrees at BWI. The high for the month was 92 degrees, on the 27th. The low was 35Sunday Afternoon Seurat degrees, on the 10th. Hardly seems possible now. It's also worth noting - again - that the last of the December and February snow piles finally melted at BWI during the first week of May.

Cooling degree days in May - a measure of the demand for energy for cooling - were running more than twice the norm for the month. Watch for that on your next electric bill. I know my AC is cranking.

The month of May in Baltimore is also ending with about 3.5 inches of rain - about a quarter-inch below the long-term average.

(SUN PHOTO/Algerina Perna, at Fort McHenry, May 31, 2010 ... Looks like "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte," the Georges Seurat painting, detail, lower right. Except for the cannon.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

May 26, 2010

Mercury hits 91 at BWI, downtown

Heat BaltimoreThe official thermometer out at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport has reached 91 degrees this afternoon, making this the hottest day of the year so far, and the third that's hit the 90s. The first two were back on April 6 and 7, when we topped out at 90 on both days, setting or matching records.

The afternoon is still young, so we could go higher. But at 91 degrees we are still a few degrees shy of the record of 94 degrees, set on this date in 1914.

It's also 91 here at The Sun, Calvert and Centre streets. Tomorrow's forecast calls for a high at BWI of 88 degrees, dropping to around 70 degrees on FRiday and Saturday.

Last year BWI saw three April days in the 90s, but none in May or June. July and August produced 10 days with highs of 90 or higher. 

(SUN PHOTO/David Hobby, 2006)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:28 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

May 18, 2010

Eastern Shore, Southern Md. see most rain

Soppy as it's been this Tuesday morning, the rainfall we've seen here in Central Maryland from these storm systems - a half-inch or less - can't compare to what they've reported from the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.

The heaviest rain in the 24 hours ending Tuesday morning - more than an inch - seems to have fallen in Wicomico and Somerset counties on the lower shore, while St. Mary's County in Southern Maryland takes the top prize west of the bay. Here are some totals from the CoCoRaHS network:

Parsonsburg, Wicomico County:  1.45 inches Rain in Baltimore

Ridge, St. Mary's:  1.43 inches

Princess Anne, Somerset:  1.38 inches

Salisbury, Wicomico:  1.33 inches

California, St. Mary's:  1.07 inches

La Plata, Charles:  .84 inch

Easton, Talbot:  .68 inch

Severn, Anne Arundel:  .44 inch

Elkton, Cecil:  .38 inch

Long Green, Baltimore Co.:  .37 inch

Towson, Baltimore Co.:  .34 inch

Frederick:  .35 inch

Columbia, Howard:  .34 inch

We'll be stuck under these clouds, soaking up plenty of on-and-off rain and drizzle throughout the day Tuesday as a low-pressure system moves slowly off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and up the East Coast toward New England, and another creeps out of the Ohio Valley. Temperatures, meanwhile, are 10 or 20 degrees below the averages for this time of year at BWI, forecasters say.

Clouds will remain, but the rain chances will slowly diminish on Wednesday. The sun should return by Thursday if the forecast holds up. Friday will likely be the best day of the week, with sunny skies and a high around 80 degrees.

But rain chances return with the next storm system arriving over the weekend.

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, May 2010)

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Categories: By the numbers

May 6, 2010

April was one of our warmest

April in Baltimore turned out to be one of the warmest on record for the city, putting a 90-degree rush on the summer weather that is sure to follow.

The April climate summary from the National Weather Service notes that the average temperature for the month was 57.1 degrees. That was 3.9 degrees above the long-term (30-year) average for Aprils at BWI.

Warm April in BaltimoreWhen the statisticians out at Sterling looked at just the daily high temperatures, they found that the average daily high of 69.7 degrees last month was the 6th-warmest on record for the city, tying for that spot with April 1976.

Much of that heat came during the first week of April. The average for that week was 64.6 degrees, the warmest first week of April on record, beating the old (1929) record by just a tenth of a degree.

The hottest stretch came on April 5, 6 and 7. The high of 84 degrees on the 5th broke a record of 83 set on that date in 1942. The high of 90 degrees on the 6th tied the record set in 1929.

The twin highs of 90 degrees on the 6th and 7th also tied as the second-earliest first occurrence Bee and flowerof 90-degree weather on record in Baltimore. The earliest on the books was on March 29, 1945, when the mercury hit 90.

When they looked at March and April together, the number-crunchers at Sterling noticed two consecutive warm months. In fact, this March and April ranked as the 10th-warmest on record, and the warmest since 1977.

Warm springs are an increasing concern among climate scientists and biologists. They see a gradual "spring creep" - warmer temperatures coming earlier and earlier in the year - that shows signs of getting some species out of synch with vital food sources or pollinators. People adjust pretty easily, but some animals and the plants and animals they have depended on for eons are finding themselves on increasingly different schedules. Elsewhere, earlier snowmelts are increasing the frequency and size of western forest fires. 

Here's more on the "spring creep" studies.  

(SUN PHOTOS/Top: John Makely, 2006/ Bottom: Algerina Perna, 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:44 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

April 26, 2010

Towson, Baltimore took brunt of overnight rain

Sunday's rains got a late start, but when the skies finally opened up, they produced a gusher - especially in the Baltimore region, where morning traffic was a mess as a result of flooding on the JFX.

(It took me 65 minutes to drive from Timonium to downtown Baltimore, normally a 25-minute drive. Bailed off the Beltway at the top of the JFX, took Falls Road, which was jammed, too. Then Lake Avenue, to Roland, to University, to St. Paul. Got a commuting/weather nightmare story? Leave a comment and unburden yourself. Do you have storm video? Click on the orange "Submit Your Video" You Tube Direct widget on the main page and share.)

Reports to the CoCoRaHS network showed as much as 2 inches of rain fell in Baltimore, Towson and Ellicott City. There was more than an inch of rain overnight in Catonsville, Columbia, Jacksonville and Sykesville.

We recorded about 1.25 inches on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The gauge here at The Sun, at North Calvert and Centre streets shows a storm total of 1.9 inches at 11 a.m. Monday. BWI reported just over an inch from the storms. Here is a sampling of rain totals for the 24 hours ending around 7 a.m. Monday.FLooding on the JFX

Towson:  2.18 inches

Ellicott City:  2.12 inches

Hamilton, (Baltimore City):  1.90 inches

Long Green:  1.84 inches

Frederick:  1.71 inches

Marriottsville:  1.65 inches

Catonsville:  1.57 inches

Columbia:  1.48 inches  

The thunderstorms caused 24,000 power outages among BGE customers, nearly all of which have since been restored. It also produced hail as big as an inch in diameter in many locations across Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, including Frederick and Montgomery counties.

The thunderstorms and showers brought the rain totals for the month at BWI-Marshall Airport to about 2.18 inches. That's a third of an inch behind the "normal" pace for April through Sunday's date. April is, curiously, the driest month of the year at BWI, on average, with just 3.00 inches.

And if this month ends drier than that, it will be only the fourth month in the last 12 to end with below-average precipitation. It's been a very wet 12 months, with more than 17 inches of surplusNOAA precipitation.

We will likely get more rain through the day today as we continue under the influence of a large low-pressure system that is sitting pretty much on top of Maryland this morning, slowly making its way to the coast and out to sea. The barometer stands at a very low 29.33 inches at The Sun at 11:40 a.m. Monday, and is still falling.

We may get a few widely scattered thunderstorms in the late mix today and tonight. But it should all end by the morning rush hour Tuesday, if the forecasters are right. And then skies will begin to clear.

The forecast for the rest of the week looks pretty good, with sunny skies and temperatures climbing through the 60s and into the 70s by the weekend. Good roofing weather.

(SUN PHOTO/Jed Kirschbaum/Flooding on the JFX)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:13 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

April 9, 2010

Whew! This was hottest first week in April on record

After the snowiest December, the snowiest February and the snowiest winter on record for Baltimore, we've managed to topple yet another weather record this week - a hot one this time.

Steve Zubrick, the science officer out at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, NOAA/NWSVa., says the first seven days of the month were the hottest first week in April on the record books for Baltimore, which go back to 1871.

The average temperature at BWI-Marshall from April 1 to 7, 2010 was 64.6 degrees, slipping by the old record of 64.5 degrees set 81 years ago, in 1929. Okay, so it's an unofficial record, but still ... That's nearly 15 degrees above the 30-year average for BWI, 49.6 degrees.

It was also the warmest start to an April in Washington, D.C., and out at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia, Zubrick said. "Impressive!"

And now there's a frost advisory out tonight for counties in northwestern Virginia.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:47 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: By the numbers

Front brings up to an inch of rain, cooler temps.

Okay all you allergy sufferers ... Is it any better today? Did last night's rain clear the air and provide some relief from your pollen-induced hay fever? I know I feel about as lousy as I did yesterday, Hay fever hatand I'm going to have to cut the grass tonight. Ugh. I could use this woman's "hay fever hat."

We heard maybe one clap of thunder out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville last night. And the rain gauge showed just under a half-inch of rain this morning. But the oak flowers are still up there, and there was already new pollen on the car at daybreak.

Some places across Central Maryland saw as much as an inch of rain from last night's frontal passage, including Forest Heights, Prince Frederick and Oxon Hill. The nearer suburbs - Columbia, Towson, Long Green and Bel Air got about two-thirds of an inch.

Officially, BWI recorded 0.68 inch, the first measurable rain there in 10 days. 

So we're probably looking at more allergy weather ahead. The pollen forecast calls for high numbers again by Sunday after a couple of "medium" days today and Saturday. 

The forecast shows sunny, pleasant weather throughout the coming seven days, with highs, once we get past today's 50s, in the 60s to near 70, and cool nights.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:19 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

March 18, 2010

How sweet it is; BWI reaches 70 degrees

This must be our reward for battling back from the snowy purgatory we found ourselves in last month - a gorgeous, cloud-free day with temperatures in the deliciously perfect upper 60s and low 70s. 

The mercury out at BWI-Marshall Airport reached 70 degrees at 3:15 p.m. Thursday. It was the March sunshine in Baltimorefirst time we've seen the 70s there since Nov. 15, when we touched 72 degrees

The Washington airports were in the same ballpark: 69 at Dulles at 3:59 p.m., and 71 down at Reagan National at 3:04, according to the NWS forecast office in Sterling, Va.

Here at The Sun, we reached 71 degrees at 3:30 p.m. It was 70 at the Maryland Science Center.

So, with spring officially less than 48 hours away, have we finally rid ourselves of all the February snow piles out there? The one behind my house has finally vanished. How about yours? How are the mall parking lot piles doing? Any more guesses on when the last of February's snows will finally trickle away?

(SUN PHOTO/Perry Thorsvik 1998)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:08 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

March 15, 2010

Four storms ranked among top 30 Northeast snows

Four of the big snowstorms that struck the Northeastern United States this winter have been ranked among the 30 highest-impact snowstorms of the last 54 years.

The assessments are made by the National Climatic Data Center. Meteorologists there use a ranking system developed to weigh not just the snow depth at any one location, but the depth, the geographic NCDC snow map area and the population it affected over its full range.

Called the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS), the system was developed in 2004 by Paul Kocin and Louis Uccellini, of the National Weather Service. It's since been applied retrospectively to every major storm since 1956, and to all the big Northeast snowstorms that have occurred since the scale was developed.

The NESIS scale calculations generate an index number, which is translated into a five-level Category ranking similar to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, including Notable, Significant, Major Crippling and Extreme. 

CategoryNESIS ValueDescription

Only two storms have been ranked as Cat. 5 "Extreme." They were the March 12-14, 1993 storm, which was given a NESIS number of 13.20; and the Jan. 6-8, 1996 storm, rated at 11.78.

Here, for comparison, with their preliminary rankings and NESIS numbers, are this winter's four biggest snowstorms. Only the three earliest had a major impact in Baltimore. And here's a link to the full list.

17. Feb. 23-29, 2010: 5.11, a Cat. 3 "Major" storm.

21. Feb. 4-7, 2010:  4.30, a Cat. 3 "Major" storm. (Map above.)

25.  Dec. 18-21, 2009:  4.03, a Cat. 3 "Major" storm.

26:  Feb. 9-11, 2010:  3.93, a Cat. 2 "Significant" storm.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:49 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

March 14, 2010

Howard County tops rain charts

Elkridge and several other communities in Howard and Anne Arundel counties topped the charts for rain totals in Maryland for the 48 hours ending Sunday morning. The two-day total at Elkridge was 4.15 inches.

BWI-Marshall Airport reported 0.98 inch on Friday, another 2.31 inches on Saturday, and 0.29 so far on Sunday, for a three-day total of 3.58 inches. The average monthly rainfall for a March at BWI-Marshall is 3.93 inches.

Here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, we have 1.98 inches on the gauge since Friday. The Sun's weather station at Calvert and Centre streets shows 2.34 inches since Friday.

Here are some other totals for the two days of rain, compiled from CoCoRaHS:

Elkridge, Howard County:  4.15 inchesNOAA AHPS

Severn, Anne Arundel:  3.79 inches

Ellicott City, Howard:  2.86 inches

Elkton, Cecil:  2.74 inches 

Towson, Baltimore Co.:  2.70 inches

Columbia, Howard:  2.65 inches

Severna Park, Anne Arundel:  2.49 inches 

The National Weather Service has been reporting flooded roads in Elkridge, Thurmont and in Towson over the last 24 hours. The Potomac is in moderate flood at Paw Paw, W.Va., Point of Rocks, Md. (see chart), and at Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. Minor flooding is reported on Antietam Creek at Sharpsburg, and Harper's Ferry and Little Falls on the Potomac.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

March 13, 2010

Arundel sees most rain overnight

This storm isn't over yet, but rain tallies overnight show that Anne Arundel County has received most of the rain so far. The only station reporting totals higher than Arundel's this morning was Thurmont, with 1.75 inches by 8 a.m. The totals were gathered by CoCoRaHS.

Also, the flood gauges so far show most rivers and streams in Maryland have not yet reached flood stage, although much of the runoff is not expected to reach the larger rivers until late today or tomorrow. You can follow the river flooding here. The chart below shows that water levels on the Potomac at Wisconsin Avenue in Washington have already climbed within a few inches of flood stage.

Here are some samples of the rain totals reported by this morning. The differences across the region are sharp. Where northern Arundel reported well over an inch, Towson saw barely a half-inch. Here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, we've recorded less than three-quarters of an inch. NWS forecasters seem to be dialing back on their more dire rain forecasts of Friday afternoon.

Thurmont, Frederick Co.:  1.75 inchesNOAA Wisconsin Ave. flood gauge

Severn, Anne Arundel:  1.68 inches  

Severna Park, Arundel:  1.29 inches

Leonardtown, St. Mary's:  1.11 inches

Salisbury, Wicomico:  1.01 inches

Ellicott City, Howard:  0.94 inch

Columbia, Howard:  .81 inch

Sykesville, Howard:  0.66 inch

Towson, Baltimore Co.:  0.59 inch

In the meantime, Flood Warnings have been posted for Garrett, Allegany and Frederick Counties as snowmelt and rain push small streams and creeks over their banks. Waters are expected to continue to rise into Sunday.

UPDATE 11 a.m.: Flood Warnings have been extended to Baltimore County and City, northern Anne Arundel County, Howard and Carroll counties.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

March 11, 2010

Baltimore was 5th snowiest U.S. city

After spending a brief period at the top of the snow pile, it looks like Baltimore sledded to 5th position by the season's end in the competition for the title of "Snowiest U.S. City 2009-10."

Here are the top 10 finishers, according to a Web site called Golden Snow Globe. No idea who they are, so I can't vouch for their numbers. I know the total listed for Baltimore (80.4 inches) is no longer valid. The National Weather Service forecast office at Sterling, Va. has recalculated and cut the official total for BWI-Marshall Airport to 77 inches. That pushed Mobtown to 5th place, instead of 4th as listed on the site.

Inner Harbor in snowHere's now it should look:

1. Syracuse, N.Y.: 106 inches 

2. Erie, Pa.:  90.9 inches

3. Rochester, N.Y.:  89.6 inches

4. Philadelphia, Pa.:  78.7 inches

5. Baltimore, Md.:  77 inches

6. Pittsburgh, Pa.:  76.9 inches

7. Buffalo, N.Y.:  74.1 inches

8. GrandRapids, Mich.:  70.2 inches

9. Fort Collins, Colo.:  69.6 inches

10. Lakewood, Colo.:   68.2 inches

(SUN PHOTO: Algerina Perna)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:53 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: By the numbers

March 9, 2010

December snow, and season, lose 3 inches

The winter of 2009-2010 will still go down in the history books as the snowiest on record for Baltimore. But in the end it will be three inches less stupendous than we thought.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service have just finished adjusting their snow tallies to account for measurement problems at BWI-Marshall Airport. Officially, at least - the winter delivered 77 inches, not 80.2 inches as the weather service first reported.

And the big storm in December will be recorded officially as an 18-inch snowfall, not 21.1 inches as the first reports stated. December's monthly total has been similarly reduced from 23.2 inches to 20.1 inches, according to the Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office in Sterling.

The changes don't affect any of the records broken in December. The Dec. 18-19Snow in Baltimore snowstorm remains the biggest December snow on record for Baltimore, and the month remains Baltimore's snowiest December.

And even at a mere 77 inches, it's still the snowiest winter on record for the city. The annual average for Baltimore is 18.2 inches.

The reduction in some winter snow totals was made late last week as Sterling reviewed each of the season's snowfalls to adjust for measurements that were not in compliance with the weather service's protocol.

Until the problem was discovered in the wake of the Feb. 5-6 blizzard, contract observers working for the Federal Aviation Administration were making only hourly snow measurements, and taking storm totals after the flakes stopped falling - called "snow depth" measurements.

The technique, which complies with FAA rules, is considered invalid by the NWS for climatological data, because it does not allow the snow to compact.

The weather service requires that snow measurements for climatological purposes be made one every six hours. Because of compaction, the totals are usually smaller. That's what the FAA Snow in Baltimorecontractor was supposed to have been supplying to the weather service.

So, with no six-hour data, Steve Zubrick, Sterling's science and operations officer, elected to use the FAA's snow depth data instead of the hourly measurements, because it is the most conservative solution.

He and forecaster Jared Klein combed through the data and made the changes. Some snowfalls were unaffected. Most turned out smaller. A few increased due to rounding of snow depth numbers to the nearest inch.

Here are the original and revised numbers for BWI:

December: Original:  23.2 inches  Revised:  20.1 inches

January:  Original: 7.5 inches  Revised:  6.9 inches

February:  Original: 49.5 inches  Revised:  50 inches

Season:  Original: 80.2 inches  Revised: 77 inches 

Major storm totals:

Dec. 18-19:  Original:  21.1 inches  Revised:  18.0 inches

Feb. 5-6:  Original:  24.8* inches  Revised:  25 inches  

Feb. 9-10:  19.5 inches (no change; measured properly) 

* This was the original snow depth measurement. The FAA's total from one-hour measurements was 28.8 inches. 

(SUN PHOTOS: Top: Algerina Perna/Bottom: Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:20 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: By the numbers

March 5, 2010

Both February storms were blizzards at BWI

Okay, so we don't want to think about snow anymore this season. But just to tie a ribbon on the season ...

James E. Lee, meteorologist-in-charge out at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va., says both big storms that struck the region in February will go down in the weather history books, at least preliminarily, as blizzards.

Whiteout in BaltimoreThe weather service announced soon after the Feb. 5-6 storm that blizzard conditions were recorded at BWI-Marshall Airport from approximately midnight on Feb. 6 until 5 a.m., with winds gusting to 37 mph and visibilities reduced to one-eighth of a mile in heavy snow.

Blizzard conditions occur when falling or blowing snow reduce visibilities below a quarter mile for three hours - not necessarily consecutive hours.

Today, Lee confirmed that blizzard conditions were also reported at BWI-Marshall during the Feb. 10-11 storm, at 10 a.m., 2, 3, 4 and 6 p.m.

We already know this was the snowiest winter, the snowiest February and [February was] the snowiest month on record for Baltimore. Here are a few other winter weather trivia from this meteorological winter just ended, just published in the NWS Monthly Climate Report for BWI-Marshall in February:

1. Baltimore recorded two separate, two-day, double-digit snowfalls in the same month (Feb. 5-6 and Feb. 9-10) for the first time since record-keeping for snow totals began in the 1880s.Deep snow Baltimore

2. The two big February storms dropped a combined 44.5 inches of snow at BWI in just six days. It was the most snow ever to fall for any 7-day period on record for Baltimore. The previous record weekly snowfall was 32.6 inches, in Jan. 6-12, 1996.

3. The daily 7 a.m. "climatological snow depth" - the snow measured on the ground at BWI - on Feb. 11 was 34 inches, setting a new record. The old snow-depth record was 30 inches, recorded on Jan. 18, 1957. 

4. The average snow depth for Baltimore in February was 11 inches, the highest average monthly snow depth ever recorded for the city. The previous record was 7 inches, in January 1996.

5. There was at least an inch of snow on the ground at BWI on 22 dates in February. That's the third-highest number of February days with an inch of snow or more on the ground for Baltimore. The highest number is 27 days in 1934, followed by 25 days in 1905.

6. The maximum daily temperature at BWI failed to reach 50 degrees for the entire month. That's the first time that's happened in any month since January 1977, and only the 10th time on record. Even so, February 2010 ranked as only the 22nd coldest February on record here. 

(SUN PHOTOS: TOP: Karl Merton Ferron/BOTTOM: Kenneth K. Lam)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:02 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

March 2, 2010

Three big snowstorms all ranked in Top 10

The National Weather Service's Sterling, Va. forecast office has disowned the list of Top 20 Snowstorms for Baltimore that was posted on its Web site for many years. In the wake of the Feb. 5-6 storm, concerns were raised about the scientific legitimacy of the criteria long used for inclusion on the list.

Jim Lee, meteorologist-in-charge at Sterling, told me that one of the problems is that the list does not discriminate among 1-day, 2-day and 3-day storms, not to mention those that seemed to rage on even longer. The No. 1 ranked snowstorm, before the list disappeared from the Sterling site, dropped snow on Baltimore over four days, from Feb. 15 to Feb. 18, 2003.

But Lee told me a few weeks back that, meteorologically speaking, no snowfall that lasts four days can be considered the consequence of a single storm. And in truth, that 2003 event really was a combination of at least two storms, with some time during those four days when no snow was falling. (The Baltimore Top 20 snowstorm list includes two others, in 1899 and 1892, that stretched over four days.)Feb. 10, 2010 snow in Baltimore

So, because climatologists only accept data on 1-, 2- or 3-day storms, the Sterling office will be reassessing its Top 20 list. What we'll probably get will be several lists, broken down by the length of the storm, and ignoring the snow that fell on the fourth day of three former Top-20 storms.

The Sterling office will also be reassessing storms that may have been measured at BWI-Marshall with hourly measurements - in accordance with FAA standards - rather than with the six-hour measurements required by NOAA for climatological purposes. That could reduce official storm totals for BWI going back as far as 1998, when the FAA took over the job of measuring snowfall at the airport from the weather service. There are six Top 20 storms since 1998 at BWI that could be affected.

I'm not sure how all this will come out in the wash. It seems likely that, if the FAA's contractors really have used hourly measurements since 1998, that all our snowstorms since then will get smaller. When the problem was discovered last month, Lee rejected the 28.8-inch total the FAA contractor reported for the Feb. 5-6 storm based on its hourly measurements. He replaced it with the more conservative 24.8-inch measurement the contractor reported as the storm's "snow depth" - the total measured when the snow stopped falling (and after the snow's weight had compacted it). 

On the former issue - revisiting the entire storm record at BWI and Washington and ranking snowfalls in separate categories according to the number of days the snow fell - I suppose they have to abide by the rules set by climatologists.

But, on the latter, it seems to me that those of us who are not climatologists experience snowstorms as discreet events based on how much we have to shovel once the flakes stop falling. I would argue that the February 2003 "storm" - while it may have been two storms - felt like one really long siege to those of us left to dig out from 28 inches of snow.

So, in the interests of continuity ... or nostalgia, or something less than scientific ... here is the old NWS Top 20 Snowstorms list for Baltimore, using the old (now officially discredited) criteria, and updated to include the three big storms from December 2009 and February 2010. Clip and save. You may never see it again after the NWS issues its revised lists.

Some observations: February, while it is not the snowiest month on average at BWI, has seen nine of these Top 20 storms, as many as January and March combined. December has seen just two. But what's most astonishing to me, personally, is that, while the record goes back to the 1880s, my family and I have witnessed 10 of these 20 storms since we moved to Baltimore only 30 years ago. How about you? There should be only three or four that no one living today can recall.

1. Feb. 15-18, 2003:  28.2 inchesClearing the roof of snow

2. Jan. 27-29, 1922:  26.5 inches

3. Feb. 5-6, 2010:  24.8 inches*

4. Feb. 11, 1983:  22.8 inches

5. Jan. 7-8, 1996:  22.5 inches

6. Mar. 29-30, 1942:  22.0 inches

7. Feb. 11-14, 1899:  21.4 inches

8. Dec. 18-19, 2009:  21.1 inches

9. Feb. 18-19, 1979:  20.0 inches

10. Feb. 9-10, 2010:  19.5 inches

11. Mar. 15-18, 1892:  16.0 inches

12. Feb. 15, 1958:  15.5 inches

13. Jan. 25, 2000:  14.9 inches

14. Dec. 11-12, 1960:  14.1 inches

15. Feb. 11-12, 2006:  13.1 inches

16. Mar. 5-7, 1962:  13.0 inches

17: Jan. 22, 1987:  12.3 inches

18. Jan. 30-31, 1966:  12.1 inches

19. Feb. 16-18, 1900:  12.0 inches

20. Mar. 13-14, 1993:  11.9 inches  

* Snow depth measurement. The "true" depth, had it been measured every 6 hours, likely would have been more.

(TOP: AP Photo/Rob Carr; BOTTOM: Sun Photo/Gene Sweeney, Jr.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:29 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: By the numbers

March 1, 2010

Meteorological winter ends; one for the records

Although there are still some flakes in the forecast, the three-month meteorological winter ended at midnight last night. So it's a good time to add up the damage and answer some questions I've already been getting from readers.


December: 23.2 inches (Average: 1.7 inches) 

January: 7.5 inches (Average:  7.0 inches)

February: 49.7 inches (Average:  6.4 inches)

Seasonal total*: 80.4 inches (Average: 18.2 inches)

*Through Feb. 28


Snowiest winter: Old record: 62.5 inches in 1995-96

Snowiest December: Old record: 20.4 inches in 1966-67

Wettest December: (8.06 inches melted precip.) Old record:  7.44 inches in 1969

Snowiest February:  Old record: 40.5 inches in 2002-03

Snowiest month:  Old record:  40.5 inches in 2002-03


December:  3

January:  2

February:  6

SNOWIEST DATE OF WINTER (Midnight to midnight): Dec. 19, 2009:  20.5 inches


Dec. 18-19, 2009:  21.1 inches

Feb. 5-6, 2010:  24.8 inches*

Feb. 9-10, 2010:  19.5 inches

* estimated due to measuring error at BWI 

And, just for the record, here's how, back in October, predicted the winter would turn out.

And here's a bit of how the National Weather Service predicted it in an October story in The Sun: Looking back over previous winters in the Baltimore-Washington area during El Nino events, Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Climate Prediction Center, said, "If you add all the years together there is a tendency for above-average snow ... We've seen with El Nino winters[like this one] a couple of years with absolutely no snow in this area. But we've also seen winters with some record-breaking snows. It's a feast-or-famine type of situation."

I guess we got the feast, Mike.

(SUN PHOTOS/Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:08 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: By the numbers

February 26, 2010

Wind gusts top 50 mph at BWI-Marshall

High winds driving around the west side of the big snowstorm now centered over Long Island reached more than 50 mph in gusts across parts of Central Maryland overnight. The winds contributed to thousands of power outages locally. Here's a sampling from the National Weather Service:Anemometer


   1 N BALT-WASH INTL A    53 mph  1:24 AM  2/26   KBWI ASOS
   1 W HARMANS             53 mph   1:09 AM  2/26

   1 N BALTIMORE MARTIN    46 mph  11:00 PM  2/25   KMTN AWOS

   MIDDLETOWN              56 mph  4:10 AM  2/26
   1 ENE BRUNSWICK         53 mph   3:49 AM  2/26

A station near Petersburg, W.V. reported a gust of 67 mph at 3:17 a.m. Here's more. And here's a sampler:

Frederick County:

Ballenger Creek:  63 mph  7:45 a.m.

Buckeystown:  57 mph  7:29 a.m.

Green Valley:  57 mph  7:53 a.m.

Middletown:  56 mph  4:10 a.m. 

Washington County: 63 mph  7:44 a.m. 

High wind warnings remain in effect across the region until 6 p.m. Friday. The NWS said:



Winter Weather Advisories also remain in effect. Here's the full forecast for BWI.

Meanwhile, way out west, the hardy folks of Garrett County are grappling with blizzard conditions and another (nearly) two feet of snow out of this system. That comes on top of the 19 FEET of snow they've had already this season. That's no typo. Wisp resort reports 26 inches this week, with 218 inches so far this season. 

Now, Marylanders living out in Garrett are no snow sissies. But this winter is beginning to get to them. We received this report this morning from Cindy Stacey on the latest blow:

"Weather is probably worst of winter so far. We received 21.6 inches in this system. County emergency folks say most county roads are impassable. Brad Frantz is director of emergency management in Garrett County. He's advising everyone to stay off roads, unless emergency ... Nearly everything is closed, including Wal-Mart! Before this system, we've had 19-ft of snow this winter. Calling it hurricane-like storm ... even worse than blizzard. Amazingly, our power is still on, despite 30-50 mph winds."

We are trying to reach a spokesperson for the Garrett emergency management office. But it's a small outfit, and they say they are "extremely busy." We'll keep trying. Meantime, if you're upWisp resort 2/26/10 there, send snow photos. Clogged roads, buried houses and cars, crazed residents. It's all good.

John McCracken was snowboarding in two feet of fresh powder this morning. McCracken is marketing coordinator at the Wisp Resort in McHenry.

He said his commute to work this morning took twice as long as usual as snow and wind combined to fill in quickly behind the county plows.  

"As far as the local roads around the area, they're definitely snow-covered for sure," he said. "I saw something I've never seen in my life - a personal truck with a personal plow actually plowing a state road this morning. And they definitely appreciate all the help they can get."

UPDATE: Garrett County emergency management officials say Garrett's roads are "basically impassable," and are likely to remain that way throughout the weekend. There have been two multi-vehicle pileups on I-68, with casualties. Plow crews "cannot keep up." Motorists are being urged to stay home.

Has Garrett County had enough of winter yet?

"With a lot of the locals, you kinda get comments like, 'Boy, I haven't seen a snowfall like this in years.' So they've seen it before, but not recently," McCracken said. "We haven't broken the record for snowfall in Garrett County yet, but we're close."

"People new to the area, I think they're a little ... I don't want to say sick of snow ... but they are definitely ready for warmer temperatures and for spring to come," McCracken said.

Not so on the mountain. Despite gusts over 40 mph, and perhaps higher on the ridge tops, ski and snowboard conditions are terrific, McCracken said. "We're looking for a high of 22 today. I have been out all morning snowboarding, and it's not bad. A little windy ... not something you want to hang around in all day."

"As far as conditions, they are amazing. I got first track this morning ... I was riding in snow over my knees, some of the best conditions you can have," he said. Most trails and lifts are open, although a few loading and unloading areas are too deep in snow and need to be cleared.

(Top: Anemometer/Frank Roylance; Bottom: Wisp Resport/John McCracken, used with permission)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:27 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

February 18, 2010

Temperatures climb toward average

Seems almost balmy out there, as temperatures poke into the 40s for the first time in more than two weeks.

February is running 7 degrees below average so far at BWI-Marshall Airport. We still have 10 days to go, and things do seem to be warming up. But for the month to date, this would qualify as the fourth coldest February on record for Baltimore. Here are the coldest average February temperatures for the city:Pansies in winter

1934:  24.3 degrees

1979:  25.6 degrees

1895:  26.2 degrees

2010:  27.2 degrees (through Feb. 17)

It's not so much that we've seen many extraordinarily low readings at the airport thus far in February. The coldest were 11-degree readings on the 7th and the 15th.

It's more that the temperatures were consistently low, in the 30s every day but one, and the teens and 20s every night. Only one day thus far in February averaged above the long-term norm for the date. That was Feb. 3, with a high of 42 degrees (the average high for the date) and a low of 27 degrees - a little above average.

Even today's balmy readings in the mid-40s are still barely meeting the average for the day's date.

Forecasters in recent days have been looking ahead at changes in the large-scale weather patterns that seem to promise a warm-up into the 50s in the first week of March. Sounds like sun-bathing weather after this month. But highs near 50 in the first week of March in Baltimore are only about average.

It will just feel like spring. But if it makes you feel better, March 1 does mark the end of the meteorological winter.

(SUN PHOTO/Karl Merton Ferron/2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:57 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

February 11, 2010

The stats are in

BWI snowfall 2010

Thanks to Christine Fellenz, Sun Graphic artist

As a footnote, I should add that December - remember December? - was also the snowiest December on record for Baltimore, with23.2 inches of snow at BWI.

Oh, one more thing: Here is the NWS interactive snowfall map for the Tuesday/ Wednesday storm.

I'll be taking a few days off. Please talk amongst yourselves.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:25 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

So far this winter: 6 feet, 7 inches of snow at BWI

 Snow depth map Feb. 10, 2010

For a city that sees 18.2 inches of snow in the average winter (and less than 12 inches in each of the last three winters), this can only be described as a jaw-dropping season. NO ONE predicted this, and no one could have.

So far this winter - and I say "so far" because there is more snow on the horizon - Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has recorded more than 6 feet, 7 inches of snow. That is nearly four and a half times our annual average. Plenty of locations in Central Maryland saw more.

We have had three big storms averaging 21.8 inches each at BWI. Nothing like that has ever been recorded here. We have witnessed the snowiest winter, the snowiest February and the snowiest month on record for the city.

And if you can believe these guys, Baltimore has just bumped off Syracuse, N.Y. for first place as the snowiest city in the U.S. this winter. We soared from 26th place just five days ago. Washington, D.C. is 10th.

And people are complaining that their street hasn't been plowed.

Here are the seasonal numbers, all from BWI, through Feb. 10:

December:  23.2 inchesCars buried in snow

January: 7.5 inches

February: 49.2 inches

Total:  79.9 inches (6' 7.9 inches) 

Previous Record: 62.5 inches, set in 2002-03

Seasonal average:  18.2 inches

Here are the BWI stats for February 2010, through Feb. 10: 

Feb. 2-3 storm:  4.9 inches

Feb. 5-6 storm:  24.8 inches

Feb. 09-10 storm:  19.5 inches

Month total: 49.2 inches

Previous Feb. record: 40.5 inches (2003)

Feb. average: 6.4 inches

Here are some early reports on 24-hour snowfall from the CoCoRaHS network. Here are more from NWS weather spotters. Frederick, Carroll and Baltimore counties seem to have topped the charts, with many locations reporting two feet of snow and more from the latest storm. Some have more than four feet on the ground.

You can see more on snow cover across the country, including the snow depth map at the top of this post, here. 

One more thought. We're only 11 days into February - not even halfway - but so far we are running almost 7 degrees below average for the month, at 26.6 degrees through Wednesday.  We have had  just one day of above-average temperatures. If we ended the month this cold, it would be the fourth-coldest February on record for Baltimore. But surely the temperatures will rise in the next two weeks. Right?

Coldest Februaries in Baltimore:

1934:  24.3 degrees

1979:  25.6 degrees

1895:  26.2 degrees

2010*:  26.6 degrees

Average: 35.5 degrees

* - Through 2/10/10


Continue reading "So far this winter: 6 feet, 7 inches of snow at BWI" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:20 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: By the numbers

February 10, 2010

Accumulations begin to top 1 foot

New snow accumulations across Central Maryland at mid- to late- morning have begun to top 1 foot, with the highest numbers, as forecast, in the north and east portions of the state.

Here is a sampling from the National Weather Service, which asks us "not to panic" and to "enjoy your favorite indoor activities." (I could have a lot of fun with that one, but I better not go there.)

Lineboro, Carroll County:  15 inches Buried cars

Norrisville, Harford:  14 inches 

Long Green, Baltimore County:  13 inches

Monkton, Baltimore Co.:  12.8 inches

Glyndon, Baltimore Co.:  12 inches

Catonsville, Baltimore Co.:  11.3 inches

(The WeatherDeck, Cockeysville:  11 inches/ Can you find the cars in this picture?) 

Severn, Anne Arundel:  10 inches

Germantown, Montgomery:  10 inches

Mount Airy, Carroll:  10 inches

Camp Springs, Prince George's:  8.5 inches

Gwynn Oak, Baltimore City:  7.5 inches

Here's more from the NWS:



And then there's this, for those of you reading this as you drive the state's scenic byways:



Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:27 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: By the numbers

February 9, 2010

Cool, interactive map of last weekend's snow totals

The National Weather Service has posted a pretty nifty, Google Maps-based interactive map of last NOAAweekend's snow totals in and around Baltimore and Washington, and elsewhere around the region. You can zoom in, pan around and click on individual readings.

If you look at the readings around BWI, it becomes a bit difficult to swallow the NWS conclusion that the airport received "only" 24.8 inches of snow. Aside from one 20-inch report from Fermdale, virtually ALL the other readings in the vicinity of the airport - including Elkridge and Glen Burnie - are in the 29-38-inch range.

Heavy snowSpeaking of snow (do we speak of anything else these days?), we just pulled data on snowfall in the six largest cities among the 15 with the highest annual average snowfall, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

We're talking about places such as Flagstaff, Ariz., (averaging 100.3 inches), and the lake-effect cities of Erie, Pa. (88.8 inches), Syracuse (115 inches), Buffalo (93.6 inches), Rochester (92.3 inches) and Binghamton, N.Y. (84.2 inches).

Baltimore, by contrast, averages a paltry 18 inches a year.

This season, however, B'more is playing with the big boys.

At 60.4 inches and counting, we have seen more snow this winter than Binghamton (44.3 inches), and stand within striking distance of Buffalo (61.3  inches), Erie, Pa. (62 inches), Rochester (63.5 inches) and - with 10 to 20 inches of snow en route to Charm City - even Syracuse (74.5 inches) may be within reach.

Only Flagstaff, with 106 inches already this season, and snow expected all week, seems invulnerable.

Glory can be ours. (Well, maybe. It's snowing in all of these places this week.)

BTW, the snowiest city on the list? Blue Canyon, Calif. They average 240 inches of snow a year.

(SUN PHOTO by Karl Merton Ferron/ Feb. 6, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:31 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: By the numbers

February 7, 2010

Baltimore headed for seasonal snow record

Even with the asterisks hanging like icicles from the Super Bowl Weekend Storm, it looks like Baltimore will set a new record this winter for total snowfall in a single season. If so, it will be the third seasonal snow record set in just 14 years.

According to the tally from the National Weather Service, we have so far accumulated 60.4 inches of snow since the first flake stuck on Dec. 5, 2009:.

December 2009: 23.2 inches

January 2010:  7.5 inches

February 2010:*  29.7 inches 

That total has eclipsed the No. 2 season and brings us within barely 2 inches of the all-time record. We could easily break that mark when the next storm strikes on Tuesday.

Here's how the seasonal rankings look now:SNowdrift, icicles

1. 1995-96:  62.5 inches

2. 2009-10:  60.4 inches*

3. 2002-03:  58.1 inches

4. 1963-64:  51.8 inches

5. 1898-99:  51.1 inches

*Through Feb. 6

On another topic, I've been thinking about the kerfuffle over the official measurements of the snowfall at BWI-Marshall. After a contractor (I believe the NWS "contractor" at BWI is the FAA staff) failed to follow NWS protocol in measuring the storm total, Sterling's meteorologists had to estimate the total accumulation, and picked 24.8 inches. The number is a conservative choice between the 28.6 inches arrived at with hourly measurements, and the 24.7 inches measured after the storm had finished accumulating and became compacted.

They concluded that the Super Bowl Weekend Storm beat the previous record for a two-day storm, which Sterling interprets to be the Feb. 16-17 piece of the four-day Presidents' Day Weekend Storm in 2003. Until yesterday, the NWS Sterling forecast office Website had always rated the 2003 storm as a four-day event that totaled 28.2 inches. Now they consider that a two-day event that totaled 24.4 inches

The new results:

No. 1 Two-day Storm: Super Bowl Weekend Storm 2010:  24.8 inches

No. 2 Two-day Storm: Presidents' Day Weekend Storm 2003: 24.4 inches

Still King of the Mountain: Three-day Knickerbocker Storm, 1922:  26.5 inches

Super Bowl Storm from spaceI can understand why meteorologists fuss over how they should count a four-day storm like the Presidents' Day Weekend Storm in February 2003. That event truly was a combination of at least two separate storms, with some brief period in between with no precipitation.

And I suppose there is something useful to scientists about distinguishing one-day storms from the two-day and three-day variety; although I'm not sure why a 20-hour storm that snows past midnight should be treated as a two-day storm, while a 20-hour storm that occurs within one calendar date is classified as a one-day storm.

And I have no clue why this is an issue now, years after the Sterling folks posted their table of the Top Twenty Snowstorms in Baltimore, (also below) listing the four-day, two-storm, 2003 blowout as No. 1. (The table has now disappeared from the Sterling Web site.)

But in the end, it seems to me that what matters to the public is how much snow has been dumped on them, no matter how many days it took for it to end. For all of us who had to wait for the snow to stop back in 2003, and then dig out, the storm was a single event. And the snow we had to remove was 28 inches deep (more or less).

My vote would be to keep the old Top Twenty list, and insert the dear departed Super Bowl Weekend Storm at No. 3, after the Presidents' Day Weekend Storm in 2003, and the Knickerbocker Storm in 1922.

What say you?

(PHOTOS: Top: SUN PHOTO/Roylance-Snowdrift/ Bottom: UCAR satellite image of mid-Atlantic snow, shot Sunday 2/7/10)

Continue reading "Baltimore headed for seasonal snow record" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:25 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

February 6, 2010

No snow total for BWI

Jim Lee, the meteorologist-in-charge at the NWS forecast office in Sterling, says a problem with snow measurements at BWI during the late departed snowstorm means we will not have an official total, perhaps for several days.

On top of that, he says, it's not yet clear how they will measure the four-day storm in February 2003 that currently holds title as the biggest on record for Baltimore.

One thing Lee says he is confident about is that this storm did beat the 2003 storm, by at least a fraction of an inch.

Here's the deal:Super Bowl Storm

The contractor paid to make snow measurements at BWI for the weather service (the NWS has none of its own personnel there) evidently failed to follow NWS protocols in measuring the snow.

Those rules say the observer must allow snow to fall on an official "snow board" for six hours, then wipe it clear and repeat the procedure every six hours until the snow ends.

The technique is designed to split the difference between measuring all the snow at once (which means the snow will have compacted some from its own the weight), or measuring it more frequently, and perhaps exaggerating the snow depth by eliminating most compaction.

The contractor measured every hour on the hour and added it up. That produced a total of 28.6 inches. He also took a "snow depth" reading, meaning that he measured all the snow at once, after it stopped falling. Because of compaction, that came to 24.7 inches.

Super Bowl Storm"We don't have an observation for every six hours," Lee said.

Sterling is now consulting with headquarters, and with climatologists, to figure out how to make a reasonable estimate of what a six-hour measurement might have been. "We'll have to come up with an official estimate somewhere between the 24.7 inch snow depth and 28.6," Lee said.

But then what should they compare it to? The No. 1 snowstorm currently on Sterling's Top Twenty list is the Feb. 15-18 storm in 2003. The total on the Sterling Web page for that storm was 28.2 inches.

Did the storm that buried my car (left) beat that? It's not clear.

The 28.2-inch measurement on the Sterling Web site notwithstanding, the National Climatic Data Center doesn't recognize four-day storms, Lee said. Besides, the 2003 storm was actually two storms. His office is now focusing on two days of that storm for the official record challenge. That's the total of 24.4 inches that fell on Feb. 16 and 17, 2003.

If that's upheld by the NCDC, both measurements from BWI for the Super Bowl Weekend Storm just ended would beat that mark, so whatever intermediate figure they eventually agree on would as well. And that would make this the biggest two-day storm on record for Baltimore.

Lee like its chances. "I'm feeling pretty comfortable saying we broke a two-day snowfall record in Baltimore," he said.

UPDATE: Preliminarily, the NWS is estimating the storm's two-day BWI total at 24.8 inches, beating the 2003 storm by 0.4 inch.

In the meantime, Sterling's Top Twenty Snowstorms chart was taken off the Website Saturday afternoon. The site still lists the February 2003 storm as the biggest THREE-day storm on record for the city at 26.8 inches. 

The biggest two-day storm, if downtown measurements are included, was in January 1922 - 26.3 inches. 

Stay tuned.

(SUN PHOTOS/Frank Roylance/The WeatherDeck (top)/My poor car (bottom))

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:55 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: By the numbers

City total tops two feet

The CoCoRaHS Network is now reporting a 7 a.m. snow total from Baltimore's Hamilton neighborhood  of 25.1 inches. Two-foot snow totals are becoming quite common across the region as more reports come in. Some spots are nearing the three-foot mark.

And the snow continues to fall. It's snowing hard on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville at noon.

UPDATE at 2:50 p.m.: Snow has stopped on the WeatherDeck.

Here is the latest NWS tally. And here are some early morning CoCoRaHS reports from places not yet mentioned here:Super Bowl snow

Friendsville, Garrett County:  35.5 inches

New Market, Frederick Co.:  34 inches

Long Green, Baltimore Co.:  20 inches

Taneytown, Carroll:  20 inches

Greensboro, Caroline:  19.3 inches

Pasadena, Anne Arundel:  18 inches

Easton, Talbot:  17 inches

Funkstown, Washington Co.:  15 inches

Colora, Cecil:  13.8 inches

St. Michaels, Talbot:  12.5 inches

Princess Anne, Somerset:  2.1 inches



Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

Snowstorm is now No. 3 on B'more's record books

At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service is reporting 23.5 inches so far at BWI-Fells PointMarshall Airport. That makes this the third-biggest snowstorm since snow records for Baltimore began in 1883.

And the snow is still falling. Another 3 inches and this Super Bowl Weekend Storm will eclipse the No. 2 snowstorm - the 26.5-inch blockbuster on Jan. 27-29, 1922.

Forecasters do not believe the storm will topple the all-time record - the 28.2-inch storm on Feb. 15-18, 2003.

We'll see.

(Fells Point PHOTO by Lindsay Rothstein/Used with permission)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:15 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: By the numbers

February 3, 2010

How much snow did you get?

The National Weather Service has completed a snow map for Tuesday night's storm. Not hard to see why one can't expect the forecasters to get it perfect for everyone's neighborhood. Enjoy:


Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:44 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: By the numbers

January 31, 2010

Baby, it's cold out there

It's 8 degrees out on a very snowy WeatherDeck this morning. That's the same low reading they reported this morning from BWI-Marshall Airport.

It's not quite a record for the date. The coldest Jan. 31 on record for Baltimore is 4 degrees, last reached on this date in 1966.  But it's plenty cold. The last time we reached single digits at BWI was more than a year ago, on Jan. 17, 2009 when we awoke to a 2-degree reading.

Here are some other lows from around the region this morning:

Washington DC:  16 degreesPolar Bear Plunge

Dulles International:  15 degrees

Annapolis:  19 degrees

Martin Airport:  10 degrees

Maryland Science Center:  18 degrees

Baltimore Sun:  16 degrees

The forecast calls for temperatures to warm up a litte bit each day this week, but it will stay well below the seasonal averages, and we may not reach the freezing mark today (Sunday). There is a chance for snow showers on Tuesday, and more rain or snow as the weekend approaches.

Weathervan, Trappe, MDOh, and there's snow on the ground this morning. You may have noticed it falling yesterday. The total at BWI-Marshall came to 5.5 inches, bringing the month's official total to 7.5 inches - just a half-inch more than the average for a January in Baltimore. For the season, we stand at 30.7 inches. That's a foot above the average season here and the most since 2002-03, when 58.1 inches fell.

Lots of us saw a bit more than the airport. We had 6 inches on the WeatherDeck. Here are some other early reports from around the region. As forecast, the higher totals are coming in from the southern counties. Here's a sampling:

Leonardtown, St. Mary's County:  11.5 inches

Friendly, Prince George's Co.: 8.1 inches

Waldorf, Charles Co.:  7.0 inches

Bowie, Prince George's:  6.9 inches

Long Green, Baltimore Co.:  6.8 inches

Columbia, Howard Co.:  6.1 inches

Here are more totals from the National Weather Service. Generally speaking, totals ran from 3 to 8 inches in the Baltimore area, with up to a foot in the southern counties. If forecasters had stuck with their original predictions, they would have looked brilliant.

(TOP: SUN PHOTO; Bottom, A snowy weathervane in Trappe, Talbot County; Jim Dawson. Used with permission.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:23 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: By the numbers

January 26, 2010

Maryland streamflow setting records

Runoff from recent heavy rains and melting snowpack is setting new daily streamflow records USGS(black dots on the map), especially in the western parts of the state and nearby Virginia and West Virginia.

The North Branch of the Potomac, for example, was running at 11,400 cubic feet per second near Cumberland just after 3 p.m. Tuesday. That's more than 10 times the median flow for a Jan. 26.

The South Branch of the Potomac, near Springfield, WV. was running at 18,500 cf/s. The median for the date is 1,100 cf/s.

USGSNear Paw Paw, W.V. (USGS photo in quieter times) the Potomac was at 44,800 cf/s, or 16 times the median flow for the date.

At Point-of-Rocks, Md., the Potomac was moving at 123,000 cf/s, or more than 13 times the median for the date. Minor flooding was reported there.

Records are being set along stretches of Bear Creek, Wills Creek and Fishing Creek, as well as the Youghiogheny and Savage rivers.

If you have high-water photos of this event, send them to me at

Monday morning's storm also packed terrific winds. Here's a list of top gusts (and rain totals) recorded around the region. A resident near Smithsburg, in Washington County, reported a trampoline was picked up and blown nearly a mile. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

Mt. Washington, N.H. loses world wind speed record

Summit Mount Washington 

A panel of the World Meteorological Organization, a part of the United Nations, this week certified a new official surface wind speed record (not related to tornadoes) that eclipses one held for nearly 76 years by the weather station at the summit of New Hampshire's Mt. Washington.

The Mt. Washington mark of 231 mph, set during a winter storm, had stood since 1934. The WMO panel of experts, after a thorough review, concluded that the new world wind speed record is 254 mph, set at Barrow Island, Australia during a tropical cyclone (hurricane) called Olivia, on April 10, 1996. Barrow Island is off the country's northwest coast.

I suppose that means the N.H. record actually stood for just 62 years.

A wind speed reading of 236 mph - higher than Mt. Washington's - was reported from Guam in 1997, during a Typhoon named Paka. But that report is in dispute.

Here is part of the WMO statement:

Geneva, 22 January 2010 (WMO) - According to a recent review conducted by a panel of experts in charge of global weather and climate extremes within the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl) the record of wind gusts not related to tornados registered to date is 408 km/h during Tropical Cyclone Olivia on 10 April 1996 at Barrow Island, Australia. The previous record was of 372 km/h, registered in April 1934 across the summit of Mount Washington, USA.

Here's how the folks at Mt. Washington responded on their Web site:

It was bound to happen, but it’s definitely quite a shock to hear that news,” says Scot Henley, Executive Director of the Mount Washington Observatory. “While we are disappointed that it appears that Mount Washington may have been bumped from the top, at our core we are all weather fans and we are very impressed with the magnitude of that typhoon and the work of the committee that studied it.”

(SUN PHOTO/Ernie Imhoff/Mount Washington summit, January 1999)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:10 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: By the numbers

January 25, 2010

Airport hits 66 degrees

The official temperature at BWI-Marshall Airport today touched 66 degrees during the lunch hour. That was 9 degrees short of the record of 75 degrees, set on this date in 1967. But it was the warmest reading of the year, so far, and the warmest since Nov. 29, 2009, when we reached 67 degrees.

It was 67 degrees at Washington's Reagan National, and 65 out at Dulles Airport.NOAA 

This breath of spring can't last, of course. The barometer is climbing again, and forecasters say the cold front that passed by with this morning's storm will eventually usher in colder air. Temperatures will fall for the balance of the week, dumping us back below normal - in the 30s - by Friday, with a forecast for snow, and weekend lows in the teens and 20s.

Today marks the 12th day in a row with above-average daily temperatures at BWI. The warm stretch followed a string of 12 days in a row of below-average temperatures (Jan. 2 to 13).

Steve Zubrick, science and operations officer at the NWS forecast office in Sterling, Va., has looked at the data and found that these runs of 10 or 15 days of above- or below-normal temperatures in January are not uncommon here. 

But he agrees we're headed back into the cold cellar this week. Read his comments below.

Continue reading "Airport hits 66 degrees" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:22 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

January 22, 2010

Glug... Wet weather swamping records


We already know that December brought Baltimore it's biggest December snowfall (Dec. 18-19), and it's snowiest and wettest December on record. Now the U.S. Geological Survey is adding to the most impressive statistics that piled up during 2009.

The year ended with 55.57 inches of precipitation at BWI, making it the 6th wettest year since record-keeping began there in 1871. The record is 62.66 inches, set in 2003.

December streamflow in Maryland was above normal in 90 percent of the USGS monitoring stations. Seven rivers and creeks struck new monthly mean streamflow records, including the Chicamacomico, Choptank, Nanticoke, Nassawango, Piscataway, St. Clements and St. Jones.

The new December record on the Nanticoke (graph above) broke one that had stood since 1948. And it marked the second straight month of record streamflow there after five months of increasingly high rates.

Groundwater levels have also been responding to the wet weather.  Levels in 81 percent of the USGS monitoring wells were above normal. Five set new records for December, all in Southern Maryland or on the Eastern Shore, including Kent County, Del., Somerset, Charles, Queen Anne's and Wicomico counties in Maryland.

The well in Kent County, Del. (graph below) topped records for the second-straight month, topping the 1967 record by four feet.

The reservoirs that serve Washington and Baltimore are in good shape, of course. But there is one curiosity: Liberty Reservoir stands at just 85 percent of capacity, according to the USGS. Not sure yet what's up with that, but we're trying to get an answer. Some sort of maintenance work, perhaps. Or maybe all these water main breaks have drained it. We'll see. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Kurt Kocher, at the city Department of Public Works, says the USGS figure on Liberty Reservoir is incorrect. "The reservoir has been full since September." he said.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:48 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

January 12, 2010

US was colder in December, but 2009 was warm

The lower 48 states were much colder than average in December, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But overall, the year 2009 ended slightly warmer than the long-term average. 

The report from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center also notes a number of notable factoids, some of which WeatherBlog readers already know about:

Snow cover Jan. 12, 2010* December 2009 was the wettest on record for Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

* It was also the snowiest December on record for a number of mid-Atlantic cities, including Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia. Oklahoma City, too, saw its snowiest December ever as arctic air invaded the South.

* The average snow cover for the contiguous U.S. reached 4.1 million square kilometers, the greatest expanse of snow on record for any December since satellite observations began in 1966. (That's the latest snow cover map, at left.)

The December State of the Climate Report says the lower 48 states averaged 30.2 degrees in December. That's very cold - 3.2 degrees below the average. It was also pretty wet. Average precipitation was 2.88 inches, about 0.65 inch above the 1901-2000 average.

But for the whole year, the lower 48 states were both wetter and warmer than average. Temperatures across the country averaged 53.1 degrees Fahrenheit, 0.3 degrees warmer than the long-term average. The average precipitation was 31.47 inches, or 2.33 inches above the long-term average.

Regions that ended the year warmer than average included parts of the South, Southwest and West. The cooler regions included the Central Plains and the Midwest.

You can read more of the NCDC report here.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:41 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

December 20, 2009

Storm breaks (nearly) all December records

December storm 2009

The snow that you'll be tackling with shovels and back muscles on Sunday broke nearly all official December records, not just for Baltimore, but also for Washington's Reagan National Airport, and for Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.

Here are some storm totals from across the region. Here is a quick breakdown of the fallen records (from National Weather Service data):


Dec. 19, 2009:  20.5 inches.

Two-day storm total: 21.1 inches. (This now ranks as Baltimore's 7th-biggest snowstorm on record, and only the second December storm in the top 20. See below)

Total, December to date: 22.2 inches.

Old Baltimore record for a Dec. 19: 7.6 inches in 1945.

Old record for any date in December: 11.5 inches on Dec. 17, 1932.

Old record for total snowfall in December: 20.4 inches in 1966.


REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT: Records (for Washington) go back to 1887)

Dec. 19, 2009:  15 inches.

Two-day storm total:  16.4 inches.

Total, December to date: 16.6 inches.

Old Washington record for a Dec. 19:  7 inches in 1945.

Old record for any date in December: 11.5 inches on Dec. 17, 1932.

Old record for total snowfall in December: 16.2 inches, 1962.


DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Records go back to 1963.

Dec. 19, 2009:  16 inches.

Two-day storm total:  18 inches

Total snowfall, December to date: 21 inches

Old Dulles record for  a Dec. 19:  3.1 inches in 2000

Old record for any date in December:  10.6 inches on Dec. 12, 1964

Record for total snowfall in December:  24.2 inches in 1966. This record still stands.

Continue reading "Storm breaks (nearly) all December records" »

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Categories: By the numbers

December 3, 2009

BWI rain tally for 2009 nears 50 inches

Rainbow/Ocean City/Novak 

Paul M. Novak Jr., of Baltimore, sent me this beautiful photo he shot over the weekend. He said:

"I was in Ocean City this weekend and caught and unexpected shot of a rainbow over the Ocean. It was a very blustery day, and just a real brief shower had passed through the area. I looked out of the hotel and here is what I managed to capture !"

Also in my mail this morning was this sort-of-related note, from Kevin Manning:

"As we approach 50" of rain for the year, can you inform us on the historical records for yearly rainfall? We are nearly 10" above the long-term average, so far this year."

The precipitation total for the year at BWI-Marshall Airport has nearly topped 49 inches. The long-term average for the airport for an entire year is 41.94 inches. So, after a bit more than 11 months, we are already nearly 7 inches above the yearly average. With just average precipitation in December we should have a 10-inch surplus for the year.

(Year-to-date for Seattle, Wash.: 35.69 inches. That city's reputation for rain is misunderstood. While they have many gray, damp days, the accumulations are generally small, summers are dry, and annual totals are modest.)

But remember that as wet as it's been in Baltimore since April, we began the year very dry, and ended March in drought. So, we are still a long way from record territory, and we'll need a deluge in December just to break into the top five wettest years on record (since 1871) for Baltimore:

2003:  62.66 inches

1889:  62.35 inches

1979:  58.98 inches

1996:  58.31 inches

1952:  56.57 inches

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:03 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: By the numbers

November 17, 2009

Last week's rain totals mapped

AP Photo/Jason HirschfeldThe National Weather Service has produced a map of the 72-hour rain totals during last week's nor'easter.

The map makes clear just how much more seriously affected counties to our south were, and especially those in southeast Virginia (left). Rain totals there ran above 10 inches in some places.

Out in far-western Maryland, meanwhile, there was little or no rain from the coastal storm.

(AP Photo/Jason Hirschfeld in Hampton Roads. Va. Nov. 13, 2009)


Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

November 13, 2009

24-hour rain totals top 5 inches in St. Mary's Co.

While Baltimoreans may simply be tired of the gray, and the gloom, and the drip, residents of Maryland's southern counties - on both sides of the Chesapeake, are dealing with a serious deluge of rain and high tides from the big coastal storm that remains almost stationary off the NOAACarolina coast, driving wind, rain and water inland.

Here's an animation of the storm's water vapor movement, from satellite sensors.

Precipitation totals in St. Mary's County for the past 24 hours have topped 5 inches, with some locations reporting nealy six inches and one - Great Mills - exceeding 7 inches. Normal rainfall for the month of November at BWI is 3.12 inches.

Here is a rain total map for the storm

High water and fallen trees have forced a number of road closings in the Leonardtown area, and delayed delayed school for some students Thursday as buses were re-routed around flooded roadways.

Ocean City has received 3.69 inches of rain since the storm arrived, the heaviest falling early Thursday evening. That's the Rehoboth Beach Web cam below.

Coastal Flood Warnings remain in effect Friday morning for Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties. Tides were expected to run 2.5 to 3 feet above normal  into Saturday before the storm begins to drift away from the mainland. Colton's Point and St. George's Island in St. Mary's County, and Solomons Island in Calvert were warned to expect significant flooding.

In addition, Ocean City was under Wind Advisories until 7 p.m. Friday. An earlier hHigh Wind Warning was cancelled. Winds are now forecast to Rehoboth Beach camaverage 25 to 35 mph, with gusts to 50 mph before weakening late in the day. With the soil saturated, such winds can be expected to topple some trees, causing more power outages. The Atlantic coast is also under a High Surf Advisory until 6 p.m. Friday. Tides at the Inlet are expected to exceed predictions by more than 5 feet, with moderate flooding in Ocean City.

Coastal Flood Advisories were up for Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties. Gale warnings and small craft advisories were posted for the Chesapeake. 

The rain amounts decrease as you travel north almong the Western Shore. Prince Frederick, In Calvert County, recorded 4.18 inches by Friday morning. Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport reported 1.24 inches. The storm has left just under an inch here at The Baltimore Sun in downtown Baltimore.

Here is a list of rain reports, as of Friday morning, from the National Weather Service.

As thick and damp and gloomy as it is here, it's interesting to note that clear, dry, sunny weather lies barely 150 miles to our west, beyond the reach of this slow-moving nor'easter.

Oakland, in Garrett County, is reporting "a few clouds" this morning. Elkins, W.Va. is sunny. So are Pittsburgh, Pa., and State College, Pa.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

November 10, 2009

October was wettest, third-coolest on record for U.S.

NOAANOAA's October data are in, and the agency is rpeorting the October in the U.S. was, on average, the wettest, and the third-coolest October on the 115-year record for the lower-48 states.

Temperatures were below-normal in all regions except the Southeast (and in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, which were near-normal). Florida was the only state to report above-average temperatures. (Left)

The cross-country average of 4.15 inches of rain was the highest on record, nearly doubling the long-term average for October. Moderate-to-exceptional drought covered 12 percent of the contiguous United States, the second-smallest drought footprint of the decade, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

You can read the entire release, here. (Cue the global warming skeptics...)

On the other hands, atmospheric scientists say the proportion of record high temperatures to record lows across the U.S., is going up.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

November 2, 2009

October ends wet; November brings snow risk

The data are in, and no matter how wet and cool you remember October 2009, while it did end very wet, the temperatures averaged out to an almost precisely normal 55.3 degrees for Baltimore.

BWI temperatures Oct. 2009Rainfall for the month totaled 6.24 inches. That's a surplus of more than 3 inches, and the wettest October since 2005, when Tropical Storm Tammy's remnants drove the total to 9.23 inches.

And if you still feel like it was a cold October in Baltimore, it's probably the first half of the month that's stuck in your weather memory. Fourteen of the first 20 days of the month averaged cooler than the norm. 

The month's low was 34 degrees, on the 20th. The high was 83, on the 9th.

The coldest spell was from Oct. 14 through the 20th, a seemingly endless string of chilly, rainy days with temperatures averaging close to 10 degrees below the seasonal norms. Daytime highs stalled in the 40s to 50 degrees for four days straight. More than 3 inches of rain fell at BWI-NOAA BWI rainfall Oct. 2009Marshall in those same four days.

But we also enjoyed 12 October days of 70-plus temperatures, including one day in the 80s. Seventeen days were rated clear or partly cloudy.

And now November...

Average high temperatures for Baltimore in November slide from 61 degrees on the 1st to 51 degrees on the 30th. The average lows dip from 38 degrees to 31 degrees. The records run from 86 degrees (on the 1st in 1950), to 12 degrees (on the 30th in 1929).

Snow becomes a serious possibility in November for the first time. Many Baltimoreans will NOAA BWO November tempsremember the Veteran's Day storm on Nov. 11, 1987, which left an official 6 inches at BWI, but caused much more disruption than the number would suggest.

The deepest November snowfall on record for the city is 8.4 inches, which fell on Nov. 30, 1967. Measurable snow has fallen here on all but eight dates in November.

The oldest weather record still standing for Baltimore in November seems to be the 1.79 inches of rain that fell on Nov. 23, 1879, still the record for that date. Also notable is the cold stretch from Nov. 19-24, 1880, when the maximum daily temperatures stalled near 30 degrees. Four of those high readings are still record low maximums for the dates.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

October 30, 2009

No surprise here: Reservoirs are full

This just in: Baltimore's reservoir system is full to the brim!

Actually, all three reservoirs - Prettyboy, Liberty and Loch Raven - runneth over in the wake of surplus rainfall in the region for five of the last seven months. Here's the straight dope, right from the Department of Public Works:Loch Raven Reservoir

Liberty: Crest elevation: 420 feet above mean sea level. Current elevation: 420.31 feet. Capacity - 36.8 billion gallons. Available: 36.8 billion gallons

Prettyboy: Crest elevation: 520 feet. Current elevation: 520.34 feet. Capacity - 17.85 billion gallons. Available: 17.85 billion gallons.

Loch Raven: Crest elevation: 240 feet. Current elevation: 240.94 feet. Capacity: 21.2 billion gallons. Available: 21.2 billion gallons.

Total system: Capacity: 75.85 billion gallons. Available: 75.85 billion gallons.

The airport has recorded 6.21 inches of rain so far in October, almost double the long-term average of 3.16 inches. It's tied for the 13th-wettest October since record-keeping began in 1871. And it's the fifth-wettest October for Baltimore since the station of record moved to Friendship Airport (now BWI-Marshall) in 1950.

And there's a good chance, with more rain Saturday, that October 2009 could leap even higher on the chart. Another inch would make it the fifth-wettest October here since 1871. Here are the rankings for Octobers since 1950:

2005: 9.23 inches

1976: 8.09 inches

1971:  6.88 inches

1995:  6.24 inches

2009: 6.21 inches

(SUN PHOTO/Linda Coan/Loch Raven Reservoir, full, August 1999).

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

October 28, 2009

It's not snow

Western Run 

Sure, it's been raining like crazy. The airport has recorded nearly two inches since this latest rainy spell began Tuesday. Half of that has fallen since midnight. We had about the same out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville - 1.92 inches since this began, and 0.73 inch since midnight. Western Run, above, is running high and fast.

Here are some more 24-hour totals from around the region from the NWS. Here are more reports from CoCoRaHS. A number of locations on the Eastern Shore and in Anne Arundel County reported more than 2 inches. NOAA

Greensboro (Caroline Co.):  2.74 inches

Vienna (Dorchester): 2.44 inches

Ocean Pines (Worcester): 2.34 inches

Selby-0n-the-Bay (Arundel): 2.26 inches

Towson (Baltimore): 1.88 inches

At the airport, the rain has taken us to roughly 6.30 inches for the month, by my calculations. And that brings the year's total to about 43 inches - two inches more than the annual average for Baltimore, and more than in 10 of the last 20 years. And it's not yet November.

But just imagine if this were January, or February. The rule-of-thumb for converting rainfall into snow depth is 10 inches of snow for every inch of rain. Now, that's an average of some kind. Light, fluffy snow will be deeper than wet, heavy snow.  But a 1.9-inch rainstorm might have been a nearly 20-inch snowstorm had these same conditions assembled themselves here in, say, the second week of February.

And who knows? Maybe they will. How's that for a Halloween scare? 

Anyway, the bulk of the rain has moved off to the northeast. The National Weather Service is calling for mostly cloudy skies for the next few days. We may see some sunshine peek through. But the next cold front is due through here Friday into Saturday, with more showers on the menu before the month ends.

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance; NOAA graphic) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:19 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

October 27, 2009

Wet, wetter, but not wettest

Sure, it seems like this month has just been way too wet. And the wettest patch of the last couple of days is still ahead this (Tuesday) evening. We'll be hearing more rain on the roof tonight.

NOAAThe radar map shows a big wad of wet weather surging into the Northeast. And the National Weather Service's Sterling forecast office says we're looking at another half- to three-quarters-of-an-inch of steady rain tonight - plus a quarter to a half inch more on Wednesday.

That could push the month's total past 5 inches before all this is over. 

But even if that comes to pass, we're still far short of the record for the month - the 9.23 inches that fell here in 2005. Now that was a REALLY wet October. We recorded 6.65 inches on Oct. 7-8 alone that month as the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy washed through. Rain totals set new daily records on both those dates.

For the rain-weary, the good news is that the rain should begin to let up after noon Wednesday. But skies may not fully clear before another storm system arrives on Saturday - with more October showers.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:02 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

October 19, 2009

What cold, rain, snow? Sunny 70s this week

All those long, cold, soggy days of drizzle, rain, wet leaves and the smell of long-idled furnaces switching on are behind us, at last. Forecasters out at Sterling are making amends this week with sunny skies forecast right through Thursday, and highs topping 70 degrees by Wednesday.

Now that's the sort of October we've come to expect in Maryland.

Still, the last five days (Oct. 14-18) are worth a glance backward as we sort out the records and near-records. I'll try to get it right this time.

COLD: Temperatures during this five-day period averaged 10.6 degrees below the long-term averages for these dates in Baltimore.

The official highs at BWI were:October rain in Baltimore

Weds. Oct. 14:  50 degrees. Eighteen degrees below the average high for the date. That also matched the record-low maximum for the date, set in 1874.

Thurs. Oct. 15:  48 degrees. Nineteen degrees below average. A new record-low maximum for the date, breaking the previous record of 50 degrees for the date, set in 1876.

Friday, Oct. 16:  43 degrees. Twenty-four degrees below average. A new record-low maximum for the date, breaking the previous record of 52 degrees, set in 1940.

Saturday, Oct. 17: 45 degrees. Twenty-one degrees below average. A new record-low maximum for the date, breaking the previous record of 53 degrees, last matched in 1991.

Sunday, Oct. 18:  52 degrees. Fourteen degrees below average. This one fell short of the record-low maximum, set in 1972, by just 1 degree.

Bottom Line: Four consecutive days of matched or broken record-low maximums, the second-longest such streak since record-keeping began in 1871. Three consecutive October days with high temperatures falling short of 50 degrees. That matched the previous record, set in 1893 and matched in 1925 and 2002. But this was the earliest of the four. The rest all began on Oct. 29.

Owings Mills snowNow the precipitation:

The airport recorded 3.19 inches of rain from Wednesday through Sunday. That brought the month's total to date to 3.31 inches. Some locations in Maryland saw more. The heaviest rains fell on Saturday, with nearly 1.5 inches at the airport.

The season's first snow was reported in the Baltimore and Washington suburbs Saturday into Sunday, with a half-inch in Shrewsbury, Pa., and enough snow in the still-leafy trees to cause considerable tree damage in some locations as near to downtown as Sparks, in northern Baltimore County. We had this report today from "Patty," in Sparks:

"3 am, Sparks, Maryland, dog starts barking and we look around the house can't find what he is barking at.

"We get back into bed and I ask if there is hunting at night because I hear gunshots, not unusual in the area. I found out hunting is not allowed at night, I get up look out the window it is SNOWING! Cars are covered, ground covered, tree covered and bushes are covered. We could hear limbs snapping off the trees, and trees falling down. Incredible!"

The photo of snow and tree damage above was taken around 10:30 a.m. Sunday on Hunting Tweed Drive, in Owings Mills, by Gregory Hill. Used with permission. 

No snow was reported at the airport, the official station for Baltimore. In any case it wouldn't have set a record. The earliest snow for Baltimore fell on Oct. 9, 1903 (a trace) and Oct. 10, 1979 (0.3 inch).

So, now what?

Forecaster are calling for daytime highs to rise through the 50s today (Monday) and the 60s tomorrow, reaching the low- to mid-70s on Wednesday and Thursday as high pressure builds into the region and parks here for most of the week. Then the next cold front and showers arrive. (Those may include moisture from Hurricane Rick, now bearing down on Baja California.)

Until then, bright sunshine and south and westerly winds will warm us up quite nicely during the day. Skies will be favorable at night for most of the week for watching the Orionid meteor shower, between midnight and dawn.

Nighttime - especially tonight - is another story. Temperatures tonight are expected to "plummet," forecasters said, as clear skies allow any daytime heating to radiate back into space. "It is certain that frost/freeze products will need to be issued," they said in this morning's forecast discussion.  The forecast low for the airport Tuesday morning is 40 degrees, but the usually colder suburbs and rural areas will go much lower.

We had a low of 31 out on the WeatherDeck this morning, and we had to do some serious windshield scraping before we could head off for work. The airport low was 35 degrees, just 5 degrees warmer than the record low for the day, set in 1976.

(Top: SUN PHOTO/Amy Davis, 2005; Bottom: NOAA photo)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:13 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

October 15, 2009

Chilly weather could set odd record

Northeast radar loop 

After barely touching 50 degrees yesterday, the thermometer out at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport could be headed for a strange new record as we slosh through the weekend.

Steve Zubrick, the science and operations officer out at the NWS Sterling forecast office, says it looks like the mercury at BWI won't escape the 40s again until Monday, when the sun finally comes out. The forecast highs currently are 48, 44, 45 and 46 degrees respectively, Thursday through Sunday.

If that happens, it will be the first time since official record-keeping began in Baltimore in 1871 that we've gone four straight days in October without hitting 50 degrees.

"Three times there have been three days in a row of less than 50 degrees F," Zubrick said, "all at the end of the month, starting on Oct. 29." Those events occurred in 1893, 1925 and 2002. "But never four in a row."

And here we are, barely halfway through October, and we're already threatening four straight days under 50 degrees.

Zubrick also doubts that I will be able to keep my hands off the thermostat until Nov. 1, was my plan. He's already switched his furnace on at least once this month. But I have held out. So far. My wife doesn't seem to be as committed to this goal as I am. We'll see how we do this weekend. 

AccuWeather.comAnyway, we can blame a series of storm systems, some coming out of the Ohio Valley, and others developing along the coast, that are pumping cool, wet Atlantic air off the ocean. It seems like mostly drizzle for now, but forecasters at Sterling say we could see as much as a half-inch this afternoon, and another half inch tonight.

These storms will also be dragging cold air in with snow showers or freezing rain in the mountains. Snow is forecast tonight for parts of northern and western Pennsylvania, and as far south as Garrett County, Md.

The folks at Sterling expect that will make each night through early Sunday colder than the last, sinking into the 30s and increasing the chances for a wintry mix spreading beyond the higher elevations.

For late Saturday and early Sunday, they say, "the rain/snow mix could even creep into the far northwest Baltimore/Washington suburbs."  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:08 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: By the numbers

October 8, 2009

Wednesday's winds reached 50 mph

Wednesday's winds, which brought down plenty of autumn leaves, not to mention branches, trees and power lines, reached 50 mph in several locations around the region. An Eastern Shore man died when his small sailboat capsized in high winds. There were gale warnings and small craft warnings on the bay Wednesday.

Here is a rundown on top wind gusts, from National Weather Services observers:

BWI:  50 mph

Urbana HS, Ijamsville: 50 mph

Charles Flowers HS, Upper Marlboro:  50 mph

US Naval Academy, Annapolis:  46 mph

Winters Mill HS, Westminster:  47 mph

Patuxent Valley MS, Savage:  47 mph

Antietam TV, Hagerstown:  47 mph

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

October 1, 2009

Coldest morning of the season at BWI (so far)

Okay, I know there will be lots of "coldest mornings so far" as we get closer to winter, and into the coldest days of January and February. But it's these first few days of chilly readings, after a Cool weather coolsummer of balmy weather, that we really notice.

The mercury sank to 44 degrees before dawn Thursday out at BWI-Marshall Airport. That was well short of the record for an Oct. 1 in Baltimore. That would be the 36-degree low reached on this date in 1947. But it was the coldest morning in the suburbs since May 22, when it also was 44 degrees.

The low here at Calvert and Centre streets was 52 degrees. We bottomed out at 43 degrees on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. There was a 38-degree reading out in south-central Pennsylvania, near Shippensburg, and a few more like that in northern Virginia and eastern panhandle of West Virginia.

But mostly the lows across the region were in the 40s. Here's a map showing many of the lows.

If your weekend starts today, congratulations. You have the nicest day of the bunch to play with. We're enjoying clear, dry, high pressure, with today's high sticking in the mid-60s. But as this high moves off to our east, and we come into the return flow, warmer, wetter air will begin to rise up from the south. That will get us into the 70s, with more clouds tomorrow.

But rain chances climb late Friday, with a 70 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms on Saturday. Your autumn Saturday at the beach looks like a washout.

But things will clear off again by Sunday after the next cold front moves through. Sunday looks fine, with a high in nthe low 70s and sunshine. We'll stay good until rain chances rise again on Tuesday.

Rain would be an especially good thing for far Western Maryland. The latest Drought Monitor map, released this morning, shows all of Garrett and Allegany counties, and the westernmost part of Washington county, are now in moderate drought, making up about 11 percent of the state. The rest of Washington and the western part of Frederick county are rated as abnormally dry, adding up to nearly 19 percent of the state experiencing unusually dry conditions.

The dry weather has been building out there since mid-August, part of a wider expanse of dry territory that includes southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. 

(SUN PHOTO/Perry Thorsvik, 1994; Hey, she looked cool and sunny... although the ice pick is kinda scary.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

September 29, 2009

Big low over E. Canada sinks barometers here

Canadian low 

Weather watchers in Maryland noticed something odd on Monday. Their barometers were skidding to unusually low numbers, while the skies outside seemed strangely clear. Normally, when the barometer is very low, we're in the middle of a pretty impressive storm.

Fred Weiss noticed and shot me an email message from Baltimore: "What is causing this low pressure?" he asked.

I checked, and he was right. The official National Weather Service barometer out at BWI-Marshall Airport sank to 29.44 inches. Out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, the console said 29.37 inches. And here at The Baltimore Sun, Calvert and Centre streets, the weather station read 29.45 inches.

Steve Zubrick, science and operations officer for the NWS at Sterling says the last time BWI saw a reading that low was back on April 7, 2009.

Anyone else make a note of their low reading for Monday?

For comparison, I checked the low barometer reading back on Sept. 19, 2003, when Tropical Storm Isabel blew through the region. The low reading at BWI that morning was 29.58 inches.  So, I checked back ever farther, to Hurricane Hazel, on Oct. 15, 1954. The low barometer that day was 28.93 inches.

So Monday's low reading was a bit lower than during Isabel, but not nearly as low as during Hazel's passage. 

So what was going on here Monday? And more specifically, why was the sun shining?

Our low barometer was caused by an intense low-pressure system that was - and still is - drifting across the Great Lakes and southeastern Canada. A trough of low pressure extends south and west from that storm center, which is what is keeping our barometric readings so low even today - Tuesday. The Sun's barometer has only rebounded to 29.69 inches at 11 a.m.

Here's a nifty satellite loop of the spinning low.

The low is rotatring counterclockwise. And on Monday morning, it was setting off torrential rains along the Great Lakes, where I was visiting my in-laws in Erie, Pa. It also touched off a band of intense showers along the I-95 corridor in the late afternoon at one point (where it whacked us again as we drove back into Baltimore.) We recorded a quick tenth of an inch here at The Sun.

The big low was also dragging a wedge of dry air in from the southwest, which gave Baltimore the sunny skies we saw for a time Monday. Meteorologists call that a "dry slot," and it's not unusual with these strong lows. You can see it in the satellite image above, now just off the East Coast.

Some clouds have moved in behind it as cooler, drier air is pulled down from the northwest around the backside of the low. 

The forecast calls for windy conditions today as the atmosphere continues to flow around the low to our north and east. But we should remain sunny, with a high near 70 degrees.

As cooler air moves in with high pressure builds into the region behind the low, we'll start hanging up in the mid- to upper-60s for the next few days.  We'll stay sunny until the next cold front approaches late Friday into Saturday. 

Continue reading "Big low over E. Canada sinks barometers here " »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:48 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

September 23, 2009

Where was the heaviest rain in Deep South?

Heavy and persistent rains have swamped many sections of the Deep South in recent weeks.  It has erased longstanding drought in many spots, but replaced it with terrible flooding that has caused numerous deaths - at least seven in Georgia alone - and much property damage.

NASA's Earth Observatory has computed cumulative rain totals based on satellite observations and generated a map of the region showing where the heaviest rain was concentrated.

The lightest amounts are in pale green, the heaviest (more than 300 mm, or about 12 inches) in dark blue. Here's more.

NASA rainfall totals

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:15 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

September 20, 2009

Coldest morning since ...

The National Weather Service thermometer at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport dropped to an official 47 degrees this morning. You can credit clear skies amid dry Canadian high pressure, and radiational cooling. All the warmth we built up under Saturday's WeatherDeckperfect blue skies just radiated back out into space overnight.

Lows in the 40s felt pretty darn cold if you went to bed with the windows open last night. But it was still 5 degrees short of the record. The coldest morning for Baltimore on a Sept. 20 is 42 degrees, last reached on this date in 1959.

The last time we were this cold at the airport was back on June 1, when the mercury touched 46 degrees.

We reached 44 degrees out here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville (left). And there were some even colder readings across the region - as low as 41 degrees just over the Pennsylvania line. Sunshine today will bring us back into the 70s. Another fine late-summer afternoon; of course, it can't last.

The high pressure system is moving off the coast today, and we will come into the return flow of the clockwise circulation around the center, bringing us increasingly warm and moist air.

That will mean more clouds, and eventually rising chances for rain and showers as the week rolls along. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:54 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

September 11, 2009

Today's high at BWI near a record low

 Chilly? Umbrellas of BaltimoreLooks like this afternoon's official high temperature at BWI-Marshall will be 62 degrees. If so, that will be just one degree higher than the all-time "low maximum" for a Sept. 11 in Baltimore - 61 degrees, which has stood since this date in 1883.

All that and a gusher of rain, too - an inch and a half at BWI, and 1.4 inches here at The Sun.  

The sunshine returns on Sunday, of all days.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

September 1, 2009

Summer began cool, got warmer, stayed wet

With our reservoirs full, and a few extra bucks in our pockets thanks to cool weather in June and July, we can kiss the summer of 2009 goodbye with a smile on our faces today.

The meteorological summer ended at midnight last night, and the reality was easy to accept with that cold breeze wafting in through open windows.  Temperatures dropped to 50 degrees out on the WeatherDeck, and that extra blanket was welcome.

(Some poor toad crawled into our barbecue grille after dinner Sunday night, presumably seeking warmth from the cooling ceramic brickettes. He was still there last night when I fired it up for the salmon. It was a crispy garnish I tossed onto the lawn for whatever critters might have a taste for such things. But, I digress...)

A rainy June in BaltimoreIt was 60 this morning here at Calvert and Centre streets. Out at BWI-Marshall, the official low for Baltimore was 57 degrees, just four degrees above the record low for a Sept. 1 in Baltimore, set in 1963. Here are some other low readings this morning from around the region. Plenty of 40s and at least one reading in the 30s on the map.

So how does the summer stack up?

June and July were cooler than the long-term averages for Baltimore; July especially, with an average temperature nearly 2 degrees below the norms. August warmed up, averaging 76.6 degrees, or 2.1 degrees above normal.

You can see that trend in the count of 90-degree-plus days. June had none. It was only the 6th time Baltimore's official instruments have failed to reach 90 degrees in June. It was also only the 4th time we've failed to reach 90 in May and June of the same year, and the first since 1979. The average is 7.2 days in the 90s in those two months.

July saw its first 90-degree day on the 12th, the latest date for that event since 1979. Cool nights made the news, too. The low of 58 degrees on July 14 tied the record reached in 2001 and 1895. On the 19th, the low of 57 degrees broke the 59-degree record low for the date, set in 1962.

There were four days in the 90s in July, and 6 in August as the weather finally began to heat up. That's a total of 10 for the June-August period, less than half the normal count of 25 days of 90 or more.

Steve Zubrick, science and operations officer at the NWS Sterling forecast office, says 10 days of 90-degree weather for the three-month meteorological summer ties for the eighth fewst such days since record-keeping began in 1871. All of those summers with fewer 90-plus days were a long time ago.

Summers with just 10 days of 90-plus weather occurred in four other years: 1883, 1884, 1904 and 1907.

Summers with fewer such days: 

Nine days: 1915

Eight days: 1886, 1889, 1917, 2004

Seven days:  1897, 2000.

The record for the number of 90-plus days in a Baltimore summer is 51 days, in 1988.

So we saved money on cooling, with cooling degree days ( a measure of demand for cooling energy) averaging almost 3.5 percent below the long-term average. Curiously, April had three days in the 90s, too, bringing the year's total to 13 so far.

We also recorded about 2.5 inches of surplus rain over the summer. June and August were wet, but July fell a half-inch short of the average. That all followed very wet weather in April and May, and all of it has left high water in all three of the city's reservoirs. The system is at 99.55 percent of capacity, according to the Baltimore Department of Public Works, which is extraordinary for the end of a summer that (so far) has not seen a tropical storm.

The rain totals for April through June totaled 19.74 inches, the second highest amount on record for those three months in Baltimore. The 120-year-old record is 21.69 inches, set in April-June 1889.

So, did this relatively cool, wet summer affect your outdoor activites? Is your garden out of control? Did the mosquitoes drive you crazy? Are we looking forward to cooler autumn weather? To snow? Let's hear it. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:23 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

August 27, 2009

20-30 % chance for tropical storm winds at O.C.

 Danny tropical storm winds

The 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center puts the chances that winds along the mid-Atlantic coast will top tropical storm force (39 mph or more) this weekend at 20 to 30 percent.

That's the message from the tropical Storm Winds Probability Map (above) posted this morning. The actual outcome will depend, of course, on where the steering currents take Danny. The consensus keeps the storm well offshore. But it's a sprawling system, with tropical storm winds extending as much as 200 miles from the center.

High winds, even offshore, will increase the risk of dangerous surf and rip currents at the beaches this weekend. Danny is also expected to bring plenty of rain to the eastern part of Maryland this weekend, while an approaching cold front does the same for Central Maryland.

Late Thursday morning, Danny's top sustained winds were clocked at around 60 mph. That's 14 mph short of hurricane strength. But some continued strengthening was forecast for the next few days as the storm's center moves over warmer waters in the Gulf Stream.

Danny's problem has been a poorly organized center and high-altitude winds that have thwarted rapid development.

The storm's center late this morning was about 550 miles south southeast of Cape Hatteras. It was moving toward the northwest at 13 mph, but that movement was a bit erratic. Danny was expected to turn more toward the north later today, and increase its forward speed.

The storm's greatest threat may be along the New England coast and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Here is the latest forecast advisory for Danny. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is the view from space.

While we're at it, the National Hurricane Center is already watching the next storm in the Atlantic basin. The tropical disturbance in the far eastern Atlantic is given less than a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm in the next 48 hours.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

August 24, 2009

North Beach, Annapolis win weekend rain sweeps

The community of North Beach in Calvert County, and the city of Annapolis have topped everyplace else west of the bay in the amount of rainfall recorded over the weekend, according to data compiled by the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va.

The showers and thunderstorms were very localized, with some spots seeing more than 3 inches of rain, while others saw less than 2 inches. Officially, BWI-Marshall recorded just 1.7 inches for the weekend.

Here are some of the totals from around the region, for the 60 hours ending at 7 a.m. Monday:

North Beach (Calvert): 6.35 inches

Annapolis (Arundel): 5.25 inches

Huntingtown (Calvert): 4.75 inches

Dunkirk (Calvert): 4.32 inches

Churchton (Arundel): 4.25 inches

Camp Springs (Prince George's): 3.96 inches

Deale (Arundel): 3.75 inches

La Plata (Charles): 3.74 inches

Montgomery Village (Montgomery): 3.68 inches

Beverly Beach (Arundel): 3.46 inches

Friendly Hills (PG): 3.43 inches

West Friendship (Howard): 3.29 inches

Glenwood (Howard): 3.26 inches

Edgewater (Arundel): 3.25 inches

There were numerous reports of flash flooding and road closures in Anne Arundel and Calvert counties on Saturday as a result of the downpours.

Got pictures? If you have a good digital photo of the weekend rain or flooding, send it along and I'll post the best. Email

Some slight rain chances will linger late Monday and Monday night. But the rest of the week looks dry and sunny, with the warmest temperatures coming at mid-week, with a Wednesday high near 90 degrees. After that, a cold front will push through, sending daytime highs back to the more seasonable low 80s. Rain chances will rise again for the weekend.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

August 22, 2009

Storms drop an inch of rain at BWI

Yesterday's thunderstorms delivered an inch of rain at BWI-Marshall Airport, the most in one day since July 31. We recorded 1.3 inches here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, and just over an inch at The Sun building at Calvert and Centre streets downtown.

The CoCoRaHS network reported an astonishing 9 inches of rain yesterday in Ridgely, over in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore. Here are some other totals reported by the group:Flash flood watch area (green)

Denton, Caroline Co.:  3.31 inches

Sykesville, Howard Co.: 2.84 inches

Clarksburg, Montgomery Co.: 2.75 inches

Towson, Baltimore Co.:  1.8 inches

St. Michaels, Talbot Co.: 1.53 inches

Ellicott City, Howard Co.: 1.32 inches

Forecasters out at Sterling say there is more to come. With the ground saturated in places by Friday's rains, they have posted flash flood watches all across central and southern Maryland today and through the evening (green area on map). More showers and storms will cross the region ahead of an  approaching cold front with another 1 to 3 inches of rain possible.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

August 6, 2009

Half the state now "abnormally dry"

drought monitor 

This week's official Drought Monitor map shows 48 percent of Maryland - from roughly the I-95 corridor south and east - is now experiencing "abnormally" dry conditions. It is the third week in a row that some portion of the state has been dry, following a wet spell that had produced normal moisture conditions statewide since April.

The impact of the current dry weather in Maryland is reported to be primarily agricultural.

The Drought Monitor map is based on a variety of measurements of rainfall, soil moisture, water levels and the health of vegetation.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:32 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

July 17, 2009

High of 94 was year's hottest

Temperatures at BWI-Marshall Airport Thursday reached 94 degrees, making it the hottest day of the year so far, and only the fifth day in the 90s in 2009. Hot as it was, it was far from a record. The hottest July 16th on record for Baltimore is 104 degrees, set in 1988.

It was 96 here at The Sun, and 91 degrees on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. Here are some more high readings from across the region.

We're not likely to see the likes of that again for a while. Forecasters are expecting plenty of clouds today, with a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms - some of them severe - after 3 p.m. Portions of the state east of the mountains will face the highest threat from storms and high winds. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for the entire region, in effect until 5 p.m. ARTSCAPE exhibitors take note!

The clouds and storms will also keep the temperatures in check, with a forecast high of 89 at BWI.

There are more showers and storms on tap for the region tonight as low pressure tracks along the cold front that has stalled across the region. The weekend looks better (or worse, if your grass is brown and your tomatoes are thirsty), with only a slight, lingering risk of rain on Saturday. Sunday looks pretty sunny, with highs through the weekend pleasant, in the mid-80s.Atlantic storm Better for Artscape.

The new work week will bring a revived, but still small chance for some badly needed rain just about every day. Temperatures will hold slightly below normal, in the low- to mid-80s.

One other note: After a long period of quiet, the tropics have perked up a bit. The National Hurricane Center is watching a stormy area of the far eastern Atlantic Ocean (right) for possible signs of development. It's given only a small chance of developing into a tropical cyclone in the next few days, but it's really the first action we've seen in the Atlantic basin since the 2009 hurricane season began June 1.

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

July 14, 2009

Overnight low at BWI ties record

Gunpowder cool July 

The thermometer out at BWI-Marshall Airport touched 58 degrees this morning. That tied the record low for a July 14 in Baltimore. The last time we sank to 58 degrees on this date was in 2001, but there were other, prior years when we touched the same mark.

The lowest reading on record for Baltimore in July is 50 degrees, set on July 1, 1988 and again on July 3, 2001.

It was even colder than 58 elsewhere across the region. It was 53 degrees this morning at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. Hagerstown reached 57 degrees. It was 53 degrees on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville.

Martinsburg, WV reported 49 degrees this morning. It was 47 degrees at York (Pa.) Airport. 

Here are more readings around the region. Looks like 42 degrees was the lowest, out near Garrett County. We're headed for the mid-80s this afternoon, with very low humidities. The relative humidity here at The Sun at noon stands at 35 percent. The high temperature will crowd 90 by Thursday.

Go figure.

(SUN PHOTO/David Hobby July 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:23 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

July 9, 2009

Brrrr .. Morning low close to record

That was one chill breeze coming in the bedroom window this morning. Reminds me of summer in New England. It was only 54 degrees at daybreak on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. And there were some colder readings than that across the region. York, Pa. reported a low of 50 at the airport.

It was 56 early this morning at BWI-Marshall Airport. That was within 2 degrees of the record low for a July 9 at BWI. The 54-degree reading there was set on this date a quarter-century ago - in 1984.

There was a low of 64 degrees at Washington Reagan. Dulles Airport, out in northern Virginia, reached 58 degrees. It was 58 in Hagerstown, too.

All this as we approach what is, on average at least, the hottest two weeks of the year.

Here are some other low readings from across the region. (Check the date on the map; the 7/9 data had not been loaded at the time of this writing.) 

The forecast continues to look just fine. The seasonable weather is expected to continue, with some heating-up, and a chance of showers and thunderstorms over the weekend. But the first half of next week looks a lot like this week - mild temperatures and dry weather.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:34 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

July 8, 2009

Here's to 12:34:56 7.8.09

fireworks Inner HarborSo you'll be sitting around the lunch table at work today, and you'll raise your cup of diet soda and call for a toast: "Here's to the magic of numbers, and to this magic moment in time: 12:34:56 p.m. on 7/8/09."

Your friends and co-workers will be amazed at your mathematical acumen, and your acute awareness of your place in the space-time continuum.

Either that, or you will be greeted with blank stares, and people will begin to leave the table, claiming to have pressing work to attend to.

Just remember, you heard it here first.  

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

June 1, 2009

June, and the heat is on

SUN PHOTO/Kenneth K. Lam June 2006 

June is back in Baltimore, and with it comes the likelihood of some really hot weather. The sun reaches its highest arc in June, and record highs poke into the 100-plus range for the first time in the year.

Not that we haven't already seen some heat this year. With all this rain and cloudy weather, it's easy to forget that we had three straight days in the 90s in April. That 90-degree heat wave arrived before we had even seen our first days with highs in the 80s.

The average highs for June in Baltimore rise from 79 degrees on June 1 to 86 degrees by the end of the month. The average lows rise climb from 57 degrees to 64.

Record highs are all in the upper 90s and low 100s during June. The hottest June day on record for the city was 105 degrees on June 29, 1934. Imagine THAT without air-conditioning! The coolest June day never got above 54 degrees. That was on June 1, 1907. The coldest reading in June since record-keeping began in 1871 was 40 degrees, on June 11, 1972. Our low of 46 this morning at the airport was plenty cool, but we can pretty much forget readings in the 30s until fall.

The wettest June day on record was June 28, 1885, when 4.47 inches fell on the city. But the wettest June on record remains June 1972, the month the remnants of Hurricane Agnes blew through town. That June saw 9.95 inches fall at BWI. The driest June was in 1954, with only 0.15 inch at the airport.

The oldest June record still standing was a sweltering June 20, in 1873, when the mercury never fell below 78 degrees.

The earliest sunrise of the year will occur on Sunday, June 14, with Sol rising over Baltimore at 5:39 a.m. EDT.

The Summer Solstice this year occurs a week later, at 1:45 a.m. EDT on Sunday, June 21. The sun will rise here on that day at 5:40 a.m. EDT, setting at 8:37 p.m., providing 14 hours and 57 minutes of sunshine.

May ended last night as the second-wettest on record for Baltimore. The precipitation totaled 8.42 inches. Here's how it stacked up against the wettest Mays:

May 1989:  8.71 inches

May 2009:  8.42 inches

May 2008:  7.77 inches

May 1894:  7.26 inches

May 1960:  7.10 inches

May 1886:  7.07 inches



Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

May 27, 2009

The wettest May 26

SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance 

Lots of records broken on Tuesday as Gulf and Atlantic moisture continue to flow into the region and run up against the stalled cold front draped across the Northeast.

BWI recorded 2.28 inches yesterday, washing away the previous record for a May 26 - 1.72 inches, set way back in 2001.

There was a new record set, too, at Reagan National Airport. They received 1.65 inches, beating the old record of 1.49 inches set there in 2003. And out at Dulles International, they more than doubled the old record of 1.59 inches, set in 2002. The total at Dulles yesterday was 3.59 inches.

We have now erased the rainfall deficit accumulated since the first of the year at BWI. The year-to-date total is 17.95 inches, beating the long-term average of 16.68 inches. But we still trail last year's total of 19.78 inches through May 26.

There are no sunny days in the forecast until Saturday. But while we will likely see drizzle and showers and perhaps some thunderstorms for the rest of the work week, they are not likely to produce to sort of rain some of us saw yesterday.

The rain was spotty. Here are some of the heaviest totals from across the region:

Continue reading "The wettest May 26" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

May 19, 2009

Morning cold breaks record


The morning low out at BWI this morning reached 38 degrees, setting a new record for a May 19 in Baltimore. The previous record had stood for only six years, having been set on this date in 2003.

The National Weather Service has not posted it yet (at this writing). But I've called it to their attention, so it may pop up in their data shortly.

MODIS/DNRThe low out on the WeatherDeck this morning was a bracing 36 degrees. With the heat off for the season, the blanket and spread were not quite enough for us this morning as the dawn broke. Getting up seemed the better choice. 

Here at Calvert & Centre streets, the low was 46 degrees. There were no new records at either Dulles International (low was 38 degrees, record 36), or Reagan National (low was 45 degrees, record 43). 

The high-pressure system that moved into the region late yesterday (left) had shoved all the clouds away by this morning (see satellite photo above) and dried out the atmosphere. As winds died down around sunset, that set up the perfect conditions for radiational cooling. So much of the meagre warmth we accumulated yesterday radiated back into space overnight, driving temperatures down.

The relative humidity readings today are headed rapidly downward - from 78 percent around sunrise to 44 percent at this writing (and still falling). The barometer, meanwhile, has been headed in the opposite direction, holding steady now at around 30.50 inches.

The forecast shows we can expect temperatures to warm to around 80 degrees by tomorrow, and hang around that mark right into the weekend. The sunny skies will linger, too, at least until Sunday, when chances for showers and thunderstorms begin to rise again.

Continue reading "Morning cold breaks record" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:54 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

May 15, 2009

Overnight rains add to soggy May

We had a pretty hard rain out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville last night. The rain gauge clocked about seven tenths of an inch. There was less here at Calvert & Centre streets - about 0.35 inch on the meter. And the airport reported only seven hundredths.

SUN PHOTO/Kim Hairston 2007As the rain fell, I found myself listening to the water gurgling down the gutters and downspouts. Am I the only one who finds the sound somehow soothing? I'm not sure whether it's some atavistic reassurance that there is fresh, running water nearby - a babbling brook - or that our shelter is keeping us all dry. Or maybe it's just comforting to know that all the dough we spent on gutter caps this spring is paying off, and keeping the gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and oak flowers and other crud.

Anyway, it was very pleasant. It was also good to hear the 12-year-old sump pump working as it should. Is there anything worse than water in the basement? Thinking of putting in a new one, just in case. What's the life expectancy on a sump pump? 

Here's a listing of rain total reports from around the state. Looks like Prince George's County had the big numbers, with Oxon Hill reporting 1.7 inches.

At the halfway point, May has yielded more than 4 inches of rain at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. We're at 3.23 inches here at The Sun. And there is more to come.

The National Weather Service forecasters out at Sterling are predicting "slight" chances for thunderstorms this afternoon, rising to "likely" on Saturday afternoon, with as much as a half-inch possible. There are more showers in the cards for Sunday morning before the atmosphere finally begins to clear out after the stalled frontal system that's causing all this instability moves off.

Next week still looks sunny and pleasant, with highs rising from the 60s to the upper 70s by Wednesday and Thursday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:55 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

May 12, 2009

First week of May set a record

Steve Zubrick, the science and operations officer for the National Weather Service's Sterling Forecast Office has been snooping around in Baltimore's weather records again. He's found that the very wet start to May we just survived was one for the record books:

"Some facts about the recent wet spell we all loved...

"BWI had measurable precip. (at least 0.01") each consecutive day for May
1st - 7th (2009).

"For what it's worth (and we don't keep records on this), this was only
the second time since record-keeping began that Baltimore started the
first full week of May with 7 consecutive days of measurable rainfall.
The other time was May 1998...and in that year (1998)...the first 12
days of May 1998 had measurable rain.

"And...the 3.88" of rain measured during the 1st week of May this year
(2009) was the most rainfall ever measured in Baltimore during the 1st
full week (7 days) of May. Runner-up was 3.66" that fell the first week
of May 1989 (although not in 7 consecutive days)."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:13 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

April 27, 2009

Three straight in the 90s; an April rarity

Once again the thermometer surged to 91 degrees at BWI, but once again it lacked the oomph to break past that mark and tie the record for the date - 92 degrees on April 27, 1994.

The same thing happened yesterday. We made it to 91 at BWI, but fell short of the record for that date - again 92, set on April 26, 1990.

But we did notch up a third April day in a row in the 90s today. It's only the fourth time since records began in 1871 that's happened, according to Steve Zubrick, science officer at the National Weather Service forecast office at Sterling. The previous occasions were in 1976 and 1929, and in 1960, when we managed to string together FOUR straight days in the 90s - April 23-26, 1960.

Tuesday's forecast high is 88 degrees. The record for the date is 90, set in 1957. 

It was 93 at the Inner Harbor today, by the way. And we reached 96 degrees here at The Sun.

Dunno. I may be forced to switch on the AC tonight to cool down the house. Anybody else out there still keeping hands off the thermostat? Hot as it's been, the nights have been cool. By morning under an open window it's been quite chilly.

At least it's dry. The relative humidity here at Calvert & Centre is only 27 percent.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:52 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: By the numbers

March 23, 2009

Driest year on record - so far

BWI has received just 3.79 inches of precipitation so far this year, and barely an inch since Jan. 29. We've had only 1.87 inches in 2009 on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville.

National Weather Service forecaster Andy Woodcock, out at Sterling, had these observations this morning about the dry weather:






Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:10 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

March 8, 2009

Another record threatened in Baltimore

The overnight low at BWI-Marshall this morning was a balmy (for March) 60 degrees, just after midnight. Temperatures have been rising ever since, and will take a long time falling tonight. That puts another record at risk.

This time it's the record high minimum for March 8 - the warmest low temperature for any March 8 on the books since record-keeping began here in 1871. Here's how science officer Steve Zubrick, out at the Sterling forecast office, put it to me in an email this morning:

"FYI...if our forecast for BWI holds...looks like we have a shot at breaking the record Hi-min for today...March 8.

"The current record is 52F (2000). The overnight low at BWI was 60F...and our hourly temperature forecast grids only drop to 58 by midnight tonight (Sun night).

UPDATE: The low temperature for March 8 at BWI was 54 degrees, setting a new record high minimum for the date.

"Tomorrow's record Hi-min of 56F set in 1921 appears safe...again if our forecast is good...temps should be falling sharply tomorrow (Mon) evening and into the overnight as the stationary front to the north sags south of the Balt. metro area. late Mon.

"Steve Z
SOO-NWS WFO Sterling"

Cool! Or is it "Warm!" ?

Continue reading "Another record threatened in Baltimore" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:23 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

March 6, 2009

Bay keeps Annapolis in the fridge

The impact of the Chesapeake Bay on local weather has never been more apparent than it is this afternoon. As temperatures rise into the 60s and 70s across the region, the mercury is stuck at 45 degrees in Annapolis, as of the 3 p.m. reading.

The Annapolis reading comes from the U.S. Naval Academy, which is right on the Severn River where it enters the bay. Water temperature at the Thomas Point Light is 38 degrees.

Glenn L. Martin Airport, on Middle River, is reporting a chilly 54 degrees, even as BWI chimes in at 64 degrees. The Sun's station at Calvert and Centre streets read 65 at 3 p.m..

Here is a list of 3 p.m. readings from across the region:

Washington National: 64 degrees

Dulles International:  67 degrees

BWI:  64 degrees

Charolottesville, Va.:  70 degrees

Fredericksburg, Va.:  66 degrees

Winchester, Va.:  73 degrees

Annapolis:  45 degrees

Hagerstown:  71 degrees

Martin Airport:  54 degrees

Martinsburg, W. Va.:  71 degrees.

Baltimore Sun:  65 degrees

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

March 3, 2009

84-year-old cold temperature record falls

That crash you heard this morning all over Baltimore was the sound of another record falling. This morning's low of 10 degrees just before dawn at BWI-Marshall Airport was the coldest official reading on a March 3 since record-keeping began in 1871. It shattered the previous record of 12 degrees, last reached downtown on this date in 1925.

Sun Photo/Kenneth K. LamAnd if you were outside in the wind for any length of time this morning, you appreciated just how cold that was. It's just not supposed to feel that bitterly cold in March.

And we're not likely to see the wet side of freezing at all today. The forecast high is just 27 degrees. That, too, will see us flirting with a record. The coldest high temperature on record for a March 3 in Baltimore is 26 degrees, set on this date in 1960. 

Forecasters are calling for a low tonight of just 11 degrees. No record will be in jeopardy, however. It was just 5 degrees in Baltimore on March 4, 1873.

It's been quite a week for weather records in Charm City. On Saturday we set a new record low for precipitation in February - a mere .26 inch at BWI. On Monday we set a new record for snowfall on a March 2 in Baltimore - 4.7 inches. That beat the previous record of 3.7 inches set back in 1969. There was 8.3 inches by 10 a.m. yesterday in Annapolis, where Sun photographer Ken Lam captured the image above.

Hate snow? Can't wait for spring? Well, have a look at this delightful gallery of snow photos from the Spruce Hill photo blog, and try to remember the magic.

Here are more snow tallies from across the region. And here are several interesting temperature readings around noon Eastern Time today: Jacksonville, Fla. - 50 degrees. Atlanta, Ga. - 37 degrees. Helena, Mont. - 44 degrees.

The good news is that we are headed up the slope toward more springlike weather by the weekend. We are under a very strong, very cold dome of high pressure. Highs circulate clockwise, so as this high moves east, we'll lose the cold northwest winds and come into the return flow of warmer breezes from the south by Wednesday. 

The forecast calls for daytime highs to reach 53 degrees by Friday, just above the normal high for this time of year at BWI. Saturday could reach 57 degrees, and Sunday could hit 60. (Who remembers it was 65 at the airport last Friday?)

We should be looking at sunshine throughout the period (and good stargazing, especially tonight), with no rain in the forecast until showers threaten on Monday. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:21 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

March 2, 2009

Calvert wins area snow derby

Snowmap.NWS.SterlingThe forecasters out at Sterling have posted their snow forecast map for accumulations from mid-day yesterday.

Looks like Calvert and St. Mary's counties top the actual tallies with 11-12 inches. Yesterday's Winter Storm Warning called for 6 to 10 inches. Not a bad call from the looks of this map.

Got this note from Science Officer Steve Zubrick:


Our official NWS total snowfall forecast from yesterday at noon. Port Republic, MD in Calvert Co. reported 11 and 12 inches from 2 observers there. Arlington VA had 2 reports of 8". Herndon VA (my house) in NW Fairfax Co had just over 6".

Steve Z

In case you missed it, BWI set a new record on Saturday: February 2009 was the driest February on record for Baltimore. Only 0.26 inch of precipitation fell during the month, breaking the old record of 0.36 inch, set in the drought year of 2002.

Another record was broken today. The 5.8 inches of snow that fell today broke the old record of 3.7 inches for the date, set back in 1969.

Today's snow will help put a little moisture back into the soil and the water table.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:46 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

February 25, 2009

Can we break February rainfall record?

Somehow, in the middle of winter (okay, we're past the middle), with nothing growing, it's hard to grasp that this has been, so far, the driest February on record for Baltimore. But it has. Barely 0.24 inch of melted precipitation has fallen so far this month.

The stingy dribbles we've received at the station of record (BWI) have been few and far between. There were traces on six dates, and measurable amounts on just three dates:

Feb. 3:  0.04 inch

Feb. 11:  0.08 inch

Feb. 18:  0.12 inch

The snow was even scarcer - 0.6 inch in just two events, on the 4th and the 18th, plus two days when mere traces of flakes were recorded at BWI.

This could all change before the month finally ends on Saturday night. Forecasters out at Sterling are predicting a "slight chance" of showers Thursday night, followed by "likely" (70 percent chance) showers on Friday, tapering to 30 percent Friday night.

In all, they're calling for as much as a quarter- to a half-inch of rain on Friday as warm, moist air moves in with a warm front from the South, all ahead of the next cold front. Even if the forecast holds up, February 2009 would still deliver less than an inch of rain total, and would still rank among the 10 driest Februaries since record-keeping began in Baltimore in 1871. Here are the Top Ten Dry February rankings:

2009 (so far):  0.24 inch

2002:  0.36 inch

1978:  0.56 inch

1977:  0.63 inch

1901:  0.65 inch

1968:  0.72 inch

1991:  0.73 inch

1895:  0.83 inch

1974:  0.94 inch

1925:  0.98 inch

The lack of precipitation has expanded the proportion of Maryland that is now rated as "abnormally dry" to encompass more than half the state, basically from Baltimore south on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay. Here's last week's Drought Monitor map. This week's map comes out tomorrow morning.



Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:27 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: By the numbers

February 12, 2009

Maryland winds top 60 mph

 Sun Photo/Kim Hairston

Today's windstorm has caused widespread damage as trees and limbs brought down power lines, struck homes and crushed cars. It even contributed to the partial collapse of an empty building at 1226 Argyle Ave., in Baltimore (above). Read more here.

Here are some top gusts recorded by WeatherBug stations across the region:

65 mph:  Rockville

63 mph:  Urbana High School, Ijamsville

60 mph:  Rocky Hill Middle School, Clarksburg

59 mph:  Montgomery County DPW, Poolesville

57 mph:  Winters Mill High School, Westminster

56 mph:  Maryland Science Center, Baltimore

56 mph:  Mt. Airy Christian Academy, Mt. Airy

54 mph:  Anne Arundel Community College, Hanover

54 mph:  Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring

52 mph:  Bowie State University, Bowie

52 mph:  St. Martin School, Gaithersburg

53 mph: BWI Marshall Airport (NWS report)

National Weather Service reports described trees and power lines down in Carroll, Montgomery, Washington and Allegany counties. Baltimore County schools reported a tree down at the Chatsworth School in Reisterstown around noon today. Eight cars were damaged. Five were undrivable.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

February 8, 2009

Record high temperature Saturday at Dulles

The high temperature of 65 degrees Saturday at Dulles International Airport set a new record for the date, topping the old record of 59 degrees, set in 2005.

At BWI, the Saturday high of 62 degrees fell just short of the record - 64 degrees, set in 1904.

Today's record high temperature at BWI is 70 degrees, set on this date in 1965. The forecast high for this afternoon is 67 degrees. It was 64 degrees at noon.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:42 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: By the numbers

January 17, 2009

Two degrees at BWI

The coldest morning in years.  BWI was reporting 2 degrees this morning. It's not a record. It was minus-7 degrees on this date in 1982 - equaling the coldest reading on record for Baltimore on any date. But it was a remarkable low - the lowest in many years.

Here (as soon as Sterling gets around to updating it) will be a low-temperature map of the region. We can say that BWI saw a low of 2 degrees. National Airport was 9 degrees. Dulles Airport touched 1 degree (as did the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville). Charlottesville, Va. reported minus-1 degree.

Here's the forecast. And here's this morning's weather discussion from Sterling.

I will be on the go today. Will try to post your comments ASAP. Bundle up!

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:02 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

January 16, 2009

Friday's high a feeble 18 degrees; Saturday now 22

They said we would struggle make 20 degrees today, and they were right. The high recorded this afternoon at BWI-Marshall was a mere 18 degrees. It was also 18 just after midnight. The overnight low this morning was 10. We'll likely go lower tonight, but maybe not before midnight.

The Science Center high was also 18 degrees.

The record low for a Jan. 16 in Baltimore is 1 degree, in 1893. The record low maximum for the date is 14 degrees, set on the same day in 1893. So no record was broken.

Here at The Sun's weather station at Centre and N. Calvert streets, our high this afternoon was 17 (after a high for the date of 18, after midnight). The low was 13 degrees. Again, we may see a lower minimum before the day ends at midnight. It's only 16 as I write this at 5:10 p.m.

Send me your readings. Be sure to say where you are. I'll post them as soon as I see them.

BTW, the Sterling folks have also trimmed their forecast for Saturday's high temperature. Once predicted to reach 30 degrees, the high is now expected to go no higher than 22 degrees - just 4 degrees warmer than today. If you're headed to the ObamaRama at City Hall, bear that in mind. It will be frigid.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:04 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: By the numbers

Brrrrr !! And colder tonight !

That was bracing! Overnight lows ranged from around minus-8 degrees out in Garrett County, to about 11 degrees in Aberdeen. Here is a map with National Weather Service observer reports.

We recorded a low of 10 degrees out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The mercury here at The Sun's weather command center was 12.4 degrees, which held pretty steady until 10 a.m. The low out at BWI Marshall Airport was 10 degrees, reached just before 7 a.m.

And as if that weren't enough, the forecasters at Sterling say we're in for even colder lows tonight, after a day that will struggle to top 20 degrees - about 20 degrees below the long-term average for the date. The forecast low for BWI tonight is just 7 degrees. That would be the coldest since an 6-degree morning back on Jan. 10, 2004. 

NOAAThe good news is that skies tonight will be crystal clear under this huge, dry arctic high-pressure system parked over the eastern half of the country (left).Last night's sky was crammed with bright winter stars, and the evening commute home was graced by the brilliant planet Venus, high in the southwestern sky. Venus is near its highest position this winter, setting a full three hours after the sun. Turn to the east and you can admire the bright stars of the constellation Orion, with his familiar three-star belt. I went up the street to get the mail last night, turned and headed back to the house while gaping at the night sky. Got so distracted I walked right past my own house. Beautiful.

From here the weather will warm a bit - rising nearly to the freezing mark Saturday afternoon in advance of the president-elect's visit to Baltimore. If you're going, dress warmly, then add another layer. Hours of standing in the sub-freezing cold will take a toll on you, and in that crowd, it will not be quick or easy to get to someplace warm.

Continue reading "Brrrrr !! And colder tonight !" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:10 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: By the numbers

January 5, 2009

And you thought Dec. 31 was windy ...

Sure, there were some pretty brisk winds in Maryland on New Year's Eve. They forced the postponement of the fireworks at the Inner Harbor.

NOAA Photo LibraryBut the peak gust at BWI was 51 mph. Imagine a gust to 132 mph, and average winds above 90 mph. That's what they recorded on top of Mt. Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Here's how Mike Clark, the blogger at the Mt. Washington Observatory described it:

"Well, perhaps windy is an understatement. For 21 hours yesterday, a wind gust of at least 100 mph was recorded with the peak for the day being 132 mph. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that for 9 hours, the average wind speed for those hours exceeded 100 mph with a peak hourly average wind speed for the day of 111 mph.

"Remember, that is not a wind gust, that is an average wind speed for an entire hour. The average wind speed for the entire day was 92.3 mph. That average would have probably been 100 mph if winds hadn't diminished to around 70 mph for the last 3 hours of the day. Also impressive was the overall gustiness of the wind, or the difference between peaks and lulls. For most of the day, winds would lull to around 40-60 mph and then gust over 120 mph in mere seconds."

NOTE: The world's highest recorded surface wind speed was clocked at the observatory on April 12, 1934 - an astonishing 231 mph.

Continue reading "And you thought Dec. 31 was windy ..." »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: By the numbers

December ends mild, snow-free

 Sun Photo/Lloyd Fox 2008

December ended with a windy, frigid flourish that (mercifully) postponed the New Year's Eve fireworks at the Inner Harbor until the next night (above). Sustained winds on Dec. 31 peaked at 38 mph at the airport, with gusts to 51.)

But on the whole, the month was a bit milder than the long-term average for Decembers at BWI-Marshall Airport, with even less than the scant 1.7 inches of snow that is the December average. Traces were noted on seven other dates. Western Maryland saw far more from storms blowing off the Great Lakes.

That's not to say we didn't have our wintry cold snaps. After a mild start, December sank into a four-day cold spell in which daytime highs got stuck in the 30s for three days (Dec. 6-8). Lows reached the high teens, with the month's low of 18 degrees touched on the 6th. That period delivered the only measurable snowfall for the month, the meager 0.6 inch that fell on Dec. 6.

Things warmed up after that, with highs of 66 degrees at the airport on Dec. 10, and 67 degrees on the 15th. There was more cold weather just before Christmas, with temperatures averaging 12 or 13 degrees below the long-term norms, on the 22nd and 23rd.

But readings warmed into the 50s and 60s on six dates beginning on the 24th. The month's high was 69 degrees, recorded on Dec. 28.

So, on average, the month ended 1.8 degrees above the long-term norms. Precipitation was slightly below. Twenty-seven dates were rated as cloudy or partly cloudy. But we saved a bit of cash on our heating bills, with heating degree-days ending about 6.2 percent below the average for BWI.

January is our coldest month, with average highs of jus