baltimoresun.com

February 28, 2012

New blogger and new blog home

This week Scott Dance joins The Baltimore Sun as its new weather blogger. As other Sun blogs have moved over to a new platform, it's time for Maryland Weather to join them. Starting today Maryland Weather will have updates here.

Dance, a Timonium native, comes to The Sun from the Baltimore Business Journal. He was a regular reader of this blog and was inspired to take a weather-spotting class after Frank Roylance wrote about it.

Learn more about him in his first post and join the conversation. He's eager to hear from regular readers about what they want to see on the blog. You can also follow him on Twitter @MDweather.  

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:19 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 26, 2012

Hot days in February

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post:

"Warmer In Baltimore Than In Miami” was the headline from The Sun on Feb. 26, 1930, after temperatures reached 83 degrees. (It was 76 degrees in Miami.) This record still holds for warmest day for the month of February. In February 1930, Baltimore was experiencing a premature spring, and the month still holds three records for warmest days: Feb. 20 it was 76, and Feb. 21 it was 74. February 1976 holds the record for warmest February in metropolitan Baltimore, according to the National Weather Service. The mean temperature for the month was 44.1.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:03 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 25, 2012

Mild winter a bad sign for maple sugar

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporters Candus Thomson and Steve Kilar offers this guest post:  

Mild winter weather could take the sweetness out of this year's maple sugar season. Good sap production requires daytime temperatures in the 40s and nighttime temperatures in the 20s. Nothing turns off the flow like a stretch of four or five days of 60-degree weather.

"The trees think it's springtime already," said Mike Driesbach, owner of Savage River Lodge in Garrett County, which has a small maple sugar operation. Sugar maples depend on fluctuating temperatures from day to night, he said. "If it doesn't drop below 30, the trees aren't ready to start pumping that sap up."

"It's a commodity business. Produce less, prices go higher," he said. "We might have a real short season."

Oregon Ridge Nature Center will have a maple sugar weekend Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and its annual pancake breakfast on March 3 and 4 from 8 a.m. to noon. Call 410-887-1815 for details and reservations.

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:01 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 24, 2012

Some celesital wonders coming up

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

If the weather cooperates, Saturday and Sunday night could provide a stunning view of a crescent moon dancing in the sky with two planetary partners. The first evening, the moon will be about two degrees above and to the right of Venus. Check the sky at about 6:30 p.m. On Sunday night at about the same time, the moon will be to the right of Jupiter. Early next month, on March 5, Mars will mark its closest approach to Earth and be its brightest.

Posted by Kim Walker at 4:50 PM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 23, 2012

Learn to be a weather spotter

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

How does the National Weather Service gather local information when conditions turn nasty? In part, it turns to trained volunteer spotters to report on weather threats to meteorologists. A free Skywarn Spotter class will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 26 at Carroll Community College, 1601 Washington Road in Westminster. The basic two-hour class covers thunderstorm threats, lightning, flooding, hail and tornadoes and is a prerequisite for other Skywarn classes. Participants will be registered in the spotter program. Find details at: www.erh.noaa.gov/er/lwx/.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:05 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 22, 2012

La Nina and tornadoes

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Last year was the fourth deadliest year for tornadoes in the United States, with 550 fatalities, and the second most destructive, with 1,709 twisters touching down. Why? A very strong jet stream powered by La Nina conditions generated powerful super-cell thunderstorms that often spin off tornadoes, says Accuweather.com. During 2011, many tornadoes touched down in densely populated areas east of "Tornado Alley" that lack the kind of storm awareness and shelters typically found in states from Texas to Kansas. Unfortunately, that La Nina pattern remains in place.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:49 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 19, 2012

50th anniversary of John Glenn's Friendship 7 flight

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post:       

"Godspeed, John Glenn." Fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter spoke those words 50 years ago on Feb. 20, 1962, during the launch of Mercury spacecraft "Friendship 7." On board was astronaut John H. Glenn, who became the first American to orbit the Earth. He saw three sunrises and sunsets during a flight of 4 hours and 56 minutes. This spacecraft is on view at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The Mercury-Redstone 3 "Freedom 7," flown by astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space, on May 5, 1961, is scheduled to leave the U.S. Naval Academy Visitors' Center the third week in March for the John F. Kennedy library in Boston.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:19 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 18, 2012

First data from Cross-track Infrared Sounder

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

The newest polar-orbiting satellite that will help scientists predict nasty weather days in advance is sending back its first data to Earth. The Cross-track Infrared Sounder, being managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, will produce high-resolution, three-dimensional temperature, atmospheric pressure, and moisture profiles. Scientists for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe the enhanced information will help them decode climate changers such as El Nino and La Nina. Distribution of the new information is set to begin at the end of March.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:17 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 17, 2012

WISE satellite one year later

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

On this date last year, NASA decommissioned its $320 million WISE satellite. With its 16-inch-in-diameter infrared-sensitive telescope, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer orbited the Earth 326 miles up and scanned the entire sky, discovering asteroids, comets, dying stars — called brown dwarfs — and distant galaxies. The 9-foot-tall satellite took more than 1.5 million images. Its final picture, taken on Feb. 1 of last year, shows a star-studded swath of the Milky Way. Next month, the WISE mission will be releasing data to the public from its all-sky survey.

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:14 PM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 16, 2012

Goddard explanation for Snowmageddon

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

So, what caused Snowmageddon—the three-storm punch two years ago that blanketed the region with 54.9 inches of snow? Three scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt think they have a clue. A combination of El Nino-induced warm sea surface temperatures and storminess with a reduction in the difference between the low-pressure field to the north and the high-pressure field to the south allowed bitter Arctic wind to sweep down across the North Atlantic and turn what would normally have been rain into feet of snow.

Posted by Kim Walker at 4:46 PM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 14, 2012

Great Backyard Bird Count is Saturday

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Take part in the national Great Backyard Bird Count on Saturday during a free ranger-led hike at Cunningham Falls State Park in Frederick County. Different species seen by hikers will be logged by park staff. The hike has some rocky areas. Binoculars are helpful. For children ages six and up. No pets. Meet the ranger at 10 a.m. at the Falls Trailhead lot in the William Houck Area of the park. The 1.2-mile hike will last about an hour and a half. Information: 301-271-7574.

Posted by Kim Walker at 3:49 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 12, 2012

Memories of February storms

 

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post:      

We are entering the part of winter that has brought some of our greatest snowfall totals. The blizzard of 1983 on Feb. 11-12 brought 22.8 inches. During the Valentine's Day storm on Feb. 12-14 1899, the area received 21.3 inches. The President's Day storm, Feb.18-19 1979, dumped 20.0 inches. The 2003 President's Day blizzard, on Feb. 16-18, is the No. 1 storm for snowfall of all time in Baltimore at 26.8 inches. If you're feeling the chill today, remember it could be worse. On this date in 1899, the high was 11 and low was 5 degrees.

Baltimore Sun 2003 file photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:20 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 11, 2012

See the International Space Station with your sweetie on Valentine's Day

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Get those neck muscles in shape, International Space Station watchers, you're got some looking up to do next week. Weather permitting, folks in the Baltimore area will be able to see the station overhead on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, the spacecraft will appear at 7:13 p.m. low in the western sky. For two minutes it will make its way to the north. On Valentine's Day, at 6:15 p.m., the space station will enter from the southwest and will cruise for five minutes to the east-northeast.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:56 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 10, 2012

Maryland stocks trout streams, ponds

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Warm, dry weather has meant one thing for anglers: the state has begun its spring stocking of approximately 326,000 rainbow and brown trout into streams and ponds. The stocking trucks will work their way east to west, said Assistant Fisheries Director Don Cosden. Some fish being released are as large as 8 pounds.

One caveat, though. The Put-and-Take closure dates for certain areas are incorrect in the 2012 Maryland Fishing Guide. Check the Department of Natural Resources website (dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/stocking/) for both the correct days and the stocking schedule.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:21 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 9, 2012

Astronaut applications flood NASA

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Apparently the lure of being an astronaut is not dampened by the fact that NASA doesn't have a spacecraft and rocket ready for launch. The U.S. space agency says it received more than 6,300 applications to be part of the 21st class of astronauts over the three-month period that ended late last month. A rigorous screening process will reduce the number. The agency normally gets between 2,500 and 3,500 applicants; the highest response came in 1978 with 8,000 applicants.

Posted by Kim Walker at 1:09 PM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 8, 2012

Solar exhibit at Maryland Science Center

 From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Star light, star bright. On Thursday, the Maryland Science Center is scheduled to open a three-month exhibit featuring images of the sun taken during NASA solar missions.

The show, "Sun As Art," consists of 20 full-color, high-resolution images selected by Steele Hill, a media specialist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt and an author of a book on the sun.

Several pieces in the exhibit allow visitors to use their smart phones to scan a QR code and watch the solar event that inspired the finished image.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:19 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 5, 2012

Anniversary of The Great Baltimore Fire

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post:     

From the Sun archives: The Great Baltimore Fire started on the morning of Feb. 7, 1904, at John E. Hurst building located near present day 1st Mariner Arena. The first alarm sounded at 10:48 a.m. and the fire quickly spread, eventually destroying 1,500 buildings over 140 acres. Baltimore was experiencing a winter thaw that weekend with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. On the day before the fire, “The beauty of the afternoon caused the shopping streets, markets and other places of public concourse to be thronged,” the Sun reported. After that, Baltimore was hit by a cold spell as city temperatures reached a low of 5 degrees on Feb. 17. The weather caused fatalities and illness among National Guard members, firefighters and other workers who were guarding and clearing debris.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:20 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 4, 2012

January weather in review

 From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Last month's temperatures had more in common with early December or late February than a typical January, the National Weather Service says. The maximum average temperature was 47.9 degrees, making it the 15th warmest January since 1870, when records started being kept. So far, this season’s snow total of 1.3 inches ranks as the ninth lowest on record in Baltimore. The highest wind gust, 46 mph, came on Jan. 27. We had two days with fair skies, 21 days of partly cloudy skies and eight days of clouds.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:19 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 3, 2012

Baltimore's reserviors full

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Our cups run over. The Baltimore region's three reservoirs are filled to the brim, the city Public Works Department says, even though January ended about a half-inch below average on the rain gauge and 5.5 inches below average in snowfall. When at capacity, Loch Raven, Liberty and Prettyboy reservoirs together hold 75.85 billion gallons. Since 1988, reservoir storage totals have averaged 66 billion gallons at this time of year. That should mean plenty of water this summer for the system’s 1.8 million customers, department officials say.

Posted by Kim Walker at 4:14 PM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 2, 2012

NOAA to hold Heritage Week

 From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, headquartered in downtown Silver Spring, is celebrating "Heritage Week" with free programs for weather watchers. On Friday at 11:30 a.m. and Saturday at noon, Mike Bettes, a Weather Channel meteorologist, will be on a panel discussing "Tornado! Forecasting Killer Twisters." On Saturday at 10 a.m., Capt. Barry Choy will present, "Eye of the Storm: Adventures of a NOAA Hurricane Hunter Pilot." Then on Feb. 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the NOAA Science Center will have an open house.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:31 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

February 1, 2012

Maryland observatory to hold open house

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Don’t have a dog in this year's Super Bowl fight? Learn about the heavens from the experts.

The University of Maryland Observatory is having an open house at 8 p.m. on Feb. 5 at the Metzerott Road facility in College Park. A short lecture will be followed by a tour and, weather permitting, a peek at the night sky with the astronomers. Parking and seating are limited, so don't be late.

If you can't make this event, there’s another one set for Feb. 20.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:52 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Watching
        

January 29, 2012

Punxsutawney Phil and nature's weather predictors


 

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post:    

Groundhog Day is coming Thursday, when Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow. If he sees his shadow, it will mean six more weeks of winter.

The day is a reminder about how before there were weather bureaus, humans looked to nature and animals as weather predictors. People looked at how their dogs and cats behaved; studied the color, shade and thickness of the hair on the wooly bear caterpillar; and watched squirrels gather nuts. They listened to birds and watched which direction they flew.

While flipping a coin maybe more accurate than Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication, there is something to be said for observing and listening to nature.

Reuters photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:04 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 28, 2012

Punxsutawney Phil: Will we get spring or spring?

 

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Thursday is Groundhog Day, when Punxsutawney Phil tells us how much longer winter will last. Two years ago, Phil predicted a prolonged winter and we got Snowmageddon. Last year, Phil correctly called for an early spring. If Phil does not see his shadow next week, we can look forward to an early spring. If he sees his shadow, we get another six weeks of ... what? Warm temperatures, spring-like rain and an explosion of flowers bursting from their bulbs? Either way, bring it on.

Reuters photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:28 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 27, 2012

See some stars on Saturday

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Astronomy is looking up. That's the motto of the Westminster Astronomical Society, a local group of stargazers who share their enthusiasm and expertise once a month when they open their planetarium at the Bear Brook Nature Center.

There's a gathering Saturday night at 7:30, with a second show at 8:30, if the crowd warrants it. Keep in mind that good views are weather dependent. The cost is $5 and includes the use of a time machine. Reserve a seat by calling 410-386-2103.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:12 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 25, 2012

Surviving the solar flare

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:

Having survived a weekend ice event followed by a radiation blast from a solar flare, it's safe to say we've run the gamut. The eruption, the largest since 2005, began Sunday evening. Solar flares can wreak havoc with communications satellites, GPS units and the power grid, but not earthlings, experts say. Sometimes, a strong storm can cause Northern Lights to flicker in our skies. If you’re awake between midnight and dawn, face north and look near the horizon for green or red glows.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:57 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 22, 2012

1987 storm tested mayor's first day

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post:  

Mayor Clarence H. Du Burns told The Baltimore Sun he was hoping for a sunny day on Jan. 22, 1987, his first full day in office. Instead Baltimore was hit by a major snowstorm. The National Weather Service forecast the storm but couldn't predict the amount of snow because of the difficulty in knowing where the rain-snow line would fall. Snowplow crews spent most of the day playing catch-up as Baltimore received 12 inches, only to be hit three days later by nine to 10 inches more. January 1987 was the third-snowiest January on record in Baltimore.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:27 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 21, 2012

Leap second

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:   

For those of us trying to cram one more thing into a busy schedule, this is our lucky year. The masters of time are is giving us 86,401 extra seconds. Most of it comes on Feb. 29 to mark leap year. Then, on June 30, we get an extra tick to get the world’s rotation and our atomic timepieces (accurate to one second in 100 million years) back in sync. Leap seconds have occurred 24 times, the first one on June 30, 1972.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:38 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 20, 2012

The difference between winter storm watch, warning and advisory

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:    

What is the difference between a winter storm watch, a warning and an advisory? In these parts, an advisory is issued by the National Weather Service when a disruptive coating of 2 to 4 inches of snow —alone or with sleet and freezing rain — is anticipated. A watch means the possibility of hazardous conditions looms within 48 hours. A warning is for a mix-and-match set of circumstances: more than 5 inches of snow or sleet; one-quarter inch of ice; enough accumulation to down power lines; damaging precipitation and high winds.

Posted by Kim Walker at 3:31 PM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 18, 2012

Weather's toll on statues and monuments

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:   

A colleague wanted to know what kind of weather gives monuments, statues and fountains the biggest beat down.

For that, we turned to Barbara Wolanin, curator for the Architect of the Capitol since 1985, who oversaw the restoration of the bronze Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome. Water, she says, is the enemy of all types of decorative structure. It either softens porous material, rusts metals such as bronze or seeps into cracks, where the cycle of freezing and thawing takes its toll.

Baltimore Sun file photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:16 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 15, 2012

Perfect weather for a Ravens game

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post: 

The Ravens will have perfect weather conditions for today's game. The temperature at kickoff is forecast to be in the mid-30s, and it will be the coldest game the team has played at home all year. T

he Ravens have a perfect season at home this year and the weather has been mild, but in past years on average the Ravens have played better at home when the temperature has been below 40, The Sun reported in 2009. The last time the Ravens played in NFC championship game at home was on Jan. 13, 2007, against the Colts. It was a high of 69 and low of 53, and the Ravens lost.

Today's game won't be the famous 1967 Ice Bowl or 1988 Fog Bowl, but maybe it will be called the Chilly Bowl.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:20 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 14, 2012

Fun with weather on SciJinks

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:   

SciJinks, the nifty NASA website for kids — and grownups — includes a look at folklore around the world through the microscope of modern science.

Happily, some folklore makes the grade. For example: "There is an ancient rain-predicting proverb among the Zuni Indians that says, 'If the moon's face is red, of water she speaks.'" The scientific thumbs up? "The moon appears red because of dust being pushed ahead of a low pressure front bringing in moisture. So the Zuni were right on!"

(Also, check out the Bad Weather Joke Machine).

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:12 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 13, 2012

Alberta clippers bring the cold

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:   


"Why are they called Alberta clippers?" asked the man at the next bar stool as the TV forecast ended.

The weather term sounds like the explanation of what happened to Baltimore's old hockey team. But it describes a low-pressure system that begins in western Canada and picks up speed across the Great Plains like a hockey player crossing the blue line.

Usually, a clipper isn't a scoring threat, bringing bitter cold but little snow. But if it taps into Atlantic moisture it can turn the landscape mighty white.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:23 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 12, 2012

'Stars of the Ancient Sky' on Friday

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:   

Dr. Rommel Miranda of Towson University's Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences will be discussing "Stars of the Ancient Sky" Friday night at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center in Cockeysville. The program, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., will employ the portable StarLab Planetarium.

The professor received the university’s 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award. If the weather cooperates, Miranda will lead everyone outside for some star gazing. The cost is $4 for members and $5 for non-members. Call 410-887-1815 to make reservations.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:11 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Watching
        

January 11, 2012

Stargazing highlights for 2012

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

What are the 2012 astronomical highlights likely to be, weather permitting?

The best chance to see Mercury will fall between Feb. 20 and March 12.

On March 14, Venus and Jupiter will fly in tight formation to be joined on March 25 by a crescent moon, creating a spectacular display.

On June 5, Venus will transit across the sun's face. Sunset will interrupt our view locally. But since it won't happen again until 2117, we can't complain.

Geminids Meteor Shower will peak around Dec. 13.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 8, 2012

Coldest recorded temperature in Maryland

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post: 

Miss the cold? The coldest recorded temperature in Maryland was 100 years ago on Jan. 13, 1912, in Oakland at -40 degrees Fahrenheit. It was recorded by a U.S. Weather Bureau reader named Ralph E. Weber of Oakland. On that date in Baltimore, it was 0. That January and February, Maryland was hit by one cold wave after another. Three other states share a record temperature of -40: Arizona set in 1971 and Kansas and Missouri set on same day in 1905. Alaska is the state with the coldest recorded temperature, a low of -80 recorded Jan. 23, 1971.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:55 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 7, 2012

Sugar beet molasses and roads

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

A caller asked, "Does Maryland really use beets to melt snow from roads?" Indeed it does. The State Highway Administration blends sugar beet molasses with salt brine and applies it to roads and bridges before the first flakes fall. The beet juice lowers the freezing temperature of the brine, normally minus-6 degrees, to give it more punch. The state, by the way, makes its own brine at a cost of 7 cents a gallon and distributes it to highway sheds across the state.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:54 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 6, 2012

Test flight this month at Wallops

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

NASA is hoping to conduct a test flight of a suborbital rocket from Virginia's Wallops Flight Facility on Jan. 11. The two-stage vehicle, with the friendly sounding name Terrier-Improved Malamute, is being developed to support NASA science missions. Liftoff is expected between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., with backup launch days on Jan. 12 and 13. The Wallops visitor center will open at 6:30 a.m. for public viewing. You can follow the mission at: sites.wff.nasa.gov/webcast. Launch status also is available at 757-824-2050.

Posted by Kim Walker at 9:52 PM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 5, 2012

December weather in review

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:   

December 2011 was warmer and wetter than average, but no record setter, according to National Weather Service records. The average monthly temperature was 42.2 degrees, two-tenths of a degree below the mark set in 2006.

The low reading -- 22 degrees -- came on Dec. 12 and the high followed three days later, when the temperature reached 63. The total amount of rain for the month was 4.50 inches, more than half of it coming on Dec. 7, and including Baltimore’s only snow. The monthly average is 3.37 inches.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:41 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 4, 2012

International Space Station flybys this month

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

The International Space Station will make two passes of six minutes' duration each over our area in early 2012. The first comes Wednesday night at 5:53, when the spacecraft will enter the west northwest skies and begin its leisurely flyby to the south southeast.On Jan. 14, the 430-ton ship will return at 6:46 p.m., appearing from the southwest and cruising to the east northeast.

If you get the chance, check out a spectacular YouTube video of Comet Lovejoy taken by NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, commander of Expedition 30.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:22 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

January 1, 2012

2012 is a leap year

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell offers this post: 

Happy New Year! We will have an extra day this year because 2012 is a leap year. February will have 29 days instead of 28 and the year will have 366 days instead of 365.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, leap years are necessary because the length of a year is 365.242 days, so an extra day is added, in most cases, every four years and on years that are evenly divisible by four.

Also, check out Joe Burris' article on a proposal by two Hopkins professors to overhaul the calendar so the same dates fall on the same days year after year. What do you think?

A toast to new beginnings and hopefully a year filled with nice weather.

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:09 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 30, 2011

Exploring the moon

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:      

What is the moon made of and why have a dozen spacecraft crashed into its surface?

Two U.S. probes have been circling the moon in formation for 82 days, mapping its uneven gravitational pull. On New Year’s Eve, one will land followed a day later by the other.

The Grail probes, short for Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, will study the moon from crust to core to help scientists learn how it was created. Research on the moon’s gravity field will help target safe-landing sites.

Reuters file photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:45 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 29, 2011

Winter without any snow? Say it isn't so!

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:     

A caller left this message: When was the last time Baltimore went an entire winter without snow? Someone who wasn’t a stickler for detail would point out that we had snow on Oct. 29. But, technically that’s not winter, right? Well, according to the National Weather Service, Baltimore never went an entire season without snow. The closest we came was in 1949-50, when one-half inch fell. The 30-year average snow total for BWI-Marshall Airport is 20.2 inches. Last winter gave us 14.4 inches.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:35 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 28, 2011

Stargazing tool

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:    

Were you one of the planet's fortunate creatures to receive an iPad for Christmas of Hanukkah? If you did and you consider yourself something of a stargazer, you might find the app, Star Walk, a fun download.

The app turns an iPad into an astronomy guide, using the device's camera to help search the galaxy and identify features. There's also a version for the iPhone. Star Walk tracks satellites and provides information about what’s up.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 26, 2011

A Christmas memory

From the Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell provides this guest post:  

It was Christmas Eve 1966 and my brother and sisters and I had all gone to sleep dreaming that Santa would soon arrive.

It was perfect weather. Several inches of snow had fallen that day and flurries were still blowing.

When we awoke there was much excitement, for my sisters hollered that they saw on the roof what looked like boot prints, reindeer tracks and sled markings. To our surprise my father retrieved a reindeer collar with bells, which we were convinced belonged to Rudolph. We cherish that memory and pass it down.

Merry Christmas.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:14 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 23, 2011

Ursids meteor shower tonight

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:   

If the skies cooperate, we may be lucky enough to view the Ursids meteor shower tonight. The display is product of the comet 8P/Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 13.6 years.

It’s not a big event and the intensity of the fireballs often disappoint. But they move rather slowly and they might make a nice respite from the final hours of holiday wrapping, baking and cleaning.

If you're up past midnight go outside, take a deep breath of fresh air and look toward the North Star.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:45 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 22, 2011

Winter solstice arrived ... looking forward to spring

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

"A day without sunshine is like, you know, night," Steve Martin once said.

The winter solstice arrived in Baltimore at 12:30 a.m. At 9 hours, 24 minutes and 1 second, it is the shortest day of the year.

If you think it’s bad here, just remember those folks above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north. They’ll be in the dark all day.

But cheer up, the sun has already booked its return flight. Days will get longer and on March 20 at 1:14 a.m, the vernal equinox will arrive.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 21, 2011

Rime ice is frozen fog

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Looking at the website of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory ("home of the world's worst weather"), a reader saw a photo of rime ice and asked what causes it.

Here's the official "Obs" explanation: "Rime ice is essentially frozen fog. When temperatures dip below freezing, super-cooled water droplets suspended in the clouds freeze instantly upon contact with any solid object. When the droplets freeze, they can form delicate, feather-like structures that grow into the wind at a rate of up to a foot an hour."

Got weather questions? Ask them in the comments. 

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 17, 2011

Remembering the 'whiteout' of 2009

From the Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell provides this guest post: 

Do you remember the record snow of Dec. 18-19, 2009, which came on the last weekend before Christmas — one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year? Maryland was hit with 21.1 inches, putting a halt to shopping and keeping most people hunkered down.

This storm broke the previous December record of 14.1 inches set Dec. 11-12, 1960, and the all-time monthly record of 20.4 inches set in December 1966.

Despite the warning, the magnitude of the storm was still surprising. More surprises were ahead that winter, however, with the back-to-back storms of February 2010.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:44 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

Photos show beauty of our nation's parks

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

From the moody skies over the red ruins of Pecos Pueblo in New Mexico to a flock of birds wheeling in the fog over Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge, the essence of America's National Historic Landmarks was captured by hundreds of amateur and professional photographers in the 12th annual photo contest sponsored by the National Park Service.

Entries came from all 50 states and U.S. territories. The winning shot and the 12 honorable mentions along with the list of Maryland's 71 landmarks are on the agency's website (nationalparks.org).
 

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:04 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 16, 2011

Glimpse the International Space Station this weekend

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

The International Space Station will make three evening appearances of at least three minutes this weekend in the skies above Baltimore.

The first fly-by comes Friday at 6:03, when the 400-ton ship enters from the south-southwest and moves toward the east, reaching a maximum elevation of 48 degrees.

On Saturday, it will appear lower in the southern sky at 5:08, moving to the east.

On Sunday at 5:49, the spacecraft will enter from west-southwest and depart into the northeast at a maximum elevation of 76 degrees.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:36 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 15, 2011

White Christmas? Probably not ...

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Chances of a white Christmas this year are about as good as the Orioles making the 2012 playoffs, gas prices dipping below $3 a gallon or Donald Trump sporting a mohawk.

Based on history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts Baltimore’s chance at 10 percent. Ditto the Farmer’s Almanac. The Weather Channel’s long-range forecast shows daily highs at about 50 degrees going into the holiday weekend. For a better than 50-50 chance, travel to northern New England or the Great Lakes region.

UPDATE: Here's what Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red has to say about Christmas weather: 

"After looking like we would get colder and stormier for the end of December, models are backing off almost entirely of this idea. The north Atlantic high is now forecast to be farther south, making it the non-north Atlantic high ... and now, the models show a continuation of a low over Greenland. Classic North Atlantic Shop Vac -- the low to the north spinning counter clockwise, while the high to the south spins clockwise, and in between, a very fast west-to-east flow aloft -- sucking all the cold air out of North America.  We've avoided this for the last 2 winters (we've had a blocking high over Greenland or thereabouts), but I'm beginning to suspect it may end up being our fate this year.  ... If indeed this continues, we will not only see below-normal snowfall, we may struggle to get any snow at all.  ... El Nino and La Nina play a role, but for us, the money is in the North Atlantic Oscillation, which is essentially what we're talking about here."

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:08 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Winter weather
        

December 8, 2011

Earliest sunset today

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Who turned out the lights? The earliest sunset of the year occurs today in Baltimore at 4:43 p.m. EST. The precise moment varies with the latitude, while in the Southern Hemisphere's middle latitudes folks are waking up to their earliest sunrises.

Our gloom deepens at 12:30 a.m. on the 22nd, when winter arrives with the solstice. The time between sunrise and sunset will be 9 hours, 24 minutes and one second. Although the amount of daylight increases following the solstice, sunrise doesn’t start getting earlier until January.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 7, 2011

What's shallow fog?

From the Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson provides this guest post: 

A reader who just returned from overseas says she heard a term — shallow fog — she had never heard before back home and wanted to know what it is.

Fog consists of water droplets suspended in the air that look pretty unless you're driving a vehicle or boat through them. Shallow fog is a low-laying blanket, often extremely localized, that does not obstruct horizontal visibility at 6 feet or more above ground level, according to the National Weather Service. It usually burns off fairly quickly.

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:46 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 4, 2011

Pearl Harbor weather history

 

From the Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell provides this guest post: 

As the nation pauses this week to remember the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, here is a glimpse into the weather that day.

In Baltimore, the air was chilly with a high of 44.

The first bombs fell on Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. About a half hour earlier, the reading at the U.S. Weather station in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii, was 73 degrees. The skies over Pearl Harbor were partly cloudy with good visibility.

The normal high for Pearl Harbor in December is 81 and low 68. In Baltimore, the normal temp ranges from 45 to 28.

Let us pause and remember the sacrifices made that day, a day that changed the course of history.

File photo by STF/AFP/Getty Images

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:11 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 3, 2011

Nov. 2011 was fifth warmest November

 

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

With an average monthly maximum temperature of 62 degrees, last month was the warmest November since 2001 registered 63.4 degrees, and the fifth warmest on record, the National Weather Service says. Only Nov. 18 failed to reach a daily maximum of 50 degrees.

Skies were partly cloudy (13 days), fair (10) and cloudy (7). It was drier than normal and the driest month since May. The outlook hasn’t changed for the next three months, with chances of above, normal or below temperatures and precipitation equally possible.

The women's track team from Loyola took advantage of the 70 + degree day Nov. 14 and ran along Greenway in Guilford. Baltimore Sun file photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:02 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 2, 2011

Stargazing events this weekend

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

There's two opportunities for stargazing with knowledgeable folks this weekend.

Tonight, the Community College of Baltimore County's astronomy program will point its telescope skyward for a free peak at the galaxy. The session at the Dundalk campus will start at 7 p.m. To confirm the sky is clear enough, call 443-840-4216 no earlier than 6:15 p.m.

On Saturday, the Westminster Astronomical Society is offering a 7:30 p.m. program at Carroll County’s Bear Branch Nature Center. The cost is $5; call 410-386-2103 to save a seat.

An earlier version listed the incorrect number for the CCBC program. The Sun regrets the error. 

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:39 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

December 1, 2011

Get a glimpse of the International Space Station

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

As you get ready for work or school tomorrow morning, dash outside at 6:33 and look to the northwestern skies as the International Space Station cruises by at more than 17,200 mph. At a duration of four minutes, the flyover will give you plenty of time to get your bearings.

The flying laboratory, in space for more than a decade, will visit again Sunday morning at 6:17, approaching from the west-north west. On board is NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, the commander, and two Russian cosmonauts.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 30, 2011

Requirements for small craft advisory

 

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

A reader asks: When the National Weather Service issues a "small craft advisory," how small is small and how much wind is involved?

The Coast Guard generally assigns the label to vessels shorter than 33 feet. Advisories are issued when sustained winds are expected to be 25 to 38 mph, just below a gale.

But Chesapeake Bay mariners know the direction of the wind is almost as important as the speed, and that when wind and tide direction clash, waves tend to be higher and steeper.

Have weather questions? Ask them in the comments. 

Patuxent Publishing file photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:07 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 27, 2011

Winter driving safety

From the Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell provides this guest post: 

Thanksgiving, one of the most traveled holidays, is over, but drivers should still be aware of winter driving safety.

Drivers are required to turn on their headlights from sunset to sunrise and when using windshield wipers. But headlights also make us more visible on gray winter days. Use high beam and low beam lights properly to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.

Scrape windows free of frost and ice and clean your car — roof, trunk, hood and all — of snow for maximum visibility and to keep other drivers safe.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:03 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 26, 2011

See the raptors before they head south

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

It’s not too late for a day trip to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pa., to watch the raptors migrating south for the winter. The staff says birds will be moving along the north-south valley until mid-December.

Just this week, observers saw bald eagles and red-tailed hawks riding the currents. So far, spotters have recorded nearly 23,000 raptors passing by the mountain. The holiday open house is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 3. The drive is slightly under 3 hours from Baltimore.

Baltimore Sun file photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 25, 2011

What's a sou'wester?

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Why is that hat called a sou'wester? My spouse asked while looking at a box of fish sticks with a stoic fisherman on the label who is wearing a waterproof hat, brim pushed up, tail covering his coat collar. The hat also is depicted on The Fishermen's Memorial Statue in Gloucester, Mass.

The Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center says the region gets its foulest weather from the northeast so mariners want to face the southwest, putting the protective tail of the hat in harm's way.
 

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 24, 2011

What would you name the new moon?

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Full moons have a name, several if you take into account contributions from various cultures. The one this month, on Nov. 10, was the Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon. So why not hang monikers on the new moons, one of which we’ll experience just past midnight? True, you can’t see a new moon, but so what? Raise your hand if you had an imaginary friend as a kid, or even now. What would you call our post-Thanksgiving new moon? How about the one on Dec. 24?

Baltimore Sun file photo of "Twilight Saga: New Moon" on DVD. Perhaps the Thanksgiving new moon could be Edward and the Dec. 24 one Jacob? 

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:27 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 23, 2011

Weather's impact on health

 

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Why do we ache when it's damp or the weather turns cold and blustery, a colleague asked?

First response: "Because we're old."

But turns out some medical experts think that low pressure systems may cause our joints to swell. And cold definitely causes muscles to stiffen. A Tufts University study showed that a 10-degree drop in temperature or a rise in barometric pressure triggered an incremental increase in joint pain.

Folks with asthma or who suffer from migraine headaches often find weather changes cause them grief.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 20, 2011

Remembering the helping hands of stormy 2011

From The Sun's print editions: 

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell provides this guest post:  

Thanksgiving week is a time to remember the gratitude we had for the people that helped see us through this year’s storms and natural disasters: Snow in January; winds in February; heavy rains of March; tornadoes in April and May; record heat of June and July; earthquake and Hurricane Irene in August; Tropical Storm Lee in September; and surprise snow in October.

For all of those who were there — fire, police, medical and emergency personnel, Public Works, National Guard, utility crews, neighbors and strangers, weather forecasters and others — thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 19, 2011

Humidity levels determine jet contrails

 

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

An Inner Harbor tourist asked no one in particular (I was eavesdropping): Why is it that on some days, the sky is a crisscross of white jet contrails while on others the blueness is unblemished?

It all has to do with humidity levels up there. Low humidity means the atmosphere can absorb the water vapor produced by jet engines. But when the humidity is higher, the vapor, which freezes into droplets, has nowhere to go. The frozen particles then make spectacles of themselves.

Have a weather question? Post them in the comments and we may track down an answer. 

Baltimore Sun file photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:34 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 18, 2011

Moonlight Masquerade at Oregon Ridge

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Well, it's a marvelous night for a moon dance, or at least a hike and lecture about how the phases of the moon effect different animals and dictate their hunting patterns.

The 7 p.m. "Moonlight Masquerade" at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center in Cockeysville, suitable for those 8 and older, will run about two hours and costs $3, or $2 if you're a member. Organizers have even promised a critter or two.

Call the center at 410-887-1815 to reserve a spot.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 17, 2011

Baltimore ready for winter storms


 

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Baltimore is ready for winter, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Wednesday. With a snow removal budget of $2.7 million, the city has stockpiled 15,000 tons of salt and is poised to deploy 300 workers and 150 pieces of equipment.

Not that anything is imminent. The region, on average, gets a half-inch of snow in November.

The snowiest November on record came in 1898, when 9.7 inches fell. The single-day record was set on Nov. 30, 1967, when Baltimore got 8.4 inches, one-third of the entire winter’s total.

Baltimore Sun file photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 16, 2011

38 years since Skylab 4 mission

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Today, in 1973, Skylab 4 (labeled Skylab 3 on the patch) blasted off from Florida on an 84-day mission, the last for America’s original spacestation.

Rookie astronauts Gerald Carr, William Pogue and Edward Gibson took pictures of Comet Kohoutek as it flew near the Sun, shot the first-ever outer space film of a solar flare and even took cool pictures of the Chesapeake Bay.

The nine-story tall, 77.5-ton lab created a fireball of its own when it crashed in Western Australia in July 1979.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 13, 2011

Cloud seeding in action

From the Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell provides this guest post: 

"Artificial snow from cloud seeding falls for the first time in nature" was the headline that ran Nov. 13, 1946. Vincent J Schaefer, a self-taught chemist and meteorologist working for General Electric who produced this effect in the lab, tested it in the natural world by flying over Greylock mountain in western Massachusetts.

He dispensed about six pounds of dry ice pellets at an altitude of 14,000 feet. Though no snow hit the ground, it did fall about 3,000 feet before evaporating.

Schaefer was hailed in a 1993 New York Times obituary as the first person to "actually do something about the weather and not just talk about it."

Cloud seeding is used around the world to limit drought and reduce hail. And artificial snow making is a common practice at ski resorts.

Whether man should try to control the weather is debatable and if this does more harm than good.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, History
        

November 12, 2011

Leonid meteor showers coming next week

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

They won't look like much this year, but on this day in 1833 the Leonid meteor showers gave startled scientists something to investigate. With skies much darker than they are today, thousands of fireballs made people sit up in bed and take notice. Some folks believed it was the end of the world while others guessed they were gaseous explosions from plants killed by frost. The peak this year is Nov. 17 and 18, but a waning moon and the constellation Leo will make viewing tough.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Watching
        

November 11, 2011

A meteorological history of Armistice Day

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

 

The Great War had been over for hours when Baltimore awoke on Nov. 11, 1918. Cold, north winds made the high of 43 degrees feel much colder, but few cared. "Germany Signs Armistice, Washington Announces; World War Has Ceased," the Sun's "Victory Edition" declared.

In 1938, clouds parted for the sun pushing temperatures into the upper 60s for Americans celebrating Armistice Day as a national holiday for the first time.

Gentle breezes and temperatures in the mid-50s prevailed in 1954, when Armistice Day became Veterans Day.

File photo of Armistice Day Parade at Mt. Vernon Place, Baltimore

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 10, 2011

How fast do raindrops fall?

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Rain. On the one hand, dismal drizzle in late fall is a harsh reminder that it's time to put away the shorts and flip-flops and trade SPF 30 lotion for a deep moisturizer. On the other hand, it isn't snow.

How fast do raindrops fall? University of California, Santa Barbara scientists say that on a calm day raindrops can reach top speeds of 18 mph, the same as a dragonfly, before friction breaks them up. The bigger the drop, the faster it falls.

Photo by Getty Images

Posted by Kim Walker at 4:39 PM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 9, 2011

Nationwide test of Emergency Alert System is today

From The Sun's print editions: 

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

If you tune in to radio or TV at 2 p.m. today, you will witness the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. It will sound identical to the localized messages heard during weather emergencies, right down to the waaa-waaa-waaa at the beginning and end.

The difference is, we’ll all be in this together, from Maine to Hawaii and all U.S. territories.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says no one will be penalized for their performance. This, after all, is only a test.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 8, 2011

No Indian Summer likely for Baltimore

From The Sun's print editions: 

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:   

Indian Summer, by the strictest of definitions, doesn’t appear to be on Baltimore’s horizon or even beyond, according to the Accuweather charts.

No one knows what Native Americans called the almost sultry conditions in late fall that followed the first killing frost, but our use of the term dates back to the 1700s, says National Weather Service historian William Deedler. The mild spell usually ends when low pressure moves in and the jet stream shifts from the south or southwest to north or northwest.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 7, 2011

Scientists excited about asteroid 2005 YU55

From the Sun's print editions: 

The close flyby Tuesday at 6:28 p.m. of asteroid 2005 YU55 will be a "boon for astronomers to study it with some high-tech instruments" but won’t be visible to the average stargazer, says David Ludwikoski, assistant professor of science at the Community College of Baltimore County, who hosts star parties at the school’s Banneker Planetarium.

“The neat thing is it’s probably the closest in recent memory anything has come this close to the Earth,” he says. “And it’s a nice plus for us that we’ve been able to detect something this small with the technology we have.”

Read more about the asteroid and NASA's tracking program here

Posted by Kim Walker at 5:45 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 6, 2011

The 'Gails' of November 1953

 

From the Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell provides this guest post: 

"Freak storm sweeps in without warning: Motorists stranded" was one of the headlines in The Baltimore Sun, referring to the snow that hit Maryland on Nov. 6-7, 1953. The Nor'easter dumped 5.9 inches in Baltimore, and it was the lowest temperature ever for these two dates at 22 degrees, which still stands.

This storm tied up traffic in every section of Baltimore, hundreds of motorist were stranded on highways seeking shelter in farm houses. The snow knocked out telephones, disrupted electric power and brought gales of wind over the Chesapeake Bay.  

This storm also provided the name for a baby girl who arrived in an ambulance on Popular Grove Street delivered by her father, an automobile dealer. "We just had to call her Gail because of the gale winds we were caught in," Morris Peterson, the father, told The Sun.

The Stork was busy during this storm with another delivery. An off-duty fireman delivered one of the twin boys born in a snowbound car at Gittings and Loch Raven. The second twin was born 45 minutes later at Mercy Hospital. It was the mother's first children, and the fireman's first delivery.

Baltimore Sun file photo of a car stuck in Cecil County during the 1953 storm.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 5, 2011

Fall back this weekend

 

From The Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday at 2 a.m., when clocks "fall back" an hour. For those of you who like to get a jump on things, we will "spring forward" at 2 a.m. on March 11. Where did that little memory-jogger originate?

According to Barry Popik, an etymologist and blogger, the phrase was coined by the Los Angeles Examiner and given national exposure in 1957 by columnist Walter Winchell.

If you have one of those atomic clocks that changes itself—lucky you.

Patuxent Publishing file photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 4, 2011

Car condensation puzzle

condensation.jpg

From the Sun's print edition:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post:  

A colleague asks why some cars are covered in a thin veneer of moisture in the morning while others nearby are bone dry. Experts say the difference can involve a number of variables: how long the car has been sitting cold, vehicle color (black holds heat), what type of surface the vehicle is sitting on (dirt vs. asphalt) or under (tree vs. open lot) and even the difference in terrain -- as little as a foot in height can make a difference.

Image is colleague Justine Maki's car just before 6 a.m. this morning.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 3, 2011

Totals from snowspotters for October storm


 Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Frostburg lived up to its name during the first snowstorm of the season. The Allegany County city led the state with 11.6 inches of snow last weekend, according to unofficial readings gathered by the National Weather Service. Manchester, Caroll County, picked up 7.8 inches, the most in the Baltimore metro area.

Baltimore County spotters recorded measurements ranging from a hint of whiteness to 5.5 inches. Harford County topped out at 5.3 inches; Howard County, 3 inches; and Anne Arundel received a dusting.

Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.

Posted by Kim Walker at 5:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

November 1, 2011

November's here, winter looms

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

TurkeysIt’s always bittersweet to see November arrive. The last leaves drop this month, giving way to the bare branches that stand watch until March. Snow enters the subconscious as the average overnight lows drop to freezing by month’s end; as much as 8 inches has fallen here in November. And the days grow short, with only a month left before the winter solstice.

But cheer up! Highs on a good day can still reach the 70s, and the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing still lie ahead. 

(SUN PHOTO: Christopher T. Assaf, 2006) 

 

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

October 31, 2011

All Hallows' Eve meant the start of winter

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

It’s Hallowe’en, the eve of another “cross-quarter day” – halfway between the autumnalJack O' Lantern equinox and the winter solstice. For many of our ancestors, this evening marked the beginning of winter, the loss of daylight and the sun’s warmth, and the “death” of plant life.

Ghosts and goblins prowled the night and bonfires were built to drive them back.

Christians co-opted the pagan feast day of Samhain, on Nov. 1, as “All Saints (or All Hallows) Day.”   

(PHOTO: Andrey Armyagov)

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

October 30, 2011

Europe switches to Standard Time today

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Clock in SwitzerlandThis is the last Sunday in October, and time for folks in Europe to turn their clocks back an hour to European Standard Time. That will reduce the time difference between Baltimore and Paris to just five hours, at least until the U.S. switches to Standard Time on the first Sunday in November – the 6th – restoring the six-hour difference. The U.S. goes back to Daylight Saving Time on the second Sunday in March; Europe follows on the last Sunday in March.

(PHOTO: Christian Hartmann, Reuters)

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

October 29, 2011

Webb telescope a marvel, if it's launched

Webb Space Telescope FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Spent time this week at the Maryland Science Center and learned a lot about the James Webb Space Telescope, which if completed will succeed the Hubble Telescope as the world’s leading observatory. Shade from a five-layer sunshield will keep Webb’s infrared sensors at minus-387 degrees F, while heat on the sun side rises to 185 degrees. Its 18 beryllium mirrors are so smooth, if they were scaled up to the size of the U.S., the tallest “mountain” would still be just two inches high.

(NASA IMAGE)

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

October 28, 2011

Jupiter at opposition tonight; grab the binocs

Jupiter/NASAFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

The planet Jupiter reaches opposition at 10 p.m. EDT tonight. That means it is “opposite” the sun from our perspective on the Earth. The gas giant now rises in the east as the sun sets in the west, and it reaches its highest point in the sky at 1 a.m. EDT. Opposition is also the middle of the best time of year to see Jupiter, currently the brightest star-like object in the evening sky. A good pair of binoculars will reveal its four Galilean moons, lined up on either side of the planet’s disk.

(NASA PHOTO: Jupiter and its Galilean moons)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:06 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

October 27, 2011

Southwest droughts can last centuries

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASAIn September, 10 percent of the lower 48 states was in “exceptional” drought, the worst category. About 4 percent, from New Mexico into Texas and Oklahoma, was experiencing the worst drought since 1900. Conditions are approaching those in the 1950s and 1930s, according to the Earth Gauge Program.

But scientists have learned that some droughts in the region in the past half-million years have been worse, and lasted centuries. The early 20th century was one of the wettest periods in the Southwest since at least AD 1400.

(NOAA PHOTO LIBRARY)

 

 

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

October 26, 2011

New moon at perigee today; watch for high tides

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASAAt 9 a.m. today, the moon will stand at perigee, less than 56 Earth radii away – just 221,874 miles. It’s the second-smallest distance between Earth and moon this year (after Mar. 19), and it occurs just seven hours before the moment of the new moon, at 3:56 p.m. EDT this (Wednesday) afternoon.

The combination of the nearness of the moon at perigee, and its alignment in front of the sun, may bring some unusually high tides today.

(NASA PHOTO)

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

October 25, 2011

2011 ozone hole was ninth-largest on record

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASA It’s spring in the Antarctic, and time to measure the ozone hole.

This gap in the natural layer of stratospheric ozone that protects the surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation forms each spring. It’s a consequence of pollution by manmade chemicals called CFCs.

Levels of long-lived CFCs have been in slow decline since phase-in of a 1987 ban. But scientists don’t expect the ozone hole to heal until mid-century.

This year’s was the ninth largest on record, at 10 million square miles.

(NASA IMAGE: Ozone hole Oct. 21, 2011)

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

October 24, 2011

The galaxy awaits; have a look, Friday in Dundalk

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Andromeda GalaxyHave you taken a good look at your galaxy lately? You really need to pay more attention to it. And if the skies cooperate, you’ll get another chance this Friday evening.

The Dundalk Observatory, at the Community College of Baltimore County, will hold another of its autumn observing sessions, starting at 8 p.m. on the CCBC campus, 7200 Sollers Point Road.

Jupiter will be rising in the east. If clouds threaten, call 410 282-3092 after 7:15 p.m. for a go/no-go check.

(NASA PHOTO)

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

October 23, 2011

Busy storm season, but just five hurricanes

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Hurricane Irene in OCThe 2011 Atlantic hurricane season is quieter now as we near the end of October. There have been 16 named storms, from Tropical Storm Arlene through Hurricane Philippe. That’s well above the 9.6 seasonal average, and just what Colorado State University forecasters predicted. We’re short on hurricanes, however – just five — a bit below average and well below the 6 to 10 predicted by forecast teams. Irene and Lee caused quite enough excitement here, thanks. The season ends officially Nov. 30.  

(SUN PHOTO: Irene hits Ocean City, Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:06 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Hurricanes
        

October 22, 2011

Ussher: Creation began this night, 4004 BC

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:James Ussher

Guy Ottewell’s Astronomical Calendar reminds us that, according to “The Annals of the Old Testament,” the 1650 classic by James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, in Ireland, God began the creation of the world at nightfall on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 22, in 4004 B.C.

Hubble Space TelescopeThat would make this night the 6,015th birthday of, well, everything.

Modern cosmologists, of course, have reached a different conclusion, dating the Big Bang to about 13.7 billion years ago.

(PHOTOS: Left, HST/NASA. Right, James Ussher) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:05 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

October 21, 2011

On average, globe was warm last month

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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 |
Categories: By the numbers, From the Sun's print edition
        

October 20, 2011

October 1940 snowstorm doused the lights

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Oct. 30, 1925We’ve had earlier snowfalls, but the 1.3-inch storm on Oct. 19-20, 1940 dropped the deepest October snow here since the 2.5-inch storm in 1925. Slick suburban streets caused several serious accidents, one fatal, and numerous power outages.

A Sun reporter phoned gas company spokesman Arthur Hawks, who explained, “The combination of snowfall and leaves which still clung to trees is the seat of the trouble.” As the interview ended, Hawks added, “Oops, there go my lights.”

(SUN FILE PHOTO: Baltimore recorded 2.5 inches on Oct. 30, 1925, but the streetcar plow was ready)

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

October 18, 2011

Storm names aren't always alphabetical

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Typhoon PhilippinesDon Dobrow, in Baltimore, saw in The Sun that the Philippines recently suffered back-to-back hits by typhoons Nesat and Nalgae: “Two [consecutive] typhoons [starting] with the same letter. Do you know the reason for that?” Sure. Typhoons in the northwest Pacific draw names from non-alphabetical lists compiled from 14 nations. Nesat is Cambodian; Nalgae (two storms later) is North Korean. The Philippines later assigned them local (alphabetical) names, Pedring and Quiel.

(PHOTO: Typhoon flooding in Philippines, Romeo Ranoco, Reuters)

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

October 17, 2011

October slightly dry so far

While it's probably hard to believe after some of the rain we had last week, the month-to-date precipitation totals for Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport are slightly below normal.

From Oct. 1-13, 1.2 inches was measured at the airport, according to the National Weather Service. The normal rainfall for that time period is 1.45 inches. However, since Sept. 1, 15.36 inches of rain fell at BWI, and the normal count for the time period is 7.93.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

October 16, 2011

Upcoming International Space Station sightings

Sky watchers! If skies are clear, you have several chances in the evening over the next week to get a glimpse of the International Space Station. At 8:16 p.m. Sunday, you have a 2-minute window to see the bright object fly over, starting at 15 degrees above the southwestern horizon. Check the skies again at 7:17 p.m. Monday, 7:57 p.m. Tuesday, 6:58 p.m. Wednesday, 7:37 p.m. Thursday, 6:40 p.m. Friday and 7:17 p.m. Saturday.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

October 14, 2011

Baltimore Running Festival forecast: Watch the wind

Here's a quick guest post from Picture of Health's Meredith Cohn on the Baltimore Running Festival

The forecast for Saturday’s Baltimore Running Festival will be sunny, but breezy, with a west wind between 11-21 mph, and gusts up to 31 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Josh Levinson of Charm City Run reminds runners not to overstride to compensate. If the wind slows you down a little, don’t panic. He says if you expend too much energy trying to fight the gusts, you will tap resources you’ll need later in the race.

Levinson says, “Have a wonderful day and enjoy the gusts at your back.”

Any readers planning on running? 

Baltimore Sun file photo

Posted by Kim Walker at 3:26 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

October 9, 2011

Baltimore's earliest snows recalled

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

It’s Oct. 9, the date of Baltimore’s earliest recorded snowfall, in 1903. It was just a trace, but it still stands as a marker for local weather watchers, a milepost that says, “From here on, snow is possible in Baltimore.”  There’s no one around who can remember that day. But many will recall the snow on Oct. 10, 1979. Just 0.3 inch at BWI, it dropped more on Memorial Stadium, postponing the first game of the World Series between the O’s and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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

October 7, 2011

Texas drought could last "another decade"

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

The Texas state climatologist, John Nielsen-Gammon, says the historic drought in the Lone Star State could last for years. The La Nina conditions that have returned to the equatorial Pacific for a second year can partly explain the dry weather. But he said scientists believe warm surface waters in the North Atlantic since 1995 also may “amplify” the effect. “This period, with both the Pacific and Atlantic working against us, might be over in a couple of years … It seems likely to last another decade.

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

October 6, 2011

Rise and shine for space station flyby tomorrow

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Space Cadets! If our skies stay clear we’ll have a nice opportunity early Friday to watch the International Space Station fly by. If you’re up early for work, take a run or walk the dog, look to the northwest at 6:01 a.m. EDT. Watch for a bright, steady, star-like object rising into the sky as the ISS passes over the Great Lakes. It will climb to more than halfway above the northeast horizon, passing high over New York City at 6:04 a.m., before disappearing in the southeast at 6:07.

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

October 5, 2011

Former Hurricane Ophelia due in Britain today

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Today looks like another stormy one for the United Kingdom, made even more so by what’s left of the former Cat. 4 Hurricane Ophelia. After spinning up to 140 mph east of Bermuda on Saturday, Ophelia weakened to tropical storm strength, passed over George Calvert’s former plantation on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland on Monday, and headed east. It is expected to bring rain, wind, mild tropical air and 25-foot seas today to northern Ireland and western Scotland.

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

October 4, 2011

Perfect powder, hard to reach

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Snow on EnceladusSkiers! The forecast for Enceladus calls for more snow flurries and perfect powder! Where’s Enceladus, you ask? Sadly, this little-visited destination is pretty remote. Enceladus is a moon of Saturn. Scientists working with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around the planet, reported evidence Monday that plumes of liquid water erupting through the surface have been falling back as snow for tens of millions of years. The powder in some places averages 350 feet deep.

(PHOTO: Paul Schenk, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston)

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

October 2, 2011

A wet nine months, but not nearly a record

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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
        

October 1, 2011

NWS forecasts may be just a starting point

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Dotti Fielder, in Catonsville, asks: “Why is it that forecasts on TV, The Baltimore Sun, Meteorologist Scott Padgettonline, etc. at any given time or day give different highs/lows, percent of precipitation expected. Don’t all forecasters get the same data from the National Weather Service?”

Well, everybody may consider NWS data. But those data can change from hour to hour. And, individual forecasters, and weather data vendors like AccuWeather, can (and do) interpret, adjust and spin as they see fit.

(PHOTO: Steve Ruark, Patuxent Publishing)

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

September 30, 2011

A time of toppling records

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

September 29, 2011

It takes two storms for a record soaking

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

September 28, 2011

Wettest 30 days in Baltimore

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

September 24, 2011

Summers are warmer on average, but not wetter

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

September 23, 2011

Straight winds or rotating? It matters

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

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

September 22, 2011

Autumn arrives at 5:06 a.m. tomorrow

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

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

September 21, 2011

Summer ends, and the alarm rings in the dark

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:Alarm clock

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

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

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

(SUN PHOTO: Barbara Haddock Taylor, 1994)

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

September 20, 2011

NASA satellite in fiery plunge this week

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(NASA PHOTO)

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

September 19, 2011

Eleven human West Nile cases in Md. so far

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

(PHOTO: Michael Raupp, University of Maryland) 

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

September 17, 2011

Do the worst hurricanes bear female names?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

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

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

September 16, 2011

Like "Tatooine," new planet has two suns

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

September 15, 2011

Cold days in September

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

September 14, 2011

A chill in the air

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, Sept. 1997)

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

September 12, 2011

Last week's rains defied the odds

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

September 11, 2011

Sept. 11, 2001, a perfect day for flying

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

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

(PHOTO: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP 2002)

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

September 10, 2011

Where's the missing tropical storm?

TD 10FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(IMAGE: National Hurricane Center)

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

September 9, 2011

Where have all the 90s gone?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

September 8, 2011

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

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

September 7, 2011

Celestial wonders in Dundalk

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(PHOTO: CCBC)

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

September 6, 2011

How hot was August at BWI? Not very

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

 

 

 

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

September 5, 2011

Who picks these storm names, anyway?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

September 4, 2011

Summer was eighth-hottest on record here

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

(PHOTO: Rob Carr, Getty Images)

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

September 3, 2011

Be careful with that fallen ash tree

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

(SUN PHOTO: Jen Rynda)

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

September 2, 2011

Irene never made landfall in Maryland

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

 

(NASA PHOTO: Irene at the North Carolina coast)

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

September 1, 2011

August was fifth-wettest for Baltimore

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

(SUN PHOTO: Todd Spoth, Patuxent Publishing)

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

August 31, 2011

Irene's wind hurt crops, rain helped

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Hurricane damage to cornThe weekly USDA “Weather & Crops” report is in. Irene had an impact on Maryland’s croplands, some good, some bad. The crop reporter said, “Still assessing crop damage from Irene. Corn was mostly affected by winds. There is also a large amount of standing water in fields.” Pasture in “poor” or worse condition fell from 32 percent to 27 percent; corn from 37 to 36 percent, soybeans from 25 to 20 percent. Topsoil rated “short” or “very short” of water fell to 15 percent from 30.  

(SUN PHOTO: Isabel crop damage, Doug Kapustin, 2003)

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

August 29, 2011

Hurricane as economic stimulus?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Hurricane IreneIs there a good side to a storm like Irene? Peter Morici, a business professor at College Park, says yes: Pre-landfall estimates of the storm’s potential damage run to $30 billion. But reconstruction will yield “at least” $7 billion in new, direct private spending. Add higher values of rebuilt property, and other “multipliers,” and he figures there’s about $29 billion on the plus side. “The total effects of natural disasters on the scale of Irene are not large two years down the road,” he argues.

(PHOTO: AccuWeather.com)

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

August 25, 2011

Rain helps pasture, soils; too late for corn

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

CornRain last week gave a boost to Maryland crops for the second week in a row. The latest USDA Weather & Crops report quotes a Maryland crop reporter: “Heavy rains on [Aug. 14] … The rain was too late for most corn, but soybeans responded. Alfalfa and pastures have also responded to the rain.” Pasture rated “poor” or “very poor” dropped from 53 to 32 percent; corn from 41 to 37 percent. Topsoil rated “short” or “very short” of moisture fell from 46 percent on Aug. 14 to 30 percent.

(SUN PHOTO: Linda Coan, 2000)

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

August 24, 2011

Which is the coolest month of summer?

Late summer MarylandFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

John Polyniak, in Lake Shore, writes: “Hi Frank. Summer starts in June and ends in September. Which month is hotter on average?

The average temperature for June in Baltimore is 72.4 degrees. The average for September is 67.8 degrees - 4.6 degrees cooler.

And if you think about it, it makes sense. Summer begins at the summer solstice, June 21, when sun angles are highest and daylight is longest. By Sept. 23, we’re receiving almost 3 hours less daylight, at lower sun angles.

(SUN PHOT: Doug Kapustin, Sept. 26, 2007)

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

August 23, 2011

Hurricanes made August 1955 Baltimore's wettest

Hurricane Connie BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Linda Tanton, of Baltimore, asks: “I see we had 18 inches-plus of rain in [August] 1955. Was that [Hurricane] Connie or Hazel?”  Hazel struck the previous October. August 1955 was Baltimore's wettest month by far, with 18.35 inches of rain - nearly half the city's annual average. Blame Connie, a minimal hurricane that dropped almost 10 inches here in 72 hours. Three days later, the remnants of Diane unloaded 2.3 inches more. By Aug. 31, other storms had added almost 5 more inches.

(SUN PHOTO: Light Street looking north during Connie-related flooding. Albert Cochran, Aug. 13, 1955)

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

August 22, 2011

1933 hurricane produced 10-foot storm surge

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Anyone recall the Chesapeake/Potomac Hurricane 78 years ago tomorrow? It made landfall at Nag’s Head, N.C. Driven inland by high pressure over New England, it moved west of the Chesapeake Bay, driving a 10-foot storm surge up the bay much as Isabel would do 70 years later. Four people driving between Baltimore and D.C. drowned in a flooded Little Patuxent. A train crossing the Anacostia was swept off the tracks, killing 10. Baltimore saw 7.62 inches of rain that day, still a record.

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

August 21, 2011

Please clean up after your dog

Walking the dogFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Eating breakfast? Wait an hour before reading further. Colorado State University scientists studying the microbes that blow around in urban environments found a surprisingly diverse collection of bacteria in the air. But the dominant species of bacteria in the wintertime breezes in Detroit and Cleveland come from dog fecal matter. “We breathe in bacteria every minute we are outside, and some of these bugs may have potential health implications,” said CSU biologist Noah Fierer.  

(SUN PHOTO: Nick Madigan, 2010)

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

August 20, 2011

No, Death Valley has not cooled off

Death ValleyFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Joe Bollinger, in Glen Burnie writes: “One could always count on Death Valley, CA for the highest temperature in the U.S. during the summer… I haven’t seen this site listed this year. Is there still a weather station at Death Valley?” Yes. But the NWS at Las Vegas says construction at the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center delays afternoon readings until after newspaper deadlines. Once the construction work is done, the Death Valley station should return to our weather page.

(PHOTO: Los Angeles Times, 2003)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:09 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

August 19, 2011

Night owls! Moon and Jupiter take early A.M. stroll

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Staying up really, REALLY late tonight? If skies are clear tonight, step outside for a look at a striking celestial pair. The moon and Jupiter will be rising side-by-side, in the east, shortly before midnight Friday, climbing higher in the southeast each hour until the dawn fades our view of Jupiter. Moon and planet will appear less than 5 degrees apart – less than the width of your hand held at arm’s length. Jupiter is about 430 million miles out, the moon just 251,000 miles away. For more, see Sky & Telescope.  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:04 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Notes
        

August 18, 2011

One comet a future threat, another is not

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Comet EleninComets in the news: U.S. astronomer and comet tracker Peter Jenniskens says meteors in an unexpected shower last February may have been debris from an unknown, long-period comet. Also unknown is whether the comet has already passed Earth or is still en route. But it does appear the comet’s orbit could one day be a threat to Earth.

Another comet, Elenin, will pass 22 million miles from Earth Oct. 16, posing no such threat, said NASA comet expert Donald Yeomans.

(NASA PHOTO: by STEREO spacecraft, Aug. 6, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:05 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Sky Watching
        

August 17, 2011

Rainy days helped Maryland crops

Corn crop MarylandFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Maryland soils and crops have had a good drink since Saturday, according to the latest USDA “Weather & Crops” report. The percentage of pasture in “poor” or “very poor” condition has decreased from 53 percent last week to 47; corn from 41 to 39 percent; soybeans from 37 to 33 percent. A Maryland crop reporter saw little field flooding: “Soil was so dry, it absorbed most of it.” Topsoil moisture has improved, with 46 percent rated “short” or “very short,” down from 80 percent last week.

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, 2006)

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

August 16, 2011

Where are Summit Station and Islas Orcadas?

Summit Station, GreenlandFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Don Torres, in Ellicott City, tracks the planet’s cold spots on our print weather page: “It’s almost always Summit Station, Greenland, and … [in the southern winter] Islas Orcadas…  Would you identify these locations?” Sure. Summit Station is a university research outpost in the center of Greenland. Islas Orcadas is the Spanish name for the South Orkney Islands. By treaty, the islands are part of Antarctica. Both the U.K. and Argentina have research bases there.

(SUMMIT STATION PHOTO)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:02 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Notes to readers
        

August 15, 2011

Int'l Space Station over Baltimore tonight

ISS cupolaFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Space Cadets! The International Space Station is back in the evening sky. If clouds are sparse enough, there’s a great opportunity tonight to watch it fly directly over Baltimore.

Watch for the star-like ISS and its crew of two Americans, three Russians and one Japanese rise above the southwest horizon at 8:45 p.m. EDT as they fly high over Georgia. ISS will reach the zenith (straight up) at 8:48 p.m. From there it will sail off to the northeast, fading out at 8:51 high over Nova Scotia.

(NASA PHOTO) 

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

August 14, 2011

Why so many cities with travel delays?

Travel delaysFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Nancy Cantville, in Eldersburg, says something on our print weather page has been bugging her: “I notice that many cities report potential travel delays. I can understand that in winter or hurricane season, but why in the middle of summer?

As any seasoned air traveler has learned, it doesn’t take all that much to cause travel delays.

The list of potential delay triggers, from AccuWeather.com, includes rain, ice, snow, thunderstorms, high winds, gusty winds, cold and heat.

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2006)

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

August 13, 2011

A splash of rain, a peck of trouble on the farm

Crops in droughtFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

A bit of rain last week put a little more moisture into Maryland’s soil. The weekly Weather & Crops report said 80 percent of the state’s topsoil is “short” to “very short” of moisture, down from 85 percent the week before.

Crop reports, however, remain dire. “Moisture and temperatures continue to limit crop growth and development,” a USDA reporter in Maryland said this week.

Fifty-three percent of the state’s pasture, 41 percent of the corn and 37 percent of soybeans are in “poor” to “very poor” condition.  

(SUN PHOTO: Monira Al-Haroun, Patuxent Publishing, 2011)

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

August 12, 2011

Full moon will dull tonight's Perseid meteors

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight. It’s most everybody’s favorite, thanks to the pleasant summer weather. Some clouds are likely. Worse, many of this year’s Perseids will be washed out by the glare of tonight’s full, Green Corn moon. But it’s still worth a try. Perseids are fast, bright and some leave persistent trails. Get as far as possible from urban lights. Best time to look is 2 to 4 a.m. Saturday. Then you can go home and sleep late.

And here's an online bonus. If you stay out a bit longer, at 4:33 a.m. the International Space Station will appear out of Earth's shadow, high in the northwest. A steady, star-like object, it  will move briskly toward the southeast, passing almost directly in front of the planet Jupiter, the brightest object in the southeastern sky. At 4:36 a.m., the station will fade from view.  

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

August 11, 2011

As the world turns, high tides arrive later

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

1952 floodTerri Clayman, in Columbia, noticed that the high tide on the Outer Banks was roughly 50 minutes later each day. “We were surprised that there was such a difference in the times. What is the reason?” 

The moon’s gravitational pull creates the high tides - twin bulges in the ocean, one on each side of our spinning planet.

The moon moves east a bit each day as it orbits the Earth, so it takes about 50 minutes longer, as Earth spins, for your beach to catch up to that same tidal bulge.

(SUN PHOTO: Light Street flooding at high tide after Hurricane Able. Dick Stacks, Sept. 1, 1952)

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

August 10, 2011

Two-digit temperature records rare in July

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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 |
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 |
Categories: By the numbers, From the Sun's print edition
        

August 8, 2011

More Hot-in-Baltimore contestants fall in heat

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Tubing the GunpowderHot-in-Baltimore Contest update: Baltimore (BWI) recorded 36 days of 90-plus heat through Aug. 5, 2011. The new total surpasses the annual average of 29.4 days, with many weeks to go before the risk of such weather dwindles to zero.

A few more contestants have been eliminated. The current leader, who guessed we’d see 36 days hit 90 degrees or more all year, is “rubinsjw.”  Through Aug. 5 last year, BWI had recorded 43 days in the 90s. The eventual total was a record 59 days.

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

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Heat waves
        

August 7, 2011

Don't be lulled by lull in U.S. hurricane strikes

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Tropical Storm IsabelIt’s easy to dismiss the risks of hurricane strikes, especially when three years have passed since the last one (Ike) struck the U.S. But the dangers are there every summer, and they’re real. Consider: Eight of the 10 costliest U.S. hurricanes on record have struck in the past 10 years. The third deadliest – Katrina, with at least 1,500 lives lost – was just six years ago. Of the 30 costliest storms, 16 were no stronger than Category 2 hurricanes at landfall, and four were tropical storms.

(SUN PHOTO: Isabel flooding, David Hobby, Sept. 19, 2003)      

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Hurricane background
        

August 6, 2011

How cool is Ft. Meade? And why?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Several readers have asked me about relatively cool temperatures at Ft. Meade in the summer. Jeffery Gibel says the fort is 7 to 10 degrees cooler at night than the surrounding area: “What gives?” My best guess? Ft. Meade benefits from being downwind from the forest and green space at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Station and the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge. Tree shade and evaporative cooling make them a natural air conditioner surrounded by paved urban heat islands.  

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

August 5, 2011

17 died in Md. thunderstorms 40 years ago

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Flooding Aug. 1, 1971It was one of Maryland’s worst natural disasters, claiming 17 lives. But few remember after 40 years. Bruce Sullivan does. A senior forecaster at the National Center for Environmental Prediction, he said a line of severe thunderstorms formed along a stalled front over Baltimore and Harford counties on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 1, 1971. They dumped more than 12 inches of rain in six hours. Rivers and creeks flooded. Most of the dead drowned. Scores more needed rescue. 

One of the most wrenching stories to come out of the storms was the heroism of Charles H. Schafferman, 26, of Essex. He was a non-swimmer, and he was on crutches from an ankle injury. He nevertheless plunged into floodwaters to rescue at least eight people stranded in the 6500 block of Pulaski Highway. The Navy veteran and tractor-trailer driver was last seen going to the aide of two children trapped on top of a car that had stalled in six feet of water. His body was found at Pulaski Highway and North Point Road after the water receded. He was nominated posthumously for a police department civilian heroism award.

At least four more people died trying to rescue others. They were volunteer firefighters Douglas Mueller, 18; Charles Hopwood, 42, Warren E. Shaffer, 22 and Milton C.R. DeSombre, 49, all from the Cowenton and Bowley's Quarters volunteer companies. They were trying to pull  a car and its occupants to safety in rain-swollen Bean Creek off Route 7 when they were swept into the creek and drowned. The car's driver died, too, but the man's wife and another firefighter were rescued after clinging to a tree for two hours. 

(SUN PHOTO: Aug. 1, 1971)  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:06 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

August 4, 2011

Crescent moon, Saturn and Spica to shine

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Clear skies are hard to come by in Baltimore, in August. But if we get lucky, we’ll have a nice opportunity tonight to see a waxing crescent moon alongside the bright star Spica and the planet Saturn. Look low in the southwest between 8 and 9 p.m. EDT. The moon should be easy enough to find. The bright star just above it is Spica, 260 light years from Earth, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. Yellowish Saturn, 930 million miles out, stands just to the right of the pair.

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

August 3, 2011

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

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

Midwest weather leads to soaring mold counts

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

mold spores EPAFrom the Weather Blog’s “It Could Be Worse Dept.”: Midwest residents are under Dangerous Air Quality Alert, but it’s not for smog. A record-breaking winter for snow, and now record-breaking rains and heat have sent mold spore counts soaring as high as 50,000 per cubic meter.  

Chicago saw 6.86 inches of rain July 23, and 4.37 inches more on Wednesday. High mold counts can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, and aggravate lung conditions. A bumper ragweed crop is next.

(PHOTO: EPA)

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

July 31, 2011

August typically brings a break in the summer heat

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Maryland State FairAugust arrives tonight, and none too soon. The eighth month typically brings the first real break in our torrid summer weather. Average daily highs at BWI drop from 87 degrees to 82. The average lows slip from 66 degrees to 61.

It can still get quite hot. All but 10 August dates have triple-digit records, including three dates, in 1918 and 1983, that saw 105 degrees. August also brings the annual Perseid meteor shower, on the 13th, but the full Green Corn Moon will wash out the show.

(PHOTO: Patuxent Publishing, 2007)

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

July 30, 2011

Will August bring a sharp break in the heat?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Waiting for rainWill August bring us a sharp break in the heat? Forecasters looked at Washington’s five hottest summers, in 1939, 1936, 1980, 1988 and 2010. All but the last saw a “significant” August cool-down.

The July 1930 temperatures were most like this year’s. The heat persisted through Aug. 9, with a record high of 102. By the 12th , the low had dropped to a record 56. “Must’ve been one heck of a cold front,” forecasters said. “Now to wait and see if history repeats itself.”  

(SUN PHOTO: Rachel J. Golden, 2000)

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

July 29, 2011

NASA prepares for new mission to Jupiter

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Juno at JupiterA week from tooday, NASA will try to launch a new mission to the planet Jupiter, now bright in the pre-dawn sky. The spacecraft, named Juno after the wife of Jupiter in Roman mythology, will reach the planet in July 2016.

A key objective is to find out what’s at the planet’s core. Did Jupiter – made up mostly of hydrogen and helium gas – form around an earlier rocky core? Or did all that gas collapse into a kind of eddy in the swirling disc of gas and dust that formed our solar system?

(NASA artist's concept)

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

July 28, 2011

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

Heat wave BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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 |
Categories: By the numbers, From the Sun's print edition
        

July 27, 2011

Maryland farmers looking for more rain

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Corn MarylandDry weather is stressing some Maryland crops. The USDA’s weekly “Weather & Crops” report says, “The spotty showers have not offered any significant amount of rain.” Scarce rain has slowed development of the second hay cutting. Fifty-three percent of pastures are in “poor” to “very poor” condition, and farmers are feeding hay to livestock. Veggies look good, but the corn needs rain, and 79 percent of the state’s topsoil and subsoil is rated “short” or “very short” of moisture.

(SUN PHOTO: Tasha Treadwell, 2009)

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

July 26, 2011

New transmission line put into service just in time

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Hot in BaltimoreAs bad as the heat was, and as problematic as the Peak Rewards cutoffs were for many on Friday, things could have been worse. As it happened, the PJM Interconnection, the 12-state power grid that serves Maryland, had just (in May) put the new Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line (TrAIL) into service, bringing in added power from Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. PJM says the 500-kilovolt line made an extra 1,000 megawatts available to I-95 cities that was not available last summer.

(PHOTO: Rob Carr, Getty Images)

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

July 25, 2011

How did we cope with heat in the old days?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

In the wake of Friday’s extraordinary heat and humidity, it can be hard to recall how Baltimoreans coped with Chesapeake summers in the days before home air conditioning. I didn’t grow up here, but I remember when lots of houses had “sleeping porches” where people sought relief from the heat that built up in the house. We had a whole-house fan that drew breezes in through every open window, and blew the heat out through the roof. Never had AC until I was 37.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

July 24, 2011

Space Station on a celestial tour Monday morning

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

ISSSpace Cadets! The last shuttle has landed, but the International Space Station sails on. If you’re up early Monday morning, and the weather cooperates, you’ll get a nice view of the ISS as it flies past bright Jupiter, the crescent moon and dim Mars.

Look for a bright, star-like object, rising in the southwest at 5:10 a.m. EDT. It will pass just above Jupiter around 5:13 and the moon soon after that, and Mars just before disappearing in the east, at 5:16 a.m.

(NASA PHOTO) 

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

July 23, 2011

Which July day at BWI is the hottest?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

Record heat index? You don't want to be there

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Stifling heat“Capt. Jack” writes: “I saw a heat index of 126 for Iowa… Is that a record? What’s the heat index record high for this part of the country?” According to Wikipedia, a report from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003 put the temperature at 108 degrees, with a dew point of 95 degrees. That makes the heat index 172 degrees. Another reason not to live there.

The unofficial record for BWI (since May 1977), is 122 degrees, on July 15, 1995. The temperature was 102, the dew point 79.

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, 2011)

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

July 21, 2011

Maybe it's not the heat or the humidity

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Lunchtime in summerGene Ricks, in Glyndon, goes for lunchtime walks. He checks the temperature and heat index first “to see how much I’m going to swelter.” He’s noticed that a nice breeze makes a Heat Index of even 100 degrees tolerable. “Why don’t they take wind speed into account in determining the heat index?” Beats me. But that’s why AccuWeather’s RealFeel Index” adds wind, rain, sun intensity, clouds and elevation to temperature and humidity to calculate how warm or cold it feels.

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, 2003)

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

July 20, 2011

We've hit 100 degrees 104 times since 1871

Cooling offFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

The prospect of seeing several 100-degree days this week sent the weather forecasters digging through their archives. Since record-keeping began for Baltimore in 1871, they say, the city (or the airport after 1950) has seen 104 days that hit 100 degrees or more. We’ve hit the “century” mark in 46 different years in that period. The record for any one year is seven days at 100 degrees or more, reached in 1930, 1988 and 2010. The most consecutive days is four, in July 1930.

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, 2011)

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

July 18, 2011

Power's out ... When do you toss the milk?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Dry ice in power outage Thunderstorms and tropical storms can cut your electric service for hours, even days. But will your family be safe from spoiled food during an outage?

A study in the journal Food Protection Trends says many of us won’t be. A representative poll of 1,000 people found only one-third know to throw out refrigerated perishables (such as meat, eggs, milk) after a four-hour outage. Only 60 percent know to discard frozen items that have partially thawed.  

Toss them all, or toss your cookies. 

(SUN PHOTO: Lloyd Fox, 2003)

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

July 17, 2011

Why all the zeroes under Heating Degree Days?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT WEATHER PAGE:

Degree DaysPuzzled by all the zeroes under “Heat” in the Degree Days section above? I was, too, after a reader pointed them out to me. Tom Stephenson, at AccuWeather.com, clued me in.

Counter-intuitively, the heating season begins July 1, so all the totals reset to zero. In a few months, cooler weather should begin adding some heating degree days (a temperature-based measure of energy demand for heating) in that column. For now, it’s all about cooling degree days. That season began Jan. 1.

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

July 16, 2011

NASA's Dawn spacecraft arrives at Vesta

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Dawn image of VestaEarthlings today reach out to yet another member of our solar system’s family. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft today slips into orbit around the asteroid Vesta. As wide as Arizona, Vesta is the second-biggest object in the main asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Dawn’s approach photos of Vesta (left) are already twice as sharp as those from the Hubble Space Telescope. After a year at Vesta, Dawn will head for the dwarf planet Ceres.

(NASA PHOTO: Dawn image of Vesta taken July 1, 2011)

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

July 15, 2011

Heat, cold or the last ash tree?

Ash borer damageFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Dan Hewins, a science teacher at Westminster High, asks: “Is there anything weather-wise that could stop or thwart the emerald ash borer?

This insect is an Asian invader deadly to ash trees. From Michigan in 2003, it has now reached five Maryland counties.

UM entomologist Mike Raupp says, “They have a wide latitudinal range in Asia. They are already well into Canada and as far south as Tennessee. I don’t think weather will be the limiting factor. EAB is more likely to be limited by the range of ash trees in North America.”

(PHOTO: Jen Rynda, Patuxent Publishing)

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

July 14, 2011

Thunder Moon on the rise

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Full MoonThe moon is full tonight. As the first full moon since the summer solstice, it’s known to some as the Hay Moon or the Thunder Moon, for reasons that seem clear enough. It’s officially full at 2:38 a.m. EDT  - on Friday morning. Moonrise for Baltimore this evening is at 8:06 p.m. EDT. If you’re out on the beaches tonight, look for Luna to peek over the horizon at 7:58 p.m.  Out at Deep Creek Lake, you’ll have to wait until at least 8:18 p.m. to see the Thunder Moon rise.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 2011)

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

July 12, 2011

Neptune is back where we first saw it

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Neptune Voyager 2A milestone today for the planet Neptune: Guy Ottewell’s Astronomical Calendar says the eighth planet from the sun was first detected in 1844 by the French astronomer Urbain Leverrier. He calculated its likely position based on irregularities in the motion of the seventh planet, Uranus, discovered in 1781.

Neptune was finally seen in a telescope on Sept. 23, 1846, right where Leverrier said it should be. Today, Neptune completes its first complete orbit of the sun since that night. 

(NASA PHOTO)

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

July 11, 2011

Airplane contrails can reduce solar heating

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

jet contrailsA new study seems to confirm that airplane contrails can reflect sunlight into space, reducing daytime warming below. British researchers studied European weather data from stations below a huge flight of 700 Allied bombers and 500 fighter escorts on May 11, 1944. The vast cloud of contrails slowed morning temperature increases by 2 degrees compared with sites outside the contrail shadow. A similar, but reverse effect was found after U.S. air traffic was grounded on Sept. 11, 2001.

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition, Phenomena
        

July 10, 2011

Baltimore heat record from 1936 still stands

1936 heat recordFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

On this date in 1936, Baltimore saw what is still the highest temperature on record for the city – 107.4 degrees, at 3 p.m. downtown. Cumberland and Frederick reported 109 degrees. The Sun listed 29 residents felled by heat prostration. An evening thunderstorm dropped the mercury by 12 degrees, but also toppled trees, cut phone and power lines and set several houses on fire. Water consumption soared. The day’s low reading was 82 degrees. Hundreds slept in city parks.

 

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

July 9, 2011

Bay breeze caused Thursday storm to linger

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Kary Anne Tamblyn, of Ellicott City, watched Thursday’s storms on radar and noted they seemed to move generally west to east. But those that hit Dundalk, Lansdowne and South Baltimore seemed to stall there. “Why didn’t the stationary storms follow the general west-to-east movement of the other storms?” Blame the bay breeze front.” Southeast winds off the bay collided with the storm, and the updraft caused it to continually “re-fire,” or redevelop over the same spot.

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

July 8, 2011

U.S. nearly alone using Fahrenheit

ThermometerFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Ella Wilkerson, in Owings Mills, asks: “How many countries still use Fahrenheit, and … what is better for reporting weather – Fahrenheit or Celsius?

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit’s 1724 invention is still in everyday use only in the U.S. and Belize. Scientists here use Celsius. But for weather, we’ve refused to join the rest of the planet. Among our (lame) excuses are that Celsius degrees are larger, requiring more decimals for precision; and the zero point is higher, requiring more negatives.

(PHOTO: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

July 7, 2011

On losing the daylight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

John Polyniak writes from Lake Shore: “What month has the biggest loss of sunlight, and what month has the biggest increase in sunlight?” As sunrises get later and sunsets grow earlier in late summer and fall, the hours and minutes of sunlight diminish. The U.S. Naval Observatory says Baltimore loses 73 minutes of daylight in September. The October loss is slower, but the month is a day longer, so it adds up to another 73 minutes. March sees the biggest gains, at 77 minutes.  

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

July 6, 2011

Calendar rarity, or internet hoax?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

July 2011A friend recently forwarded an email message alerting me to a calendar rarity: “This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens once every 823 years.” Pretty cool, except that it’s not true.

It’s yet another internet hoax, and it pops up every few months. Any month with 31 days that starts on Friday has five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For any such month, the repeats come in interval cycles of six, five, six and then 11 years. The next July with five full weekends is in 2016.  

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

July 2, 2011

Mules saved the day during July 1889 deluge

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Rain July 1889Rainfall in Baltimore in July 1889 totaled 11.03 inches, the most for any month since records began in 1871. The deluge didn’t end until the 31st with a 3.65-inch downpour that washed out bridges, flooded crops and homes.

A temporary bridge on Harford Road, erected over Herring Run after a flood on the 13th washed out the first bridge, was nearly torn away by “an immense tree” swept into the trestle. Neighbors hitched six mules to the tree, dragged it off and saved the bridge.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:04 AM |
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

July 1, 2011

Philadelphia weather on July 2, 1776

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Thos. JeffersonAmong all the other things he became famous for, Thomas Jefferson was a devoted chronicler of the weather wherever he found himself.

In July 1776, of course, he was in Philadelphia, voting on the Declaration of Independence he largely wrote himself. But he kept a faithful record of the temperature, too.

On July 2, the day of the vote, he noted it was 78 degrees at 6 a.m. and still at 9:40 a.m. By the time Tom got back to his lodgings (one supposes) at 9 p.m., it was 74 degrees.

(Portrait by Charles Wilson Peale)

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

June 30, 2011

July in Baltimore sizzles

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(SUN PHOTO: Adrees A. Latif, 1998)

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

June 29, 2011

Int'l Space Station over Baltimore tonight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(NASA PHOTO)

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

June 28, 2011

Year's latest sunset is tonight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, 2010)

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

June 27, 2011

What is it with men and lightning?

Waiting out the stormFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(PHOTO: Charlotte Observer, 2011)

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

June 26, 2011

Duck! Asteroid headed for Earth

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

June 25, 2011

On the matter of Civil Twilight

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

(SUN PHOTO: Jed Kirschbaum, 2008)

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

June 24, 2011

June has the most daylight, but July is hottest

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(SUN PHOTO: Chiaki Kawajiri, 2005) 

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

June 23, 2011

St. John's Eve, a night for bonfires

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(SUN PHOTO: David Hobby, 2001)

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

June 22, 2011

The odds of being struck by lightning

Lightning BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(SUN PHOTO: Jerry Jackson, May 2011)

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

June 21, 2011

Solstice marks the start of winter south of equator

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

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

June 20, 2011

Summer arrives Tuesday with the solstice

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

June 19, 2011

June 1943 was Baltimore's hottest June, not 2010

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

June 18, 2011

Temperature readings from planet Earth

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

June 16, 2011

Alaska, Antarctica excluded from extreme cold data

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

June 15, 2011

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

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(PHOTO: Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images)

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

June 14, 2011

National test of Emergency Alert System Nov. 9

President ObamaFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(PHOTO: Gary Fabiano, Bloomberg, 2009)

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

June 13, 2011

The sun makes its earliest appearance Tuesday

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(SUN PHOTO: Kim Hairston, 2011)

 

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

June 12, 2011

People die, their predictions live on

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(SUN File photo, 1925)

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

June 11, 2011

Those Oakland forecasts just seemed too hot

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

   

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

June 9, 2011

Where have all the weather fronts gone?

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(MAP: NOAA)

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

June 8, 2011

Stormy Caribbean could bring Cuba drought relief

NHC/NOAAFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

June 6, 2011

Md. hummingbirds holding their own

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(PHOTO: Francis Gardler, Patuxent Publishing, 2011)

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

June 5, 2011

June 1972 weather records still stand

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

(Sun Staff photo by Frank R. Gardina) 

Tropical Storm Agnes Baltimore 

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

June 4, 2011

Some sights in the early June night sky

Crescent moon BaltimoreFROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 2001)

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

June 3, 2011

Region's reservoirs are ready for summer

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

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

(PHOTO: Brendan Cavanaugh, P3 Imaging, 2011)

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

June 2, 2011

Dew point forecasts help you prepare for Md. humidity

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

June 1, 2011

May tied a record low, and a record high

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

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

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

May 31, 2011

Solar milestones noted in June

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Maryland sunsetJune arrives at midnight tonight. The sixth month brings the earliest sunrise of the year (June 14), the longest day (with the solstice, June 21), and the latest sunset (June 28). Average high temperatures for Baltimore rise from 79 degrees to 86, while average lows move from 57 to 64 degrees. Our wettest June (9.95 inches) came with Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972; our driest was in 1954 (0.15 inch). BWI-Marshall Airport set four daily record highs in June last year, and twice topped 100 degrees. 

(SUN PHOTO: Elizabeth Malby, 2007) 

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

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day began as northern Decoration Day

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Memorial Day was first proclaimed in 1868 by Gen. John Logan, commander, Grand Army of Memorial Daythe Republic, designating May 30 for decorating the graves of the Union’s dead. New York was the first to adopt the custom in 1873.

By 1890 all Northern states had joined in. The South held back until after World War 1, when the day was rededicated to honor all the nation’s war dead. In 1971, Congress moved the observance to the last Monday in May. It won’t fall on the 30th again until 2022.

(SUN PHOTO: Kenneth K. Lam, 2010)

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

May 29, 2011

Urban landscape can alter approaching storms

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Baltimore thunderstormDo thunderstorms often seem to split apart as they approach Baltimore? Researchers at Purdue University looked at 10 years of Indianapolis radar data and found that 60 percent of the storms – especially those that arrived with a daytime cold front – split and then reformed with more intensity beyond the city. When they duplicated the conditions in a computer model, with Indianapolis removed, the effect went away. They blamed the urban landscape - tall buildings, heat and pollution.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, 2007)

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

May 28, 2011

Int'l Space Station over Baltimore early Sunday

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

NASASpace Cadets! I know you’re just dying to pop out of bed at 4 on a Sunday morning to see the International Space Station. So do it tomorrow, when the ISS will fly almost directly over Baltimore. Look for a steady, star-like object to appear high in the southwestern sky at 4:25 a.m. EDT, moving high overhead through the center of the Summer Triangle at 4:26 a.m. From there it will sail off to the northeast, fading out to the left of the crescent moon, low in the east, rising alongside bright Jupiter.

(NASA PHOTO)

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