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February 20, 2012

Signs of spring this week

 

So the Baltimore area missed out on the holiday weekend snow, which hit Virginia and southern Maryland on Sunday.

Weather spotters in Saint Mary's County reported snow amounts of between 1 and 2.5 inches. But that was nothing compared to some Virginia counties: 6.5 inches in Ablemarle; 10 in Augusta; 5.5 in city of Charlottesville; and 10 in Waynesboro.

Instead of snow, the Baltimore area could get spring-like conditions this week. The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures in the low to mid-60s Wednesday-Friday.

Satellite image of snow over Virginia courtesy of the National Weather Service

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:58 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 18, 2012

Baltimore may see snow, but will likely miss big accumulation

While Baltimore might see some snow on Sunday, the latest forecasts are calling for the area to be spared from major accumulations.

According to the National Weather Service, the area could see light snow over the course of the day as a winter storm system moves through, but the heaviest snowfall will likely be concentrated southwest of Washington.

The chance of precipitation is 50 percent, and snowfall accumulations are expected to be under a half-inch over the course of the day tomorrow.
Posted by Kim Walker at 11:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 17, 2012

Uncertainty surrounds weekend storm

Forecasters say it's much too early to determine where and how much snow will fall Sunday. But here is the speculation so far.

Update 4:30 p.m. The National Weather Service forecast discussion: 

"SNOWFALL AMOUNT CONFIDENCE IS LOWER FOR THE WASHINGTON DC AND
BALTIMORE AREAS. GUIDANCE SHOWS THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE FOR SNOW TO
ACCUMULATE ON AREA ROADWAYS SUNDAY...BUT IT IS UNCERTAIN HOW MUCH
WILL FALL. THERE WILL BE A REAL TIGHT PRECIPITATION GRADIENT NORTH
OF THE FRONT. WE HAVE RAISED PRECIPITATION CHANCES TO CATEGORICAL
FOR THE METRO AREAS AND INDICATED PRECIPITATION WILL BE ALL SNOW.
WE WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THIS AS THE TRACK OF THE SURFACE LOW
BECOMES MORE CLEAR. PRECIPITATION MAY START OUT AS A MIX OF RAIN
AND SNOW IN SOUTHERN MARYLAND. SNOW WILL TAPER OFF TO SCATTERED
SNOW SHOWERS SUNDAY EVENING AND PRECIPITATION WILL END SUNDAY
NIGHT. ICY ROADS WILL LIKELY IMPACT THE REGION INTO EARLY MONDAY
MORNING."

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red is also feeling the uncertainty:

UPDATE 1 p.m.: 

"All the morning models have come in, and they have definitely gone lighter and farther south... except the Canadian, which has gone a bit wetter and a hair farther north.  So, ... 'Think low, Aim lower.'  I'll pull back my forecast amounts... and hope that I'm wrong.
 
North of MD - Nothing.
Northern MD - I'm thinking 1 to 3" may be generous, but I won't pull the plug entirely north of Baltimore.  I would not be at all surprised now if nrn MD ends up with nary a flake as well.  Man I hope I'm wrong.
Baltimore to DC - Here, 3-6" is my new take, and I'm afraid this also could be high.  Again, hope I'm wrong.
South of DC - 4 to 8
"

Previous quote below:

"The first real winter storm of the season is coming, but with serious, serious caveats.  ... Despite taking a very favorable track out of the Gulf to the Carolina Coast, an incredibly tight south-to-north precipitation gradient will set up.  We're talking that within the span of 20 miles or so, you could conceivably go from 6-12" of heavy wet snow to nothing.  Where this sharp gradient sets up is anybody's guess - I sure don't know - but we've got some ideas.  It appears the gradient will set up... yup, right across central Maryland, with northern portions of the state ending up on the light side, while central and southern portions of the state get smacked pretty good. ... This one is tough, and I do not envy the NWS forecasters out at Sterling, Va. on this one who have to issue a forecast for the entire region.  Storm will impact the area Sunday into Sunday night."

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 11:19 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 16, 2012

Snow still a possibility for Saturday into Sunday

Baltimore Sun reporter Steve Kilar offers this guest post:
 
The National Weather Service is still predicting a decent chance of snow for Saturday night, going into Sunday morning, though the amount of new precipitation is expected to be slight.
 
The holiday weekend is predicted to start off partly sunny on Saturday with increasing cloud cover as the day moves on. The high will be around 50 degrees. There is a 50 percent chance of rain Saturday night that could turn to snow after midnight. Lows will be in the mid-30s.
 
"[The chance of snow] is going to depend on the exact track of a low-pressure system moving in from the Gulf [of Mexico] to the northeast" and how far north the pressure system goes, said weather service meteorologist Carrie Suffern, based in Sterling, Va., said Thursday night. Whether snow develops hinges on how quickly cold air moves in behind the system, she said. 
 
New precipitation Saturday night and Sunday is expected to be around a half-inch or less. 
 
Sunday has a 70 percent chance of a wintry mix with highs in the upper 30s.
 
President's Day on Monday will be sunny and in the 40s, dropping into the 20s at night.
Posted by Kim Walker at 11:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Holiday weekend snow possible

The latest wintry mix forecast of the season is for Saturday night. It all comes down to temperature.

The National Weather Service says, "A coastal storm system could impact the region with a wintry mix or all snow late Saturday into Sunday night. Snowfall accumulations may be possible"

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red's take:

"Models have come into much better agreement that a storm will form in the western and central Gulf and move northeast over the weekend, bringing a chance for rain and snow to much of the region.  As with just about every other storm this winter, there's not much cold air to work with, so I have some underlying fears that this may play out much like the last several rain/snow events... where your local elevation plays a big role in what type of pcp you see.  It's still several days away, so after being burned repeatedly this winter by storms that don't materialize, I will be slow to go all-in."  

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 13, 2012

Possible morning snow showers

The National Weather Service says there's a 40 percent of snow showers before 10 a.m. before turning to rain. Little accumulation expected.

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red has the details: 

"A weakening storm will swing thru Tuesday, perhaps triggering some light wet snow or rain; the best chance of a little light snow will be across the nrn portions of the region (from Baltimore-I-70 north). In a winter where little has broken in favor of snow, don't see anything with this one that would be any different. We're getting to the time of year where the longer days and higher position of the sun in the sky make it increasingly difficult to get snow to fall during the day."

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 11, 2012

Accumulating snow expected Saturday

The Baltimore region can expect around an inch of accumulating snow Saturday, likely in the mid to late afternoon.

Areas along the Pennsylvania border are under a winter weather advisory through 7 p.m., including northern Baltimore and Harford, Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties. According to the National Weather Service, those areas could see more snow — up to three inches.

Unofficial precipitation reports to the National Oceanic at Atmospheric Administration recorded up to two inches of overnight snow into Saturday. The highest report was in Laytonsville, on the border of Howard and Montgomery counties. A total from Long Green in Baltimore County showed one inch of snow.

In the area around the city, forecasters are predicting a breezy day, with snow beginning around 3 p.m. Winds could hit 21 mph at their peak. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 30s. The weather system is expected to clear out after midnight.

Posted by Kim Walker at 8:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 10, 2012

More rain and snow this weekend

The second rain and snow event of the week is upon us, but little or no accumulation is expected in the Baltimore metro area. The National Weather Service says rain will start tonight, with rain and snow happening after 4 a.m. There is also a chance of rain and snow Saturday, but still no accumulation expected.

Update: A winter weather advisory is in effect from midnight tonight-7 p.m. Saturday for Washington, Frederick, northern Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties. Accumulations of 1-3 inches possible in these areas.

Here's Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red's forecast:
"Rain changing to snow tonight, with an inch or two possible across northern portions of MD.  Closer to town, a coating is possible by tomorrow morning along and west of I-95.  To the east of I-95, just rain. ... If there's a twist, it's the period of light snow/snow shower that looks like a good bet late Saturday afternoon as the actual arctic front blasts thru, which might be enough to coat the ground with another trace to half inch in the late afternoon and early eve on Saturday."

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:20 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 9, 2012

Snow totals in Maryland

Accumulations from Wednesday's snow event, such as it was, ranged from a trace at BWI to 2 inches in Frederick County, according to the National Weather Service

Most people if they were lucky saw a dusting on their lawns. Trained NWS spotters reported 0.8 inches in Glyndon, 1.5 inches in Eldersburg,  1.5 inches in Columbia and 0.5 inches in the Pimlico area of the city.

So were you relieved or disappointed in the lack of snow Wednesday? 

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 1:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 8, 2012

Countdown to snow

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory from noon-10 p.m. with accumulations of 1-2 inches. They are also warning that the afternoon commute will be impacted.

See snowfall accumulation map here. 

UPDATE:  Winter weather advisory has been lifted for the city with less than an inch expected, Steve Kilar of the Baltimore Sun reports.

The warm ground will probably prevent much snow from sticking on pavement and the accumulation on grass will likely also seem minimal, said meteorologist Ken Widelski. 

Precipitation is expected to continue until about 8 p.m. in Baltimore and along the I-95 corridor. Read more here. 

UPDATE: As snow starts to fall, cancellations begin. Area school systems, including Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, have canceled afternoon and evening activities. D.C. area federal offices are open but employees, concerned about commutes, are allowed to take unscheduled leave. Read the latest here.

"LIGHT SNOW WILL OVERSPREAD THE REGION FROM WEST TO EAST
  BETWEEN 11 AM AND 2 PM. A PERIOD OF MODERATE SNOW CAN BE
  EXPECTED DURING THE LATE AFTERNOON AND EVENING RUSH HOUR. STEADY
  SNOW WILL TAPER OFF FROM WEST TO EAST DURING THE MID TO LATE
  EVENING.

HAZARDOUS TRAVEL DUE TO LOW VISIBILITIES AT TIMES AND
  SNOW-COVERED ROADWAYS...ESPECIALLY UNTREATED SECONDARY ROADS.
  THE LATE AFTERNOON AND EVENING RUSH-HOUR COMMUTE WILL BE
  IMPACTED."

Here Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red's take: 

"Models continue to have difficulties with the extent of the precipitation as seen on current radar, so despite the fact that there really isn't much support for the high end of my estimate (the 4"), I still think that there will be some folks in the coldest locales well north of town that will push the 4" threshold.  If I had to tweak, it would be to expand the lower end a notch... and go with 1 to 4".  The 1" snow amounts are most likely in the typically warmer locales, like along and east of I-95... and down to the south toward DC.  But overall, I think 1-4" will cover it, with most folks in the Piedmont getting 2 to 3."

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 10:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 7, 2012

Rain and snow in forecast Wednesday

The National Weather Service says rain and snow will mix for the afternoon into the evening on Wednesday. There's a slight chance snow could start before 10 a.m.

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red  says the precipitation could make for a troubling evening commute, so be prepared: 

"Wet snow will arrive from the southwest [Wednesday], starting around mid-day and spread northeast and briefly intensify before diminishing late in the evening.  The NWS is now calling for 1-3"... although ... I will go with 2-4". Temps initially will be mild enough that snow won't stick to roads for a while, but as we get later in the day and start to lose solar heating, temps will drop and road conditions will likewise begin to slip (pun intended)."

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 11:16 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 3, 2012

From heat wave to snow?

There's a chance of snow in the weekend forecast. The National Weather Service says there's 60 percent of precipitation on Saturday night, which could be rain and snow. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

UPDATE: Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red says the latest models back off on the snow:

"Saturday, cloudy, temps in the 40s... chance of light rain late in the day in the west and south. Saturday night, chance of light rain or snow, little or no accumulation, temps in the middle 30s.  An inch would be a bonanza.  Sunday, light rain and snow ending, with little additional accumulation."

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red says there's still a bit of uncertainty but:

"There is good enough agreement [on the models] to go ahead and pull the trigger on a Piedmont snow for Saturday night and Sunday. At this point, [it] does not look like heavy snow, although things could happen to alter that as well.  South of Baltimore... and along and east of I-95, rain and snow will change to snow before ending. Several inches of snow are likely in the Piedmont of MD, while along and east of I-95 may get a coating to an inch. "

Posted by Kim Walker at 5:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 31, 2012

Enjoying the heat wave?

 

Today's high at BWI today reached 66 at 3:13 p.m., according to the National Weather Service, but it did not break the 1947 record of 69 degrees. And Wednesday is forecast to reach 63.

According to Candus Thomson's story in today's paper,  it's been the warmest January since 2007: 

"Temperatures were above 50 degrees on a dozen days; one day, Jan. 7, topped out at 66 degrees. Through Sunday, this month has averaged 37.9 degrees, nearly 5 degrees above the long-term average and the warmest January since 2007. ... The jet stream has stayed to the north of the Mid-Atlantic region for most of the season, allowing higher temperatures to move in from the south," said Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist at the national Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs.

Thomson also reported that because of the warm weather lately the "USDA updated its plant hardiness zone map last week for the first time in two decades. The color-coded map, used by gardeners to time their spring plantings, increased the temperature in each zone by about 5 degrees and added two warmer zones to the map."

Anyone open their windows, take in a round of golf, go for a long run or take the kids outdoors? 

(Above) Kerry Clough of Owings Mills pushes her 3-year-old daughter Simone Clough, while Sophia Clough swings on her own at Meadowood Regional Park. Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor. 

Posted by Kim Walker at 5:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 23, 2012

Weekend snowfall totals

While the BWI snowfall was 0.4 inches, the National Weather Service spotters around the region found up to 2.6 inches.

The 2.6 inches was measured by a spotter in Parkton. Other totals include 1.2 in Pimlico, 1.8 in Perry Hall and 1.4 in Savage. See more spotter totals here. 

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 21, 2012

Baltimore road crews begin to wrap up salting, plowing

In Baltimore, road crews were starting to wrap up salting and plowing operations, with most roads expected to be done by 11 a.m.

“It’s turning into a rain event,” said Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Transportation. She said crews will be working throughout the day and night, but they will be hitting targeted, problem areas, instead of cruising the streets.

Barnes said that all primary and secondary roads were salted and plowed by this morning and as of 10 a.m. crews were responding to individual calls for service or complaints.

“We haven’t encountered any major challenges or problems,” she said. “Friday night, there was a low volume of traffic, which definitely was a tremendous help. People stayed indoors last night, which was great, so we were able to maneuver through the city without any problems.”

Barnes said that as of 9 a.m., trucks spread 275 tons of salt on 1,500 miles of city roads. The city has 13,725 tons of salt remaining for the winter.

-Peter Hermann

Posted by Kim Walker at 10:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 20, 2012

Weather pitfalls for fans traveling to Ravens game

 

While it may be mostly freezing rain here, those traveling to the Boston area on Saturday for the Ravens game on Sunday will see more weather action from a fast-moving storm coming from the Midwest that will dump snow and ice along the Northeast.

According to AccuWeather (who also provided the map above): 

"The storm has the potential to put down a half a foot of the white stuff along a swath from northern and central Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York to New York City onward into part of the Massachusetts coast.

"Cities that run the risk of a glaze of ice include Morgantown, W.Va., Charlottesville, Va., Hagerstown, Md., Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Wilmington, Del., and Philadelphia. (Philadelphia's northernmost suburbs and much of Long Island fall within the zone that can receive several inches of snow, even if mixing occurs.)"

The Boston area itself is forecast to get 2-4 inches of snow Saturday, but it will be partly sunny with a high of 34 on game day. 

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 11:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Wintry mix this weekend

The National Weather Service forecast is calling for snow, sleet and freezing rain overnight into Saturday morning. And Sunday isn't looking great either.

UPDATE 3 p.m.:  A winter weather advisory is in effect from 11 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday calling for accumulations of 1-2 inches of sleet and snow and two-tenths inch of ice from freezing rain.

"SIGNIFICANT WINTRY PRECIPITATION WILL CAUSE DANGEROUS
  TRAVELING CONDITIONS LATE THIS EVENING THROUGH SATURDAY
  MORNING. ICE WILL ACCUMULATE ON TREES AND POWERLINES."

Previous post begins here: 

Meteorologist Kevin Witt told The Baltimore Sun that the entire Baltimore area will be affected by the wintry mix, and the most precipitation will come between midnight Friday and noon Saturday.

"It's a wide system. We're going to see a little bit of everything," he said.

Witt said the precipitation will start with snow and then become a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

"The onset will be this evening, and then we'll see the snow and sleet and then sleet and freezing rain," Witt said. "The brunt of it will be overnight and into tomorrow morning. Midnight to noon will be the worst time, and then it will tail off."

 Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red's take:

"The models do have enough cold air initially holding firm east of the mountains and from Baltimore north to produce a period of accumulating sleet and snow late tonight.  The farther north you go, the better chance you have of seeing an inch or two of snow before it changes of to sleet and freezing rain.  So the updated outlook is for a brief period of snow late tonight, changing to sleet and freezing rain by morning in most locales.  Across [northern Maryland], snow may last long enough to accumulate 1 to 2 [inches] before changing over.  Everywhere else, an inch or less is expected."

As far as Sunday goes, the National Weather Service says there could be a second round of sleet, freezing rain and then rain Sunday and Sunday night, but not enough accumulation for a winter storm watch to be issued yet. Stay tuned.

1:55 p.m. UPDATE from Eric the Red: 

"Cold air is pushing into the region at the surface.  At the same time, moisture will come at us from the west and south.  Warmer air will also push into the region aloft, changing the snow to sleet ... and freezing rain. ...  So we're looking at a decent shot of snow and sleet tonight ... an inch of snow and sleet south of Baltimore is possible before changing to freezing rain and rain, while I'll go with 1 to 2 [inches] from Baltimore north, with potentially more (2-4 inches) as you head up toward the PA line, esp if the cold air holds longer than expected. 
 
Temps will struggle to get above freezing Saturday, and many locales north and west of town won't top freezing at all.  Arctic air pushes south back into the region at the surface Saturday night, setting the stage for a super dicey Sunday ... with freezing drizzle and ice grains possible."  

Posted by Kim Walker at 11:20 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 19, 2012

Will we see flurries tonight?

The National Weather Service is still calling for a chance of flurries before midnight. According to the forecast discussion:

"[TONIGHT'S COLD] FRONT IS STILL RELATIVELY MOISTURE STARVED...AND THERE
IS QUESTION AS TO HOW FAR SOUTHEAST SNOW SHOWERS MAY BE ABLE TO MAKE
IT. HIGHEST POPS ARE FORECAST ALONG THE WESTERN SLOPES WITH THE
FRONT AND BEHIND IT /UPSLOPE FLOW/ WHERE THERE MAY BE AN INCH OR TWO
OF SNOW ACCUMULATION OVERNIGHT. LOWER POPS FOR SNOW SHOWERS ARE THEN
FORECAST ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF NORTHERN MARYLAND/EASTERN WEST
VIRGINIA...AND THEN FLURRIES FURTHER SOUTHEAST INTO THE
WASHINGTON/BALTIMORE METRO AREA." 

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red says tonight's activities will merely be a "dusting. Any snow that falls would do so between 7 p.m. and midnight-ish."


Posted by Kim Walker at 11:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 18, 2012

Flurries possible Thursday night

Before Saturday's possible wintry mix, we may see some scattered flakes on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

According to the forecast discussion about Thursday's weather on NWS' website: 

"INCREASING CLOUDS MOVE IN FROM
LATE MORNING THROUGH AFTERNOON. STILL AM NOT OVERLY IMPRESSED WITH
MOISTURE NOR FORCING WITH THE FRONT AND CONTINUE POPS FOR
MEASURABLE PRECIPITATION GENERALLY OVER THE HIGHLANDS/WESTERN
SLOPES WITH THE FRONT AND BEHIND IT /ENHANCED BY UPSLOPE FLOW/.
HOWEVER CANT RULE OUT A FEW FLURRIES MAKING IT EAST OF HERE EVEN
TOWARD THE BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON CORRIDOR ESPECIALLY WITH THE 500
MB TROUGH LAGGING BEHIND FOR THURSDAY NIGHT."

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red weights in: 

"Some flurries may accompany a strong cold front [Thursday night], followed by some light snow, sleet, and freezing rain Friday night/Saturday morning, changing to rain on Saturday... with a chance of freezing drizzle Sunday into Sunday night.  Long-term outlook indicates we finally get into a very favorable ... pattern for wintry weather by the end of the month." 

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Wintry mix expected to start early Saturday morning

A wintry mix is expected this weekend with snow flurries beginning early Saturday, turning into rain, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service told Sun reporter Jessica Anderson last night.

Would the threat of a snowy weekend put a damper on your plans? Or do you think we're due for a good snow shower? 

Posted by baltimoresun.com at 7:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 12, 2012

Light snow overnight

A cold front coming from the Midwest tonight might turn some rain into snow after midnight if the temperatures drop low enough, forecasters from the National Weather Service say. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch is possible.

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red doesn't expect much to happen:

"Strong cold front will come blasting thru between midnight and 6 am. Out ahead of the front, temps will remain spring-like... so we'll have our work cut out for us far as dropping temps to the point where we can get snow.  Temps are expected to drop fast late tonight, but I'm guessing most of the [precipitation] will be thru by the time that happens.  So for tonight, a chance of showers after midnight, possibly ending as a period of snow, especially in [northern] MD and in the mountains." 

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 9, 2012

It's snowing in D.C., but ...

Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red says:

"The models hold this [northern] edge into the afternoon, at which time the [precipitation] shield is expected to expand north toward Baltimore in the early eve before ending. ... Impacts would be minor - if any.  After record-warmth this weekend, the ground is plenty warm.  [Precipitation] lingering after sunset could pose a problem is it's heavy enough, but it should be done falling before that happens."

UPDATE  3 p.m.: "The first round of snow is exiting the [southern] portions of the region. ...  The money vort is coming at us from the northwest, and that will bring round 2, which will fall a bit farther north. 
 
Satellite shows clouds expanding across WV and nrn MD, and radar is beginning to pick up on developing snow across northern VA and eastern WV.  I honestly don't know where the northern edge will set up... but based on satellite and radar, seems like it will be somewhere between Baltimore City and the PA Line. This precipitation will start to impact the area in the form of rain and wet snow between 3-4 pm and last for several hours, perhaps enough to whiten the ground."

Update 3:30 p.m.:  "The [northern] edge of the 2nd round of snow is setting up near I-70 ... so from Baltimore City/I-70 and south, snow likely this eve, maybe enough to whiten the ground and [disrupt] rush hour. North of that, doesn't look like it's gonna make it." 

The National Weather Service agrees that it will be mostly rain here. 

"BY THE TIME MEASURABLE [PRECIPITATION] ARRIVES... [SURFACE] TEMPS SHOULD BE ABV
FRZG...SO NO ADDITIONAL HEADLINES [EXPECTED]. RAIN [EXPECTED] TO [INCREASE] THIS
AFTN WITH APRCH OF UPR SHRTWV TROF... [ESPECIALLY ACROSS SOUTHERN] ZONES...WHERE
UP TO ONE-TENTH INCH WILL BE PSBL THRU THIS EVE."

Posted by Kim Walker at 1:27 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 5, 2012

Little accumulation from Wednesday's flurries

The National Weather Service's preliminary snowfall map shows amounts from trace to 0.1 inches of snowfall in central Maryland.

There wasn't much snow but it sure was cold.  The low at 6:10 a.m. was 13 degrees, 12 degrees lower than normal, but not a record. The high was 31, 11 degrees lower than normal.

The forecast gets warmer as the week closes with temperatures in the upper 40s to lower 50s through Sunday. 

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 4, 2012

Round two of flurries

Did you enjoy the flurries yesterday? Most commuters did not. We're in for a second round later today.

The National Weather Service is forecasting scattered flurries after 3 p.m. as well as later tonight. Here's their updated discussion on their site:

"THE MODELS HAVE CONTINUED TO SHOW AT LEAST SOME WEAK LIFT LATE THIS
AFTERNOON AND EARLY THIS EVENING. IN COMBINATION WITH THE TERRAIN...
THIS MAY PRODUCE SOME SNOW SHOWERS ON THE WRN FRONT AND MAYBE A FEW
FLURRIES MAINLY NORTH OF US 50. BY LATE EVENING...THE FIRST [WAVE] IS
THROUGH AND THE SECOND IS ON THE DOORSTEP. MODELS HAVE CONSISTENTLY
PAINTED SOME LIGHT PRECIP WITH THIS ONE. SCTD UPSLOPE SHSN SEEM LIKE
A GOOD BET. THE QUESTION IS FURTHER EAST."

 Here's what Baltimore meteorologist Eric the Red had to say:

"Weds...  an upper-air disturbance will come at us from the west, while a weak front stalls just to our south and west.  This will set the stage for another round of snow showers Weds afternoon and eve.  ... They will be hit and miss... altho some of the "outlier" models (less commonly used) indicate there could be a bit more widespread accumulating snow with this, esp across nrn MD.  If the worst-case models are right, then an inch of snow could fall in portions of nrn MD Weds afternoon and eve. 
 
Weds night and Thrs morning, warm front begins to lift north toward us while another upper-air dist comes at us from the west. This too could touch off some light snow or flurries early Thrs, again most likely in nrn MD."
 

Posted by Kim Walker at 11:28 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 3, 2012

Flurries in Baltimore

We had a brief snow shower today downtown as well as some flurries in some central Maryland counties earlier. The National Weather Service says accumulations will be less than half an inch.

Baltimore meteorologist Eric the Red says there's a chance for a dusting tomorrow:

"A weak disturbance coming thru tomorrow (Wed.) may produce some light snow or flurries during the mid to late afternoon.  Seeing some hints that it may be enough to dust the ground ... does not appear to be anything beyond that."  

With the temperatures dropping and some flakes falling, here is an overview of winter weather hazards. 

Posted by Kim Walker at 3:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 29, 2011

Some flurries this afternoon

Today's forecast from the National Weather Service call for some flurries before 3 p.m. Some folks have already tweeted seeing some flakes in Hunt Valley.

From the National Weather Service: 

"A NEGATIVELY-TILTED LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM /BUILDING IN THE WAKE OF THE LOW THAT PASSED THE REGION ON TUESDAY NIGHT/ WILL PUSH EAST TO THE CENTRAL GREAT LAKES TODAY. THE UPR TROUGH WITH THIS LOW WILL EXTEND SOUTHEAST TO THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION. A WARM FRONT AHEAD OF THIS LOW WILL REACH EAST INTO THE NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC REGION BY THIS AFTERNOON.  CLOUD COVER WILL PERSIST THROUGH THE DAY...LIMITING MAX TEMPS TO THE LOW TO MID 40S /UPR 40S FROM KCHO TO KEZF/.  RDR INDICATES LGT SNOW OVR THE ERN PANHANDLE IN ASSO W/ A MID- LEVEL TROUGH AXIS. HOWEVER WITH FORCING INCREASING TO THE NORTH AND A DRY SFC LAYER...ONLY SPRINKLES/FLURRIES ALONG THE MASON- DIXON LINE ARE CURRENTLY MENTIONED."

From Baltimore meteorologist Eric the Red:

"Some light snow is falling across northern MD courtesy of a slow-moving warm front. The snow is light, and is falling mainly north of DC and mostly west of I-95, but is kinda fun nevertheless. As far as accumulations go, none.  It's between 34 and 38°, so nothing will stick at those temps. However, models - which have totally missed this by the way - are now showing another round of light snow across central and nrn MD tonight ..., which might leave a dusting since temps will drop with sundown."
 

Posted by Kim Walker at 1:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 21, 2011

White Christmas chances here and around the nation

 

The National Weather Service has up a handy U.S. map on chances of a white Christmas. The southern and eastern half of Maryland is coded with less than 10% chance and the central/western part is 10-25%. The early NWS forecast for the Baltimore area is cloudy with a high of 43.

Here's Baltimore meteorologist Eric the Red's latest take on Christmas weather: 

"A disturbance in the southern jet stream will race northeast off the Carolina coast, while another disturbance in the northern jet stream races by to our north.  These two features will remain separate (no phasing), and that as they say is that.  Christmas Day - as it looks now - will be breezy and cold.  If the northern-stream disturbance slows down or were track a bit farther south, then this would change.  But really, that's wish-casting."

Posted by Kim Walker at 1:35 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 17, 2011

Snow flurries falling Saturday night

From Sun reporter Steve Kilar:

Scattered snow flurries will fall in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan regions Saturday evening, according to a National Weather Service forecast from 7 p.m.

Some residents in Baltimore County reported seeing flurries early in the evening.

No accumulation is expected. Temperatures will drop to around freezing by 10 p.m. and there will be northwest winds of 10 to 15 mph, the forecast said.

A small watercraft advisory is in effect through Saturday night for the Chesapeake Bay south of Pooles Island, which is due east of downtown Baltimore.

Sunday is expected to be cloudy early, giving way to a mostly clear afternoon. There will be a north wind between 5 and 10 mph and the high is expected to be 42.

Posted by Jennifer Badie at 8:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 16, 2011

Tiny chance of flurries this weekend

Baltimore-based professional meteorologist Eric the Red sent us a head's up that there's a slight chance of flurries this weekend.

"Two chances for 'snow' (emphasize quote-unquote).  One is tonight, as a disturbance to our south produces some light rain and wet snow, [especially] south of Baltimore. A bit of a reprieve ... and then we could see some snow showers Saturday night." He adds, however, that if the light snow Saturday materializes, "it would do nothing more than coat the ground (and that's the "heavy" scenario)."

Some National Weather Service discussion about a clipper system heading toward the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states also mentions a chance for flurries Saturday night:

"THIS CLIPPER SYSTEM WILL NOT HAVE MUCH MOISTURE WITH IT...ALTHOUGH INCREASING DPVA AND A COUPLED-JET STREAK IS EXPECTED TO PROVIDE THE ADEQUATE SYNOPTIC LIFT FOR LGT PRECIP TO REACH THE ALLEGHENY AND POTOMAC HIGHLANDS. GIVEN LATEST QPF AMOUNTS AND A 15:1 SLR...1-2 INCHES OF SNOW COULD BE EXPECTED ACROSS THE WRN SLOPES OF THE ALLEGHENY FRONT. LGT ACCUMULATIONS UNDER ONE INCH ARE POSSIBLE FARTHER EAST ACROSS CENTRAL MD AND THE ERN WV PANHANDLE. WITH DOWNSLOPING W-NW FLOW...ANY SNOW SHOWER ACTIVITY WOULD HAVE A HARD TIME MAKING IT EAST OF THE BLUE RIDGE. STILL CANNOT RULE OUT AN ISOLD FLURRY REACHING THE CITIES. TEMPS SAT NGT WILL FALL BELOW FREEZING EXCEPT IN THE CITIES AND ALONG THE IMMEDIATE COAST."

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 4:58 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

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 14, 2011

Don't forget about black ice

From The Sun's print editions:

Baltimore Sun reporter Candus Thomson offers this guest post: 

Some outlying areas have already experienced their first black ice of the season -- nasty stuff.

A reader left a message on the weather phone, asking how black ice differs from other icy forms.

The short answer is, it doesn't. It's frozen water that's arrived as rain, freezing rain, drizzle, or fog or as runoff that has refrozen. The thin veneer of ice over blacktop is hard to see, especially at night or in low-light conditions and announces its presence to unsuspecting motorists with startling authority.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 13, 2011

Snow contest begins: Send us your best guess

 

The snow contest is back by popular demand. Guess how many total inches of snow will accumulate this 2011-2012 season at BWI-Marshall Airport. Add your entry to comments below -- we'll count the ones that come in by the first measurable snowfall of the year. (So far only a trace has fallen at BWI.)

The winner(s), who guess the closest without going over, will get Baltimore Sun swag to be determined and, of course, blog bragging rights.

Some things to consider:

Last year's snowfall was 14.4 inches.

Here's Frank Roylance's winter weather outlook article from earlier this year.

Average monthly and seasonal snow totals.

Or you can take some advice from two-time weather contest winner Laura Kirk.

Good luck.  

Baltimore Sun file photo 

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:22 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 8, 2011

More thoughts on the snow that wasn't

I heard from a reader who wondered what Baltimore professional meteorologist Eric the Red thought about yesterday's forecasts missing the mark. Perfect timing because I just heard from him:

"The killer with this event was the fact that the storm had zero wrap-around precip. Instead, there was a very sharp, linear north-south back edge to it ... so despite the fact that the changeover to snow occurred hours earlier than I thought, the pcp also ended hours earlier than I thought.  The net result:  a big swing and a miss. I guess if there's any consolation, it's that if you're gonna get one wrong, it might as well be an event where realistically we were looking at 1 to 2 inches, 3 tops."

Eric added some thoughts for the outlook for the rest of the month: 

"For what it's worth, took a look at some of the upper-air forecast charts, and it does not look good for snow fans for the rest of December.  Instead of a blocking high over the northern Atlantic - like we've had the past 2 winters - we have the exact opposite... a strong low.  With its strong counter clockwise spin, it tends to pull the cold air east out of North America and into northern Europe.  I affectionately call it the North Atlantic Shop Vac. ... So our already-low odds of a white Christmas are even lower.  ... "

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:57 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Rain and snow totals

While there wasn't much snow, there was record rainfall for Dec. 7 in Baltimore.

According to the National Weather Service, 2.38 inches fell, breaking the previous record for the date set in 1976 at  1.27 inches.

Across the region, observed overnight totals from the CoCoRaHS Network:

Waldorf:  4.18

Odenton: 2.73

North Laurel: 2.36

Catonsville: 2.12

Bel Air: 2:03

As far as snow goes, the National Weather Service measured 2 inches in Fort Ritchie in Frederick Washington County and 1 inch in Frostburg, Allegany County.

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:31 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 7, 2011

State urges precautions during winter weather

With the possibility of snow tonight, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is warning people to be prepared for winter weather.

Hypothermia contributed to 4 deaths in Maryland this fall, the department said, including 2 seniors (Montgomery and Allegany) and 2 adults (Harford and Wicomico).

The department makes the following tips:

Cover your head.
Wear several layers of lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to trap air for insulation
Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from direct cold air. Cover your ears and the lower part of your face, too.
Wear mittens rather than fingered gloves.
Wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks, or two pairs of lightweight socks.
Wear waterproof boots or sturdy shoes. 

DHMH also reminded people to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from heating devices.

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Winter weather advisory tonight

Update 2: The northern part of Baltimore County is still under winter weather advisory with 1-2 inches in the forecast.

Update: The winter weather advisory has been cancelled.

Check out our latest weather story on The Breaking News blog. Forecasters are calling for 2 inches of rain, with a flood watch in effect until tonight.

There is also a winter weather advisory for the area. From the National Weather Service:

"WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 3 AM EST THURSDAY... * PRECIPITATION TYPE...RAIN CHANGING TO LOCALLY HEAVY WET SNOW. * ACCUMULATIONS...1 TO 2 INCHES. 2 TO 4 INCHES ACROSS THE HIGHER ELEVATIONS. * TIMING...RAIN CHANGES TO SNOW IN THE LATE EVENING. HEAVIEST SNOW AROUND MIDNIGHT. * TEMPERATURES...FALLING TO THE LOW TO MID 30S. * WINDS...NORTHWEST 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 40 MPH. "

Posted by Kim Walker at 11:33 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Watches and warnings, Winter weather
        

November 2, 2011

Federal government changes snow policy

The Washington Post is reporting on the federal government's new snow policy to prevent another gridlock crisis that happened during last January's rush hour storm.

From the Post: 

"The Office of Personnel Management now says it will make the call much earlier to either close the government or allow unscheduled leave or telework—and play it safe at the risk of overreacting should just a few flakes fall. ...

If the weather turns bad once they’re at the office, the 300,000 federal employees in the Washington area who don’t leave by a deadline will be told to shelter in place, a policy that’s sure to evoke images of Cold War fallout shelters and biological attacks." 

Parents who need to pick up their children would be exempt, according to the article.

Read more here. 

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 1:55 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

October 28, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 30, 1925:  2.5 inches

Oct. 19, 1940:  0.4 inch

Oct. 20, 1940:  0.9 inch

Oct. 10, 1979:  0.3 inch

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

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

Continue reading "Trick or Treat? Five or more in. of snow due Sat." »

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

October 27, 2011

Snow talk cranks up

It is way too early in the season to be writing about snow, but I don't see how I can avoid it this afternoon. Both Eric the Red and AccuWeather.com are posting snow chatter, even snow maps. It's Oct. 27!

A coastal storm is expected to crank up on Saturday, dragging unusually cold (for this time of year) air down from the northeast, and throwing a lot of Atlantic moisture into it. AccuWeather.com AccuWeather.comforecasters are calling for as much as 6 to 10 inches of wet snow for inland portions of the Northeast, from Massachusetts west and south into northwestern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

For us, they're predicting up to 3 to 6 inches in part of the mountain west, and 1 to 3 inches across a swath of the northernmost Maryland counties. We'll see. The biggest October snowfall on record for Baltimore was the 2.5-inch snowfall on Oct. 29, 1925.

AccuWeather.com's Elliot Abrams said the amount of snow the I-95 corridor sees - if any - will depend on how the temperatures line up. A few degrees either way will make all the difference, so elevation, distance from the still-warm Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic will be critical to who among us sees white on Saturday. 

"The bulk of the storm just north and west of I-95 will be wet snow, but even in cities from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore to Wilmington, Del., Philadelphia, Trenton, N.J., New York City, Providence, R.I. and Boston, rain will become mixed with or change over completely to wet snow," AccuWeather.com said.

The National Weather Service in Sterling is less encouraging to snow-lovers in the I-95AccuWeather.com corridor: "This forecast includes a significant shift from previous forecast, including more widespread rain/snow wording. Cannot rule out possibility of advisory-level snow in Shenandoah Valley and at elevation. Such wording will be featured in the Hazardous Weather Outlook. Precipitation expected to remain as rain in Interstate 95 corridor owing to warm surface temperatures."

Eric the Red is pretty high on the snow forecast, but leaves it mostly to our west:

"It seems to me that we are now in for an unprecedented  Mid-Atlantic and Northeast snow for inland locales, and a wet snow or wind-driven rain closer to I-95." He sees the potential for "some record-setting snow in the Piedmont and Mountains of Va., W.Va., Md., Pa. and points northeast."

He foresees "mostly cold rain" for the I-95 corridor. "But if the storm strengthens enough and tracks right along the coast, wet snow could enter the equation ... It appears that precipitation may change back to all rain in the Eastern Piedmont and immediate burbs, and then change back to snow as the storm winds up and begins to draw cold air back into the center."

"In areas that receive mostly snow, falling branches and trees and toppled power lines will be a big concern. Winds will also be an issue."

Nice. And it's not even Hallowe'en. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

October 19, 2011

Eric the Red calls for near-normal snowfall ahead

One of our regular forecast contributors here, a professional Baltimore meteorologist we call Eric the Red, has posted his winter weather forecast for the season coming up. And like the AccuWeather.com forecast issued a few weeks ago, he expects another near-normal snow total this time around.

The 30-year average snow total for BWI-Marshall Airport is 20.2 inches. Last winter saw 14.4 inches.

Taking account of the La Nina conditions developing in the Pacific for the second winter season in a row, as well as a basket of other climate factors, Eric says the signs this year point to "near- to below-normal snowfall, just like last year, but not a snowless winter."

Looking for winters when similar conditions prevailed, he found these Baltimore analogs: SNow Baltimore 2011

1950:  6.2 inches

1962:  19.6 inches 

1974:  12.2 inches

1985:  15.6 inches

2008:  9.1 inches 

"All these winters are consistent with the reasoning of near- to below-normal snow. In addition, La Nina is associated with near- to below-normal temperatures in the central and eastern U.S. and tends to be windy here, too," he said.

"The wild card is the NAO [North Atlantic Oscillation], which has been consistently negative (a blocking high over the northern Atlantic) for the past several winters ... and this can change everything. If and where the block(s) set up can throw a serious monkey wrench into the equation - think New England last year, our record-setting winter 2 years ago.

"A blocking high/negative NAO is almost essential for big snows around here, and forecasting this feature is not feasible beyond several weeks. Persistence implies that we will be dealing with it again, however."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its winter weather forecast Thursday. Stay tuned.

(SUN PHOTO: Amy Davis, Jan. 26, 2011)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:06 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Forecasts, Winter weather
        

March 27, 2011

Snow accumulations confined to So. Maryland

Mostly as forecast, Sunday morning's snowfall was confined mostly to Southern Maryland, with some additional accumulations reported from the Lower Eastern Shore. BWI-Marshall Airport reported light snow from the 3 a.m. hour through the 7 a.m. hour. But forecasters at Sterling say it was melting as it landed, and will be reported as only a "trace."

The Winter Weather Advisories for Southern Maryland were lifted around 10 a.m.

Here's the National Weather Service's updated forecast map through 6 p.m. Sunday. Click to enlarge. This version makes it pretty clear where colder, drier air moving down from the north or northeast prevented enough southern moisture from getting in to produce snow.

Here is the report from the CoCoRaHS Network, still with the highly suspect 5-inch report from Waldorf. And here is more from the National Weather Service.

The NWS in Sterling notes: "In the last 50 years, from mid-March to late April, [Washington] D.C. has received 0.1 inch or more [of snow] 15 times, so [that's] a 30 percent chance. Baltimore has had that occur 26 times in the last 50 years. So [that's] about a 50 percent chance of occurrence."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March 18, 2011

LJ Kirk the winner in the 2010-2011 snow contest

With the vernal equinox approaching on Sunday, I think it's time to close the 2010-2011 Sun Snow Contest and declare a winner.

The official tally from the National Weather Service station at BWI-Marshall Airport came to 14.4 inches of snow from Dec. 1 through today. That was 3.8 inches below the 30-year average of 18.2 inches for Baltimore. Here's how it played out:Sept. 26 snow

Days with flakes: 24

Days with measurable snow:  8

Days with only a trace:  16

December:  1.2 inches

January:  10.7 inches

February:  2.5 inches 

Biggest storm: 7.6 inches on Wednesday Jan. 26, the one that changed rain over to snow and ice in a flash, catching thousands of Baltimore and Washington commuters on slick and snowy roads, during the evening rush. 

While it's still possible to see more measurable snow as we move through the end of March and even into early April, we're going to call the question today. If we do get more snow, we'll just have to award another cheap prize.

So, the winner of the (First) Annual Sun Snow Contest is Laura Kirk, of Owings Mills, a technical writer whose 14-inch prediction came Snow January Baltimoreclosest without going over the BWI total.

"Wow! How cool is that!" she said when told of her good fortune. Asked how she pulled it off, she said:

"You mean, beyond sheer luck? Actually, you gave me the strategy. You mentioned in a blog entry before the contest began that this was a La Nina year and that typically those years are lower in snowfall.

"And, I had a feeling that after last year's huge overage, we just wouldn't get that much snow this year. I figured we'd have three to four 4-inchers. Not quite how we got to 14.4", but oh well."

"So winning is especially sweet for two reasons: 1) I didn't win the snow pile melt contest last winter...; 2) in that hellacious snow we had at the end of January ... I was hit by a pickup with a plow sliding around a turn (no injuries). This is my revenge on the snow. Hah. Take that."

Close, but ineligible for the cigar, were Paul Mittermeier, at 13.7 inches, and "Andrew," at a heartbreaking 14.5 inches.

WAY off the mark were our low-baller, "Ms. Nash," at 7 inches, and Ken Marsh who, at 65 inches, clearly didn't think he got enough snow last year.

Congratulations to Laura Kirk; your fabulous prize is in the mail (as soon as I get an address). And thanks to all who entered. We look forward to entries from you all for the "90-Degree Daze Contest" this summer, and to next year's exciting "Second Annual Sun Snow Contest." 

Think Hot! Think Snow!

(PHOTOS: Top: Pablo Monsivais, AP; Bottom: The Sun, Gene Sweeney, Jr.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:13 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 22, 2011

Storm drops up to 7 inches; blue skies return

The measurements are still coming in this morning, but the overnight storm seems to left after making a deposit of 5 to 7 inches in some spots.

The National Weather Service is reporting a high of 7 inches in Bel Air. The latest from the CoCoRaHS Network shows 6 inches in Taneytown, in Carroll; 5 inches on the ground from Westminster to Long Green in Baltimore County. We have 4.5 inches (and 19 degrees) here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. Here are a few more. I 'll add others as I can get to them:

Mt. Airy, Carroll:  4.1 inches

Cumberland, Allegany:  4 inches

Elkridge, Howard:  3.5 inches

Columbia, Howard:  3.5 inches

Ellicott City, Howard:  2.7 inches 

Bishopville, Worcester:  0.6 inch

Waldorf, Charles:  0.5 inch

There is no report from BWI yet, but the NWS is reporting 1.8 inches in Severn. Here are more snow tallies from the folks at Sterling.

Okay, so it was not a monumental storm. But it proves that winter is not over in Central Maryland after the first 70-degree weather in February. Schools are closed across the region, and my favorite teacher is still sawing wood. On the other hand, the plows have just made three passes on our street and our most intrepid commuters are out and gone. Others are still digging.

Skies have already cleared, and Venus was still bright in the southeast when I got up. Forecasters are calling for a sunny day, but cold, with highs only in the low 30s as Canadian high pressure moves in behind the storm, about 15 degrees below the average for this time of year.

Temperatures will moderate as we reach mid-week, with a chance for some rain Thursday. We'll be back in the 50s by the weekend. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:51 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 27, 2011

Rush Hour Storm drops up to 11 inches

It would have been hard to design a storm better suited to slam the region during both rush hours on Wednesday. After a surprise couple of inches in the morning delivered an uppercut to commuters making their way to work before daybreak, the back end of the same system swung a hard right to the chin in time for the evening rush.

The result was commuter purgatory. Emails from colleagues stuck on the JFX for hours, or on clogged city streets, encouraged us stragglers in the newsroom to find hotel rooms. I've just made it home after a night with nothing but a warm bed, dirty clothes and a hotel toothbrush.NOAA/NWS

For the record, city streets - at least the main routes downtown - were scraped and salted to mostly wet pavement by 6:30 a.m. The JFX was just wet, although the shoulders were lined with abandoned cars. The Beltway and I-83 north were just wet. York Road by 7 a.m. was still rough, with lots of packed snow and ice.

Our local streets were plowed but snow-covered. I got in just fine, except for the plow-plug where my car was supposed to go. I'd post a photo, but my camera is still back in the newsroom.

But enough about me. Below are some snow totals from the CoCoRaHS Network. Damascus takes the brass ring on that list this morning, with 12.3 inches. The official total at BWI-Marshall Airport was 7.8 inches through midnight. That brings the season's total to 12.1 inches, just a half-foot shy of the seasonal average for Baltimore.

And click here for the snow tally and snow map from the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. Winfield, in Carroll County, would seem to have the lead there, at 12 inches

Elkridge, Howard Co,:  11 inchesNWS/NOAA

Catonsville, Baltimore Co.:  9.5 inches

Kingsville, Baltimore Co.:  9.4 inches

Silver Spring, Montgomery:  9.3 inches

The WeatherDeck in Cockeysville:  9.0 inches 

Frederick:  9.0 inches

Cumberland, Allegany:  9.0 inches

Mt. Airy, Carroll:  8 inches

Jarrettsville, Harford;  6 inches

Deale, Anne Arundel:  3.5 inches

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:07 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 26, 2011

"Cold air wedge" blamed for surprise accumulations

While the forecast did call for snow and/or rain in the early morning hours, I don't think anyone was quite prepared for the accumulations - up to 3 inches in some spots - that we woke up to this morning.

Prof. Jeff Halverson, at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, has offered an explanation. It's called a "cold air damming" - a wedge of cold, dense air that had settled in hung east of the mountains despite advancing warm, wet air from the South, and wouldn't let go. It was enough to make more of the predicted overnight precipitation fall as snow:

"[T]hat became entrenched east of the Blue Ridge overnight, and this kept the morning precip falling as a frozen mixture.  "The Wedge" is notoriously hard to predict.  The warm air push from the south was not strong enough to scour out this dense air mass.

From here, he says, "Expect a quick, hard hit of heavy precip returning around 1 pm through about 9-10 pm tonight, then a quick cutoff.  Most forecasters are predicting 4"-8" but there will be embedded bands that are very narrow, and extremely hard to predict more than 1-2 hours in advance where these will set up.  These are the "thundersnow" corridors

"Timing will be ugly - visibility could drop to near zero in the heart of the evening rush, not so much from wind-blown snow, but big flakes falling at 1"-3"/hour.  Interestingly, the [NWS meso-scale model] is predicting a narrow swath of heavy ice accumulation just north of  the I-95 corridor and mainly rain along and east of I-95. If you buy this model, the heavy snow stays across our far west and north burbs."

Here's the official forecast for BWI-Marshall from Sterling. Here's the Winter Storm Warning, posted for the northern and western counties.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:58 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Why weren't the roads pre-treated?

Can we agree that the main arteries - I-95 and Beltway for example - were a mess early this morning? I think we can. There have been numerous accidents, and lane reductions according to the traffic reports.

So why is it, after the SHA did such a great job pre-treating for previous little snowfalls this winter, that SUN PHOTO Snowthey opted out this time? Here's what The Sun is reporting this morning:

"The State Highway Administration did not pre-treat the roads because "all the forecasts were saying this was going to start as a rain event," said spokeswoman Kim Frum. "That would have been a huge waste of resources."

"However, crews were mobilized between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., anticipating a need to address conditions on bridges, which freeze first, she said. As a result, they were able to quickly clean up primary roads, according to Frum.

"By 4:30 a.m., most of the main lines were just wet," she said."

Just wet? Really? Any morning commuters out there want to share their experiences from this morning's "rush" hour?

I can't say which forecasters the SHA folks were listening to. But, for the record, the National Weather Service had been predicting overnight "snow and rain" for days before the flakes actually began to fall.

Granted, they always expressed it in terms of "snow or rain," or "snow and rain." On Monday they were talking about the storm being primarily a rain event, at least during the day Wednesday. But the forecast always called for at least some snow overnight. And by Tuesday afternoon this was shaping up as a significant storm. Winter Storm Watches were up for almost the entire state. The start times fell after daybreak, but wouldn't that be reason to get the roads ready? 

So where were the trucks? 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:40 AM | | Comments (29)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 21, 2011

Maybe next time ...

Puh... Looks like we got just about what forecasters, at the end, said we would. Maybe that's a relief to most. The roads seem to be in fine shape. But it has to be another disappointment for those Marylanders who love to see a good snowstorm now and then.

AccuWeather.comSomehow, school kids (and teachers) in the northern counties will get a more leisurely morning out of it. Two-hour school delays are in place from Carroll across to Cecil.

The reports are still coming in, but at 7 a.m., it looks like Bel Air, with 2.3 inches on the ground at daybreak according to the NWS/ Sterling snow map , gets the brass ring.  CoCoRaHS tallies put Reisterstown in the lead, with 1.9 inches.

So why are we even bothering with this? Perhaps to make the forecast for next Monday night and Tuesday look more interesting. Models are sending another low across the South, and keeping cold air in place just to the north. Sterling is putting the snow chances at 40 percent. But this morning's discussion also has the possibility it will become a drizzle and freezing drizzle event. Nice.

Anyway, AccuWeather.com (map) is watching the models and urging readers to do the same. As our other prognosticators check in with their guesses later today, we'll add them below.

In the meantime, Here's Eric the Red explaining what went wrong with his forecast:

"Well... once again, I've got some explaining to do.  A last-second twist to the forecast left many areas high and dry.  The low nudged just a bit farther north... and with that nudge, 2 things happened: 1) Warmer air on the south side of the storm ended up farther north, causing the precip to the south to fall as rain or rain/snow mix. 2) The southern edge of the precip ended up farther north.

"On a continental scale, we're talking an almost inperceptible blip... but on a local scale, we were right on the line, so the implications were large. In north-central and northeast MD, 2" (locally more) fell.  I noticed at the Halethorpe train station, maybe a half inch, and by the time I got to DC, nothing." 

Here's the overnight storm on radar. And here, on the jump, is Eric the Red's take on next week's storm. In brief: Lots of potential. Lots of uncertainty.

Continue reading "Maybe next time ..." »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:01 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 18, 2011

Icy rain ending between 9 and noon

The snow, sleet and freezing rain that have put a glaze on Central Maryland were forecast to end as early as 9 a.m. But the mess they have left behind will not go away quite that quickly.

The National Weather Service has posted a Winter Storm Warning until noon for Central Maryland, including Baltimore city and county, Frederick, Carroll, Howard, Montgomery and Harford counties. In this case the warning means we can expect up to a quarter-inch of iceNWS/NOAA accumulations before it ends between 9 and noon. Radar shows the precipitation already mostly clear of the region.

UPDATE, 10 a.m.: The Warning has been replaced by a Winter Weather Advisory for Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties:

"BUT FREEZING DRIZZLE WILL LINGER ACROSS THE BALTIMORE AREA.
THIS WILL GO UNTIL NOON.

"EXISTING ADVISORY FOR THE NORTHWEST DC SUBURBS AND EXTREME EASTERN WV PANHANDLE WILL ALSO CONTINUE TIL
NOON FOR FREEZING DRIZZLE."

UPDATE: 11 a.m.: The NWS has canceled the Winter Weather Advisory. The northwest suburbs will remain near freezing into the early afternoon. Untreated roads and sidewalks will remain slippery.

.Taneytown has reported 3 inches of snow and sleet accumulation. Frostburg has 2 inches. But the real story today is ice. Here's the NWS snow and ice map.

The storm does not seem to have caused very many power outages. BGE's website is reporting only a few hundred customers still out this morning, and another 1,600 or so already restored.

Farther south, in PG and Arundel and points south, the precipitation will end between 7 and 9 a.m. after depositing only a few hundredths of and inch of ice.

The glaze has closed or delayed classes throughout the area, with some serious accidents across the region. The main routes, however seemed well treated in advance of the storm.

Baltmore Sun Weather StationThe good news is that temperatures have been rising all night, and hovered near the freezing mark at daybreak. That trend should continue, with highs later today (Tuesday) in the upper 30s.

But don't expect the sun to come bursting through anytime today. The forecast calls for rain chances to continue through Wednesday morning, with clouds finally breaking up in the afternoon. Colder weather returns Wednesday night, with highs only in the 30s, and a chance for snow showers Thursday night into Friday.

So how are you coping with the ice? How are the roads and sidewalks in your location? Will you be telecommuting this morning? Any tree damage? Power out?  Or is this a non-event for you?

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:47 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 12, 2011

Bel Air tops area snowfall charts

The tallies are starting to come in this morning from Tuesday's snowstorm, and it looks like Bel Air, in Harford County, leads the early returns with one report to the National Weather Service of 4.5 inches of snow.

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: Some higher totals have now come in. CoCoRaHS is reporting a 5.5-inch measurement in Whiteford. The NWS map now includes a 5.3-inch measurement from Highland View, and 5.0 inches in Scarboro. All are in northern Harford County. 

So, it looks like the 3-to-5-inch predictions from early yesterday have held up, at least for locations north and east of, say, Loch Raven Reservoir. One to 3 inches is more like it from Washington north and east to Baltimore, with less than an inch south of DC.

The official measurement for Baltimore, at BWI-Marshall Airport, was 2 inches, bringing the season's total to a whopping 3.5 inches.

While it wasn't much, the storm did bring area school officials to cancel classes, or delay openings for an hour or more. Here's the full listing. Just be thankful you're not living in Boston this morning, where the storm is intensifying and preparing to drop up to a foot of snow.

Our snow finally tapered off around 9 or 10 p.m. in most locations. Here is a preliminary rundown on some of the snowfall measurements around the region:

Bel Air: 4.5 inchesBuzzards

Lineboro, Baltimore County: 3.4 inches

Glyndon, Baltimore County:  3.0 inches

New Market:  3.3 inches

Hunt Valley: 3.0 inches

WeatherDeck, Cockeysville:  2.5 inches

Essex:  2.0 inches

Bowie:  2 inches

Columbia:  1.0 inch

Eastport: 0.9 inch

There are more measurements coming in to the CoCoRaHS Network, here. And here is the NWS snowmap.

Forecasters out at Sterling say the cold weather will continue through the weekend before temperatures move back toward seasonal norms. The next precipitation event, on Tuesday, is expected to be rain.

You'll find Eric the Red's port-mortem analysis of the storm on the jump, below.

(SUN PHOTO: Snow buzzards over the WeatherDeck, Frank Roylance)

Continue reading "Bel Air tops area snowfall charts" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:55 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 11, 2011

Flurries, light snow cross the Potomac

You'd think we'd have had enough after last year's relentless winter, which broke Baltimore snowfall records at 77 inches before it ended. But at least some Marylanders are watching the skies for this next Rush hour snow Baltimorelittle storm as if they hadn't seen snow in years.

"Light flurries started in Annapolis," Andrea emailed me a few minutes ago.

"Flakes have started falling in DC 8)" reported Colleen.

Yes. The SNOW is coming. Washington Reagan National, Quantico and Andrews Air Force Base are all reporting light snow. There are flurries at Dulles and Fort Belvoir. Pax River NAS reports sleet. Here's the radar loop.

UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: Steady snow now in downtown Baltimore. Let the rush hour begin.

UPDATED UPDATE, 3 p.m.: Never mind.

The forecast here remains about the same. There is a Winter Weather Advisory up for almost the entire state, effective from 4 p.m. this afternoon until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

UPDATE, 1:50 p.m.: The accumulation forecasts have slipped some this afternoon. The 4-5-inch bands on the map have disappeared. Two to 4 inches seems to be the rule for the Baltimore area. One to 3 inches are more likely to our south and west.

No flakes out my window at Calvert and Centre, but the barometer at The Sun's weather station has fallen off a cliff, signaling the approach of low-pressure systems along the coast and from the Ohio Valley. They will merge off the coast and intensify, setting up the rest of the Northeast, and especially southern New England, for a big snowstorm.

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:11 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 27, 2010

So near, and yet so far

Snow accumulations 

All that excitement about a Christmas weekend snowstorm, and we come home to ... nothing?

Well, as hard as it is for many to believe, it was a very near miss. Less than 50 miles separated Baltimore from significant snow. Here's the accumulation map from the NWS in Sterling. Watch and Warning coordinator Chris Strong is also asking for some feedback on the weather service's policies regarding advance warning on snow accumulations:

"While the Christmas weekend storm of 2010 has largely spared our area from significant snow, it sometimes can be storms like this to examine how the process of informing everyone can be improved.  While some storms, such as many of last winter's, can have high confidence several days out, not all do - as was the case for our area this time.  As you can see from the map ... the area of 5+ inches of snow (our warning criteria) was just less than 50 miles from the DC/Baltimore section of the I-95 corridor.

"As policy we at NWS Baltimore/Washington:

* Mention the possibility of significant snow in our Hazardous Weather Outlook out to 7 days in advance. [in this case it was being being mentioned 7 days in advance]
* Limit specific accumulation forecasts out to 36 hours in advance. [which helps limit the wild swings that would frequently happen with more extended accumulation forecasts]

"I would like to encourage you to pass on any comments you have on how the process worked (or didn't work) to me directly. While certainly "I would like a more accurate forecast with more lead time" is a goal for all of us, I would like to hear any thoughts on our accumulation policy listed above, or any other constructive criticisms you might have for future events.
"

Feel free to leave your comments here. They read the MarylandWeather blog in Sterling.

BTW, we had plenty of snow in Erie, Pa. Snowed every day.

Lots of weather folks with regrets today. Here's Eric the Red as the snow faded for Baltimore Sunday morning:

"Well...  our first big storm is looking more and more like an egg-in-face moment.  I think 8" would be a miracle at this point.  2-4" is more like it in the metro area, perhaps less, with little if any snow farther west.  I guess I should've listened to my earlier thought... no high to the north = no big MD snowstorm.  The killer for me was the models, most of which avertised a serious winter storm.  Given that these things are processing more info in a minute than I can in a week, it's often hard to ignore them.  My bad."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:16 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Looking for Marylanders stuck in NY, New England

 

 

While the Baltimore area avoided a snow disaster this weekend and is just dealing with high winds, other places on the East Coast have been hit hard.

Marylanders, are you stuck in the snowstorm in New York and New England and can't get home? Want your plight featured in the Baltimore Sun? Contact reporter Nicole Fuller at (410) 818-6212 or nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

Getty Images photo of snow removal equipment at Newark Liberty International Airport. See more East Coast storm photos here.

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:19 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Strong winds, not snow, affect commute

Fighting strong winds that threaten to undo their work, snowplow and salt crews continued to clear Maryland roads early Monday morning, especially in parts of the Eastern Shore, Cecil County and northern Harford County, state highway officials said.

Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration, urged drivers to use extra caution when using Route 50 to travel to and from the Eastern Shore region, as parts of the highway still have some isolated snow patches.

High wind gusts, in some places reaching more than 45 mph, have been pushing snow back into already cleared areas, Gischlar said.

“In the rural areas we could have some lanes open and come back out on our next pass and they’ll be covered again,” he said.

The National Weather Service has a wind advisory in effect until 9 p.m. Monday for much of the Baltimore metropolitan area, as well as parts of Allegany county and Charles county.

“The big enemy today is going to be the wind, so wherever you go just take it slow,” Gischlar said.

Plow and salt crews are also out in southern and western Maryland, Gischlar said, who said he expected road conditions to improve as the day goes on.

“As soon as the sun starts to heat things up we should see some rapid improvement,” he said.

Gischlar recommended commuters check the state highway website for updates on traffic conditions and road closures

    --Yeganeh June Torbati


 

 

 

Posted by Anica Butler at 9:10 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Travel, Winter weather
        

December 26, 2010

Snow accumulations down to 1-2 inches

The Baltimore area is now expected to get 1-2 inches of snow, according to the latest Winter Weather Advisory from the National Weather Service. While the snow totals have gone down, the service continues to forecast a windy and cold evening with gusts up to 35 mph for this afternoon, increasing to 40 mph overnight. Temps in the lower to mid-20s.

Posted by Kim Walker at 2:51 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Forecasts, Winter weather
        

Twitter feed for #mdsnow

Baltimoresun.com has a page pulling in the #mdsnow comments from Twitter. Check it out here.

 

Posted by Kim Walker at 1:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 23, 2010

NWS lowers our Christmas snow risk

Now the National Weather Service has begun to fall into line. The forecasters out at Sterling have begun to lower their estimates of our snow risks for the weekend, dropping the snow Snow chance 30 pcthazard on Sunday from 50 percent to 30 percent. But they remind us that this storm's track, while trending away from our shores, is not yet entirely certain:

"A COASTAL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM IS FORECAST TO DEVELOP ALONG THE SOUTHEAST COAST AND THEN TRACK NORTHEAST UP THE EASTERN SEABOARD SUNDAY INTO MONDAY.

"WHILE LATEST FORECASTS HAVE TRENDED TOWARD KEEPING THIS LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM FAR AccuWeather.comENOUGH OFFSHORE FOR LITTLE TO NO IMPACT ACROSS MUCH OF THE MID ATLANTIC...THERE DOES REMAIN A DEGREE OF UNCERTAINTY REGARDING THE EXACT TRACK OF THE STORM. ANY SHIFT IN THE TRACK OF THE STORM TO THE WEST WOULD BRING A CHANCE OF SNOW TO THE AREA."

Maryland residents could still see flakes in the air as early as Saturday afternoon as a weak storm system - the first of the weekend - moves down from the northwest, according to the forecast from Sterling. If it manages to hold itself together as it crosses the Appalachians, we could see some light accumulation.

Then, the second act begins, with the storm intensifying off the Southeastern states on Sunday and moving up the coast. The latest model runs keep the storm pretty well off shore. If they're proven right, we may see nothing from it. A shift more to the west could bring us some accumulating snow Sunday into Monday, Sterling said: 

"WE CANT COMPLETELY LET THE GUARD DOWN JUST YET AS THERE REMAINS A DEGREE OF UNCERTAINTY WITH THE EXACT TRACK OF THIS STORM. THEREFORE ALL INTERESTED PARTIES SHOULD CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:53 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Forecasts, Sky Notes, Winter weather
        

December 16, 2010

1 to 3 inches due, with rush hour headaches

It sure isn't a lot of snow, certainly not by last winter's standards. But the first measurable snowfall of the season is getting off to a quick start and seems poised to mess up a perfectly nice evening rush hour commute.

UPDATE, 11:20 a.m.: The snow has begun falling in downtown Baltimore. If you're out there driving around, let us know if road conditions begin to deteriorate, or if highway crews are staying ahead of it. Send us a comment and describe. Thanks!

UPDATE, 12:20 p.m.: Foot's Forecast is calling for 4 inches in Annapolis; 2.5 inches at BWI-Marshall; 2.5 inches at Bel Air; 2.8 inches in Dundalk; 2.75 inches in Reisterstown.

By 12:30 p.m. the snow was sticking - or "laying," as they say in Baltimore - to city streets, and traffic was slowing down. Starting to become a traffic issue.

UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: The NWS says they may lift the Winter Weather Advisory early as the storm moves rapidly to the east. But even as the snow stops, the cold will remain. That means icy patches will remain a hazard into tomorrow. More snow is possible for the weekend, but the computer models disagree on that. More later. Earlier post resumes:

Forecasters at the National Weather Service are predicting "about an inch" of snow for the northern tier of counties farthest from the Virginia storm track. But places south of that, and on the Eastern Shore, could see as much as 3 inches before it all winds down this evening. Temperatures are  forecast to remain in the upper 20s, making this an all-snow event for Maryland.

Snow BaltimoreSnow was already falling at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. Here are the Winter Weather Advisories. And here's how the forecasts break down:

1 inch: Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore, Harford counties, including the cities of Frederick, Westminster and Baltimore. Beginning around 11 a.m., contiuing through the evening rush and ending around  9 p.m. "Travel difficulties... Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving."

1 to 2 inches: District of Columbia, Montgomery, Howard, Prince George's, Anne Arundel counties. Beginning in late morning, continuing into the early evening, and through the evening rush hour. "Travel difficulties ... Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving."

1 to 3 inches: Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties. Schools are closed. Snow is falling, will continue through the early evening. "Travel difficulties ...Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving.

1 to 3 inches: Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset counties, Maryland beaches. SNow beginning in late morning, continuing into early evening. "Travel difficulties... Be prepared for snow-covered roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving."

1 to 3 inches:  Southern Delaware, Talbot and Caroline counties. "Largest impact should be during the evening commute from school and work. Snow will accumulate quickly on untreated roadways as the ground is cold. The first widespread snow of the season normally causes numerous accidents. Please be very careful driving later today."

Eric the Red is agreeing with one model that sets the storm's "peak intensity" between 1 and 4 p.m., "and it's pretty much done by 7. A quick-hitting 1-2 inches seems likely now in central MD, closer to an inch in northern MD, and perhaps 2-3 inches south of BWI. Northern and Central VA are still looking at 2-4 inches, perhaps more. I think this is reasonable."

Here's Foot's Forecast. And here's the storm-total radar loop.

(SUN PHOTO: Clarksville, Md., Kim Hairston, Dec. 16, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:21 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 15, 2010

Winter Weather Advisory for S. Md, Lower E. Shore

Go south, snow lovers! But drive carefully. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for three counties in Southern Maryland and for three more the Lower Eastern Shore.

Forecasters say those folks in Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties can expect 1 to 3 inches of snow between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday. Temperatures will hover in the upper 20s and lower 30s.

In Dorchester, Wicomico and Somerset counties on the Shore - including the beaches - the forecast calls for 1 to 2 inches of snow between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Says NWS Sterling:

"A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE
TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED
VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING."

40 pct chance of snowAs for the rest of us up here in the urban corridor, the forecast holds a Hazardous Weather Outlook message noting snow to our south. But the expectation for BWI-Marshall is a 40 percent chance for "less than a half-inch" of snow accumulation. Here's the NWS forecast office in Sterling:

"THERE MAY BE A SHARP SNOW CUTOFF IN THE [FORECAST AREA] ..W/
CLOSE TO THE MASON-DIXON LINE RECEIVING LITTLE TO NONE. HIGHLAND TO
NELSON/ALBE [COUNTIES IN VA.] LOOKS TO RECEIVE THE MOST SNOW...UP TO 4".

"GREENE TO ST. MARYS [IN MARYLAND] SHOULD RECEIVE 2-3". DC METRO UP TO 1". BECAUSE OF THIS WE`VE ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISRY FOR THURS WELL SOUTH OF DC. IT MAY BE THAT A "1" FOR THE AFTERNOON COMMUTE" ADVISORY MAY BE REQUIRED FOR THE GREATER DC AREA..."

Meanwhile, a Winter Storm Warning has been posted for central, southern and southwestern Virginia, including Richmond. Two to 5 inches of snow is expected in some areas. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 10, 2010

Three Marylanders dead from hypothermia so far

This week's unusually cold weather has contributed to the death of an elderly Anne Arundel County resident, according to state health officials. The death was the third this fall attributed in part to hypothermia. All were 65 or older and all had underlying illnesses that contributed to their deaths.

Maryland's Health Secretary, John M. Colmers, urged Marylanders to stay warm as temperatures drop. "Check on friends and neighbors, especially seniors who may be living alone. A little care and awareness will help us avoid these tragedies," he said.

COld in BaltimoreThe first two deaths involved a person in Cecil County in late October, and a Baltimore City resident in early November. Temperatures in the region at that time were averaging about 3.5 degrees below normal. Since Dec. 1 the mercury has averaged more than 5 degrees below normal.

After a brief warmup this weekend, temperatures are expected to drop again, with highs early next week near 30 degrees, and lows in the teens. Average highs at this time of year in Baltimore are around 46 degrees.

Last year, 42 Marylanders died in circumstances in which hypothermia played a role, state health officials said.

Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, cold, pale skin, numbness, fatigue, poor circulation, disorientation, slurred speech and bluish or puffy skin.

Tips for dealing with cold weather can be found at www.dhmh.maryland.gov/ Click on "Hypothermia and Frostbite."

(SUN PHOTO: Barbara Haddock Taylor, January 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Light snow causing numerous accidents

 

A surprise snow squall was causing numerous accidents in Central Maryland at mid-day Friday as light accumulations created slippery conditions on some roadways.

Baltimore County Police reported one person with "life-threatening injuries" after an accident on Jarrettsville Pike in Jacksonville, between Stansbury Mill and Manor roads.

"A bread truck truck and a passenger car were involved," said police spokeswoman Louise Rogers-Feher. But she had no further information on the accident, which occurred shortly after 1 p.m.

Police counted 21 more crashes around Baltimore County, most of them in the Cockeysville and Franklin precincts. There were some injuries, Rogers-Feher said, "but nothing major."

The storm slicked roads in Carroll County, too, police said.

"We have dozens of accidents right now," said Sgt. Alfred A "Andy" Eways, at the Westminster barracks of the Maryland State Police. "Fortunately, right now, it appears everything at this point is property damage."

"We also have numerous disabled vehicles, either getting stuck or skidding into ditches," Eways said.

Salt trucks were dispatched around noontime, but Eways said, "We would encourage anybody who doesn't have an absolute need to be driving in Carroll County not to."

The State Highway Administration's CHART system was reporting four collisions on I-70 from Washington County to Howard County. A tractor-trailer overturned on I-270 in Montgomery County. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Vehicles were pulling to the side of the road because of slippery conditions on I-68 in Cumberland.

SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said that in many cases drivers moving at speeds better suited for dry conditions.

"What we're trying to do is get folks to slow down a little for the conditions," he said. "The speed limit is set for ideal conditions, and when they're not ideal, you have to slow down."

Traffic cameras showed clear pavement, but with some snowy patches, at I-70 and U.S. 29 in Howard County, as well as at I-70 and I-270 in Frederick.

State highway officials said salt trucks were sent out, but the roads were not pre-treated because the forecast had called only for flurries.

Howard Silverman, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said reports received there indicated no more than a few tenths of an inch of snow.

"It hasn't been a consistent, widespread band of accumulating snow, but there are consistent flurries moving across Virginia and Maryland," he said. "But with temperatures right around freezing, that's not to say it's not capable of creating slippery conditions, and it has been. But it's not a lot of snow."

The possibility of snow today, and its potential impacts, had been discussed by meteorologists, Silverman said. "It was not off the probabilities. But it was not a definite forecast, either."

Temperatures have been well below average in recent days, he noted, and that has probably cooled pavement temperatures and contributed to the traffic problems.

The little storm was expected to pass by after an hour or two, leaving no more than a dusting, Silverman said. "But that's about all it takes."

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:49 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Snow in NW suburbs "shouldn't be a big deal"

My favorite teacher and her very excited First Graders report that it is "snowing to beat the band" out in NW Baltimore County just after noon. They were on their way out for a romp. Any other snow Window frostreports out there, campers?

The National Weather Service folks in Sterling say, "While this shouldn't be a big deal, it may result in a few white patches." Here's part of the Short-Term Forecast:

"LIGHT SNOW WILL END ACROSS FREDERICK AND INSIDE THE CAPITAL
BELTWAY BY 12:30 PM...WITH THE BACK EDGE PROGRESSING ACROSS
METROPOLITAN BALTIMORE BETWEEN 1 AND 2PM. JUST ABOUT EVERYONE
WILL RECEIVE A FEW SNOWFLAKES...BUT A FEW COMMUNITIES MAY RECEIVE
A LIGHT DUSTING OF SNOW...A QUARTER INCH OR LESS."

In fact, it is 34 degrees and snowing lightly here at Calvert and Centre streets. Let the winter begin! The forecast beyond today calls for some milder temperatures, reaching the mid-40s for Saturday and Sunday at BWI.

Rain is expected to develop late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, with a quarter- to a half-inch possible Sunday, ending in snow showers early Monday morning.

Next week will be sharply colder, with highs near 30 degrees and overnight lows in the teens before moderating at mid-week.

(SUN PHOTO: Window frost, Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:10 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 7, 2010

Lake-effect snows winterize W. Maryland

Winter Storm Warnings continue in far western Maryland Tuesday, with local amounts up to two feet possible in western Allegany County as Great Lakes moisture continues to ride stiff northwest winds up the western slopes of the Alleghenies, and fall as snow.

I-68 Savage, Md.The National Weather Service is reporting a storm total of more than 5 inches in Frostburg, in Allegany County. Across the line in West Virginia, Bayard, in Grant County is reporting 23.8 inches of snow this morning. 

The cold and windy conditions that have made fire-fighting so miserable in Baltimore this week are forecast to continue through Wednesday as low-pressure over Quebec draws frigid Canadian air south across the lakes. That will also keep the upslope snows falling in Western Maryland. Wind-chill advisories may be needed out there as wind-chill readings drop toward minus-5 degrees. Actual temperature readings could reach single digits.

The winds will finally calm and temperatures will rise toward the seasonal norms later in the week as high pressure settles into the region. Weekend highs should reach the mid-40s by the weekend before a new storm system reaches the area, with sharply colder weather moving in behind that.

Forecasters at Sterling are still predicting rain with that system east of the mountains, beginning late Saturday. That could change to a mix of rain and snow as temperatures drop Sunday night.  

So far this month BWI-Marshall has seen temperatures drop from 62 degrees on the 1st to 26 degrees on the 2nd. Daily averages have been well below the norms since the 2nd, and the month to date is averaging 3.5 degrees colder than the long-term averages.

Officially, we've had no precipitation at BWI. Heating degree-days are running 15 percent above the average. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 6, 2010

Snow on Dec. 5 a gift from Grandpa

Mirtha Stadler, in Gaithersburg, has finally provided an explanation for the snowfalls we seem to see each Dec. 5 in Central Maryland.

Ms. Stadler's father, Bernardo Sapcariu was 78 when he died in September 2002. He had beenSNowman Dec. 5, 2002 very close to his granddaughter Rachel, Mirtha's daughter. Rachel is now a 10th grader at Quince Orchard High. But she was just 6 when her Grandpa passed away. Her first birthday without her grandfather was on Dec. 5, 2002, and it began to snow.

"She [Rachel] was sitting at the kitchen table, and next to the table there was a window," Mirtha wrote. "She looked up at the sky and said, 'Thank you, Grandpa.'"

"I looked at her and asked her, 'Why did you say "Thank you, Grandpa?"'

"She said, 'Because Grandpa could not be here to spend my birthday with me, and he knows how much I love snow, [so] he gave me snow for my birthday.'"

"At that point, the phone rang and it was my sister-in-law, and she asked me why I was crying, and I told her, and of course we both started to cry," Mirtha continued.

"So the reason that it snowed every year on Dec. 5th is because Grandpa gave my daughter a birthday gift. She is now 15, and still wishes for snow on her birthday."

And on the two - now three - years since 2002 when it hasn't snowed on Dec. 5, Mirtha said, "Rachel said that Grandpa's snow machine was broken, and he was working on it." When snow finally came, "it was a belated birthday gift."

(SUN PHOTO: Snow in Annapolis, Dec. 5, 2002)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:28 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 5, 2010

Garrett, Allegany due up to 12 to 18 inches of snow

While we marveled at a few flurries and flakes here in the Tidewater Sunday, our fellow Marylanders out in Garrett and western Allegany counties were under a Winter Storm Warning. The National Weather Service says they can expect as much as 12 to 18 inches of snow overnight into Monday.

And light snow is expected to keep coming into Tuesday. And if that doesn't sound wintry enough for you, here's the rest of the warning for the high country in Allegany County:Wisp Web cam

"* TEMPERATURES...HIGH TEMPERATURES THIS AFTERNOON WILL BE IN THE
  LOWER TO MIDDLE 20S. LOW TEMPERATURES TONIGHT WILL BE IN THE
  TEENS. HIGH TEMPERATURES MONDAY WILL BE IN THE UPPER TEENS AND
  LOWER 20S. LOW TEMPERATURES MONDAY NIGHT WILL BE IN THE SINGLE
  DIGITS TO THE MIDDLE TEENS.

"* WINDS...WEST-NORTHWEST 20 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS OVER 40 TO 50 MPH
  THROUGHOUT THE PERIOD. GUSTY WINDS WILL CAUSE BLOWING AND
  DRIFTING SNOW WHICH WILL REDUCE VISIBILITY BELOW ONE HALF MILE
  AT TIMES."

Mountain regions of West Virginia and south-central Pennsylvania are also under Winter Storm Warnings tonight. Check out these lake-effect snow echoes on Great Lakes radar.

(PHOTO: Wisp Resort web cam Sunday night)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 3, 2010

Our snowy Dec. 5ths ... just a coincidence?

I spoke Thursday with Steve Zubrick, the science and operations officer at the NWS forecast office in Sterling, and we talked again about Baltimore's curious history of snowfalls on Dec. 5. It seems he, too, was intrigued by the phenomenon. And he was not alone.

As faithful WeatherBlog readers will know, Baltimore has recorded at least a trace of snow on six of the last eight Dec. 5ths. When I asked Steve about the phenomenon in an email a while back, heDec. 5 snow 2009 expressed doubt that a real statistical analysis of the phenomenon would find anything more than coincidence at work.

But he queried the weather service computers and found that snowstorms of an inch or more have occurred on Dec. 5 more than any other date in December - nine of them since daily snowfall records began for the city in 1892. There is a similar spike for snow on Dec. 5 at Washington's Reagan National Airport, although it's not the snowiest December date there.

That stirred some speculation at the Sterling office. Forecaster Jared Klein noted that early December is about when the first arctic cold outbreaks begin the reach Maryland, and wondered whether the Dec. 5 snow spike is "more a factor of when the first cold outbreak makes it possible to snow."  

At a Winter Weather Workshop for media types Thursday in Sterling, Zubrick revealed that he had been intrigued enough to run the question by some heavyweights in the meteorological statistics community.

The first was Harry R. Glahn, director of the NWS's Meteorological Development Lab. Glahn took the 117 years of data and ran it through a series of statistical tests. Finally focusing on the December numbers for Baltimore, he said the math "leads me to conclude that, looking at the Dec. 5 snow Baltimoredata and finding one spike in December of [greater than or equal to] 9 days is not unusual."

He called it a "singularity," and added that, "while at first blush there may be something unusual about December 5, it is nebulous. I might say, it is unusual not to find something unusual in a set of data." But, he added, "Much more work would have to be carefully done to confirm a Dec. 5 abnormality. It might make a good MS thesis topic for some student, or even a Ph.D."

Glahn forwarded the question to Ian Jolliffe, a professor emeritus at Aberdeen University in Scotland, whom Zubrick described as a "world reknowned statistician and atmospheric scientist." Jolliffe agreed, saying there is "clearly no evidence of anything but a chance occurrence."

"I'm pretty convinced by this," Zubrick said. Me, too.

Still, Glahn cautioned against dismissing such oddities too quickly.

"In your original email," Glahn told Zubrick, "you said it is absurd to think there may be something happening that could cause such an 'abnormality.' I wouldn't be too sure about that. There are extra-terrestrial events that could conceivably cause something like this; meteor showers come to mind. But most such things wouldn't be tied to specific earth calendar days," he said.

He reminded us all not to be too quick to dismiss apparent oddities: "Sometimes, someone noticing something unusual leads to new understandings."

(PHOTOS: Top, Laurel Park, Dec. 5, 2009, by Jerry Dzierwinski, Maryland Jockey Club. Bottom: Sun Photo, Baltimore, Dec, 5, 2002, by Algerina Perna)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:24 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Snow likely this weekend ... but not here

Sorry kids, it just doesn't look like the Baltimore region is going to get any of this late-autumn snow that so many of our neighbors to the north are enjoying today.

While Buffalo and other communities in the lee of Lakes Erie and Ontario are digging out from big lake-effect snowfalls, we're looking at a weekend forecast that goes from just mostly cloudy to Snow Buffalopartly sunny to mostly sunny by Monday.

Snow lovers don't have to go terribly far for better news. The hardy Marylanders in our far-western counties are looking at a pretty much unbroken string of snowflake icons on their 7-day forecast. That goes for both Garrett and western Allegany counties.

And forecasters are watching a "clipper" system - a storm riding along the jet stream out of the northern Rockies - that's expected to cross the Great Plains and reach the Midwest by tonight. That storm is forecast to pass well to our south, across southwest Virginia late Saturday into Sunday.  Forecasters say it will be cold enough for that to produce snow Saturday night across the southern Potomac Highlands and the central Shenandoah Valley.

But none of it will be heavy. These clipper systems just don't pack the moisture needed for that. We're likely to see more of these this winter than of the big coastal storms that buried us last winter, forecasters say. And then we're looking at mostly sunny skies well into next week.

This, or course, pretty much kills our chances of seeing snow on Dec. 5 this year. More on that later.

(AP PHOTO: David Duprey)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 1, 2010

Dec. 5: The month's most-likely snowy day?

For several years now, we've been writing about Dec. 5, and how frequently we here in Baltimore seem to get at least a little bit of snow on that date. 

Here's the recent history:Dec. 5 snowfall

2009: 1 inch

2008:  None (but there was 0.6 inch on the 6th)

2007:  4.7 inches

2006:  Trace

2005:  1.4 inches

2004:  None

2003:  3 inches (and another 3.8 inches on the 6th)

2002:  7.4 inches (and a trace on the 6th)

Well, okay. Maybe snow on six of the last eight Dec. 5ths is a coincidence. But it's been a pretty persistent one. I asked Steve Zubrick about it. He's the science and operations officer at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va.

"I don't think it's any more favored than any other date during winter," he said. "I have not done a statistical analysis of this" but he doubts it would stand up as statistically significant. Maybe not.

Still, Zubrick did run the numbers for me, looking back on all the dates with at least an inch of Dec. 5 snowfallsnow in Baltimore since they started keeping daily snow records for the city in 1892.

That search revealed that Dec. 5 REALLY IS the date with the most snowfalls of an inch or more. (Chart below.) It's occurred on nine Dec. 5ths (five of those since 2002). The runners-up are Dec. 10th and 14th, with seven snows of an inch or more.

Curiously, it has NEVER snowed an inch or more on Dec. 7 since the record-keeping began. Zubrick doesn't think that would hold up as statistically significant, either, if he had a longer time scale to work with. 

So maybe there's nothing special about the date. It just seems likely to snow on Dec. 5 in Baltimore, and not on Dec. 7. Whatever... Here are some other curious-but-probably-meaningless facts from Zubrick's data search:

* The date with the most frequent snowfalls of an inch or more for Baltimore:  Jan. 7, with 13 such snowfalls since 1892.

* The runner-up, with 11 days: Jan. 28.

* Those are followed by a six-way tie, with 10 days each: Jan. 16, 19, 30, and Feb. 4, 6 and 17.

* January and February had the most days with an inch of snow or more: 206 days each since 1892.

The forecast for this coming Dec. 5 - Sunday - calls for partly sunny skies and a high near 43 degrees, after a morning low of 30. On the other hand, Eric the Red, our contributing meteorologist from Baltimore,  says several computer models suggest the first significant storm of the season in a Dec. 7-8 time frame.

Maybe we'll see the first inch or more of snow on a Dec. 7 in Baltimore since records began in 1892. Stay tuned.

(SUN PHOTO: Top: Nanine Hartzenbusch, Dec. 6, 2005; Bottom: Amy Davis, Dec. 5, 2003)

NWS/NOAA

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 24, 2010

Sleet possible N & W of city Thurs. morning

It won't last long, and it probably won't mess up your drive to Grandmother's house Thanksgiving morning. But holiday travelers should be aware that forecasters are calling for a period of sleet, and possibly some patches of freezing rain, north and west of the Baltimore-Washington corridor Sleetearly Thursday.

The sleet doesn't show up at all in the forecast for BWI-Marshall airport. There is rain in the forecast, beginning after 4 a.m. when the low temperature is expected to be around 35 degrees. Rain is likely to continue to be a factor into the morning. But the afternoon should just be cloudy, with highs in the mid-40s, if the forecast holds up.

But to the north and west, the precipitation may be icier. In Westminster, forecasters are calling for rain, "possibly mixed with sleet, beconming all rain after 9 a.m." The ground, and the streets, are still too warm for any of it to stick, or glaze. But it may catch your attention as you head out for Grandma's.

All of this comes about as the high pressure, cooler temperatures and sunshine we're enjoying Wednesday morning move off to the east and a warm front approaches from the south. That will bring more moisture into the picture, and we can expect high clouds to begin appearing from the west late today.

As that moisture hits the colder air to the north and west of the urban corridor, it's going to begin raining. And as that rain falls early Thursday morning, evaporational cooling may get temperatures low enough to our north and west to turn rain to ice as it falls, forecasters said.

The clouds will stick around after the precipitation ends, making it a gray and damp sort of Thanksgiving. But temperatures won't fall much as evening arrives and more warm air arrives from the south. Friday's high will reach the mid-50s early as the next cold front approaches with more rain chances. The front will slip by during the day Friday, opening the door to some much colder air from the Arctic as the day goes by.

Overnight lows Friday into Saturday may drop below freezing, rebounding only into the mid-40s on Saturday and Sunday. Sunshine will make it a nice weekend for shopping. Or loafing.

(SUN PHOTO: Karl Merton Ferron, March, 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:21 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving blizzard ... but not for us

Nothing like a late-autumn blizzard at Thanksgiving to spice up the weather and travel forecast. Fortunately for Marylanders, all the excitement, for now, is far to our north and west.

AccuWeather.comAccuWeather.com is watching the arctic air spill into the mountain Northwest, and predicting blizzard conditions across the Dakotas and eastward to Michigan at midweek. That system will begin to affect the Great Lakes and the Northeast later in the week, AccuWeather.com said:

"Cold winds will follow the storm throughout the Great Lakes region on Thanksgiving and the interior Northeast into the weekend. The cold air blowing over the relatively warm lake waters may trigger the biggest episode of lake-effect snow since last winter."

So, if your Thanksgiving plans take you to Erie, Pa., or Buffalo, or Cleveland, or other points north and west, go prepared for wintry conditions and problematic driving late in the week.

Here in Central Maryland we shouldn't have to contend with any of that for the moment. The National Weather Service says we can expect these balmy 65-degree days to continue through Tuesday. Then the first of two cold fronts will pass through. The first, on Tuesday, could be heralded by a narrow band of showers.

Wednesday will be cooler after the frontal passage - in the 50s. But it will be sunny as high AccuWeather.compressure builds in behind the front, and a fine day to travel if you must.

But that ridge of high pressure will move offshore pretty quickly, followed by another, stronger cold front out of the Ohio Valley. It may not get here until late on Thanksgiving Day, forecasters say. This one could bring some thunderstorms as it goes through. But we will only have to read about wintry weather to our north.

There's colder weather behind that front. Our weekend highs will stall out in the 40s with some gusty winds. But at least it will be sunny.

Beyond that, however, some forecasters are continuing to talk about the growing risk of some much colder, and perhaps snowy weather. While it won't get here during the long holiday weekend, as had once been feared, Eric the Red, at least, seems pretty confident that we'll be seeing some action early in December.

SNow Dec. 5, 2007Eric, a professional forecaster from Baltimore, is watching as a "massive blocking high" over Greenland continues to form. This is the feature that tends to force the northern jet stream to loop southward into the Northeast, bringing us much colder weather. Add a storm to the mix and we could see snow. Last winter's blizzards involved such blocking highs - also called a negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. 

So, "the effects will not be immediate because there will be some combatting forces at play," Eric said. "Trust me on this: The blocking high will win this battle eventually ... it just might take a week."

Until that happens, he continues, "we'll be spared the full brunt of the arctic air that is poised to plunge south. But the models not only show the block holding on, they move it west into the jackpot-for-snow spot ... the Davis Strait [the narrow waterway betweeen Greenland and Baffin Island]... When the blocking highs move west and reach the Davis Strait, inevitably some sorta East Coast storm spins up ... sometimes too far offshore, but sometimes not (like last year). This particular high reaches the Davis Strait on or about Dec. 1. So the first week of December could get very, very interesting."

Snow on Dec. 5 again? Here's what Foot's Forecast has to say about the first days of December:

"December 4 - 8 in the along the east coast is the first period of potentially disturbing weather. Several long-range climate teleconnections that our team routine monitors continue to show strong signals this period may feature a particularly high-impact event along the eastern seaboard."

(SUN PHOTO: Glenn Fawcett, Dec. 5, 2007)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:51 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 12, 2010

Double-digit snow is rare here in La Nina winters

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:Blizzard 1996

If forecasters are right, and we’re entering a moderate to strong La Nina winter, the statistics suggest we should expect above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation in Central Maryland from December through February. Seasonal snow totals at Baltimore in strong La Nina years since 1950 have averaged in the low teens. Other forces can change the script. But we’ve had only two double-digit La Nina surprises, says NWS meteorologist Jared Klein: a 22-inch blizzard on Jan. 6-8, 1996, and a 15-inch storm Jan. 25, 2000.  

(SUN PHOTO: Kenneth K. Lam, Jan. 8, 1996)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 5, 2010

2 to 5 inches of snow due in W. Maryland tonight

Here's how the National Weather Services put it. Need I say more? (Garrett County is also included in a similar advisory issued by the Pittsburgh forecast office.)

Here's a look at conditions on I-68 at Keyser's Ridge. Welcome to Winter, Maryland!

NWS SnowEXTREME WESTERN ALLEGANY-HIGHLAND-PENDLETON-WESTERN GRANT-
WESTERN MINERAL-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...FROSTBURG...FRANKLIN...BAYARD...
MOUNT STORM...ELK GARDEN
1009 AM EDT FRI NOV 5 2010WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 AM EDT
SATURDAY...

THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 AM EDT
SATURDAY.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE: SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS: 2 TO 5 INCHES.

* TIMING: SNOW SHOWERS INCREASE IN COVERAGE THROUGH THE MORNING
  FRIDAY. RAIN MAY MIX WITH SNOW AT ELEVATIONS BELOW 2500 FT
  FRIDAY AFTERNOON. SNOW SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE THROUGH SATURDAY
  MORNING BEFORE TAPERING OFF SATURDAY AFTERNOON.

* TEMPERATURES: LOW 30S.

* WINDS: NORTHWEST WINDS OF 10 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 25
  MPH.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR
FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR
SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE
DRIVING.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 4, 2010

NWS plans fewer winter weather alerts in Allegany

Hardy Allegany County residents just seem to deal with wintry weather without paying much attention to the stuff, much less caring about how the weather forecasters choose to define it.Snow in Frostburg

But the National Weather Service is acknowledging the frequency of bad winter weather in Western Maryland's mountain stronghold by requiring slightly more dire forecasts before they'll issue winter weather watches and warnings. The change puts the county into the same class as Garrett County just to the west.

Until now, the forecast for Allegany County - and for the rest of Maryland east of there - had to call for 2 inches of snow in 12 hours before the folks in Sterling would issue a Winter Weather Advisory. As of 10 a.m. Thursday, the criterion for Allegany (also Grant, Mineral and Pendleton counties in W. Va., and Highland County in Va.) will be 3 inches in 12 hours.

Similarly, the threshold for a Winter Storm Watch will be a 50 percent chance of seeing 6 inches over 12 hours (instead of 5), or 8 inches over 24 hours (instead of 7). An 80 percent chance would trigger a Winter Storm Warning.

Chris Strong, the warning coordination meteorologist at Sterling, said the thresholds are being upped "due to the higher annual snowfall (and Snow chancefrequency of snowfall) out there, their ability to tolerate light snowfall better, and local government wishes. They haven't seen a climatological increase in snowfall there over the past several years, but this criteria should better fit what constitutes a nuisance and a life threatening event out there."

And it's come just in time. Frostburg is expecting accumulating snow this weekend.

(SUN PHOTO: Doug Kapustin, Frostburg, Oct. 25, 2005)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

October 10, 2010

Yes, it CAN snow in October

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Dusting of snowBaltimore’s snow season is officially open. Okay, it’s not official, just my say-so. But Saturday marked the date of the earliest snowfall on record for Baltimore – a trace that fell Oct. 9, 1903.

Plenty of Marylanders remember the earliest measurable snow on record. It was the 0.3-inch mess that fell on Oct. 10, 1979, postponing Game 1 of the World Series at Memorial Stadium, between the Orioles and the Pirates.

The deepest October snow was 2.5 inches, on Oct. 30, 1925. 

(SUN PHOTO: Lloyd Fox, 1996)  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

September 13, 2010

Old Farmer's Almanac sees sn...y winter ahead

How can I break this to you? Someone dropped a copy of the 2011 Old Farmer's Almanac on my desk over the weekend. So, naturally, when I got in this morning, I immediately opened it to the 2011 weather forecast.

Well, first let me say there is good news on the page. The almanac's seers believe next summer Baltimore blizzard 2009will be relatively cool and dry. The cool part, we like. Of course, after the warmest summer on record for Baltimore, anything would seem cool by comparison. The dry part we may need to appeal, since we have been dealing with scarce rainfall and - in some parts of the state - drought throughout the summer of 2010.

Then there's the winter forecast. The Old Farmer believes the November-through-March period coming up will be "cold and snowy" across most of the South and into the mid-Atlantic states as far north as New York City.

The almanac's forecasters use a variety of indicators for their prognostications. They include sunspot cycles, and El Nino/La Nina patterns. La Nina is expected to be a factor this winter:

"We expect that a weak to moderate La Nina will develop for the winter of 2010-11. Most of the eastern portion of the nation will have below-normal winter temperatures, on average (the weaker the La Nina, the colder it will be) ... Snowfall will be above normal in most of the area from the mid-Atlantic states through the southeast part of the country and below normal in most other areas."Baltimore blizzard February 2010

Here, I need to insert a caution. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center shows nothing of the kind. Their seasonal forecast for the December through February period shows equal chances for above- or below normal temperatures and precipitation in the mid-Atlantic states. In the Southeast, they expect below-normal temperatures, but also below-normal precipitation.

NOAA also says La Nina cooling in the equatorial Pacific began in late spring and has strengthened in recent weeks. And indications are it will continue to strengthen and persist through the winter. And the pattern seen most frequently during La Nina winters in the mid-Atlantic includes relatively warm temperatures - not cold. It also brings the jet stream (which generally also means the prevailing storm track) right over us, which would seem to suggest above-normal precipitation.

I leave it to you to sort out all this seemingly contradictory information. But if you hate snow, (and the Old Farmer is correct about weak La Ninas bringing colder winter weather) it seems like you should be rooting for a strong La Nina.

Or, maybe you should find a cheap condo in Florida. 

(SUN PHOTOS: Top: Dec. 18-19, 2009 blizzard. Bottom: Feb. 5-6, 2010 blizzard. Both by Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:53 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Winter weather
        

August 3, 2010

AccuWeather.com: No "Snowmaggedon" next winter

After last winter's record-breaking snowfall, who would predict anything even close to a repeat performance in the winter of 2010-11? Not AccuWeather.com's Joe Bastardi.

Baltimore blizzard 2009In his first forecast for the coming winter season, the forecast company's long-range meteorologist is calling for "a more traditional winter" this time. Baltimore and other East Coast cities that were hammered by three blizzards last winter should see something close to average accumulations in the winter season to come.

"Average" snow for a winter season in Baltimore is about 18 inches. Last winter we recorded 77 inches, and the last snow piles didn't vanish until the first week in May.

This winter, Bastardi predicts, we should prepare for "greater than normal swings between winter's coldest and warmest days." He says November and December could get winter off to a fast start, with a warming period in January. Average temperatures for the winter would be slightly above the long-term norms, if he proves accurate.

Last fall, Bastardi predicted a memorable, snowy winter for our region, with something like 25 inches of snow. He was right about the "memorable" part. But he undershot the snow totals byFlorida beaches two-thirds.

This time, Bastardi predicts, it will be the Northwest, the Northern Plains and the western Great Lakes that see the worst of winter weather. "The rapid cooling of the globe with the La Nina will produce severe cold for Alaska and northwest Canada, and in fact the Canadian winter will be as harsh as last year's was gentle," he said.

The big snows will fall on Chicago, Omaha, Detroit, Minneapolis and Cleveland, if he's right. Seattle will have a rough go, too.

The Southern Plains, meanwhile, would have an easier winter, as would the southern tier of states. Florida would see warmer-than-normal temperatures all winter long. Southern California and the Southwest face severe drought, and "water rationing could occur throughout the Southwest," he said.

There it is. Stick it on your fridge and check back in March to see how he did.

(PHOTOS: Top: SUN PHOTO of December 2009 Baltimore blizzard, Karl Merton Ferron/ Bottom: AP Photo, Florida in July, Michael Spooneybarger)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:25 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

May 14, 2010

Baltimore snowiest winters ranked

The latest edition of the "Sterling Reporter," the seasonal report from forecasters at the National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington forecast office in Sterling, Va., includes their ranking of the snowiest winters in Baltimore and Washington.

The rankings appear to take into account adjustments the NWS had to make in the snow measurements at BWI, which were found to have been done improperly by an FAA contractor. So put an asterisk on the numbers for the top storm.

It's interesting to note that the top three storms since record-keeping for Baltimore began in the 19th century, have all occurred in the last 15 years. And, notice how much less snow Washington has received than Baltimore. Only 40 miles up the road and we seem to get significantly snowier winters. 

BWI-MARSHALL AIRPORT

1. 2009-10:  77.0 inches

2. 1995-96:  62.5 inchesSnow 2010 Baltimore

3. 2002-03:  58.2 inches

4. 1963-64:  51.8 inches

5. 1898-99:  51.1 inches

6. 1960-61:  46.5 inches

7. 1921-22:  44.4 inches

8. 1966-67:  43.4 inches

9. 1957-58:  43.0 inches

10. 1978-79:  42.5 inches 

WASHINGTON REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT

1. 2009-10:  56.1 inchesCar trouble blizzard Baltimore

2. 1898-99:  54.4 inches

3. 1995-96:  46.0 inches

4. 1921-22:  44.5 inches

5. 1891-92:  41.7 inches

6. 1904-05:  41.0 inches

7. 1957-58:  40.4 inches

8. 2002-03:  40.4 inches

9. 1960-61:  40.3 inches

10. 1910-11:  39.8 inches

(SUN PHOTOS: Top/Kim Hairston; Bottom/Karl Merton Ferron, 2010)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

May 7, 2010

Obituary: The Lancaster snow pile is no more

Lancaster snow pile in better daysOur Lancaster bureau chief, Charlie Charnigo, reports from his FRiday lunch spot that the towering snow pile he has been watching since the February storms has finally melted away. Says he:

"And then it was gone. The snow pile up here is no more. They even swept up the lot, leaving not a trace of the monument to the back-to-back blizzards of 2010. But 90 days was a good run. Cheers, Charlie."

There will be no viewing hours. Services will be private. We prefer to remember our snow pile as it once was. (See above.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 26, 2010

Snow buries Garrett; I-68 may be closed again

Two feet of fresh snow and high winds made Garrett County roads dangerous and all but impassable Friday. Emergency managers there have reimposed a local state of emergency they had finally lifted on Tuesday, two and a half weeks after the February storms began.

Plows cannot keep ahead of fresh fallen and drifting snow, officials said, and emergency crews are busy clearing a second multi-car pileup, with numerous injuries, on Interstate 68.

"I-68 is not closed, but we are telling people, if you don't have to be out in this, don't bother coming out. These are blizzard conditions. They will travel at their own risk," said Sgt. James Hare, at the McHenry Barracks of the Maryland State Police.NOAA

While I-68 is not officialy closed, he said, eastbound traffic at 2:30 p.m. remained stopped just east of the Garrett/Allegany County line due to an accident that occurred around 11 a.m. today. "Travel is almost impossible there."

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m.: The State Highway Administration said I-68 is open in both directions, all lanes. Conditions are "improving, but hazardous."

County officials said the snow has been extraordinary, even for Garrett. "I've been in public safety for 35 years, and I've never seen storms one after another, with the cumulative effect being like this," said Brad Frantz, Garrett's director of emergency management.

"Road conditions are bad," he said. "So we are strongly urging folks to not travel in Garrett County right now. The roads are basically impassable. I'm pushing hard for Interstate 68 to be shut back down, and anybody who tries to travel will have to get on alternate routes, and those will be worse."

The National Weather Service is predicting another 10 to 20 inches of snow at McHenry through Saturday.

The State Highway Administration issued a statement warning of poor driving conditions in Garrett and western Allegany counties.

"Travel conditions are extremely hazardous ... causing major travel issues along Interstate 68 and US 40 west of Cumberland," officials said. "SHA maintenance crews continue to plow roads in the area, although the heavy snow and high winds are causing major delays and hazardous conditions."

WISP resortOrganizers of the "Deep Creek Dunk," a fund-raiser for the Special Olympics scheduled for Saturday in McHenry, are urging people not to attempt to make the drive because of the poor road conditions in Garrett County. Participants already in town were invited to take part in the dunk, at 2 p.m., and "scaled-back" festivities afterwards.

I-68 was closed for several hours Thursday afternoon after a 15-car pileup near Finzel, at the Garrett/Allegany County line. Five people were transported to area hospitals.

"Now it has opened back up, and shortly after we had another multi-casualty" incident, Frantz said. "We are still working that one ... The last I heard is that we had some entrapment with that."

Frantz said he had just finished a conference call with the National Weather Service. "We had one report of 23 inches of new snow," he said. "That's on top of what we already had. We are probably close to 250 inches of snow for the year now... more than 20 feet.

Even for snow-savvy Garrett County, Frantz said, "This is way beyond normal."I-68 at US 219 near Grantsville

"County roads are impassable. Plows are not able to plow. They basically can't keep up. They're blowing shut as soon as they open them. They are trying to keep major arteries open and having limited success. The more rural routes, they are getting to them as they can."

During an earlier storm, fire fighters were unable to reach a house fire, and the home was "a total loss," he said. No one was injured. "Pretty much any fire or EMS incident we're sending a plow truck ahead of it on the assumption that most areas are not accessible right now."

"The other issue that's brewing here is there is over 10 inches of water equivalent on the ground," Frantz said.  "When this thaws, it will be like getting a 10-inch rainstorm. If it goes all at once, the next thing you will be calling me about is the floods."

Garrett isn't alone, Frantz said. "To our west in West Virginia, they are having some of the same issues, and somewhat to the east. The western end of Allegany County is just about on the same level with us. From Cumberland east it slacks off. That's normally the case. Being on the Allegheny Plateau, everything gets hung up here."

The brutal weather is taking its toll. "Fire, EMS, 911, the county and state highway folks are doing a tremendous job, but it's starting to build up," Frantz said. There have been some equipment failures, and municipalites have been hurt further by sharp cuts in funding to local government from state highway user funds - the gasoline tax.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:09 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 23, 2010

At last, one welcome icicle

Just received this delightful letter, handwritten and sent via snail mail, from "Angela," in Towson. Angela has written to me before about the birds she sees from her windows. Enjoy.

Icicles"Dear Mr. Roylance,

"Years ago I wrote you, when I was 93, an article titled 'Catbirds and Raisins.' I saw something today that I thought the readers or 'bird fanciers' would appreciate.

"A mockingbird flew down from the roof, sat on a branch of an azalea bush (just overhead were many icicles hanging from the gutters). The mockingbird reached over and drank several sips of water from the dripping icicle. Snow covered the lawn and bushes, but he preferred to drink from the icicle.

"I was stunned when I saw it. I had never seen anything like it before; and because I was inside my house, sitting at a table having my cup of tea, and just looked out my window, close by, at the precise time the bird arrived to take a drink from an icicle.

"[That this occurred] on Valentines' Day made it especially important to me, since I am confined to my house because of a stroke and do not get out to see other things that are important to me, i.e., the malls and stores.

"To me, he was the most important Valentine gift I ever received. Yours truly, Angela..."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:51 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 14, 2010

Front loader visits South Dallas Street

Four days after the snow stopped, the 500 block of South Dallas Street in Fells Point got a welcome Sunday visit from a front loader and a big dump truck. Free at Last!

BEFORE:                                                                            AFTER:

Snow on South Dallas Street

Snow gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the folks in the 2400 Block of Everton Drive in Mount Washington woke up to find an eight foot pile of snow at the entrance to their street. Area resident Bob Byrnes tells the tale:

"Whoever was cleaning the main and sidestreets decided to use the entrance of the street to dump the snow. The 8-foot pile is impassable and makes access to the street by an emergency vehicle impossible. A city 311 operator was called about 8 a.m., but two hours later, nothing has happened. No other street in the Mt. Washington neighborhood appears to have been plowed in. The city contractors appear to have done an exemplary job everywhere but at the corner of Everton."

Anyone know if this blockade has been cleared?

Everton and Greenspring

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:56 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 10, 2010

NWS: Intense storm likened to a Cat.1 hurricane

The howling winds, swirling snow and plummeting visibility that drove plow drivers off the highways today are being driven by an intensifying offshore low-pressure system that meteorologists are likening to a Cat. 1 hurricane.

Winds topped 58 mph over part of the Chesapeake Bay, and 40 mph gusts were common across the region as the storm's center deepened and drifted slowly along the mid-Atlantic coast, AccuWeather.comforecasters said. 

"They have hurricane-force wind warnings up for that sector of the ocean, so for all intents and purposes, it's a ... Category 1 hurricane," said meteorologist Bryan Jackson, at the National Weather Services's forecast office in Sterling, Va.

Barometric pressure readings from an offshore buoy in the area sank to 28.93 inches, Jackson said. That deep low, along with the relative warmth of the offshore ocean waters, provided the energy that intensified the storm and drove the day's winds.

"We had some tropical storm-force winds for the southern part of the bay, off Solomons Island," Jackson said. Winds in Manassas, Va., gusted to 57 mph during a morning squall. An elementary school in Frederick County recorded a 52-mph gust, and a Reisterstown station reported a gust to 44 mph during the morning.

At BWI, winds gusted as high as 40 mph. Such winds and low visibilities created blizzard conditions, Jackson said, but until meteorologists can determine how long those conditions were sustained, they won't be able to put a "blizzard" label on the storm.

Asked to compare this storm with the 24.8-inch blizzard on Friday and Saturday, Jackson said the weekend storm carried more moisture. "That's why places will hit two feet [of snow] with this one, where they were getting two-and-a-half to close to three feet" over the weekend.

But "this one was certainly windier," he said, and for that reason "this has been more hazardous. They're reporting that plows were being pulled off the roads with snow squalls going through. It's just too dangerous having people on the roads."

"These are the most hazardous conditions of the winter, and it's been a very hazardous winter," he said.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:21 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Winter weather
        

NWS: "Extremely dangerous winter weather"

With Blizzard Warnings in effect until 7 p.m. Wednesday from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, through Baltimore to Philadelphia and New York City, the National Weather Service is warning that weather conditions have begun to deteriorate. With heavy snow and winds gusting as high as 60 mph, attempts to travel could become life-threatening.

Total snow accumulations still could reach 10 to 20 inches, with windblown drifts 2 to 4 feet deep.

The entire state of Maryland is now under a Blizzard Warning! Has this EVER happened before?

Says Steve Zubrick, NWS science officer in Sterling: "I'm not sure about when the last time all of MD. was in a blizzard warning ... but right now you are in a blizzard! (or as close as you'll ever be in one.)

"Not how there are lulls interspersed with outrageous, near whiteout conditions. That's a characteristic of the random nature of these howling winds. Enjoy!"

 In a Special Weather Statement issued at 8:24 a.m., forecasters at Sterling said:

"...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS THIS MORNING FOR
THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON REGION...THE EASTERN PANHANDLE OF WEST
VIRGINIA...

"DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE THIS MORNING AND EARLY AFTERNOON. LIFE
THREATENING BLIZZARD CONDITIONS HAVE DEVELOPED RAPIDLY ACROSS THE
BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON REGION THIS MORNING.

"AT 7:27 AM THIS MORNING...A WIND GUST WAS RECORDED TO 60 MPH AT
MANASSAS VIRGINIA. NUMEROUS WIND GUSTS OVER 40 MPH HAVE OBSERVED
AROUND THE REGION ALONG WITH WHITE-OUT CONDITIONS."

The Blizzard Warning issued for Baltimore is in effect until 7 p.m.. It still calls for 10 to 20 inches of new snow before the storm ends late today. The heaviest period of snowfall will be from this morning through the early afternoon.

Forecasters said an additional 2 to 5 inches are possible this morning.

BWI has already received 5.2 inches as of 7 a.m. That means this is now the snowiest winter on record (since 1883) for Baltimore. The old record was 62.5 inches, set in 1995-96. We are now at 65.6 inches and counting.

More accumulation reports are coming in. Here is a sampling of 7 to 8 a.m. measurements:Whiteout in Cockeysville

Sykesville, Howard County:  11 inches

Jarrettsville, Harford:  9 inches

Ellicott City, Howard:  9 inches

Mount Airy, Carroll:  8.5 inches

Long Green, Baltimore:  7.8 inches

Camp Springs, Prince George's:  7.1 inches

Bel Air, Harford:  6.5 inches

Columbia, Howard:  6.1 inches

Crofton, Anne Arundel:  5.5 inches

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance/Whiteout in Cockeysville)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:43 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 7, 2010

Yes, it was a blizzard

It's official (but preliminary). The Super Bowl Weekend Storm in Maryland was a blizzard. Or, at least it met blizzard criteria at BWI-Marshall Airport and at the Patuxent Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County. It seems likely that many places in between also met the test.

"Near-blizzard conditions" were recorded at several other locations in the region, including Annapolis, meaning they had blizzard conditions, but not for the required three-hour minimum.

Here's the statement, issued Sunday afternoon by the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va.:

"PRELIMINARY INDICATIONS OF BLIZZARD CONDITIONS IN ST. MARY`S AND
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTIES IN MARYLAND ON SATURDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2010...

"THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DEFINITION OF A BLIZZARD IS A WINTER
STORM WHICH PRODUCES THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS FOR 3 HOURS OR LONGER:
SUSTAINED WINDS OR FREQUENT GUSTS 35 MPH OR GREATER...AND FALLING
AND/OR BLOWING SNOW REDUCING VISIBILITY FREQUENTLY TO LESS THAN
ONE-QUARTER MILE ON A WIDESPREAD OR LOCAL BASIS.

"PRELIMINARY INDICATIONS SHOW THAT BLIZZARD CONDITIONS WERE
RECORDED AT TWO OBSERVATION LOCATIONS IN THE REGION ON SATURDAY
6 FEBRUARY 2010.  THE FIRST OCCURRENCE WAS AT
BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON
INTERNATIONAL THURGOOD MARSHALL AIRPORT IN ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY
MD...FROM APPROXIMATELY 12 MIDNIGHT TO 5:00 AM EARLY SATURDAY
MORNING.
  DURING THIS TIME PERIOD...WIND GUSTS WERE RECORDED TO
37 MPH WITH VISIBILITIES AT OR BELOW ONE-QUARTER MILE IN HEAVY SNOW.

"THE SECOND LOCATION WAS AT THE
PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION IN
ST. MARY`S COUNTY MD...FROM APPROXIMATELY 12 NOON TO 4:00 PM
SATURDAY AFTERNOON.
  DURING THIS TIME PERIOD...WIND GUSTS WERE
RECORDED TO 41 MPH WITH VISIBILITIES REDUCED TO ONE-EIGHTH MILE IN
HEAVY SNOW.

"NEAR-BLIZZARD CONDITIONS...WHICH MET THE COUPLED VISIBILITY AND WIND
CRITERIA THAT OCCURRED OCCASIONALLY DURING THE STORM...BUT FELL
BELOW THE 3 OR MORE CONSECUTIVE HOUR CONSTRAINT OF THE FORMAL
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DEFINITION OF A BLIZZARD...WERE OBSERVED IN
ANNAPOLIS MD...RONALD REAGAN WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT...DULLES
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT...AND ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE
IN PRINCE
GEORGES COUNTY MD.

"AS WITH ANY MAJOR CLIMATE RECORD ACHIEVEMENT...THESE PRELIMINARY
RECORDS WILL BE QUALITY CONTROLLED BY NOAA`S NATIONAL CLIMATIC DATA
CENTER OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:54 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 6, 2010

Share your snow stories

How has the snowstorm affected you and your community? We want to hear from you -- stories about what you've done and seen this weekend -- from the serious to the silly. Please share your anecdotes by commenting below, including your name and city. If you're on Twitter, add #mdsnow to your tweets to have them appear in our feed.


Posted by baltimoresun.com at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Two feet and counting as Super Bowl Storm delivers

Turns out the weather forecasters knew what they were talking about. The big Super Bowl Weekend Storm that's been talked about, hyped and doubted across Maryland for days hasSuper Bowl Weekend Storm finally delivered. Some locations have already topped two feet.

Here are some snow tallies from NWS spotters.

Here are some of the early measurements being reported at 7 a.m. by the CoCoRaHS Network.

Elkridge, Howard County:  32 inches

Crofton, Anne Arundel:  26.8 inches

Columbia, Howard:  26.4 inches

Clarksburg, Montgomery:  24.5 inches

Mount Airy, Carroll:  20.1 inches

(WeatherDeck, Cockeysville, Baltimore County:)  15 inches

La Plata, Charles:  14 inches

Deale, Anne Arundel:  11 inches

Salisbury, Wicomico:  5.4 inches

BWI-Marshall Airport, the official station for Baltimore, where forecasters had predicted 20 to 30 inches by tonight, was reporting 19 inches at 8 a.m. That would already put this storm on Baltimore's Top Ten list - Snoat the No. 9 spot - and the snow is still falling.

The NWS at Sterling is now calling for another 4 to 8 inches today at BWI, and total storm accumulations of 18 to 24 inches for Baltimore.

If we get the 8, and top out at 27 inches, that would make this the No. 2 storm, behind the 28.2-inch Presidents' Day Weekend Storm in February 2003. A total of 24 inches would make this No. 3.

There's plenty of time to dig out this weekend, so take it slow. This is very dense, very heavy snow. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:16 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 5, 2010

Stay home? Or leave early?

So what should we do today? The National Weather Service says this Top Ten snowstorm should begin to produce flakes across Central Maryland beginning late in the morning to our south, and by 1 p.m. or so in Baltimore and its suburbs.

School systems across the region appear to have decided to cram in the minimum number of hours today to qualify as a real school day (although what kid will be thinking of anything but snow?). They'll dismiss two to three hours early to avoid the worst of the afternoon snow. They hope.

I plan to get to work as usual this morning, but I am hoping to be able to scram early and get Dig we musthome before the roads become treacherous. I can finish the day at home via computer. Lots of my colleagues will be spending the night - maybe two - in downtown hotels so they can get the papers out for Sunday and Monday delivery.

But what if all this clever planning just makes things worse today? What if the school buses, an early PM commute, the salt trucks, plows and the first few inches of snow all converge in a colossal, slippery, snowy gridlock?

We've seen it before - an afternoon snowfall that panics commuters and ends in jams that extend a 30-minute commute to hours.

Shouldn't we all just stay home today, enjoy an historic snowfall and let our public servants doNOAA their jobs? What do you think?

Here's the forecast. The NWS is still calling for 18 to 24 inches of snow by Saturday evening as another Gulf low reforms off the Atlantic coast and spins north to the mid-Atlantic states. Two to four inches are predicted by nightfall.

If they're right, even if we just top 16 inches, this storm will rank among the Top Ten snowstorms since Baltimore snowfall records began in 1883. A 24-inch storm would rank No. 3. 

Here's AccuWeather's take on the nor'easter. They finally bumped their estimates to 12 to 24 inches after lagging other forecasters late Thursday.

And here's Mr. Foot's Forecast. They're looking for 20 to 28 inches, warning motorists to be off the roads by noon.

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance/2006)

Continue reading "Stay home? Or leave early?" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:51 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 3, 2010

3 to 6 inches was on the money

We had a hard time measuring the snow on the WeatherDeck this morning because I forgot to clear away the old snow. But looking at the CoCoRaHS report this morning, it looks like the NWS forecasters out at Sterling got this one about right - 3 to 6 inches.

Here's a sampling:Light snow

Bryan's Road, Charles County: 6.0 inches

Long Green, Baltimore Co.:  5.9 inches

Mt. Airy, Carroll:  5.7 inches

Clarksburg, Montgomery:  5.5 inches

Severn, Arundel:  5.1 inches

Columbia, Howard:  5.0 inches

Hamilton, Baltimore City:  4.5 inches

Kingsville, Harford:  4.3 inches

Taneytown, Carroll:  4.0 inches

Towson, Baltimore:  3.0 inches

Another pretty snowfall, filling the trees but easy to shovel and yielding to salt on the streets. And the kids will get to school today, mostly, if a bit late.

But it was just the appetizer. We still have the main course - the weekend storm - to deal with. Here's the Hazardous Weather Outlook from the folks out at Sterling:

"FRIDAY THROUGH SATURDAY...A STORM SYSTEM HAS TO POTENTIAL TO
AccuWeather.comPRODUCE HEAVY SNOWFALL ACROSS THE MID ATLANTIC REGION. THERE IS
UNCERTAINTY REGARDING THE EXACT TRACK AND EVOLUTION OF THIS
STORM...SO PLEASE MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.
"

Sterling is offering no accumulation predictions yet. Too early. But the forecast is putting the chance of snow at 90 percent for Friday night at BWI-Marshall, and 80 percent on Saturday. Temperatures will be in the upper 20s Friday night, and the lower 30s on Saturday.

Up at AccuWeather.com, they've got Central Maryland in the 6- to 12-inch band for this storm (map), but we're darn close to some 12- to 18-inch territory to our west.

Mr. Foot and his team are much more optimistic (or is it pessimistic?) about this storm. "This storm will not be for the faint of heart," says he. He puts the accumulations at 12 to 24 inches, depending on where and when the snow line sets up.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:41 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 22, 2010

"Wintry mix" forecast a fizzler

Cockeysville's watchmen 

For days we've been looking at nasty forecasts predicting rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow overnight and into Friday. But the setup was complicated and the results were never very certain.

 And so, as gloomy as it was this morning, except for a few sprinkles, and a few flakes, I didn't see any of the bad stuff on my drive to work this morning. Neither did many others. (Maybe the neighborhood buzzards were waiting to feast on the defunct forecast.

The National Weather Service has backed away from an earlier Winter Storm Watch and replaced it with a Winter Weather Advisory for western counties from Carroll out to the mountains. But a check The Boxon reports from out there finds little that looks like wintry weather worth a worry.

Even Mr. Foot is wearing a cardboard box over his head this morning, and manfully discussing his team's errors.

Forecasters at Sterling are pointing to cold, dry air flowing in from the north, driven by a high in Central Canada, and the low moving off Delmarva and out to sea more quickly than they anticipated. That all seems to have dried things out and cut off the precipitation before it ever really got started.

We have recorded a mere 0.05 inch here at North Calvert and Centre streets. BWI is reporting barely a tenth of an inch.

There's more wet weather ahead, however. After some sunshine on Saturday, clouds move back in with showers in store for Sunday and Monday morning. Highs will be in the low 50s - almost 10 degrees above the averages - so we don't need to worry about frozen stuff for the moment.

And by Tuesday the skies should clear for the balance of the week, but temperatures will cool back toward the seasonal norms

Speaking of averages, we have now passed the date of the coldest average daily temperatures for Baltimore. From here on, the averages begin their slow climb toward spring and summer.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:19 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 19, 2010

Putting our recent cold weather in perspective

Just came across a very calm and rational discussion of the meaning of the cold, snowy weather we and some others experienced in December and early January. (Remember cold weather? We hit 58 today at The Sun...) It comes from "Earth Gauge," an initiative by the National Environmental Education Foundation and the American Meteorological Society, and it's worth a read.

Here's a taste: 

"Patterns of periodic warming and cooling over the North Atlantic in the past – linked to periodic strengthening and weakening of the circulation that brings warm waters into the Atlantic basin from the south – suggest that the Atlantic may cool slightly over the next decade. As this happens, average surface temperatures in North America and Europe may stop their rising temperature trends or even cool slightly.

"Looking at long-term data (50+ years), which includes periods of both warm and cool North Atlantic temperatures as well as warm and cool periods of other major natural oscillations that help drive our weather, suggests that the extreme cold experienced over the past few weeks is becoming less common for the United States as a whole."

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:35 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 11, 2010

Back when it was REALLY cold...

Cold? This isn't cold. Here are some snippets from the Baltimore Sun printed during this week in 1912, a week that saw temperatures drop to minus-40 degrees in Oakland, Md., the lowest ever recorded in the state.

"Hagerstown, Md. Jan. 13 - Last night was the coldest in Washington county in the last 50 years.

"Weather observer D. Paul Oswald, near Chewsville, reported a minimum temperature of 27 Cold weather Washingtondegrees below zero, shown by a Government thermometer ...

"The lowest temperature reported in the county was at Smithburg, where John Bayer's thermometer, hanging near a small creek, registered 33 degrees below zero..

"The Potomac River is frozen over from shore to shore at Weverton and Williamsport.

"Fruit growers generally believe that the intense cold has frozen the wood in peach trees and destroyed the prospective peach crop, except in orchards located in the mountain foothills, where the cold was not so intense. The ground is covered with 12 inches of snow and ice on the ponds is from 8 to 12 inches thick..."

In Baltimore, meanwhile...

"Headlines: Bread Lines at Stations; Police Give Big Quantities of Food, Fuel and Clothing; Hundreds of Families Aided.

"Jan. 15, 1912: Much relief work was done by members of the Police Department yesterday among those who are suffering as a result of the intensely cold weather of the last week. In every district the men working the posts have found large numbers of families in want, and these have been supplied with food enough to last them several days, fuel and clothing...

"Fifty persons were adequately clothed at the Southern Police Station yesterday, and the supply of clothing has not yet been exhausted. Saturday and yesterday, 3,000 families were given provisions sufficient for two days, and any person who appeared without sufficient clothing to protect him from the cold was taken into Capt. Cole's office and fitted out from head to foot. No applicant for assistance was turned away unsatisfied...

"Mrs. Mary Stevens, a widow with three small children, was discovered helpless in her home, 1415 Belt Street, by Patrolman Hoeflich in the afternoon. There was no fuel in the house, and neither she nor any of the children had good shoes. Want of shoes, the woman said, had caused two of the children to remain away from school for the last week...Ice storm, Baltimore

"[In the Northern Distict,] the station had the appearance yesterday of a department store, where anything, from potatoes to coal, might be obtained....

"The police of the Eastern District were busy all day preparing for the distribution of food, clothing and fuel to the poor today. Large donations were received at the station. Once man called the station by telephone and told the lieutenant in charge that he would send 500 loaves of bread. Many people left money, food and clothing. The men in the station were busy heaping things in piles, while the patrolmen on their beats were looking out for cases of destitution."

"Port Deposit, Md. Jan. 14 - Ice conditions at Port Deposit tonight look bad.

"In the deep tidewater, off the south end of town, the ice averages about 14 inches, and at the north end of town, or Rock Run, it is from 8 to 15 feet thick, being compressed and jammed by the swift water of a four-foot flood on the early freeze January 5. Since the last movement of the ice, the intense cold has cemented it in high ridges extending in places to the Harford shore...

"Ellicott City, Md., Jan. 14 - Howard county is now experiencing the coldest weather since 1888.

"This morning at 6 o'clock the thermometer here registered 10 degrees below zero. At Highland, 10 miles form here, 12 degrees below was recorded.

"It is feared that if the intense cold continues for a few days longer there will be a water famine, as the water pipes are all frozen up and many persons are now using water from the streams. It is reported from numerous sections of the county that many rabbits and partridges are being found frozen and in many places partridges come to the farmhouses and are fed with the domestic fowls. Ice 10 inches thick is being harvested..."

(Above: AFP/Getty Images/Nicholas Kamm/Washington December 2009; Below: SUN PHOTO/Mark Bugnaski/January 1994)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 8, 2010

December storm ranked among five worst of decade

The big December storm that dropped a record 21.1 inches of snow on Baltimore has been ranked among the five worst of the decade in terms of its impact on the Northeast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has given the snowstorm a rating of 3 ("Major") on its Northeast Snowstorm Impact Scale (NESIS). It is now the smallest Cat. 3 storm of the 12 on record.

NOAA/NESISThe NESIS system was developed in 2004 to provide a systematic way for meteorologists (and the rest of us) to compare Northeast snowstorms. The system generates an index number based on snow depth (at least 10 inches), geographic expanse and the size of the affected population. Rankings range from Cat. 5 ("Extreme") to Cat. 1 "Notable").

NOAA found that the December storm, which dumped top-ten snow on Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia, was not an especially large storm, and did not have much impact on big population centers in New York and Boston. So, it got a 3 on the NESIS scale.

Even so, only four other storms in the past decade have ranked that high or higher. They include storms in December 2002 (Category 3); February 2003 (Category 4); January 2005 (Category 4); February 2006 (Category 3) and February 2007 (Category 3).

The highest-impact storms on the NESIS scale - and the only ones to get a Cat. 5 - are the “Superstorm” on March 1993 followed by the “Blizzard of ’96” in January 1996. The scale was developed in 2004, and ranks Northeast storms dating back to 1888.

Here's more from NOAA on its decision. And this link takes you to the ranked storms.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:41 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Two inches of the fluffy stuff

The best thing that can be said about this morning's snowfall was that it was pretty, and fluffy, and easy to dispose of. And it gave the kids a chance to sleep in as most schools systems in the region closed or delayed their openings.

But it was not an impressive storm. Alberta Clippers just don't usually pack enough moisture to bring civilization to a crawl. So for most of us, getting out and about this morning was no big deal. Another good thing.

A check of accumulation reports this morning shows most readings were consistently in the 1- to 2-inch range, as per the late-afternoon forecasts from Sterling. Here below is a sampling. There are more here.Snowstorm Jan. 8, 2010

The WeatherDeck in Cockeysville:  1.5 inches

BWI Marshall Airport:  1.7 inches

Crownsville, Anne Arundel:  2.1 inches

Long Green, Baltimore Co.:  2.0 inches 

Towson: 1.0 inch

Essex:  1.5 inches

Pimlico:  2.0 inches

Westminster, Carroll Co.: 1.8 inches

Waldorf, Charles Co.:  2.2 inchesUCAR

Frederick:  1.2 inches

Edgewood, Harford Co.:  2.0 inches

Columbia, Howard Co.:  1.9 inches

Great Mills, St. Mary's Co.:  2.2 inches

For the season to date, BWI has recorded 24.9 inches of snow, if I read it correctly. The long-term average is about 18 inches. 

Forecasters say there are still a few showers and flurries in the region. But they should be clearing out as the arctic cold front passes. Temperatures won't rise much today, and winds will pick up to 18 mph, with gusts to 35 mph, making it feel lots colder. Wind chills will dip into the teens. , and below zero in the western mountains, where snow showers will continue.

The good news is that we'll see plenty of sunshine this weekend and right into next week. But it will be cold, with weekend highs in the 20s (10 to 15 degrees below the average), and lows in the teens. Things begin to creep back toward the norms by Monday. 

(SUN PHOTO/Kim Hairston/Jan. 8, 2010)

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

January 7, 2010

Storm track "favors" northern counties

UPDATE:  The NWS seems to be backpedaling a bit on its snow forecast this afternoon. Meteorologists are now calling for 1-2 inches across northern Maryland, and only an inch south of Baltimore. The storm track appears to be turning more northward, through PA, which will invite drier air to push into our region sooner rather than later, cutting off the snow. Another inch could fall during rush hour. Earlier post below.    

Forecasters believe Maryland counties north and west of I-95 are likely to see more snow than Southern Maryland as the track of the approaching Alberta Clipper begins to emerge from successive runs of the forecast computers.

The NWS has issued Winter Weather Advisories until 10 a.m. Friday from Allegany County to Harford County, including Baltimore County and City, Howard and Montgomery counties. From Baltimore south, including Prince George's County, there is only Hazardous Weather Outlook, suggesting less snow and less disruptive conditions south of Baltimore.

Snow tieThat's pretty typical of these Alberta Clipper storms. They're relatively dry; they move quickly, and their snow trail is pretty narrowly focused.

The forecast for Baltimore calls for 1 to 3 inches of light, fluffy snow tonight, beginning mostly after 10 p.m. AccuWeather.comas temperatures drop into the mid-20s. The snow will continue into the morning rush hour, with another inch or so possible before it ends.

Here's AccuWeather.com's snow forecast map.

Here's Mr. Foot's forecast. He seems to be leaning toward a prediction that schools - at least in the northern counties - will close or delay: 

"It is highly probable many school systems affected by this snowfall may be delayed or closed. Snow will be falling at the crucial decision time of 4 to 5 AM. Were a large school system to announce a delay at 5:00 AM, there is only a 2 hour window delay during which a re-examination of conditions can occur. The 850 mb data clearly shows that by 7 am on Friday, the final shortwave now in Mississippi will not have cleared the region.

"Stormcasters and Student Collaborators are monitoring this system closely because it contains vigorous energy that will feature high liquid-to-snow ratios due to very cold air at upper levels. Will it be another case of "storms from the west don't bring extra rest?"  Tonight, prudent teachers and students will no doubt still do the right thing and get homework and lesson planning completed as usual."  NOAA/NWS

The snow will end quickly as the storm moves on toward New England, stopping first in the southern counties as the storm draws dry air - the "dry slot" - into the southern and eastern range of its center.

Behind it we'll see temperatures drop and winds accelerate, forecasters say. The weekend looks sunny but cold, in the 20s - that's 15 to 20 degrees below the average for this time of year- with overnight lows in the teens. Wind chills will be in single digits.

Out in Garrett County, where it has been snowing all week (21 inches this week at Wisp) , they're expecting another 7 to 11 inches from the clipper tonight. And the upslope, lake-effect snows will resume after the clipper passes by. Wind chills will fall to between 5 and 10 degrees below zero Saturday night. 

For the record, forecasters at Sterling are already mentioning another clipper-type storm for Tuesday of next week.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:16 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 6, 2010

Bracing for big BGE bills

All this cold weather, and talk of more to come, will have many of us dreading the arrival of our next utility bills. BGE is already anticipating our pain, with a release Wednesday reminding us of all the ways to ease the bite on our wallets, or at least spread it out, with links to a variety of resources.

Adjust the thermostatThe company is urging customers to switch to Budget Billing, to slide some of the high costs of winter heating (and summer cooling) into the more manageable spring and autumn months.

They're also warning us that many meters weren't read during last month's snowstorm, so some of us will receive estimated bills that could be higher (or, temporarily at least, lower) than we are expecting. And snow days had lots of us at home, running up the bills when we're usually off at school or work. That may increase our surprise when the tab arrives.

Heat pump users can also expect steep bills this month because of the high cost of running the units' auxilliary heating mechanisms.

There's more, including a list of tips on ways to lower your energy consumption. Click here.

(SUN PHOTO/Elizabeth Malby/Feb. 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:18 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 5, 2010

Need snow? Go west to wintry Garrett Co.

Marylanders who dread snow know why they live in the eastern part of the state. Easterners who love snow, and can't ever seem to get enough of it here, need to spend more time in Maryland's mountainous west. For, as cold and snowy as it's been here so far this winter, Garrett is where winter is really happening.

WISP web camI've never been able to find a reliable online measure for the season's snowfall in Garrett. But just a glance at their forecast this week, and at some of the web cam images from that region of the state (that's the WISP ski resort at left), leave no doubt that the place is getting loads of snow.

UPDATE: Just got this from Lori Epp, the director of marketing for WISP: "It's been snowing in Deep Creek Lake, Md. for seven days straight now, and no complaints from us folks at WISP."

ANOTHER UPDATE, 6 p.m.: A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for Garrett County until 1 p.m. Wednesday. They're expecting another foot of snow overnight at some higher elevations.

McHenry, near Deep Creek Lake, is expecting 3 to 5 inches of new snow today. The white stuff is blowing around in 18 mph west winds. There's more on tap - another 2 to 4 inches - in the forecast for Wednesday. And the snow-shower icons just keep coming through the end of the week. But don't forget your longjohns and your face masks. By Friday the overnight lows will drop into the single digits.

The cold Canadian air and snow - Baltimore could still see some flurries Tuesday - continue to beTides Online driven our way by north winds pumped between a counter-clockwise rotation around a stubborn low over northeastern Canada, and the clockwise rotation around a high west of the Great Lakes.

The persistently strong north winds have been driving the water out of the Chesapeake Bay, resulting in low tides one to two feet below forecast levels. (Red line at right shows actual tide levels; blue line shows predicted levels). They are recovering now as winds subside, but if you have any low-water photos, I'd love to see them.

And while the winds should be diminishing, and temperatures moderating (a little) this week, there is more wintry weather headed our way at week's end.

WISP resortForecasters out at Sterling are calling for a chance of snow Thursday afternoon and evening as a small disturbance sweeps around the edges of a new invasion of arctic air into the nation's midsection. Any accumulations will be light, they say. Prospects for the development of a coastal storm, and a more serious snowfall for Baltimore, seem to have disappeared. (You want snow? See above.)

The real news, once again this weekend, will be more below-normal cold temperatures and another round of high winds as the new, colder air mass arrives. The forecast for BWI calls for highs to drop below the freezing mark Thursday night and stay there until Monday. Overnight lows will reach the teens Friday night, and dip as low as 15 on Saturday night into Sunday.

(PHOTOS Courtesy of WISP resort) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:03 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 31, 2009

Two inches slicks up roads north, west of I-95

Just when we'd gotten rid of the snow pack from the Dec. 18-19 snowstorm, Mother Nature dropped another two inches across much of the region this morning. Accumulations were little more than 2 inches from Baltimore north and west, with only a fraction of that to the south and east. Here's a sampling from CoCoRaHS:New Year's Eve snowstorm Baltimore

Sykesville, Howard Co.:  2.7 inches

Towson: Baltimore Co.:  2.5 inches

Columbia, Howard Co.:  2.2 inches

Kingsville, Harford Co.:  2.1 inches

Jarrettsville, Harford Co.:  2.0 inches

Hamilton, Baltimore City:  2.0 inches

Mount Airy, Carroll Co.:  1.5 inches

Severn, Anne Arundel Co.:  0.3 inch

Bowie, Prince Geeorge's Co.:  0.1 inch

It wasn't much, but it seems to have fallen on cold pavement, with most of the old salt washed away by Christmas rains. The result was a slippery snow pack that hardened to ice beneath the weight of morning traffic.

North Charles and St. Paul streets were alternately snow-covered, icy or slushy this morning along much of their northern ranges. In the county, too, it looked like road crews got a late start at salting and plowing the rutty slush to the side.

There were lots of reports of early accidents. But if you cut your speeds and started braking early before lights and intersections, the commute (mine, at least) did not seem terribly problematic. Light traffic, with schools, some government offices and and businesses closed, certainly helped. Feel free to comment on road conditions and your commuting experience this morning.

Temperatures have moved up through the melting point again, and forecasters out at Sterling expect any further precipitation today will fall as rain or sleet. The highs should reach 40 degrees. More rain showers are possible tonight, and could threaten the fireworks displays. But that should end sometime Friday morning, with a chance we'll see sunshine before the afternoon is out on New Year's Day.

Then we're headed back into the freezer. Lows Friday night into Saturday will drop to the mid-20s. The highs Saturday into the middle of next week will remain stuck in the 30s, and lows overnight will fall back to near 20 degrees.

(SUN PHOTO/East Lombard Street/Jed Kirschbaum/Dec. 31, 2009)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:14 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 30, 2009

Winter Weather Advisories posted

The National Weather Service has posted Winter Weather Advisories for the entire state west of the Chesapeake Bay for early Thursday. That means we're in for "periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain [that] will cause travel difficulties" as the next storm approaches.

Ice storm in BaltimoreFrom I-95 south and east, they're calling for snow and sleet accumulations of up to an inch beginning after 4 a.m. Thursday, plus a "few hundredths of an inch" of glazing from the freezing rain.

Ick. Sounds worse than it did earlier today. I suspect they're being cautious. The good news is it should all turn back to rain by 10 a.m.

To the north and west of the urban corridor, the picture is a bit more, well, wintry. Out in Westminster, for example, the Winter Weather Advisory calls for 1 to 3 inches of snow and sleet on the ground before temperatures rise enough to change it back to rain late in the morning.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about all this, and about just what sort of precipitation will fall, where and for how long. But here's how they put it in this afternoon's discussion:

"WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR FREEZING RAIN IN THE MIX...HAVE GONE FOR A WINTER
WEATHER ADVISORY FOR ENTIRE [FORECAST AREA]. A FEW HOURS OF FREEZING RAIN ARE
POSSIBLE PARTICULARLY ALONG I-95 CORRIDOR /MET AND MAV [COMPUTER MODELS] SUGGEST SUBFREEZING TEMPS AT [PATUXENT NAVAL AIR STATION] SO A GLAZE IS POSSIBLE FOR MORE INLAND SECTIONS OF FAR SOUTHERN MARYLAND/. TOTAL [MOISTURE POTENTIAL] OF AROUND A QUARTER OF AN INCH IN A MIXED BAG OF WINTRY PRECIP INCLUDING ENDING WITH
RAIN. THUS...THE POTENTIAL FOR A MORE SIGNIFICANT EVENT IS LOW."

I'll go way out on a limb here and predict that area schools will be closed.

(SUN PHOTO/Gene Sweeney Jr./January 1999)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:55 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 28, 2009

Another dance with the snow/rain line ahead

The snow icons are back in the National Weather Service forcast for the end of the week. But then, so are the rain icons. Looks like the next coastal storm to flirt with the mid-Atlantic region could bring us more snow AND more rain before the weekend arrives.NWS

It's still too early to know for sure where this storm will go, and how its eventual track up the coast will affect Central Maryland. The models aren't in agreement yet and the forecasters are still being cautious.

The National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, for now, is calling for snow on Wednesday nioght and again Thursday night, with a changeover to rain during the day on Thursday and rain and snow showers on Friday.

For now, the forecast discussion from Sterling has the storm developing off the Carolina coast by Thursday, with precipitation developing ahead of the storm, spreading into our region as snow late Wednesday night into Thursday morning. It would change over to rain during the day Thursday east of the I-95 corridor, changing back to snow Thursday night into Friday as colder air is drawn into the system from the north.

Several computer models then bring a second low into the picture from the Great Lakes, with another round of snow or rain showers on Friday.

Mr. Foot and his team seem pretty confident we'll see some wintry mix out of this storm system, but less confident that it will amount to a major (4 inches or more) event. On the other hand, they say, we remain in a pattern of coastal storms and cold air invasions that will have us dodging snowstorms for much of the winter.AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather.com keeps the serious snowfall well to our north (right), in the snow belt from the Great Lakes to New England. 

Snow lovers can take heart. We still have a lot of time this winter for more powder. January and February are our snowiest months, and I always count on the middle of February - especially the second week of February - for our biggest snow of the season.

Sorry I was away for the big Christmas rain. We clocked 1.5 inches here on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. It managed to wash all the salt and grime off my car, which I cleverly had detailed just before the storm. And it thankfully melted all the snow and ice we had piled behind our (vacationing) neighbors' cars. NOAA/NWS

The airport recorded an official 1.75 inches on the 25th and 26th.

That added rainfall broke the all-time record (going back to 1871) for Baltimore precipitation in December. The total through Sunday is 7.67 inches, breaking the previous record of 7.44 inches, set in 1969. (Thanks to Fred Weiss for alerting me to the new record.) Here are the stats:

2009:  7.67 inches *

1969:  7.44 inches

1936:  7.10 inches

1901:  7.07 inches

For the year, we have now recorded 55.18 inches of precipitation, 13 inches above the average for an entire year, with another storm to come. (The surplus is in dark green on the chart. Vertical line are months.)

The total is still well short of the wettest year on record, which was 62.66 inches, in 2003. But 2009 promises to finish in the top six, even after a very dry start:

2003:  62.66 inches

1889:  62.36 inches

1979:  58.98 inches

1996:  58.31 inches

1952:  56.57 inches

2009:  55.18 inches *

* Through Dec. 27 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:06 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 22, 2009

Ice or flooding on Christmas; take your pick

As much as we may be enjoying this very white (and very rare for Baltimore) lead-up to Christmas, it does not look like our luck will hold through the holiday itself. 

National Weather Service forecasters are beginning to make increasingly worrisome noises about freezing rain and sleet on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day if temperatures at the surface stay cold enough. And if they don't, we can still count on plenty of rain - as much as an inch as things look now - on top of a still-pretty-hefty snow pack. And that will mean lots of melting and urban flooding where drainage is slowed by snow, ice and blocked drains. Ice storm Dec. 2002

For now, high pressure is dominating our weather. We have a pretty stubborn cloud cover, but the barometer is rising, and temperatures look like they may flirt with 40 degrees today. We may begin to see some breaks in the clouds late in the day. 

Once the skies clear, and the cold air arriving from the northwest begins to be felt, we will see temperatures drop again. The overnight low Tuesday night is forecast to reach the teens. Wednesday is expected to be sunny, with the high not much better than freezing. Wednesday night will be even colder, forecasters say, with a low at BWI near 17 degrees.

So you'd think, with all this cold air arriving, that the storm headed our way for Thursday night and Friday would bring snow for Christmas. But noooooo.

Forecasters at Sterling believe the powerful low forecasted to move out of the Missouri Valley on Thursday will pass by to our west as it heads into the Great Lakes region. The counter-clockwise flow around the low will draw mild, wet air into our region from the south. Once here, it will be forced up over the cold air ensconced at the surface (called "cold air damming"). And depending on how much of that cold air is in place over your head, the precipitation will fall as sleet, freezing rain or rain by Christmas morning.

Here's a snippet from this morning's forecast discussion from Sterling:

"Models depict surface temperatures rising above freezing by late Friday morning most areas, though high pressure at the surface looks strong enough  to hinder erosion of cold air damming. Potential for significant rain on FRiday, with up to 1 inch. Still have [high temperature forecast] in upper 30s Friday. But depending on strength of the cold air damming, icing could be an issue through most of the day, especially west of the Blue Ridge. If temperatures warm enough, then melting snow combined with rain pose flood risk as well."

Nice. AccuWeather.com

Mr. Foot's student forecast team is even gloomier about the prospects: "All travelers, public safety officials, emergency managers, airport officials and anyone else with "plans" for 12/25 need to monitor this situation extremely closely."

Here (and at left) is AccuWeather.com's take on the ice storm. The red dots are where they believe the risk of power outages is high.

On Saturday, forecasters expect a cold front to move through behind the storm, with falling temperatures and possibly a changeover in whatever precipitation remains to snow.

(SUN PHOTO/Amy Davis/Ice storm Dec. 11, 2002)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:46 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 19, 2009

Snow tops two feet in Va., one foot in Md.

Snow accumulations across the region were moving toward record territory just before noon on Saturday. Some locations in Virginia had reached two feet, which 12-inch counts were posted for parts of Maryland.

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.: Looks like the Blizzard Warnings have been lifted across the region. We remain under a Winter Storm Warning, in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday, with total accumulations of 12 to 18 inches expected.

UPDATE 8 p.m.:  BWI staffers have remeasured their snowfall for this storm. It now comes to 16 inches, making this the deepest December snowfall on record for Baltimore, going back to the start of official record-keeping in 1883.

At BWI, the station of record for Baltimore, the measurement was 9 inches at 11 a.m. And the storm, forecasters said, was just starting to intensify as the low approached the Virginia coast.

Here are some samples from the accumulation reports posted by the National Weather Service.WeatherDeck snow 3:30 p.m.

Fishersville, Augusta Co., Va.:  24.5 inches 

Covesville, Albemarle County, Va.:  22.3 inches

Huntingtown, Calvert Co., Md.: 12 inches

Taneytown, Carroll Co.:  12 inches

Owings Mills, Baltimore Co., Md.:  11.5 inches

Annapolis, Anne Arundel Co.:  10.5 inches

Garrison, Baltimore Co.:  9.9 inches

WeatherDeck, Cockeysville: 9 inches

Jacksonville, Baltimore Co.:  7.0 inches

Baltimore City:  7.5 inches

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: The snow on the WeatherDeck (photo) has now topped 14 inches. 

The snow has turned to heavy rain down at Ocean City, where residents are under a Coastal Flood Warning, a Hazardous Weather Outlook, a Winter Weather Advisory and a High Surf Advisory. The rain will change back to snow before ending, forecasters said.

Continue reading "Snow tops two feet in Va., one foot in Md." »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:05 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Blizzard Warning up from Arundel, south

A potentially record-breaking December snowstorm is expected to escalate to blizzard proportions in Southern Maryland today, including Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St.NWS/NOAA Mary's counties.

UPDATE 9:30 a.m.: The Blizzard Warning (orange on map) has been expanded to include Harford, Howard, Baltimore, Montgomery counties and Baltimore City.

The National Weather Service issued Blizzard Warnings early this morning for that region, meaning that forecasters expect low temperatures, strong winds and blowing snow will combine to whiteout  conditions that will make travel "extremely dangerous":

"Do not travel. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle."

Some will have no choice. At BWI this morning, where they were reporting 6 inches on the ground:

"BWI has had all hands on deck since last night," said Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport.. Dean said dozens of flights were canceled starting last night, though a few are taking off and landing.
Airport crews are plowing runways and working to clear roads and access points, he said. The airport encourages travelers to check with their airlines before starting to drive to catch a flight, he said.
"We don't want people on the roads unnecessarily."
The storm has postponed the Ravens/Bears game. Seems the Bears' flight from Chicago was cancelled. There's more at the Ravens Insider Blog.

The National Weather Service's definition of blizzard conditions includes sustained winds of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 500 feet in falling or blowing snow, all lasting for at least three hours. Temperatures aren't an official part of the definition, but when all the other criteria are met, temperatures are likely to be below freezing anyway. And it's enough to issue a warning.Weatherdeck in Cockeysville The decision to issue the warning reflects the strong winds near the bay, not heavier snow, forecasters said.

Snow accumulations had already topped 8 and even 10 inches by daybreak today in parts of Charles and Anne Arundel counties. here's a sampling:

Bryan's Road, Charles Co.:  10 inches

Annapolis, Anne Arundel:  8.8 inches

Garrison, Baltimore Co.:  6 inches

Tracey's Landing, Calvert:  7 inches.

You get the picture. We have over 5 inches now on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. And the forecast has the snow continuing overnight Saturday into Sunday. The heaviest snow rates are expected between  8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.

Accumulations across the region are forecast to reach 1 to 2 feet before it's all over in the Baltimore-Washington area. That would break all December records for both cities. The record snowstorm for Baltimore was a two-day snow that dropped 14.1 inches in 1960. The snowiest December in Baltimore was in 1966, when 20 inches fell.

Here's more from the weather service:

"HEAVIEST SNOWFALL AREA WILL MOVE FROM THE CENTRAL SHENANDOAH VALLEY UP TOWARDS DC/BALTIMORE...WHERE IT WILL CONTINUE TO SNOW HEAVILY THROUGHOUT THE DAY. TOTALS NEAR 2 FEET POSSIBLE WES OF CHARLOTTESVILLE, WHERE 15" WAS REPORTED AT 1 AM...AND BY THE END OF TONIGHT NEAR 20" IN THE I-95 CORRIDOR.

"BELIEVE SNOW WILL BECOME LIGHT TONIGHT IN THE SOUTHWEST...BUT EXPECTED TO CONTINUE AT A MODERATE PACE IN I-95 CORRIDOR DURING THE EVENING HOURS. TEMPS OVERNIGHT IN 20S ACROSS THE [FORECAST AREA] - WIND CHILLS IN THE TEENS."

This storm is not to be trifled with. That National Weather Service reminds us all:

1. Travel is not recommended on Saturday. Avoid traveling alone, take a survival kit and let someone know where you're going and the route you plan to follow.

2. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle. Run the motor 10 minutes every hour for heat, but open the window for fresh air. make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow and ice.

3. If you use a portable generator, keep the area around it well-ventilated. Do NOT use it in the house or in an attached garage.

4. Do not try to shovel snow unless you are physically fit. Hydrate yourself often with water and take frequent breaks.

5. Make sure your pets and livestock are sheltered and have plenty to eat and drink.

6. Listen to NOAA Weather radio. Stay informed.

Here's a snow forecast map from WeatherBug.com:

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance/WeatherDeck station)

Continue reading "Blizzard Warning up from Arundel, south" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:20 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 18, 2009

Storm warning bumped to 10 to 20 inches

No sooner do I get the last post - about "forecast creep" in the accumulation predictions from Sterling - and the National Weather Service bumps its accumulation forecast for the coming storm to 10 to 20 inches. Sheesh.

A noon update to the Winter Storm Warning issued overnight for the state calls for the snow to begin  between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. tonight, with snow continuing throughout the the day Saturday and into early Sunday. The heaviest snow is expected to fall between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. So much for the Christmas shopping.

Temperatures will stick in the upper 20s to low 30s throughout the day, so we should expect an all-snow event for the most part. (There has been some talk of an injection of warmer air into the storm as it cranks up, but I don't see that in the forecast.)

Add all that up and they're now talking about 10 to 20 inches of snow for Baltimore before it all ends. The special bonus will be the winds - 10 to 20 mph, with gusts of 25 to 30 mph, which will keep the snow moving around after its plowed and reduce visibility. Travel, as they say, will be "extremely treacherous."

Did I mention coastal flooding? The deep low-pressure system and prolonged northeast winds will drive Chesapeake Bay water onto the western Shore. Expect some minor coastal flooding in the usual low spots. Nothing like they're seeing from this storm in Florida today.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:27 PM | | Comments (52)
Categories: Winter weather
        

NWS: 5 to 10 inches, maybe more

As often happens just before Maryland's biggest snowstorms, the National Weather Service's snowfall predictions continued to creep upward on Friday. The first predictions were issued with Thursday's Winter Storm Watch, and they mentioned "more than 5 inches." Feb. 11-12, 2006 Baltimore snowstorm

The Winter Storm Warnings issued overnight for the entire state advise residents to prepare for 5 to 10 inches, with "locally higher amounts possible, mainly in or near Southern Maryland."

The forecast for BWI during the daytime on Saturday now calls for 7 to 11 inches. Add in the 1 to 2 inches expected before dawn Saturday, and you get 8 to 13 inches.

Looking back, it seems to me that is a pattern for the forecasters out at Sterling. They tend to be cautious and conservative with these snow predictions, as they should be, given their responsibilities. As the really big storms close in, and our fate becomes inevitable, they begin to adjust their forecasts, and you can see the numbers begin to climb. Perhaps that's appropriate caution. Perhaps it's driven by sound science.

But it sometimes also seems to leaves them lagging behind some of the commercial and amateur forecasters, who seem to revel in the possibilities on the high side. It's good for ratings. It's good for click counts. It becomes the buzz.

And that's what seems to be playing out this morning. As Sterling weighs each model run, and forecasters add in their own knowledge and experience, their accumulation numbers begin to creep higher. Elsewhere, in the meantime, some broadcasters and commercial forecasters are AccuWeather.comtalking about one to two feet of snow.

AccuWeather.com's headline this morning (if you can get to it; the site is very slow) warns of "a very disruptive Mid-Atlantic Blizzard." Its snow map (left) shows Baltimore in the 6 to 12-inch band. But blogger Henry Margusity is calling for 12 to 18 inches in Washington (and presumably Baltimore). Some of the computer models last night were even scarier, suggesting an historic dump of 24 to 36 inches.

Baltimore, at least, has never had a 36-inch snowstorm, so I think we can dismiss that as likely fantasy for us. In the mountains, maybe. Southwestern Virginia could see two feet in spots. But not here.

That said, it does look like we are in for a memorable storm. It could well be the biggest since the Feb. 11-12 snowfall in 2006 (photo above) that left 13.1 inches at the airport. If some of the higher predictions prove accurate, it could become the biggest snowfall since the record storm in February 2003, that piled up 28 inches at the airport and paralyzed the region for days.

Even a foot of snow, on top of the inch (officially, at BWI) that fell Dec. 5, and this would become the snowiest December since 1966, when 20.4 inches fell at the airport, still a record for the month. It would also become the fifth-snowiest December since record-keeping began in 1883.

December isn't often a snowy month in Baltimore. The long-term average snowfall in December is just 1.7 inches. Our snowiest months, on average, are January (7 inches) and February (6.4 inches). Here are the "snowiest December" numbers to watch as the snow piles up Saturday on your sidewalk:

December 1966:  20.4 inches

December 1904:  17.1 inches

December 1960:  15.6 inches

December 1932:  14.7 inches

(SUN PHOTO/John Makely/Feb. 12, 2006)

Continue reading "NWS: 5 to 10 inches, maybe more" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:50 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 17, 2009

Weekend snowstorm now looks likely

The National Weather Service forecasters out in Sterling have finally come around, raising the snow chances for Central Maryland to 80 percent for Saturday. They're still uncertain how much moisture, and therefore how much snow, the storm will produce here. But, apparently, snow it will. Winter weather advisories, or watches, could begin to appear in the forecast this afternoon.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: The National Weather Service has posted a Winter Storm Watch for all of Maryland, from late Friday night until late Saturday night. At least 5 inches of snow is expected, with more possible. AccuWeather.com is calling for 8 to 12 inches from Washington to Dover, Del. The earlier post resumes below.

Snow fans and school kids should check out Mr. Foot's forecast. He's talking about 8 to 12 inches, with some impact on school schedules on Monday.

As we've said, there will be plenty of cold air in place. There's a low-pressure system parked over AccuWeather.comNova Scotia, and the counter-clockwise rotation around that low is pulling a steady stream of cold air around the western side and pumping it into the Northeast. That will make it cold enough for this storm to be all snow here, with a rain/snow line - this time- well to our south and east.

The real snow-maker will be the low that is cranking up over the Gulf of Mexico. It will track east, providing another drenching for the Deep South. Then it will emerge off the southeast Atlantic coast early Saturday and begin to head north and east.

Circulation around that low will begin to pump Gulf and Atlantic moisture our way. The main snow band on the AccuWeather.com maps (that's one possible scenario, above) runs from western North Carolina, straight up the I-95 corridor to Boston. Here's another from AccuWeather's Henry Margusity, showing that he believes 3 to 6 inches could fall here.

The snow is likely to start falling here in the wee hours of Saturday morning, if the forecast holds up. Highs on Saturday will hover near freezing, so we should see some snow all day, continuing into early Sunday morning.

It's supposed to stay cold early next week, and there is some chatter about a Christmas storm. Could we have a rare Baltimore white Christmas? Stay tuned.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:17 AM | | Comments (29)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 10, 2009

Cold has already claimed 4 lives in Md.

Four Marylanders have died already this autumn under circumstances in which cold weather has played a role.

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Thursday the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled that hypothermia - low body temperature - was a contributing factor in the deaths of a Baltimore woman on Nov. 21; a Montgomery County man a week later; an Anne Cold and homeless in BaltimoreArundel County man on Nov. 30, and a Baltimore County woman on Dec. 4.

There was no information on the other circumstances surrounding these deaths. But in past years, health authorities have said that most deaths involving hypothermia also involve such factors as advanced age, alcohol consumption, cardiovascular disease and dementia.

These four deaths were the first, but more are sure to follow. Last year the state counted 54 deaths involving hypothermia.

"Just a little preparation and common sense will keep you and your family safe and warm during the days and nights of sub-freezing temperatures this winter," said Maryland Health Secretary John M. Colmers. "We can save lives in severe weather by keeping our eyes open and checking our friends and neighbors, especially seniors.

Deaths from hypothermia do not require extremely low, or even freezing temperatures, only exposure to the cold, even indoors due to inadequate, failed or unused heating systems. The days on which these four Marylanders died were not particularly cold for this time of year. Here are the highs and lows at BWI for each of the deaths.

Nov. 21:  High 58  Low 39

Nov. 28:  High 50  Low 34

Nov. 30:  High 58  Low 38

Dec. 4:  High 48  Low 34 

The average highs for these dates are in the low 50s; the average lows are in the low 30s.

This weekend promises the coldest weather so far this season, with a low of 19 degrees forecast for Friday night into Saturday morning.

(SUN PHOTO/Kenneth K. Lam 1994) 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:42 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 7, 2009

Official snow total for Baltimore: 1 inch

 NOAA/NWS

The official measurement on Saturday's snowstorm for Baltimore came to a whopping 1 inch. The National Weather Service's station of record for the city is at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, which was on the rainier, warmer side of this very varied storm.

But the snowfall map issued Monday by the forecast office in Sterling shows what we all already know - that the totals north and west of the airport were considerably deeper. Some locations within Sterling's forecast area reported as much as 8 or 9 inches of snow.

Parts of Carroll and Montgomery counties measured 6 and 7 inches. Locations closer to Baltimore ranged from an inch near the city, to 5 inches in the western suburbs of Baltimore County. Here are some more reports from across the region, from CoCoRaHS. Be sure to change the date to Dec. 6, and click on "New Snow." Some highlights:Gregory Hill, Owings Mills

Clarksburg, Montgomery Co.:  7.5 inches

Sykesville, Howard Co.:  6 inches

Mt. Airy, Carroll Co.: 5.5 inches

Ellicott City, Howard Co.: 4.1 inches

Cockeysville, Baltimore Co.:  3.1 inches

Severn, Anne Arundel Co.:  2.5 inches

Bowie, Prince George's Co.:  2.5 inches

Hamilton, Baltimore City:  1.1 inch

The distances between hardly any snow and considerable accumulations were often quite small. We had less than 2 inches on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, but when we went to see friends for dinner in May's Chapel Saturday evening, they had what looked like 4 inches on their front yard.

And that's pretty much what forecasters had led us to expect. In fact, the forecasting on this quirky storm seems to have been quite good as it approached - from the timing, to the predicted accumulations, to the sharp differences in snow totals across small distances. Well done, Sterling.

(Photo courtesy of Gregory Hill, Owings Mills. Taken Sunday morning.)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:55 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 5, 2009

Snow is winding down

NOAA 

Well now, wasn't that a nice little snowstorm? With the snow winding down across the region, the coastal low moving off, and the barometer bottoming out, it looks like we're about done. There's about 1.75 inches out on the WeatherDeck. The grass is white but the walks and roads around Pumpkin in snowhere are just wet or slushy.

All the same, there were kids out on the hill at Greenwood, on North Charles Street. The sledding looked a bit sticky and slow, but hey ... you take what you can get around here.

Here are some snow measurements from around the region, some of them taken earlier in the day. The local winner appears to be Woodlawn, with 5 inches. Feel free to send in comments with your own reports.

Skies should begin to clear off tonight, and we'll have sunshine on Sunday. This stuff should be gone quickly.

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:31 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 4, 2009

A little snow, a little rain, a little snow on Dec. 5

UPDATE: The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory from the Western Shore to Allegany County. Expect 1 to 2 inches of snow Saturday in Baltimore. Points north and west of the urban corridor could see 2 to 4 inches; to the south and east, little to no accumulation. Earlier post below. 

Another storm spinning up in the eastern Gulf of Mexico is expected to be off the Carolina coast by Saturday morning, raising the chances for some snow in Baltimore on Dec, 5. That would be the sixth time that's happened in the past eight years (or the seventh, if you factor in the Leap Year in 2008, when a trace of snow was noted at BWI on the 6th).

The forecast this morning calls for a "slight chance" for rain at BWI after 3 a.m. Saturday morning, changing to snow by dawn, then "rain and snow likely" between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The precipitation would change back to all snow by late afternoon, continuing into the evening - if the AccuWeather.comforecast holds up. The chances, for now, are put at 80 percent.

AccuWeather.com, as we've come to expect, puts an edgier spin on the forecast, calling for 1 to 3 inches west of I-95, with travel delays, wet-to-slushy highways. (Map at left.) For a calmer analysis, check out Mr. Foot's forecast. He sees an inch. Maybe.

From there - Sunday through Tuesday - things look sunny, with highs in the 40s and lows near freezing.

Once again, precisely what happens Saturday, where it happens and when, will all depend on a delicate balance of timing, the storm track up the coast, and the interplay of temperatures aloft, where the snow will form, and near the surface.

Forecasters say it will "definitely" be cold enough to form the snow aloft as the counter-clockwise spin of winds around the storm draws cold air into our region from the north. But temperatures at the surface will range from the middle 30s in the western suburbs, to the lower 40s in Southern Maryland. On balance, expect flakes in the air west of the cities, and a rain/snow mix east of the urban corridor. For BWI, forecasters are predicting "less than one inch" of accumulation.

Nothing to worry about; just another Dec. 5 with flakes in the air, and perhaps a hint of snowier days to come.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:43 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 29, 2009

Will we get snow on Dec. 5?

It's that time of year again, when the WeatherBlog speculates about the chances for snow on Dec, 5. Why Dec. 5?

Well, because we've noticed a curious pattern - or coincidence - about some of the earliest snowfalls in Baltimore. It's just this: In five of the last seven years, Baltimore-Washington First snow WeatherDeckInternational Thurgood Marshall Airport has recorded snow - at least a trace of snow - on Dec. 5. And it's snowed in six of the last seven years if you fudge the criteria a bit and include Dec. 6.

Here are the stats:

2008:  None  (but we got 0.6 inch on the 6th)

2007:  4.7 inches

2006:  Trace

2005:  1.4 inches (and another 1.9 inches on the 6th)

2004:  None (something went terribly wrong)

2003:  3.0 inches (and another 3.8 inches on the 6th)

2002:  7.4 inches (and a trace on the 6th).

Okay, so there's probably no real science attached to this. Call it folklore. Local folklore (it sounds nice coming off the tongue). But it fits in nicely with the season, and our inevitable anticipation of the first snowfalls.

That said, the long-range forecast for Saturday (the 5th) is not very promising: Mostly sunny with a high of 42 degrees. We may need to call for a pajama campaign to pull it off this year. Kids? Better turn those jammies inside-out this week.

If anyone has some other family snow charms that have worked for you in the past, let's hear about them. Looks like we're going to need them this year.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:07 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 24, 2009

Snow/rain mix possible here Friday night

As if the weather outside your window weren't gloomy enough, now forecasters out at Sterling have inserted the words "rain/snow mix as far east as I-95" into their morning forecast discussion.

That prediction is for Friday night, as a low-pressure system spinning counter-clockwise over New England pulls cold air into our region on north winds. It's the first mention this season, I think, of the possibility of flakes in the air in Central Maryland. And so, it begins.

Rain on I-83Before we get to Friday, of course, we are looking at more rain, drizzle and fog, at least into the early afternoon today. That's the doing of a coastal low that is now moving away from the region.

Weak high pressure is building into the region already, but it is not expected to drive off the low cloud cover. Drizzle and rain may persist overnight near the bay, while diminishing farther west.

The next coastal low is expected to develop Wednesday. This one appears likely to stay farther off shore, but forecasters say we will remain in line for still more showers and drizzle into Thanksgiving Day.

It's the passage of the next cold front that will turn our weather colder and breezier by late Thursday and Friday. North winds and dropping temperatures are forecast to change rain to snow in the Potomac Highlands late on Thanksgiving Day, and to a rain/snow mix as far east as the Blue Ridge.

By Friday night the cold air will have made it to Central Maryland, with an overnight low around 35 degrees Friday into Saturday. That's when we may see some snow mixed in with our rain.BWI/Nov. rain

Farther west, the snow will start to accumulate, and the National Weather Service is expressing "increasing confidence" in a need to issue some Winter Weather Advisories for Maryland's western counties by then. If you're driving west for Thanksgiving at Deep Creek Lake, or Pittsburgh or to visit relatives in West Virginia, pay attention to the forecasts.

Sunshine? You want sunshine? Hang on until the weekend. We should see some blue sky on Saturday. Sunday and Monday look better, too. Then the next storm system moves in.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:48 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 23, 2009

NWS: Moderate El Nino winters can be Md.'s snowiest

For those readers hoping for a snowy winter this year after a series of disappointments, there is hopeful news Monday morning out of the National Weather Service's Sterling forecast office. (Likewise, for those who loathe the ice and slush, dangers and inconvenience of wintery weather, these will be discouraging words.)

Forecaster Jared Klein has done a statistical analysis of winters since 1950 and has found 17 winters that were influenced by the El Nino phenomenon in the tropical Pacific, like this one is expected to be. The long and short of it, says Chris Strong, also at Sterling:

NOAA/NWS"With moderate strength El Nino's [like this one] we have statistically the greatest chance of above-normal snowfall."

What they're saying is that not all El Nino winters are alike for the mid-Atlantic states. Some will be snowy; some not. Here's how they tend to break down, according to Klein:

* On average, weak El Nino winters bring below-average temperatures and below-average precipitation. Not generally conducive to lots of snow.

* Strong El Ninos, on average, bring us above-normal temperatures and precipitation. The cold air tends to remain well to our north, so most of the precipitation falls as rain rather than snow.

Moderate El Ninos, on the other hand, seem to offer the greatest statistical chance that moisture and storms passing across the southern U.S. will "seed" the Atlantic coastal storms that tend to bring us our deepest snowfalls. We've already seen plenty of coastal storms this fall, including the big one last week that battered OC's dune line, and another one today.

Nothing is guaranteed, of course. There are other shorter- and longer-term climate patterns - Snowstorm 1996including the North Atlantic Oscillation - that can determine whether there will be, for example, enough cold air in place to make snow-makers out of the coastal storms.

That helps to explain why, of the 17 El Nino winters since 1950, eight produced above-normal snowfalls, while nine were below-normal. (Weak La Nina winters can produce big snow, too, as it did in January 1996, right, although that's less common.)

Still, there is plenty to look forward to this time, Klein said. "The above-average El Nino winters have been associated with some of our snowiest winters, especially during moderate El Nino episodes. With the ongoing El Nino episode expected to continue, even strengthen to moderate levels this winter, El Nino will likely play an important role with the winter climate here in the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area."

Among the most memorable snowstorms in El Nino winters was the Feb. 11, 1983 storm that dropped 22.8 inches on Baltimore. Then there were three storms in 1987: Jan. 22 (12.3 inches), Jan. 25 (9.6 inches), and Feb. 22, (10.1 inches).

Here is another summary of the El Nino effect on Baltimore snowfall, also from the NWS at Sterling:

"El Niño winters in the Baltimore Region mean a milder than normal December. They also tend to be all or nothing when it comes to snowfall. Either there are no significant snow storms and season snow totals average less than 5 inches or there is a tendency toward multiple snow storms with seasonal totals above 30 inches.  These storms usually occur in January and February. November, December, and March often see little or no snow."

Here are still more statistics on Baltimore snow and ice.

Continue reading "NWS: Moderate El Nino winters can be Md.'s snowiest" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:06 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 10, 2009

Reader recalls early 1953 snowstorm

Last week I wrote a brief comment on the print weather page about the early snowstorm that paralyzed Baltimore back on Nov. 6-7, 1953. I wondered if anyone would remember the storm, which was the earliest "heavy" (four inches or more) snowfall in Baltimore weather records.

This week I received the following note from Joan Parr, who clearly did. She writes:

1953 SNOWSTORM"Mr. Roylance:

"If my memory serves me right, the storm you mentioned in your blog (on Friday, Nov. 6. 2009)  was indeed a traffic-snarler.  Drivers acted as if they had never seen snow before, and they just kept moving, right into intersections, creating gridlock. 

"This storm was, I believe, the impetus for Baltimore City to lure Henry Barnes away from Denver to come and make sense of our streets and traffic lights.  He did a very good job; one of his legacies which still exist in Baltimore is the "Barnes Dance,"  where all vehicular traffic is stopped and pedestrians are free to walk across the streets unobstructed by cars and trucks.

"Thank you for the reminder of that storm.    Joan K. Parr "   

(SUN PHOTO/Nov. 6, 1953/Cecil County)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 8, 2009

Mr. Foot sees "smackdown" storm coming

I missed this when it appeared last week. Some kind of problem with my "Favorites" list. Anyway, Mr. Foot, a Baltimore County science teacher and Maryland weather watcher much-consulted by county teachers and students eager for a snow break in winter time, is forecasting a "smackdown" storm here by mid-month.

Says he: David Hobby/Sun Photo

"I've maintained a position that the atmosphere is primed and ready to deliver, all we wait for now is "Only Time." I realize we haven't dug out the Thanksgiving decorations yet, but I can't resist the urge to tell you that before long, we will be reveling in the sight of "White in the Winter Night."

Here's the sequence for his early-season prognostications:

11/01-09: A mild to cool period then brief warmup

 * 11/10-15: Possible outbreak of Arctic air on or before 11/15

 * In same week, a "smackdown" storm with snow at the onset

 * 11/15-25: "yo-yo" period of below then above-normal temps

 * 11/25-12/5: Seasonal temps leading to kickoff event by 12/5.

To read the rest of his forecast, visit his blog, here.

(SUN PHOTO/David Hobby/McHenry, Md., October 2006)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:23 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

November 2, 2009

Amaze your friends with Baltimore winter trivia

1994 ice storm in BaltimoreI know it's too early in the season to be amusing readers with winter weather data. But the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling has posted a compendium of winter weather facts for Baltimore, Washington and Dulles Airport, and it's a fun read if you're into Baltimore's annual love/hate relationship with snow, cold and ice.

For example:

1. What was the iciest winter in recent Baltimore weather history?

2. How many of the deepest snowstorms in Baltimore have occurred since your Weather Blogger moved here from Massachusetts in 1980? Is that my fault?

3. What was the snowiest month in Baltimore history?

4. How long has it been since Baltimore (BWI) experienced sub-zero temperatures? How many times have we dipped below zero since 1960?

5. How many times per winter, on average, does Baltimore get a snowfall of 4 inches or more?

For answers to these questions and more, click here. There's more here. And you can contemplate the role of El Nino in Baltimore winters, here.

(SUN PHOTO/Mark Bugnaski/Ice storm, Baltimore, January 1994)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

October 14, 2009

AccuWeather.com: Cold, snowy winter ahead

If AccuWeather.com's chief meteorologist is right, Maryland is in for the coldest, snowiest winter we've seen since the memorable - and snow-choked - winter of 2002-2003.

A "fading" El Nino, and a shift to a warm phase of the "Pacific Decadal Oscillation" will combine with "other factors," Joe Bastardi said, to shift the worst of this winter's weather from the Midwest, where it was concentrated last winter, to the mid-Atlantic states.

(Others, including meteorologist Joe D'Aleo, former director of meteorology at The Weather Channel, note that this "shift" in the PDO is a temporary "spike" that will quickly reverse, and the PDO will resume its much longer "cool phase.")

Bastardi did not hestitate to predict Baltimore's winter for us. "Twenty-five inches at BWI, and 2.7 degrees below normal," he said, placing his bets on the Blizzard of 2003 in Baltimoreseason's total snowfall at the airport and the average temperature for the winter at BWI.

Bastardi's early winter forecast, out this morning, is among the first of the season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its first winter forecast on Thursday morning.

The average snowfall for Baltimore for the 30-year period from 1971 to 2000 was 18.2 inches, and we've only topped that once since the big snows of 2002-03, and even then it was by less than an inch-and-a-half.

And Bastardi isn't predicting anything like the 58 inches the airport recorded that year. But, a snow total of 25 inches this winter would seem like a lot of snow after six winters in a row with less. The last two winters combined produced less than 18 inches of snow.

On the other hand, he said, "It has the potential to get there [55 inches]; don't get me wrong."

Among the "other factors" he takes into account, in addition to El Nino and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, are the prevailing weather conditions and how they compare with past winters - winter analogs. Looking at those, he sees similarities between this year's patterns and those that prevailed during the winters of 1976-77, which was very cold, and 1977-78, which saw 34 inches of snow at BWI. 

He also saw a resemblance to the winter of 1957-58, which brought 43 inches of snow to Baltimore and very wintry weather in February and March. Another "analog" he includes in his "package" is the winter of 1965-66, with 32 inches of snow.

"There are some very heavy hitters coming to the plate," Bastardi said.

His seasonal forecast predicts that cities such as Boston, New York and Philadelphia will get above-normal snowfall, with 75 percent of it coming in two or three big storms. Snowfall in parts of the Appalachians could total 50 to 100 inches. Areas from Atlanta to Charlotte could also see snow this year as the storm track brings wintry weather across the South and up the Eastern Seaboard, with nor'easters from Hatteras to New Jersey.

As for when the bad weather will hit Maryland, Bastardi thinks it will get off to a late start. "I would say that we will remember more what happens in January and February than in December." He predicts a "threat of 30 to 45 days of outstanding winter weather, with two or three snowstorms and temperatures averaging more than five degrees below normal for two or three weeks in the heart of winter."

He noted that this year's early October snowfall in central Pennsylvania is a reminder of similar early snows in October 2002, and in other winters in his analog "package."

"All those winters have the same characteristics," he said.

So what was Bastardi's October forecast for last winter?

"One of the coldest winters in several years across much of the East," he said through Ken Reeves, a co-author on that forecast a year ago this month. And snowfall? "Probably somewhere in the mid- to upper-teens. Maybe around 20 inches," he said, with an early "rude slap" coming in December.

We ended the winter with 9.1 inches of snow for the season, and temperatures 2 degrees above normal. December, too, was almost 2 degrees warmer than normal, with just 0.6 inch of snow. No "rude slap."

(SUN PHOTO/Karl Merton Ferron/February 2003)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 9:00 AM | | Comments (25)
Categories: Winter weather
        

October 9, 2009

Obama + Nobel Prize = Snow?!

2003 blizzard 

From the brains of AccuWeather.com archivists comes the following insight: In years past, when American presidents have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the following winters have been cold and snowy in the Northeast.

Not sure what the science behind this phenomenon could possibly be. Coincidence, maybe?

Whatever, here's the short version:

1906: Theodore Roosevelt wins the award. The winter of 1906-1907 brings a severe February nor'easter to the coast and as much as 10 inches of snow between Feb. 4 and 6.

1919: Woodrow Wilson wins the Nobel, and January 1920 brings ice, sleet and snow to the Northeast. In February, 4-7, heavy snow drops from Maine to Virginia.

2002: Jimmy Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and the winter of 2002-2003 brings the Feb. 14-19 storm that dumped 15 to 30 inches along the East Coast. Baltimore is buried in 28.2 inches, the deepest snowfall on record for the city.

You can read the entire cockamamie AccuWeather.com release here. But why would you bother?

AccuWeather is expected to release its forecast for this winter on Wednesday. Their hint: "Preliminary reports predict a cold and snowy winter for the Northeast."

(SUN PHOTO/Algerina Perna/February 2003)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:57 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

July 15, 2009

AccuWeather: Snowiest winter since '02-'03 ahead

Take El Nino, a burst of volcanic activity and an unusually cool summer (so far) in the Northeast, and what do you get? AccuWeather.com says it's beginning to look a lot like an unusually cold and snowy winter ahead for the mid-Atlantic states.

I'm not sure I buy it. But AccuWeather.com's Joe Bastardi, is out today with the very-long-range forecast, and it makes for some good reading:

Snowy Winter 2009-2010"The areas that will be hit hardest this winter by cold, snowy weather will be from New England through the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, including North Carolina. Areas from New York City to Raleigh have gotten by the past two years with very little snowfall. This year these areas could end up with above-normal snowfall."

"The overall weather pattern that has prevailed this summer is pointing to a winter very similar to that of 2002-03, when major cities on the East Coast had above-average snowfall. Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity points out that in February of 2003, a major snowstorm paralyzed much ofBlizzard of 2003 the Interstate 95 corridor, including New York City and Philadelphia. During the storm, airports were closed, roads were impassable, roofs collapsed and some schools were closed for a week, causing summer vacations to start late."

For the record, Baltimore had its deepest snowfall on record, and its snowiest February in 2003. That winter was also the second snowiest on record for the city.

If you're feeling hot on this 88-degree afternoon in downtown Baltimore, you can read more of AccuWeather's forecast, here.

(SUN PHOTO/Algerina Perna February 2003)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:33 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

June 16, 2009

Developing El Nino could mean snowier winter

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has noted that sea surface conditions in the Pacific Ocean are evolving this spring away from the current "neutral" temperature pattern toward a new warm phase, also known as El Nino. And for us, El Ninos mean an increased likelihood of large snowfalls in the following winter.

For the last two winters we have been in a "La Nina," or the cool phase of what is known formally as the El Nino Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. And we have experienced unusually mild and dry winters, with little snowfall. But a study of winter storms from 1950 to 1998 found that El Nino conditions in the snow BaltimorePacific correlate with a greater frequency of snowstorms of 8 inches or more in Baltimore.

Here's what Sterling forecasters have written on the topic:

"Of the 9 El Niño winters, there were 5 winters with significant snowstorms (8+ inches) and 4 winters without. That is an increased risk to near 1 in 2 chance of a significant snow event.

"El Niño winters tend to be all or nothing. Either you get hardly any snow, as in the case of the last few El Niño events, or you get 150% above normal snowfall with one or in many cases, two or three significant storms."

So, all you snow lovers out there can now have some scientific reason for hope.

(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance/WeatherDeck station)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:36 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

April 1, 2009

Winter's last gasp: Snow mix in western Md. forecast

Sun Photo/Amy Davis 2007 

It does take another breed to live in Western Maryland. It's cherry blossom time in the Chesapeake region, but forecasters are still dropping the S-word into their weekend forecast for the far western slopes of the Alleghenies. Is this a great state, or what?

But first, the immediate forecast for us lowlanders.

A look out the window this morning makes it clear that skies are darkening as clouds thicken up and rain approaches. There's a strong cold front draped along the Appalachians, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf, all trailing down from a deep low in Canada. As that front moves our way, the low is drawing warmer, moist air north off the Gulf and the Atlantic, and that spells a deepening cloud cover for us, and rain.

We are already getting some showers at Calvert & Centre this morning, although they have not shown up yet on our rain gauge. Forecasters say they could drop between a tenth- and a quarter-inch today, and a bit more this evening. The front should pass by late this afternoon, stalling well to our south. Look for fog in the morning.

Then the front reverses direction and returns as a warm front late Thursday, bringing another tenth- to a quarter-inch of rain before yet another cold front reaches us Thursday night into Friday morning, perhaps with some thunder.

Then skies begin to clear later on Friday as the front moves by us. But moisture in the air moving up the western slopes of the mountains could fall as a rain/snow mix before ending Saturday morning.

The weekend, at least, still looks great, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the 60s. Showers return late Sunday into Monday.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:40 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March 13, 2009

Snow dusts Southern Maryland; rainy weekend ahead

Maybe this was our Farewell to Winter storm. Parts of St. Mary's, Calvert, Charles and Prince George's counties reported a dusting to a half-inch of snow on unpaved surfaces this morning as a weak storm drifted across the Carolinas and bumped into the dome of cold air to the north.

 Here is the radar loop. Here are some of the reports from the NWS and CoCoRaHS::

Park Hall, St. Mary's County:  0.8 inch AccuWeather.com

Waldorf:  0.5 inch

White Plains:  0.3 inch

Salisbury:  0.3 inch

Solomons:  0.2 inch

Lusby:  0.1 inch

There was a bit of snow in the air behind the White House TV reporters this morning. But the best this disturbance could manage across the region was 3 inches in Pendleton County in West Virginia's eastern panhandle. Hightown, in Highland County, Va., reported 3.5 inches.

Temperatures will remain well below normal, with rain for the weekend. Pretty dreary. Good for reading or sitting in a pub. And we won't break out of it until mid-week. Forecasters see a high near 60 degrees on Wednesday.

I think we should hang up the snow shovels for the year; we're through with winter. What we need now is a long, hard rain. And forecasters at Sterling are giving us a 40 percent chance of rain Saturday and Sunday. No good for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, but whatever we get - and they're calling for less than an inch - should be very welcome. BWI has had barely 3 inches since New Year's Day.

Looks like Prof. Foot's prediction of surprise delays for school openings in Southern Maryland today fell short. But there were a few late openings out in west-central Virginia - Nelson, Rappahannock and Page county schools, according to Steve Zubrick, the science officer at Sterling.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:18 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March 6, 2009

A taste of spring; a rumor of snow

Sun Photo/David Hobby March 10, 2006 

That's March for you. Temperatures have been climbing daily this week, headed for a pleasant weekend in the upper 60s and low 70s. What's left of the snow and ice is surely doomed. But the folks out in Sterling still couldn't resist reminding us that winter has not yet left the continent. More on that in a minute.

First the good news. That big ol' high-pressure system has moved off to the east, but it continues to pump warm, moist air up from the Southwest. That puts us in the path of a warm front that will pass through the region today, driving temperatures noticeably higher. We should be looking at a high this afternoon around 60 degrees. The clouds that moved in this morning are a signal of that warmer, wetter air mass. But they should break a bit this afternoon after the front gets by, warming things even more.

Forecasters think the cold front that would normally follow the warm front will stall to our north, leaving us to enjoy a southwesterly flow and continued warm weather on Saturday and Sunday, with highs near 70 Saturday and perhaps in the mid-70s Sunday.

By late Sunday, however, the front is expected to get moving again, dropping across the region with some showers. Next week looks like it will be cooler than the weekend, but still mild for this time of year, with showers forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday.

But then another cold front clears the slate. We'll return to more seasonable temperatures, and computer models foresee a new Great Plains storm racing across the southern U.S. and intensifying off the southeast coast. Says Sterling:

"If the former verifies ... another round of snow will be possible over portions of the forecast area late next week."

You knew it was too good to last.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:43 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March 3, 2009

Snow shoveling story omitted "Wovel"

Hell has frozen over, the cows have come home and Baltimore has had its first snowfall deeper than 5 inches since Feb. 11-12, 2006.

And happily, the story I wrote in December 2007 - about the physiology and hazards of snow shoveling - has finally run, albeit in a much shortened version from the original. It had been held since December 2007 - possibly a new record - in anticipation of the next snowfall deep enough to shovel. That snow - all 5.8 inches of it - finally arrived yesterday.

But as relieved as I am to see the piece in print, I mourn the loss of the last few paragraphs, which once included discussion of improved snow shovel designs, including one of the coolest snow-fighting gizmos I have encountered in a long time: The Wovel. Those paragraphs were lopped off by an editor some weeks ago as we were preparing the story to run in anticipation of another storm. The hole available in the next day's paper simply wasn't big enough to take the whole story as written.

In the end, the storm fizzled, and the story went back into storage, minus the Wovel. And that's Wovel/Structured Solutionsthe version that ran online Monday, and (even shorter) in the print editions today.

What's a Wovel? First, let me state that I have no financial interest in this thing. I do not own one; I have never used one, and I have spoken with the inventor and owner only once - in December 2007. Can't even remember his name.

But speaking as a science writer, a weather buff, chief shoveler in our household, and a lover of anything that reduces my physical exertions and risks of dropping dead in a snowbank, I think this thing is too cool for school.

Here, my friends, is the Wovel.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:26 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March 2, 2009

Snow ending, but not yet

Sun Photo/Roylance

Looks like we got our snow. Here's the official forecast. They're talking about another surge of snow, particularly in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, before things wind down late this morning. But there doesn't seem to be much more en route, according to the radar loop.

Here are some NWS accumulation reports from around the region. (Note the times.) And more from volunteer observers.

Here is this morning's discussion from Sterling. And here's the Winter Storm Warning, which remains in effect until 2 p.m.

Let us hear from you, too. I'm especially curious about locations along the bay and south of Baltimore, where totals were supposed to reach 10 inches. Anybody seeing that much? We have 3-4 inches on the WeatherDeck. But it's still coming down.

Looking ahead, the forecasters out at Sterling are expecting a low around 13 degrees tonight at BWI Marshall as cold air continues to pour down from Canada behind the departing storm.  The record low for a March 3 in Baltimore is 12 degrees, set in 1925.

More later.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:15 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Winter weather
        

March 1, 2009

Snow begins in Va., Annapolis

There's no sign of it yet out on the WeatherDeck (at 6 p.m.), but light snow has begun falling in Virginia and Annapolis, according to the National Weather Service. Here's the radar loop. And snowflakes/NOAAhere's the report from Fredericksburg, Va., where it has been snowing since before 4 p.m.

There has been no significant change in the forecast since this morning's post.

The official forecast for BWI calls for 4 to 8 inches of snow at BWI tonight, with 5 to 9 in Annapolis. Frederick is slated for 3 to 7 inches. Salisbury on the Eastern Shore is in line for 2 to 4 inches. Everybody could get a bit more on Monday as the storm pulls away.

The band of heaviest snowfall with this storm will be quite narrow. But within that band the snow can be expected to be quite intense for several hours tonight, forecasters say, with as much as an inch an hour falling at times between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. Here's abit of this afternoon's forecast discussion:

"FOR AREAS FROM THE BLUE RIDGE TO INTERSTATE 95 5 TO 7 INCHES OF
SNOW CAN BE EXPECTED BY MONDAY MORNING. BETWEEN I-95 AND THE
CHESAPEAKE BAY TOTALS OF 7 TO 10 INCHES ARE EXPECTED."AccuWeather.com

Here's AccuWeather.com on the storm. Their snowfall map still has central Maryland in the 3-to-6-inch range.

Let us know what you're seeing. Heck, it may be another three years before we see another decent snowfall in Baltimore.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 6:10 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Could it be? NWS forecasts 6 to 10 inches

If they're right, it would be the deepest snowfall for Baltimore in more than three years and a record total for the date. Here's the forecast.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Central Maryland from 2 p.m. this afternoon until 2 p.m. Monday as an approaching low-pressure system  reaches the NOAA snowstormAtlantic coast, intensifies, and clashes with the cold air in place across the region. It covers everybody in Maryland from Frederick County east, and on up the coast through eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York City, southern New York and most of southern New England.

Here, the warning calls for 6 to 10 inches of snow before it all ends on Monday. (This morning's dusting came from a separate disturbance, but suggests that conditions are ripe for a snow event.) You can watch the temperature and barometer fall here, on The Sun's weather instruments at Calvert & Centre streets, as the storm approaches.

In contrast to the usual pattern, forecasters expect slightly deeper amounts to the south and east of the I-95 corridor, and lighter totals to the north and west.

Such a total would be the deepest for BWI since a 13-inch accumulation Feb. 11-12, 2006. Prof. Foot seems pretty juiced about this storm. Teachers and students will likely get a break. If we get more than 6 inches before midnight tonight, it will snap the 6-inch record for a March 1 in Baltimore, set in 1952. And if we top 3.7 inches on Monday, it will break a record set here on Mar. 2, 1969.  

AccuWeather.com's snowmap hasn't changed since I last checked. But the NWS forecast would seem to shift the heavier now slightly north and west, including Baltimore more squarely in the heavier accumulations.

Here's this morning's discussion from Sterling. They expect that the heaviest snowfall will occur late today and tonight, followed by light-to-moderate snows tomorrow, with gustier winds blowing it around. Expect sharply colder temperatures Tuesday as winter drops back for a visit in the wake of last week's flirtation with spring.

Okay, readers? NOW what do you think? Fab snow or Flop?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:42 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 28, 2009

Snow fever spikes

Well, I'm not going to venture any prognostications about this late-weekend storm that's got everybody buzzing. We've had too many disappointments this winter. But it is my duty, I suppose, to pass along the various forecasts and hypecasts that are taking up so much Web bandwidth today. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

First, the National Weather Service: The forecasters at Sterling have, of course, issued a Winter Storm Watch today. It's in effect from Sunday night through Monday morning. The watch - as all watches must - says 5 inches or more are possible. But that's no guarantee we'll get that much. By the same token, we could get more. The 5-day forecast doesn't suggest much in the way of accumulations. Yet. Here's the latest discussion from Sterling.

The Watch notes that low pressure is developing on the Gulf Coast, and is expected to cross to the Georgia coast, strengthen, and spin up the Atlantic seaboard, throwing lots of moisture onshore, into the cold air that settled over us late yesterday.

For the school kids and teachers hoping for a day off on Monday, I offer Prof. Foot's Forecast. He's looking for 6 to 10 inches to fall from the sky, but says warm surfaces and the late season's high sun angles will likely keep the effective accumulations to 5 inches. He's comparing this storm with one at this same time of year in 2005 that left only 5 inches or less behind.

For hype addicts, there is always AccuWeather.com. Henery "the Madman" Margusity seems to be asleep at the switch today, so here's Elliot Abrams.

Are you truly a weather/snow junkie? Here's the EasternUS weather forum. Somebody there is predicting a foot of snow on the Eastern Shore. Dig in.

And here is the AccuWeather.com snowmap, which seems to show the heaviest accumulations south of Baltimore and on the upper Eastern Shore.

AccuWeather.com

Me? I'm not holding my breath. And The Sun hasn't asked me to dust off the "Physiology of snow shoveling" story that's been on hold since December 2007, waiting for a shovel-worthy storm.

Am I so wrong? What's your prediction? Fab or Flop?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:10 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 19, 2009

6 to 9 inches of snow due ... in Garrett

There's a cold front pushing across Maryland this morning, and behind it come gusty winds and - for far Western Maryland, at least - a return to winter. The radar loop shows snow coming off the Great Lakes on that cold wind, and sweeping up the western slopes of Maryland's mountain Taylor-Made Vacations Web camcounties. That's Deep Creek in the photo, where it is snowing hard this morning.

The National Weather Service's Pittsburgh office has posted a Winter Storm Warning for Garrett County, calling for 6 to 9 inches of windblown snow by Friday morning, the greatest amounts closer to the ridgetops.

Allegany County is also forecast to get snow today, but slightly less than Garrett.

Down here in the lowlands, we're looking at gradually clearing skies today, with increasingly gusty winds. As the new air mass builds in, we will see cooler temperatures Friday under sunny skies. The promised clipper system will arrive late Saturday, bringing chances for an all-snow event west of I-81, forecasters say. Here to the east we may see rain and/or snow showers, ending Sunday.

From there things clear up again, with sunny skies well into next week. There remains some talk about a storm forming off the coast at mid-week. But there seems to be little certainty about that for the moment.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:37 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 17, 2009

Snow in the air Weds., none under foot

The forecast hasn't changed much, so there still seems to be little chance that tomorrow's precipitation will bring anything more than a few morning flakes, followed by two days of cold drizzle and showers. 

Today's sunshine will fade as the high pressure drifts off shore, and the storm system that pounded California moves closer out of the west. The center of the storm will pass to our north and west, this time, which leaves us on the warm and rainy side of the picture. And with warmer air moving up from the South behind the departing high and in advance of a cold front, tonight's forecast low is just 31 degrees.

That leaves open the possibility that the precipitation will begin as snow. But sadly, at least for this winter's forlorn snow lovers, forecasters at Sterling say it will not stick. And by mid-morning temperatures will be rising, and it will be changing over to all rain. Here's AccuWeather.com on the dismal forecast.

Once the cold front behind the storm gets through, some western counties could see a brief changeover to snow. But not down here in the lowlands.

Next on the agenda after a sunnier day on Friday is a clipper system out of the northwest on Saturday.  Forecasters are calling for a rain/snow mix. But they don't seem any too sure, even about that.

In the meantime, here is Foot's Forecast on the chances for school openings to be affected tomorrow. (Don't hold your breath, kids.) On the other hand, he points out that it's probably too soon to give up on the season.

Consider this: Five of the 20 biggest snowstorms in Baltimore have occurred in March, but the most recent of them was way back in 1993. Remember the March 1993 "Superstorm?" 

Top 20 Snowstorms in Baltimore: (1891-2006)

128.2 inches ... Feb. 15-18, 20031114.1 inches ... Dec. 11-12, 1960
226.5 inches  ... Jan. 27-29, 19221213.1  inches ... Feb. 11-12, 2006
322.8 inches ... Feb. 11, 19831313.0  inches ... Mar. 5-7, 1962
422.5 inches ... Jan. 7-8, 19961412.3 inches ... Jan. 22, 1987
522.0 inches ... Mar. 29-30, 19421512.1 inches ... Jan. 30-31, 1966
621.4 inches ... Feb. 11-14, 18991612.0 inches ... Feb. 16-18, 1900
720.0 inches ... Feb. 18-19, 19791711.9 inches ... Mar. 13-14, 1993
816.0 inches ... Mar. 15-18, 18921811.7 inches ... Feb. 5-8, 1899
915.5 inches ... Feb. 15, 19581911.5 inches ... Dec. 17-18, 1932
1014.9 inches ... Jan. 25, 20002011.5 inches ... Mar. 21-22, 1964

Big snows in March seem to be becoming a thing of the past. Here's a list of monthly snow totals for Baltimore. (Now that I've said that, of course, we're in for a whopper!)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:45 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 16, 2009

Another flirtation with winter

NOAA 

The Winter of 2008-09 continues to follow its script this week as yet another winter storm promises to brush the area with a hint of winter, but little of its inconvenience.

Forecasters at Sterling are calling for stubbornly seasonable fare this week, with both high and low temperatures sticking closer to the long-term norms (45 and 26 degrees) for Baltimore. Sunshine will be the rule until late Tuesday, when the high-pressure system now dominating the eastern half of the country moves east, and a new storm approaches from the west.

The center of the low is forming now in the Rocky Mountains. By Wednesday it will pass over the Great Lakes, to our north and west. So the associated cold front will pass by us at mid-week with little to offer but rain. Cold temperatures before daybreak on Wednesday could mean a bit of snow before it all changes to rain. But most of the event is expected to be rain for us. Highs Wednesday will rise well into the 40s.

Rain is okay. Southern Maryland and the southern portion of the Eastern Shore are both running abnormally dry for the first time since mid-December, according to the Drought Monitor.

The rain will continue Thursday as a "chance" of showers. Western counties and higher elevations could see some small accumulations.

Then, high pressure returns as the front passes by. Friday looks sunny. Saturday clouds up, however as a clipper system barrels through with yet another chance for a "wintry mix." Sunday looks sunny again. 

By then we will have passed through what are arguably the snowiest 10 dates of the year without much to write about ... a relief to many, a disappointment to the rest.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:28 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 13, 2009

Saturday dries up; storm rumors for next week

The computer models seem, finally, to have sorted out the path of the rain/snow storm that forecasters have been saying would slide by on Saturday. The consensus now is that it will largely fizzle, and pass too far to our south to affect the urban centers, although lower Southern Maryland could still see some precipitation.

That leaves us with a mostly seasonable forecast through the weekend, with sun and clouds and temperatures about average for this time of year - although way cooler than the spring-like air AP Photo/Matt Rourkewe've enjoyed this week.

After topping out above 50 degrees this afternoon, temperatures will drop below freezing tonight as cold, clear, dry air continues to build into the region behind the departing low that brought us yesterday's wind storm. (The bad hair day at left was in Philly.)

As the high moves off the coast tonight, the storm will approach from the southwest, but the precipitation threat will be held to Central Virginia and far Southern Maryland. We should stay dry.

Sunday looks sunnier, with seasonable temperatures. President's Day will be the coldest of the lot, sunny, but with a high only in the 30s and a low in the lower 20s.

The next chance for precipitation around here comes Wednesday or Thursday, but the storm track, of course, remains uncertain. And forecasters are hedging their bets for now, predicting a rain/snow mix.

But some winter-watchers see the developing scenario as a potential snow-maker for our region, maybe the last chance for a decent snowfall this season. Here's Prof. Foot, of Foot's Forecast, on the subject.

And here's AccuWeather.com's Elliot Abrams' analysis of the storm risk.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:40 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 12, 2009

Better sit down: Time for BGE to read your meter again

Just got a message from "Rex," a reader who has just received his BGE bill, based on a Feb. 9 meter reading. It is not a pretty picture:

"I just looked at my Feb. bill on line (Feb. 9th reading). $748 !!! Jan. was  $366  and last Dec. was  $213. We keep our place at 60 when we're out for the day and 65 when we're home."

Is this even possible? A doubling from January to February? My January reading blew my bill past $320 for the first time, and when I posted my reaction on this blog, it drew plenty of commiseration from around the region.  You can read it here.

If Rex's bill is a harbinger of what the rest of us are in for from the February meter reading, consumer spending in these parts is going to take another hit as we all divert the kids' milk money to pay the gas and electric bill. 

AP photoHere's the tricky part: December was relatively mild, at least when compared to the long-term averages for BWI - about 1.8 degrees warmer than the norm. So were the first week or two of January.

But the second half of January - from around the 13th on - was very cold. Only three days topped the daily averages, and nine days dipped to the teens or single digits at night. (Normal lows are 23 or 24 degrees.) February, thankfully, has been very mild so far. But depending on when they read your meter this month, you may be seeing a "February" bill with a hefty chunk of very cold January weather - and steep energy consumption - on it. If so, you can expect a huge hit in your wallet.

It's also true that we're all still absorbing the steep electric and natural gas prices that BGE negotiated way back last summer when energy prices were extraordinarily high. Even though those rates have plummeted since, our bills still reflect the prices BGE built into its wholesale contracts last summer. Ouch!

Sun business reporter Jay Hancock has pointed this out in his stories and blog posts recently, and he's noted that the wholesale rates BGE is passing along in our bills are about to drop, finally reflecting the crash in oil prices and giving us all a break in the coming months.  

In the meantime, the Maryland Public Service Commission has announced it will hold hearings on the crazy BGE bills we're all paying this winter. I'm sure that will make everything okay ...

Anyway, as your bills come in, stop back here and let us feel your pain. Misery loves company.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:34 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Winter weather
        

February 4, 2009

Surprise snow tangles commute

Residents of Central Maryland awoke to a snowy surprise this morning as snow showers - some quite heavy for a time - coated roads with a slick fluffy carpet of trouble. Schools have closed or delayed this morning, and there were early road accidents all over the place.

Here's the current radar loop. Here's the story. And here's the official forecast. And here is the report from CoCoRaHS. And from the NWS. Two inches in parts of Howard and Carroll County seems to be the most on the report.

Forecast discussions out of Sterling at 9:30 last night hinted at the possibility of snow overnight. They noted:

"... A WEAK SURFACE TROUGH OVER CENTRAL PA THAT IS PINWHEELING AROUND THE LARGE AREA OF LOW
PRESSURE OFF THE NEW ENGLAND COAST. THIS WILL APPROACH NORTHERN
MARYLAND OVERNIGHT PERHAPS BRINGING A BETTER CHANCE FOR SNOW
SHOWERS. WITH TEMPS DROPPING BELOW FREEZING. SNOW SHOWERS MAY WHITEN
THE GROUND IN SOME SPOTS MAKING FOR SLIPPERY CONDITIONS OVERNIGHT."

Well, they did. The 3 a.m. discussion noted some impressive accumulations from these "snow showers":

"IT HAS BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR A QUICK INCH OR TWO OF SNOW SHOWERS IN CARROLL COUNTY AS OF 1 AM...AND IT HAS CONTINUED TO SNOW SINCE THEN. FOR PERSPECTIVE...
LANCASTER COUNTY PA REPORTED 8-9 INCHES OF SNOW OVERNIGHT...IN RATES 2-3
INCHES PER HOUR."

Of course, everybody was asleep as all this was developing. Hence, the wake-up surprise. Clearly the potential significance of this snow threat was largely missed in the forecasts, and Sterling - like the road crews - has been playing catch-up ever since.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:13 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 29, 2009

Next week's big storm: snow or rain?

Everybody seems to be talking about it now. Forecasters are looking at computer models that predict a powerful storm will spin up out of the Gulf of Mexico early next week and track into the Northeast. The big question appears to be where that track will go. Into the Ohio Valley and we get Sun Photo/Karl Merton Ferron 2003lots of rain. Up the Atlantic coast and we get a big snowstorm.

Wherever it goes, some meteorologists believe it signals a change in winter weather patterns and a harbinger of a snowier February. Only time will tell, and this event is still assembling itself in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It's still four days out. In the meantime, here's a sampler of the meteorological opinions:

The National Weather Service discussion out of Sterling, noting the disagreement between the two main forecast models (GFS and ECMWF). (I am spelling out the NWS shorthand abbreviations for clarity):

"ALTHOUGH BOTH DEVELOP STRONG SURFACE CYCLONE BY LATE MONDAY AFTERNOON, GFS YIELDS A COASTAL SYSTEM, WHILE ECMWF DEVELOPS CYCLONE INLAND ... WILL FAVOR GFS EVOLUTION [FOR NOW].

"SURFACE LOW PRESSURE DEEPENS AS IT MOVES NORTHWARD ALONG COAST. STRONG WARM AIR ADVECTION MONDAY WILL INCREASE TEMPERATURES AND DEWPOINTS... ESPECIALLY IN THE EASTERN HALF OF THE FORECAST AREA. AS
SURFACE LOW PRESSURE APPROACHES, COLD AIR WILL BE DRAWN IN SURFACE AND ALOFT. PRECIPITATION TO COMMENCE AS RAIN LATE MONDAY AFTERNOON... EXCEPT HIGHER TERRAIN WHERE COLD AIR WILL INVADE.

"REGARDLESS OF WHETHER GFS OR ECMWF [PROVE CORRECT] IF EITHER/...PRECIPITATION EXPECTED MONDAY NIGHT ... WITH SNOW SPREADING EASTWARD ACROSS FORECAST AREA MONDAY NIGHT IN GFS, AND RAIN CONTINUING MONDAY NIGHT IN ECMWF. BY TUESDAY, COLD AIR INVADES...AND ANY WRAPAROUND PRECIPITATION SHOULD BE SNOW."

Here's AccuWeather.com's main piece on the storm, which the eager beavers there are already calling the "Groundhog Day Storm."

Continue reading "Next week's big storm: snow or rain?" »

Posted by Frank Roylance at 1:46 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 28, 2009

Driving tip: Push the ice from your roof first!

Sun Photo/Amy Davis

Finally made it to work after scraping the car and sliding down the street on a sheet of ice. Once on the main roads, at least, the traction was fine. The main roads are just wet. But here's a tip:

Before you get on the main roads, scrape or push the snow and ice from your car's roof. There is probably an icy crust on top of the snow up there. And once you hit highway speeds, the wind will get under the ice and launch it into the air. And where it comes down, nobody knows.

I got onto I-695 in Towson this morning and saw at least a half-dozen cars loft ice sheets 10 or 15 feet into the air as they accelerated. These sheets - some the size of, well, car roofs - floated into the air, rotated a few times, then crashed (fortunately) onto the pavement. They could just as easily have landed on the next guy's windshield.

Okay, it's beautiful to watch. I tried (and failed) to find a You Tube video of flying ice. But do us all a favor. Get the snow off your car before you leave your parking space.

Thanks. The Management.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:53 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Worst icing seems over; sunny meltdown due

There will be plenty of scraping and sliding out there this morning. And the freezing mist that's still falling is adding to the glaze on walks and trees. The Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until noon from Arundel north and west.

Sun Photo/Doug KapustinBut the radar loop suggests that the worst of the freezing precip may be over here, and what's still falling is keeping mostly to our north. Best of all, there is sunshine and a promise of above-freezing temperatures in the forecast for tomorrow.

Actually, it's already 30 here on the Weatherdeck in Cockeysville. And we should rise into the upper 30s later today, allowing for some slow melting and giving the road salt a chance to work. In the meantime, school kids and teachers across most of Maryland north and west of Arundel get another day off.

You can watch the thermometer rise on The Sun's weather station. Just click here. Doesn't look, at this hour at least, like the barometer has turned upward yet. That will signal the departure of this low and the approach of drier air. For now, the entire Northeast is socked in.

In the meantime we will be shoveling and scraping and walking like penguins on this crusty glaze.

The National Weather Service will be posting overnight low temperatures, and precipitation amounts, and snow and ice accumulations later this morning. Be sure to check the date to make sure they're today's readings. You can also consult CoCoRaHS. The good news is the ice does not seem to have affected the power grid so far.

So far, it appears Waldorf and Bel Air got the most frozen precip in the state, though none of it is too impressive:

Waldorf:  3.3 inches

Bel Air:  3.1 inches

Prince Frederick:  2.8 inches

Long Green:  2.6 inches

Towson:  2.0 inches

Easton:  2.0 inches

Frederick:  1.8 inches

Mt. Airy:  1.7 inches

THE OFFICIAL TALLY FOR BWI:

December: 0.6 inches 

January so far:  2 inches (including 1.8 inches on Tuesday)

Season so far: 2.6 inches

Seasonal average for BWI, 1971-2000: 18.2 inches

Last time we had average snowfall or more: 2005-06:  19.6 inches

So, drop us a note and tell us what you're dealing with on your doorstep, or along your commute this morning. Kids driving you crazy yet? 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:58 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 27, 2009

Yeeoweee! My January BGE bill is in

Have you seen yours, yet? Well, brace yourself. January 2009 is winding up almost 3 degrees colder than the long-term averages for the month at BWI, and it will do serious damage to your utility bills this month.

Mine topped $300 for only the second time since we bought the place 12 years ago. The first Sun Photo/Amy Davis 2005time was in February 2007, when temperatures averaged 29.1 degrees. That's about where they stand so far this month - at 29.3 degrees. The 30-year average for January at BWI is 32.3 degrees.

Heating degree-days so far this month are running about 10 percent above the long-term average for January at BWI. Degree days are an estimate of demand for heating energy based on temperature readings. But if you've tried to conserve by turning down the thermostat, or adding insulation, or turning off the lights when you leave a room, you may be doing better than that. 

I'm dealing with what is probably inadequate insulation. My next-door neighbor, whose house was built at the same time as mine, discovered after years of high bills that the builder neglected to install any. Where were the inspectors? I also have a low-efficiency heat pump (more cost-saving by the builder). After this BGE bill, I may need to tackle both of these issues. And soon.

The good news is that temperatures should be returning to seasonal norms by Sunday.

Drop us a comment and tell us what your utility bills are looking like, and what you're doing to save energy, and dollars. Have you switched to compact fluorescents (right)? Has it made a difference?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:39 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Snow and sleet could reach 3 to 5 inches

Salting on I-83/Sun Photo

The Winter Storm Warning posted for communities north and west of Baltimore (purple on the map)today says those areas could see 3 to 5 inches of snow and sleet before the air warms tonight and tomorrow and turns the stuff to rain. They may even get a quarter-inch of ice on top of the whole mess.

NOAA winter storm advisory zoneHere's how it reads:

"A WAVE OF LOW PRESSURE WILL BRING SNOW TO THE AREA TODAY...WITH
ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 3 INCHES. AFTER A BRIEF LULL IN THE SNOW
THIS AFTERNOON...A SECOND STRONGER WAVE WILL BRING A WINTRY MIX OF
PRECIPITATION TONIGHT AND WEDNESDAY. PRECIPITATION WILL BE MAINLY
IN THE FORM OF SNOW AND SLEET THIS EVENING...BUT A CHANGE OVER TO
FREEZING RAIN IS EXPECTED OVERNIGHT AS WARMER AIR IS DRAWN INTO THE
SYSTEM. TEMPERATURES WILL REMAIN IN THE LOWER 30S WEDNESDAY...
ALLOWING FOR THE RAIN TO FREEZE ON SOME SURFACES.

"TOTAL SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT WILL BE 3
TO 5 INCHES AND TOTAL ICE ACCUMULATIONS FOR TUESDAY NIGHT AND
WEDNESDAY WILL BE AROUND A QUARTER OF AN INCH."

Things are not a whole lot prettier for communities south and east of the city (dark blue), where a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect. Here's the meat of it:

"A WAVE OF LOW PRESSURE WILL BRING SNOW TO THE AREA TODAY...WITH
ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 2 INCHES. A SECOND STRONGER WAVE WILL BRING
A WINTRY MIX OF PRECIPITATION TONIGHT INTO WEDNESDAY. PRECIPITATION
WILL BE MAINLY IN THE FORM OF SNOW AND SLEET THIS EVENING...BUT A
CHANGE OVER TO FREEZING RAIN AND RAIN IS EXPECTED OVERNIGHT AS
WARMER AIR IS DRAWN INTO THE SYSTEM. TEMPERATURES WILL REMAIN IN
THE LOWER 30S WEDNESDAY ALLOWING FOR THE RAIN TO FREEZE ON SOME
SURFACES.

"TOTAL SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT WILL BE 2
TO 4 INCHES AND TOTAL ICE ACCUMULATIONS FOR TUESDAY NIGHT THROUGH
WEDNESDAY MORNING WILL BE ONE TO TWO TENTHS OF AN INCH."

Here's the regional radar loop. All things considered, if this forecast holds up, I'd guess that today's snow closings may be extended another day, at least in the northern and western suburbs, primarily because of the ice forecast.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:27 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 25, 2009

Cold enough, and wet enough, but ...

The outlook for snow in the Baltimore region this week is pretty good - good, that is, if you like snow, or at least miss it after almost three years with little worth mentioning. A whole generation of Baltimore kids, after all, has grown to toddlerhood without having experienced a romp in snow worthy of the name.

Anyway, forecasters out at Sterling have put the probabilities for snow at BWI on Tuesday and Wednesday at 70 to 90 percent. Chances have been rising as the forecast intensity of the storm system developing to our west has increased, and its track just to our south has looked more and more favorable for snow. A Tuesday high forecast at 31 degrees should keep the city just barely in all-snow as the storm begins after noon. And a low in the upper 20s on Tuesday night should keep things going as snow. And, there should be plenty of moisture dragged into the system from the Gulf to keep it coming.

But by Tuesday night into Wednesday, things begin to warm a bit, and the likelihood of seeing some rain mixing in seems to grow. Here (in capital letters) is a snippet from the discussion from Sterling forecasters (not me):

"HOWEVER...AS
THE SYSTEM HAS LOOKED INCREASING STRONG...IT IS LOOKING INCREASINGLY
LIKELY THAT [PRECIPITATION] TYPE WILL BE AS ISSUE...ESPECIALLY AS A COASTAL LOW
DEVELOPS WEDNESDAY OVER VIRGINIA COAST BY LATE TUESDAY NIGHT. WARMER
TEMPERATURES SHOULD KEEP SNOW RATIOS LOW AND ALLOW FOR SOME RAIN TO
MIX IN WITH THE SNOW. THIS SHOULD LIMIT THE PROBABILITY OF
SIGNIFICANT SNOW ACCUMULATION ACROSS THE ENTIRE [FORECAST AREA]...BUT THE
POTENTIAL DOES EXIST FOR SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW IN THE NORTHWEST
PORTIONS OF THE AREA. WILL MIX IN RAIN FOR THE SOUTHEAST HALF..."

That said, if the forecast holds up, it does seem likely that Tuesday's snow may affect area schools. Wednesday, too, may be affected if the Tuesday accumulations are significant and Wednesday looks like a sloppy mess.

Clearly, locations north and west of the city will face more snow and less rain. Here the Westminster forecast. And here's the much messier Easton forecast.

And here is AccuWeather.com's take on the forecast.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:50 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 21, 2009

WISP avalanche !

How did I not hear about this one? Early snowfall out in Garrett in November, followed by busy snow-making at the WISP ski resort, led to an autumn avalanche - okay, a snow slide - perhaps the first ever recorded at the resort. Best of all, it was recorded on video and posted on You Tube.

Fortunately, it was small, and no one was hurt in the incident, which is described by Jon Bell, on his Deep Creek Real Estate blog. 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 2:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 19, 2009

1 to 2 inches possible north and west

As the snow continues to pile up, forecasters out at Sterling have issued a Winter Weather Advisory until 10 p.m. for those sections of the Baltimore area in blue on the map. They're now calling for 1 to 2 inches of snow today before things taper off after dark. Says Sterling:

NOAA"THIS IS THE FIRST MEASURABLE SNOW OF THE SEASON ACROSS MUCH OF THE
AREA. WITH TEMPERATURES AROUND FREEZING...SNOW WILL BE ABLE TO
STICK ON SOME ROADS. THIS WILL CAUSE SLIPPERY AND POTENTIALLY
DANGEROUS TRAVEL."

UPDATE: We have 2 inches on the WeatherDeck at 2 p.m. in Cockeysville, and it's snowing hard. 

UPDATED UPDATE: At 2:30, snow has mostly stopped here ... for the moment. Temperature stands at 30. 

UPDATING THE UPDATED UPDATE: 3 INCHES EVEN ON THE WEATHERDECK AT 3:10 P.M. STILL SNOWING LIGHTLY.

Here is the official forecast. Here is the radar loop. And here is the Winter Weather Advisory:

LOW PRESSURE WILL BRING A PERIOD OF LIGHT SNOW ACROSS THE EASTERN
WEST VIRGINIA PANHANDLE...NORTH CENTRAL VIRGINIA...MUCH OF THE
MARYLAND AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY
THIS EVENING. SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF AROUND ONE INCH CAN BE
EXPECTED IN WASHINGTON...WITH 1 TO 2 INCHES OF SNOW TO THE NORTH
AND WEST OF WASHINGTON INCLUDING ALL OF NORTHERN MARYLAND.

Towson has already reported an inch on the ground. Here are some more reports. It's the first measurable snow at BWI since Dec. 6, when they recorded a whopping 0.6 inch.

UPDATE: Here's a 2 p.m. Winter Weather Message from the NWS:

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM EST THIS
EVENING.

LIGHT SNOW WILL TAPER OFF LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY THIS
EVENING. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS WILL BE AN INCH TO LOCALLY TWO
INCHES.

WITH TEMPERATURES AROUND FREEZING...SNOW WILL BE ABLE TO STICK ON
SOME ROADS. THIS WILL CAUSE SLIPPERY AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS
TRAVEL.

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW
WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS
AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE

Not everyone is getting this snow. Here's the radar image showing where it's been falling. And the regional radar shows it's nearly over.

So how's the driving where you are? Are the streets getting salted? Have you stuck a ruler in the stuff? 

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:42 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Pretty snowfall won't amount to much

Photo by meBig fat flakes are falling onto the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville (left) this morning. The temperature is 27 out there at 10:44 a.m., and it's a lovely little snowfall. But unfortunately (or fortunately for some) forecasters don't expect it to amount to much.

The street and walks up here are now snow-covered after about an hour of accumulation. It seems to have leaped ahead of the official forecast, which called for a 70 percent chance of snow, mostly after noon. In all, they're expecting no more than an inch.

Here's the radar loop

Here's a clip from this morning's discussion:

"TOTALS GENERALLY AROUND ONE HALF INCH EXPECTED. HOWEVER...MODELS DEVELOP SMALL AMOUNTS OF INSTABILITY THIS AFTERNOON OVER
EASTERN ZONES...VICINITY CHESAPEAKE BAY AND POTOMAC. NEAR DC AND BALTIMORE
METRO AREAS...MAY SEE ACCUMULATIONS SLIGHTLY HIGHER THAN ONE HALF
INCH...DURING AFTERNOON COMMUTE."

Not much, but after so many disappointments this winter, snow-lovers ought to be delighted with seeing flakes in the air, and some whitening on the ground. The neighborhood dogs sure seem happy with it.

In the meantime, that coastal storm that is expected to develop tomorrow off the Carolinas does not appear to be a threat to the urban centers. The storm is forecast to head out to sea, and any snow that's spun off the the north and west is not likely to get beyond the extreme southern and eastern portions of Maryland.

Drop us a comment and let us know what you're seeing out your window. How are the driving/walking conditions? 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:18 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 16, 2009

Sunday-Monday snow chances rising

The chances for the Baltimore region to get some measurable snow this weekend have been increasing this afternoon as forecasters in Sterling, Va. work to sort out the disagreements between their various forecast models.

NOAAOfficially, the current forecast calls for  a "slight" chance of  snow after midnight Sunday morning. The snow chances bump to 50 percent during the day Sunday, mostly after noon. And they jump again to 60 percent Sunday night and Monday morning. (Sorry kids. It's a holiday anyway. No snow days for you.)

The problem with the forecast is that it's a hedged bet. The computer models are in disagreement, and so forecasters increased their rating of our snow chances as a way to split the difference.

The facts of the case are this: Some models show a developing coastal low off the southeastern coast as the weekend rolls along. With plenty of cold air still in place in the Northeast, that's always cause to think snow. One model sends the storm up the coast, bringing us an increased chance for snow east of the mountains Sunday into Monday. 

But other models don't see it. They predict little or no precipitation from the low, at least for us.

"The diverging solutions add to the uncertainty of this forecast," the Sterling discussion laments. "After much consideration and collaboration, we have decided to increase chances of snow across the [forecast] area ... If [the pro-snow models] are correct some snow accumulation is likely. On the flip side, if the [no-snow models] win out, then little or no snow may occur. We will need to keep a close watch on this system and adjust details as model guidance becomes in better agreement."

 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:53 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 9, 2009

Snow north, rain south, slop in between

Chicago Tribune Photo/Phil Velasquez

Saturday's storm is shaping up to be a classic Maryland wintertime dance with the "rain/snow line."  The Clipper system is rolling across Chicagoland (above) and the upper Midwest along a narrow track that will drop snow across Pennsylvania and southern New England.

But the farther south you look, the wetter the precipitation gets. Snow north. Rain south. But that's where the forecasters out at Sterling begin to waffle.

"There will be a transition band in between," they note in this morning's discussion. "Have limited confidence on exactly where that will be."

For now, the forecast for York, Pa. calls for a snowy night tonight, a snowy morning tomorrow with some rain mixing in later in the day. They can expect 1 to 3 inches.

Westminster is looking at snow after midnight and early tomorrow. Sleet mixes in later AccuWeather.comcontributing to an inch of stuff on the ground. Add rain, change it to snow in the evening.

Down in Salisbury, however, the storm is forecast to generate only rain, beginning on Saturday and  continuing with showers into the evening. A quarter-inch tops.

Baltimore, in the middle of all this, is slated for slop. Rain and sleet in the morning, then freezing rain, then rain after noon. "Little or no ice accumulation," they say. "Little or no snow accumulation."

Just a lousy, cold, wet day.

Uncertainty about where that rain/snow line falls, of course - or, for that matter, where the storm track finally goes - makes much of this a crapshoot. We'll just have to live through it and see.

What we do know is that there is colder air behind the storm. Look for highs in the 30s Sunday and Monday, with sunshine. Then another Clipper will  brush by us with snow showers on Tuesday, if the forecast holds up. Then there's more arctic air to be swept down behind the storm, with Wednesday topping out below freezing, but sunny. Yet another Clipper drops by on Thursday with snow showers, followed by even colder air behind that.

These Clippers make the winter more interesting, for sure. But they typically don't pack a lot of moisture, and consequently don't drop much snow, even if they run right over you. What snow-lovers need is a lot of cold air, followed by a nice coastal low, full of Gulf moisture.

Nothing like that on tap yet.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 8, 2009

More "wintry mix" ahead; real winter next week

It appears that snow lovers in Central Maryland will suffer more teases and disappointments this weekend, as forecasters reprise their "wintry mix" forecasts in Saturday's predictions. But there is real winter cold in store for us next week, if the long-range forecast holds. And that could set the stage for actual snow late next week. More in a minute.

Frostburg StateFor now, we're looking at a few flurries across parts of the Baltimore region. We saw saw flakes on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville this morning, even though air temperatures at the surface were above freezing. Frederick and points north and west also reported some flurries and snow showers this morning. That's Frostburg State at left.

But that will be it for now. The forecasters' real focus is more on Saturday's weather. Today's sunny breaks and blustery winds signal the arrival of high pressure as the recent two-day rain departs to the northeast. That will bring us more sunshine, colder temperatures and gusty winds tomorrow.

But once that high begins to move off the coast late on Friday, clouds will return ahead of the next storm system. The timing remains uncertain, but if the expected "clipper" system arrives early, it will likely start as snow, especially in the usual northern and western suburbs. On the other hand (there's always another hand), temperatures will once again be marginal, so there's a good chance all we'll see will be freezing rain - except, again, near the Mason Dixon Line. Sound familiar?

Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the clipper, which is expected to deal more harshly with Philly and NYC. And here is AccuWeather.com blogger Henry Margusity.

Best to expect that old "wintry mix" on Saturday. But as the low departs and colder air moves in, whatever is falling could switch back to snow before it all ends late Saturday night. Sterling has posted a very tentative "Hazardous Weather Outlook" for Baltimore and its suburbs, noting that "a wintry mix of snow and rain may be possible," changing to rain.

In Western Allegany and Garrett, it's a "Winter Weather Advisory," alerting residents there to the possibility of 1 to 2 inches of accumulation from TODAY's snow showers.

Sunday we start to see more serious cold moving into the region. High pressure moves back on Sunday and Monday, with highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s. With the cold air, a clipper-type storm could pass by to our north on Monday or Tuesday and leave us a bit of snow, forecasters say. And behind that, even colder air moves down from the arctic. Wednesday's highs may not leave the 20s.

"Cold air will be around through the end of the week," this morning's forecast discussion says. "So any approaching systems would most likely produce snow across the area. Right now, one such system could approach on Friday."

Margusity hinted at a snowstorm "from Virginia to New England." Okay, it's a long way off, an eternity in forecasting terms. But it's the only shred of hope - or fear - Sterling has to offer. 

So let Sterling hear you: Do we want some real snow for the first time in years, and some snow days this month? Or would you rather stay home with a pencil in your eye? 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:10 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Winter weather
        

January 5, 2009

Sleet maybe, but no freezing rain in city

If I've learned anything doing this weather blog, it's how much the forecasts from Sterling change from hour to hour.

So it shouldn't surprise me that Sterling has taken another look at the forecast. They've folded in new data and computer projections and concluded that conditions tomorrow may be ripe for snow, sleet, freezing rain and a nasty cold rain, but they say now that it won't be as troublesome as they feared this morning.

NOAAAt least, that is, if you live south of the Mason-Dixon Line. That's where Sterling's turf ends, and forecasters north of the line - in Philly and State College - are always on their own wavelength on these forecasts. 

The PA folks still have Winter Storm Watches posted across much of the state - north of the MD Line. They're looking at enough snow and sleet, changing the rain and freezing rain to cause "significant" problems.

But south of the old boundary (and north and west of Baltimore), we may see similar conditions, but less of it, with mere "travel difficulties". So we get only a Winter Weather Advisory.

Baltimore and the southern portion of Baltimore County have also been removed from the advisory zone. No freezing rain there, they say now (or for points south and east), just rain and sleet, changing to all-rain later in the day Tuesday. Piece of cake.

But still Sterling is hedging its bets. "IF LATER MODELS COME IN COLDER THERE IS STILL TIME TO UP THIS TO A WARNING," they said. Here's how AccuWeather.com sorts it all out.

Here's the radar loop. Headed for New York? Looks like conditions will be better along I-95 than on the western route on I-83 and I-81 through Pennsylvania to I-78 or I-80.

All this, of course, could change as the hours tick by.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:21 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Winter weather
        

Storm watch threatens ice, no snow

The Winter of 2008-09 continues to disappoint snow lovers in Central Maryland. The forecasters out in Sterling are warning of sleet and freezing rain during the next two days, but none of the sort of snowy winter weather (below, in 2003) that delights school kids (and some teachers), but which has eluded us so far this winter.

Sun Photo/Karl Merton Ferron 2003There is a Winter Storm Watch posted north and west of the I-95 corridor, including Baltimore but not Washington, beginning early Tuesday morning and continuing through Wednesday morning. Here's the setup:

There's a low-pressure system - a storm - brewing across the Tennessee Valley that's predicted to move north into the Great Lakes tonight. The counter-clockwise flow around the low will draw a lot of wet air north from the Gulf into our region. Here, it will overrun a layer of cold air near the surface. Depending on how cold that surface layer is, and how thick, the rain falling through that colder air will either freeze as it falls, landing as sleet; or, it will freeze on contact with the surface, which we call freezing rain.

Forecasters aren't sure yet how much of which form of precipitation we'll see, or who will get what. But there is at least a potential for as much as a quarter-inch of ice forming on surfaces such as tree branches, utility lines, windshields, railings and sidewalks. "Preparations should be made now for a potentially high-impact winter weather event Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning," the folks in Sterling said.

South and east of I-95, we're likely to see mostly rain or all rain.

However it falls, the moisture will apparently be abundant, with the equivalent of up to an inch of rain possible.

By Wednesday night, forecasters expect we'll be overrun by the next cold front out of the Great Lakes. That will mean clearing skies by Thursday, but it comes with colder temperatures and blustery winds. Thursday night will be the coldest of the week, with lows in the mid-20s.

The next storm system doesn't offer snow lovers much more hope. It's expected to deliver something by Saturday afternoon into Sunday, and the best guessers for the moment are calling it a rain-snow mix.

Sorry, kids.      

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 22, 2008

Mt. Washington: minus-12 with 80 mph winds

Rob Jones/Mt. Washington ObservatorySure it's cold and blustery. But at least you're not stationed on top of Mt. Washington, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

The weather station at the Mt. Washington Observatory there is reporting a temperature of minus-12 degrees this afternoon, with sustained winds of 80 mpg - Cat. 1 hurricane force - gusting to 119 mph. That works out to a wind chill at the summit of minus-54 degrees. No stepping outside for a smoke today.

The place is socked in, but you're welcome to make an armchair visit anytime. Here's their website, with current conditions here.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 21, 2008

A thin glazing, then sunshine

There was a thin glaze of ice this morning out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The stair railing was icy, too, but the walks and the streets appeared to have been mostly spared - either because they were still too warm, or treated overnight with salt. Traffic on the way to work was sparse, but moved without difficulty. Here's this morning's ice tally from Sterling. Looks like there was even a dusting of snow to our north and west.

I guess we were spared, especially in light of the nasty weather underway in much of the northern tier of states. Best of all, forecasters out at Sterling are saying these clouds should begin to break up later today, admitting some welcome sunshine after all these days of gloom and rain. Temperatures here at The Sun have already begun to climb above freezing, although the barometer has not yet reversed its dive.

Sun Photo/Larry C. Price 1998Sunshine would also allow the Winter Solstice program scheduled for the Maryland Science Center this afternoon to include planned eye-safe observations of the sun with the historic Alvin Clark telescope (left). The solstice programs begin at noon. The observatory opens at 1 p.m. (Call 410 545-5940 for more information).

Today is, after all, the date of the winter solstice. At 7:04 this morning the sun ended its long drift toward the south and paused before beginning its return toward Earth's Northern Hemisphere. From here, days begin to grow longer, and the nights shorter. We have already passed the date (Dec. 7) of the earliest sunset. The latest sunrise occurs on Jan. 4.

For some cultures, today was not the beginning of winter, but its mid-point. From here, the days grow longer with a promise of spring and renewed life. It was a time for celebration, and merry-making. There was noisemaking to scare away the evils of winter and deprivation, and bonfires to chase away the dark and bring back light and warmth. That strategy seems to have failed in Seattle this weekend.

I prefer the notion of solstice as mid-winter. The "beginning of winter" suggests we have a long, hard slog ahead. Mid-winter suggests progress and hope. How about you?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:16 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 19, 2008

Best travel days: Monday, Tuesday, Christmas

Go early, or go late. That seems to be the best advice for Holiday travel next week. The 7-day forecast this morning out of Sterling calls for rainy weather for the weekend, with a risk of some Sun Photo/Amy Davis 2008icing to our north and west. And Wednesday looks like more rain. So, if you want mostly sunny skies for the ride to Grandma's house, the best days for travel look like Monday and Tuesday. Or, if you haven't far to go, make the trip on Christmas Day.

The long-range forecast from Sterling calls for a sunny Christmas in Baltimore, with a high temperature of 39 degrees under sunny skies. Monday and Tuesday should be mostly sunny, too, but cold, with highs only in the low 30s, and overnight lows Monday into Tuesday in the teens.

But there's a lot of rain ahead before the new week begins.

Forecasters are looking through today's murky weather and calling for up to a quarter-inch of rain as a low-pressure system rides quickly along a cold front now draped along the Mason-Dixon Line. We are on the warm side of the front for now, so today will be the mildest day of the next seven, with a high around 45 degrees.

That means we'll see all rain from this initial storm. You can track the rainfall and watch the AccuWeather.combarometer fall at The Sun's weather station at Calvert & Centre streets. Winds may pick up late today as the low zips by just to our north and heads out to sea. Upstate PA and NY and New England will get some snow out of this, but we're looking and plain rain. That's AccuWeather.com's snow map at right.

After the low passes, temperatures will start to fall. There could be some flakes in the far western counties, but not here, forecasters say.

Saturday and Sunday will feel more like Christmas, with highs only in the 30s. The cold front will hold to our south, and the next low will track along that line to the NC/VA border and deepen offshore. That will bring us cloudy skies Saturday, and more precipitation very early Sunday morning. Forecasters insist we'll see rain, with the only risk of something frozen along the (east-west leg of the) Mason-Dixon Line, again, as well as the higher elevations to our west. Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the parade of storms.

So we escape winter again, for now. Once the weekend storm clears, we're looking at colder, drier weather for a couple of days - time to make your break for Grandma's place. Monday night into Tuesday will be the coldest time of the coming week, with lows in the teens at BWI.

For Wednesday, forecasters are spotting another low, bringing a 50 percent chance for more rain. But again, no frozen precip. here. Christmas Day should be sunny and bright.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Winter weather
        

December 18, 2008

Wintry mix washed from weekend forecast

Sun Photo/Mark Bugnaski 1994Forecast models are now showing the air over Maryland will simply be too warm for the Saturday/Sunday storm to deliver any of the snow, sleet and freezing rain forecast earlier today.

Looks like an all-rain event for the Baltimore region.