Ready For Winter

With December temperatures averaging almost 4 degrees warmer than normal (average temp. of 41.9 is 3.8 above normal through the 19th), and just a trace of snow reported in the Baltimore area so far, it’s about time to put a wrap on fall and head into winter. The official start of the new season is the winter solstice, at 7:22 p.m. tomorrow (Dec. 21st). Click here for more info on the solstice.

In preparation for snow, sleet and freezing rain forecasting, John Collins and I had a chance to drop in at the Winter Weather Workshop put on by our local National Weather Service Forecast Office in Sterling, VA. near Dulles Airport on Tuesday. The friendly and very talented meteorologists in Sterling went over some typical winter weather forecasting problems we face in the mid Atlantic states and gave us an update on plans to move and improve their office. Expansion of a Dulles Airport runway will mean their forecast office will be relocated about a half mile west in the next 2 years. The powerful NEXRAD WSR-88D doppler radar, that WBAL-TV viewers see on our HD-Doppler displays, will be upgraded with a new state-of-the-art system. The all important weather balloon launches done at Sterling, VA are now using an upgraded radiosonde instrument package and a new, highly detailed computer model, tailored for the Baltimore-Washington area is being run 7 times per day. These improvements being implemented by the National Weather Service will benefit all of us in this area, especially during big winter storms.

Speaking of winter storms…how about the blizzard in Colorado today?!? The 8:00 a.m. MST observation at Denver showed heavy snow, visibility down to 1/8th of a mile with a temperature of 22f and winds from the north gusting to 36 mph! A nightmare for travelers but a dream come true for snow lovers. That storm will probably bring us some rain Friday into Saturday. A second storm churning across the Pacific toward the west coast may arrive here late on Christmas Day. By then there is at least a small chance that some colder air will be available for some wintry precipitation in parts of Maryland…stay tuned.

Tom Tasselmyer


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