Archive for January, 2008

Windy Wednesday
January 31, 2008

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The cold front that swept across the state on Wednesday produced strong winds from the mountains to the coast. The peak wind gust at BWI-Marshall was 49 mph and here at our weather station on T.V. Hill in northwest Baltimore we had a gust to 43 mph at 9:48 a.m.

Tom Tasselmyer

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Tornado Producing Blizzard
January 30, 2008

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Low pressure over northern Michigan late Tuesday evening is sweeping a strong cold front through the midwest. The front has produced some wild weather as bitterly cold arctic air slams into unseasonably mild, spring-like air over the Mississippi valley. Severe thunderstorms rumbled ahead of the front Tuesday afteroon with reports of possible tornadoes near Okawville, IL and Gordonville, MO. A dramatic temperature drop across the cold front revealed a high of 73 at St. Louis Tuesday afternoon compared to a high of 10 below zero at Bismarck, ND! The strong winds associated with the frontal passage were producing widespread blowing snow in Iowa and northern Illinois, creating blizzard conditions. Some observations from the Chicago area Tuesday night included winds gusting to near 50 mph with visibility dropping to around 1/4 mile and wind chills around -20. The 11:00pm EST reports:

ITY           SKY/WX    TMP DP  RH WIND       PRES   REMARKS
OHARE SNOW 5 1 83 W29G46 29.41R VSB 1/2 WCI -19
MIDWAY SNOW 6 3 87 W28G40 29.43R VSB 1/2 WCI -17
AURORA SNOW 4 -1 80 W35G48 29.47R VSB 1/2 WCI -22
LANSING* SNOW 9 5 85 W18G39 29.41R VSB 1/2 WCI -10
JOLIET* HVY SNOW 5 1 85 W24G37 29.49R VSB 1/4 WCI -17
WAUKEGAN SNOW 7 2 80 W20G39 29.33R VSB 1/2 WCI -13
WEST CHICAGO HVY SNOW 4 -1 80 W28G40 29.45R VSB 1/4 WCI -20
WHEELING SNOW 6 2 83 W23G37 29.41R VSB 1/2 WCI -15
KANKAKEE* CLOUDY 10 7 85 W25G35 29.50R VSB<1/4 WCI -10
MORRIS* SNOW 7 3 85 W43G48 29.50R VSB 1/2 WCI -20
LEWIS AIRPORT* HVY SNOW 5 0 78 W33G41 29.45R VSB<1/4 WCI -20

ABBREVIATIONS USED IN REMARKS
WCI - WIND CHILL INDEX
VSB - VISIBILITY

Tie down the loose objects, this strong cold front is expected to move through Baltimore Wednesday morning. Gusty winds and falling temperatures will accompany the front with the possibility of a few rumbles of thunder before skies clear up. Another storm will move into the area Thursday night with a chance for freezing rain.

Tom Tasselmyer

Historic Snowfall
January 28, 2008

It was known as the Knickerbocker Storm and it hit the Baltimore-Washington area on January 27-29. The following is a description of the storm taken from the archives of the National Weather Service Office at Sterling, Virginia.

John Collins
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January 27-29, 1922: Exactly 150 years after the Washington and Jefferson Storm, a powerful nor’easter brought the deepest snow of this century and the storm of record to Maryland and the District of Columbia. College Park and Cambridge both set record one day totals with 24 inches of snow in 24 hours.

Temperatures were quite cold across the area before the storm hit setting up excelent conditions for a heavy snow fall. On the 26th, Washington recorded a low of only 11F as arctic air settled in ahead of the nor’easter.

By the 29th, a maximum snow swath of 30 to 32 inches lay across southern Baltimore, eastern Howard, northern Prince Georges, northern Anne Arundel and portions of DC. Weather stations at Baltimore and Washington, DC recorded their all time greatest storm totals with 26.5 inches in Baltimore and 28 inches in Northwest Washington. Southern Maryland saw 20 inches, the Eastern Shore 8 inches, Washington County 12 inches and 25 inches in the Allegany Mountains highlands and 16 inches at Oakland.

Strong northeast winds (gusting up to 50 mph) created blizzard conditions and heavy drifting blocked roads. Some remained impassable for days. The main highways were opened in two to four days. In Baltimore, the cost of cleaning the streets was $50,000 and losses to railroads and businesses was $60,000.

The weight of the snow caused what the Washington Post called “the greatest disaster in Washington’s history”. The roof of the Knickerbocker Theater on 18th Street and Columbia in Northwest DC collapsed taking the balcony down with it. An estimated 900 people were in the theater at the time. While many escaped, 98 people were crushed to death and another 158 injured. A small boy squeezed between the rupple to help administer pain pills to victims that remained trapped for hours.

The storm became now known historically as the Knickerbocker Storm.

Winter Retreat?
January 28, 2008

A few days into 2008 everyone was wondering if winter would ever arrive. Persistent cold weather had yet to move in and snow was not an issue. 11 of the first 14 days of January recorded high temperatures that were above the 30 year seasonal average. Two of those days reached 70 for the high.

Cold weather finally hit on January 15 and 9 out of the next 12 days registered colder than average temperatures. On the 17th of January, a storm produced 2 to 5 inches of snow in the area and it looked like winter had finally arrived in earnest. It has been cold enough that remnants of that snow are still visible this weekend.

It looks like today starts a turnaround with temperatures heading up. The average high for the end of the month remains in the low 40s and the forecast for the coming week is calling for high temperatures at or above that mark. It may even get close to 50 on a couple of days.

The end of winter? Not really. There is still plenty of time for another invasion or two of arctic air. Enjoy the milder temperatures while we have them.

John Collins

Mid Atlantic Snowcover
January 25, 2008

On Thursday, January 24, a weather disturbance spun up off the Mid Atlantic coast. It produced light snow fall on the Maryland-Delaware-Virginia Eastern Shore. The GOES visable satellite picture below taken late Friday morning, January 25 clearly shows the snow on the ground on the Eastern Shore and southern New Jersey coast. There is also snowcover over western Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania that was deposited in previous storms and lake effect snow events.
Snow Cover Friday, January 25, 2008
Snow depths include:

Caroline County; Henderson 2.5″, Ridgely & Denton 1.3″

Queen Anne’s County; Stevensville area 1.0″

Talbot County; Trappe 1.4″, Cordova 1.1″, Easton 1.0″, St Michaels .8″

Delaware; Dover 1.1″, Lewes 2.0″, Georgetown .5″

New Jersey; Atlantic City 2.5″, Cape May 1.5″

John Collins

The 30 Below Club!
January 25, 2008

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Back on the 3rd of January I posted the locations in northern New England that had joined this winter’s 20 Below Club…official weather stations that had dropped to 20 below zero or colder. Three weeks later some towns in the upper midwest have taken it a bit further and so…here is the 30 Below Club:

Cook, MN: -35
International Falls, MN: -32
Big Fork, MN: -31
Bangor, WI: -31
Hibbing, MN: -30

How low will it go this winter? Will we see the 40 Below Club in the next few weeks? Stay tuned…

Tom Tasselmyer

Off Shore Low Brushes Eastern Shore
January 25, 2008

tt_thur_snowfallWhat a difference a few miles can make with weather systems in the mid Atlantic! Just as the computer models were forecasting, low pressure formed off the North Carolina coast in the early morning of Thursday and tracked northeast to a position east of the Delmarva Thursday evening. And, as is always the case, “the exact positon of the low” meant some areas of Maryland saw accumulating snow while others saw some sunshine. The cold front moving in from the mountains triggered a some heavy snow showers in the higher elevations of western Maryland and a few flurries around central Maryland but the eastern shore, especially from Queen Anne’s County south and east, was under the influence of the storm just off the coast. These areas had a few hours of light to moderate snow resulting in accumulations of 1-3″. Gusty winds and cold air will sweep in behind the departing storm, keeping temperatures below normal into the weekend.

Tom Tasselmyer

Thursday Snow Scenario…11pm update
January 24, 2008

tt_low_near_coast tt_rpm_snowfcstA strong cold front is marching east of Chicago this evening and will push into the mid Atlantic states on Thursday. As the front nears the coast, low pressure is expected to develop near the North Carolina outer banks and track northeast to a position off the Delmarva Thursday night. If the coastal low is not too far east, parts of Maryland may see some accumulating snow from late Thursday morning into the early evening. The evening computer model runs have adjusted the area of highest snowfalls onto the central eastern shore and across central Delaware. By late Thursday evening, snowfall amounts of just a trace up to 2″ will be possible west of the bay, with 2-4″, or more, possible in the favored areas of the eastern shore and Delaware. The critical element of this forecast will be the position and strength of the off shore low.

Tom Tasselmyer

Clipper Snow Possible
January 23, 2008

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Another surge of cold air will move south from Canada into the upper midwest on Wednesday. Low pressure developing on the leading edge of the cold air mass is expected to track through the mid Atlantic states Thursday afternoon and intensify as it moves east of the Delmarva Thursday night. A 150 mph jet stream in the upper atmosphere is forecast to accompany the low pressure system as it moves past Maryland. The system will likely be rather dry, but the strong jet stream may provide enough lift to squeeze out the limited moisture and produce some snow accumulations. Brisk winds behind the storm will drag cold air into Maryland for Friday. Check back for updates as the low approaches on Wednesday.

Tom Tasselmyer

Monday Record Breaker?
January 21, 2008

Arctic air now has a solid grip on the Mid Atlantic Region. Sunday was raw with daytime temperatures stuck in the low 20s. The Sunday high was 34, recorded just after midnight. The low around daybreak was 19 but with falling evening temperatures the actual low for the day will be recorded just before midnight.

The Monday morning low temperature is expected to be the coldest of the season. The January 4th low of 15 degrees is the coldest it has been so far this winter. Monday morning’s temperatures are expected to range from the single digits (above zero) into the low teens. The question is, will a record be broken?

MondayRecordBreaker

The answer is, not likely. This is the time of year that it is tough to break the low records unless below zero readings are in the forecast. Thirteen of the January record lows are below zero and six are below zero in February.

The all-time low in the official Baltimore records is -7. This reading was recorded on several dates:

January 17, 1982
January 22, 1984
January 29, 1963
February 9, 1934
February 10, 1899

It looks like the best we will be able to do Monday is settle for the coldest temperature so far this winter season and let it go at that.

John Collins