Tempermental Temperatures

Sunday provided an excellent example of local climatology. It was a very nice day with milder than usual temperatures that ran 10 to 15 degrees above the seasonal average in most areas. The exception was locations around the Chesapeake Bay where winds were light today and water temperatures were running in the upper 30s to near 40 degrees.

The official high temperature recorded at BWI-Marshall, an inland location, was 57 degrees. In Annapolis, at the Naval Academy along the Severn River, the high was 10 degrees cooler at 47 degrees. The near water weather stations at Martin State Airport and the Maryland Science Center peaked out at 48 degrees.

A more regional climatological feature will have an equally dramatic effect on Monday temperatures. An approaching weather system will start to push into an area of high pressure centered near the New England coast. This will generate a reverse “s” shaped warm front to the west and south of the Baltimore area during the morning and afternoon. The air east of the front will be generally cloudy and cooler with easterly winds coming off the ocean. The air west of the front will be warmer with the air coming up from the west and south. This effect is known as “cold air damming”. On Monday Baltimore will be in the cooler air but the “damming” will be relatively short-lived and the front should move to the east Monday night. Sometimes a warm front will stall out and the “cold air damming” will last for a day or two, resulting in chilly, damp and dreary weather.

At the moment most of the computer models are in general agreement that once the warm front slips to the east the area will be in mild air for a couple of days with temperatures running close to 20 degrees above the seasonal average. As is often the case in the weather game, something is often lost when something “good” happens. In this week’s case the warmer temperatures are being pumped into the area by a series of weather disturbances that will increase the chances for rain.

John Collins

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