It looks like Old Man Winter may not be so blustery after all

January 02, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

Long-range weather forecasters have reversed themselves again, and now predict warmer-than-normal temperatures for the balance of the Baltimore region's winter season

Dr. Robert Livezey, of the National Weather Service's Climate Analysis Center in Camp Springs, Md., says the new 90-day forecast for Central Maryland predicts a 55- to 60-percent chance of warmer than normal temperatures through March.

Precipitation is expected to be about normal.

That's the same prediction Livezey's office made in its Nov. 1 forecast for the season through January. In their Dec. 1 prognostication, however, the forecasters flip-flopped and announced the likelihood of 90 days of colder-than-normal temperatures through February.

That forecast "is not viable any more," Livezey said. It was based on the expectation of ocean warming in the tropical Pacific that usually leads to the "El Nino" phenomenon, which can bring cold winter weather to the Eastern U.S.

"We had good reasons to think one of these things was going to occur," he said. "Well, it doesn't look like it's going to happen now. It didn't warm up in the central equatorial Pacific, or it hasn't yet."

"That tells everybody how much you can depend on those things," said Ken Shaver, a National Weather Service forecaster at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Shaver said that despite the chilly forecast, December turned out to be the fourth-warmest on record at BWI, averaging 42.2 degrees, about normal for Raleigh, N.C. The airport's norm is 36.5 degrees.

December averaged 42.3 degrees at the Custom House downtown, well below the 46.5-degree record set there in 1956.

December's balmy exit clinched 1990's claim to the title as the warmest year in 120 years of record-keeping in Baltimore.

Shaver said record-breaking temperatures in the 60s and 70s in the year's waning days pushed the year's average to 61.1 degrees at the Custom House downtown.

That's 3.2 degrees above the 57.9-degree annual average for the city. It's also well above the prior record of 59.2 degrees established in 1931 and tied in 1949.

At BWI, temperatures in 1990 averaged 57.9 degrees.

That's 2.8 degrees above the 55.1-degree airport average, and almost a full degree above the prior record of 57 degrees established in 1953.

Airport records go back only to 1950.

Precipitation at the airport in 1990 was almost precisely normal, totaling 41.88 inches. The 30-year average is 41.84 inches.

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