Storm leaves Md. a mess, with spring around the corner

March 15, 1991|By David Michael Ettlin

The weather was lousy, and Fred Davis, the National Weather Service's chief meteorologist for the Baltimore area, could take pride yesterday that his staff's forecast was right.

"We've been in a cloudy-rain-drizzly-sleet-snow situation," Mr. Davis said. "It's not like it's been sunny."

The mess came in Wednesday with a storm system from the west and rode out last night with another that was off the coast of New England by early today, leaving in its wake a few white brush strokes of winter but otherwise a rather soggy state.

But that may change, with sun and highs around 50 degrees expected today.

At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where Mr. Davis is based and official readings for the area are taken, the staff measured three-tenths of an inch of snow -- all washed away by rain.

That wasn't quite enough snow to reach 10 inches for the season at BWI. The season total stood last night at 9.4 inches -- less than half of the average 21.6 inches.

By contrast, a State Highway Administration dispatcher at Keysers Ridge -- a Garrett County outpost thought to be the snowiest place in Maryland -- reported 5.5 inches of snow since Wednesday and roughly 91.5 inches for the season.

"It's just another routine day for us," said the SHA worker, Doug Ellis, noting that 91.5 inches of snow can be defined as a mild winter by Garrett County standards. "The average used to be over 200 inches," he noted. "Now it's down to 120 to 130, our last five years have been so mild."

Snow was reported for most of Western and Central Maryland yesterday -- but the further east and lower the elevation, the less there was and more likely changed to rain.

Bobby Miller, 33, an amateur meteorologist and a cooperative observer for the National Weather Service since 1982, reported 4 inches of snow in his backyard in the northeastern Carroll County hamlet of Millers, some 500 feet below the Mason-Dixon line and 860 feet above sea level.

On the flatlands of the Eastern Shore, the snow was washed away by rain.

The precipitation total for the Baltimore area was nearly seven-tenths of an inch, and that would have translated over the two-day period into nearly 7 inches of snow had the temperatures been a few degrees chillier.

Mr. Davis also noted that spring arrives next Wednesday at 10:02 p.m. -- and recalled that the high temperatures in Baltimore last year for March 13 and March 14 were at quite another extreme, 92 and 85 degrees, respectively.

"Then, all the questions you guys gave us were about the greenhouse effect," he said. What a difference a year makes.

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