Winter follows predictions of less snow, mild

February 02, 1999|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

So far, so good.

With December and January past, Baltimore's winter weather has performed as predicted -- mild, with fewer snowstorms than normal.

January ended with an average temperature of 35.1 degrees -- 3.3 degrees above normal at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

December was milder, averaging 4.3 degrees warmer than normal. National Weather Service statisticians regard December, January and February as the official winter months.

January's temperatures ranged from a low of 7 degrees to a high of 68 degrees, but no records were set; December's from 9 degrees to 77 degrees. The high tied a record.

Snow at BWI in January totaled 3.9 inches -- 2.7 inches less than normal. The season's snowfall totals 6.9 inches -- 4.4 inches below normal.

January precipitation totaled 4.7 inches, which is 1.65 inches more than normal. It was the first monthly surplus since March, and ended a monthslong drought for all of Maryland except for the counties south of Baltimore.

Precipitation for the season remains stingy. December produced 1.27 inches -- more than 2 inches less than the 30-year average.

Baltimore has not seen an abnormally cold winter month in three years. The last month regarded by the weather service as truly frigid was in January 1994.

"The last month with above-normal snowfall was March three winters ago, during the extraordinarily snowy winter of 1995-96," said weather service meteorologist Chris Strong.

Forecasters had predicted Maryland's mild, relatively snow-free winter as a likely consequence of La Nina -- an abnormal cooling of the surface waters of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that began last summer.

February -- ordinarily Baltimore's snowiest month -- is forecast to be warmer than normal. The weather service sees no clear trend either way for precipitation.

Pub Date: 2/02/99

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