If this is Dec. 5, it must be snowing

December 05, 2009|By Frank D. Roylance

Whether you see it as a charm or a curse, it looks as if Dec. 5 is going to bring snow to Baltimore again, for the sixth time in the past eight years.

A winter weather advisory was posted for the Baltimore-Washington area late Friday. Forecasters said residents should expect 1 to 2 inches of snow today as morning rain begins to mix and change to all snow amid falling temperatures.

Points north and west of the city could see 2 to 4 inches of snow before it all tapers off after 9 p.m. To the south and east, there will be little or no accumulation.

"It's definitely going to be a fine line between where you have rain and where there will be accumulating snow. But it does appear that Baltimore will receive accumulating snow," said Andrew Ansorge of Penn State Weather Communications in State College, Pa.

The Appalachians as far south as Tennessee could see several inches of snow as this coastal storm moves from the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast Atlantic coast. But forecasters here say the ground remains relatively warm. They're looking for mostly wet highways, slush on the local roads and wet snow on grassy areas.

"It doesn't appear like there will be any freezing rain or sleet at this time," Ansorge said. "I think it will be cold enough to start freezing the overpasses" as the mercury falls toward the upper 20s tonight. "That's where it can be quite slick if it's not treated."

A trace of snow or more today at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport would extend the Dec. 5 streak.

BWI has recorded at least a trace of snow on every Dec. 5 since 2002, except for two years - in 2004 and 2008. And in 2008, a leap year with an added day, snow (0.6 inch) fell on Dec. 6.

The amounts of snow that have fallen on Dec. 5 over the past seven years have varied, from 7.4 inches in 2002 to just a trace in 2006.

It's a curiosity, a bit of weather lore. But it would be a mistake to read much into it.

"It's more of a coincidence," Ansorge said. "With a longer period of record, I doubt there would be a statistically significant correlation."

This storm is the same one that began in the western Gulf of Mexico and dragged cold air south into Texas on Friday. Snow was falling in Houston on Friday, and 2 to 4 inches were forecast in some locations.

The Dec. 4 snowfall was the earliest measurable snow on record for South Texas, breaking the previous record, set Dec. 10 last year.

From there, the low was expected to track across the Deep South overnight, producing snow for Jackson, Miss., and Birmingham, Ala., before reaching the Atlantic. Forecasters said it would then intensify and march up the East Coast by this morning.

The counterclockwise flow around the low will draw colder air into Maryland on north winds, changing rain to snow.

The next few weeks look as if they will produce more "Ohio Valley Express" storms, Ansorge said, with systems moving from the Northern Plains, through the Ohio Valley into the Northeast. These tend not to produce as much snow in Central Maryland as the classic coastal nor'easters.

But snow lovers can take heart: "I think we will see more of these coastal storms as we head through the winter," he said.

Sunday, at least, looks sunny.

The streak
2008: None (but it was a leap year, and there was 0.6 inch on the 6th).

2007: 4.7 inches

2006: Trace

2005: 1.4 inches (and another 1.9 inches on the 6th)

2004: None (and none on the 6th)

2003: 3 inches (and another 3.8 inches on the 6th)

2002: 7.4 inches (and a trace on the 6th)

> Read Frank Roylance's blog on MarylandWeather.com

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