Thunderstorms, showers prompt coastal flood advisory

March 21, 2011|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

The crash of thunderstorms greeted morning commuters Monday morning, prompting coastal flood warnings, according to the National Weather Service.

Showers and thunderstorms will continue this morning, with a chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms, said meteorologist Andy Woodcock in the weather service's Sterling, Va., office. Highs will be in the mid-60s, he said.

There is a coastal flood advisory, he said, with minor flooding possible. "In terms of freak out factor, this is low," he said.

Woodcock said it was unusual to have thunderstorms this early in the year and this early in the morning, but it was possible because of lingering cold temperatures.

Usually, "the higher a cloud lifts in the sky, there's a better chance there could be lightning," he said. When it's cold, however, "clouds don't have to be lifted up as high to generate electrification."

In the summer, clouds would have to be at 40,000 feet; at this time of year it can be 16,000 feet, Woodcock said. "If you get the right incidence of lift of the cloud and cold temperatures in the upper atmosphere, that can happen," he said.

However, no severe weather such as wind gusts have been forecast at this time, he said.

The precipitation adds more to a rainy month. BWI Marshall Airport has already received 4.9 inches of rainfall in March, when the average is 2.58, Woodcock said. Since Jan. 1, however, totals are only a half-inch above normal, because January and February were dry, he said.

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