This is BIG news and it’s really GOOD news for Maryland weather information. The National Weather Service (NWS) is working with Maryland Emergency Management Agency to consolidate weather oversight for the state.
There will be a big step to consolidate weather alerts in the state from four offices to three. That will alleviate confusion I have been hearing about for over 20 years.
Since I moved to Maryland in 1997 to start working at WBAL-TV, there has been a consistent concern from some local residents feeling ignored or left out. As a meteorologist, I have always made my own weather forecasts. But official severe weather advisories, watches, and warnings come from The National Weather Service (a government agency).
Cecil County, I have NEVER forgotten about you! But, your watches and warnings have not always synced up with central Maryland. I know the weather does not stop at the Susquehanna River. Severe alerts may have seemed like it because that area has been under the Philadelphia NWS office in Mount Holly, NJ. That is about to change.
Garret County, I have always loved your high elevation mountains and snow totals. But being in a rural region in the western corner of Maryland, it didn’t help that your watches and warnings came from the NWS office in Pittsburgh, PA. Your area was their only county in Maryland. That is about to change.
Two Counties Will Join The Rest Of Central Maryland For Weather
Current NWS office regions are cooler coded here, with the change about to take place for Garrett and Cecil Counties.
On November 10, 2020 both Garrett County and Cecil County weather forecast and warning responsibilities will move under the Baltimore/Washington National Weather Service Office in Sterling, VA. That is the same office that covers central Maryland, DC, and northern Virginia.
If that day is deemed to be a Critical Weather Day, the change will be shifted one week later to November 17th.
NWS Zones Coverage Counties:
Sterling VA (LWX): Most of central Maryland west of the Chesapeake Bay, to Cumberland and Frostburg; plus north central Virginia.
- Now adding Garrett County in far western Maryland, and Cecil County in northeaster Maryland.
Mount Holly NJ: Cecil, Kent, Queen Annes, Talbot, and Caroline Counties in Maryland; plus all of Delaware.
Wakefield VA: Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore. This is for Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester Counties.
State College PA: Southern Pennsylvania including Adams, York, and Lancaster Counties.
What does this mean?
- One Office for weather forecasts for ALL of western Maryland.
- One Office for weather forecast along ALL of the I-95 corridor within Maryland.
- This will provide more fluid watches and warnings as needed. In the past, the three difference offices may not have put out their alerts at the same time, causing confusion with local residents.
NWS Baltimore/Washington will take over river forecast along the Susquehanna River at Conowingo Dam. Also, tide forecasts and warnings for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal at Chesapeake City.
Central Maryland: Split NWS Weather Zones
Even under the same NWS Sterling VA office, the counties are broken down and some are split to account for the climate zones.
These county zones are split in the ‘north and west’ areas of Baltimore are based on the elevation factor and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay.
- Harford and Baltimore have a a ‘northern’ split.
- Howard and Montgomery have a ‘western’ split. This follows the higher elevation from the geologic feature called the Fall Line.
School Delays/Closings (before COVID19)
Maryland issues school closings and delays on a county wide basis. Pennsylvania, like many other states actually break the responsibility down to individual districts. The makes for much longer lists on active winter weather days, but caters better to that local area.
The Hereford Zone in Baltimore County accounts for the colder climate with more snow and ice. Those schools have been featured, but many other counties could benefit from something similar.
It is possible that snow or ice cover part of these counties while other parts are wet. It’s pretty common in Harford County, with the change over with a few miles of I-95. But that county has charter schools and bus routes with larger areas that make it more difficult to enact a similar policy to Baltimore’s Hereford Zone. So sometimes that county will close, while it is wet in Abington or Haver de Grace. Or the county can be open but it is snowy and icy in Fallston, Jarrettsville, Pylesville, or Whiteford.
Wide Range Of Weather Across Small Area
I show this Average Annual Snowfall Map in every FITF school assembly. It is fascinating how much the weather can change in the winter just a few miles inland from the Chesapeake Bay and in the higher hills Northwest of I-95.
Yes, McHenry and Oakland get around 104 inches of snow in an average winter. This is going to add more fun to our local NWS office.
I will be updating our snowfall history in a new Winter Weather Page. That will be ready soon. FITF
14 Local Maryland Pages (and York PA)
We have made a page for Maryland Weather which gives you the current conditions for 14 present area locations. Many of these match up with the spots on our route. Please use this list below are reference. I will include them daily with my articles on the kids.
Maryland Weather Page
I wanted to keep it simple. Just the basics for a quick view at any time.
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FITF and SnowStix Stores are now OPEN
- Thanks to my wife Shannon who wanted to bring these hats to life.
- The Maryland Hoodie is high quality and a new way to show off our love of Snow and State.
- New items will be added soon.
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Construction at the airport close to the weather station may be added artificial heat. Click here or the image for the details.
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