Where do I begin ... Let's start with the possible storms later today (Thursday). A cold front moves in later in the afternoon, sparking thunderstorms as it approaches. Some of these storms could be severe, with rain and wind the main threat. The cold front will progress to the SE and stall over Southern MD. The severe storms should be more likely around Baltimore City and north, although Southern MD could see storms into the evening hours since the front will be stalled there. Most storms should start after 2:00 pm, although, if the morning clouds linger longer, the severity of the storms will be diminished. I expect to see flash flood watches issued for the Baltimore area, but thus far none have been issued.
Ok, now on to Irene: I hate to say this, but the track continues to wobble and will do so until later Thursday or so when I should have a better idea of the exact track. This is a large storm and should continue to grow before it makes landfall in NC. As I have been saying, don't necessarily focus on the exact path, but know that the area will experience strong winds and heavy rain this weekend. The cold front moving through Thursday and stalling over Southern MD may have an effect on the path, but I stress "may". If the front is too weak, no effect, if it is strong enough than the issue will be position and timing. The front could either move Irene to the east, or could steer her north up the Bay. This is one of the reasons I am not yet sure on the path, but once I see what the front is doing, then we can better forecast.
Of note, we should remain on the west side of the storm, the weaker side with winds from the north and west, pushing water out of the Bay. But, tropical storm force winds are probable all the way to PA, meaning winds in the 40s mph for a prolonged time and rain amounts of 8+ inches.
Timing: it looks like rain could begin later Friday, but definitely Saturday with the heaviest rainfall Saturday night. Sunday, as the center passes the Bay and the winds shift, the rain may slacken, but the winds will pick up for most of the day Sunday.
Please prepare yourselves for a prolonged strong weather event which could cause power outages. Not to scare anyone, but being prepared is prudent, for any shift in the path to the west or north would change my current forecast for the worst.
I will have another update Thursday night, and come Saturday I will be glued to the radar, etc posting timely updates here and more frequently on Twitter (@wxmanmd). The Weather Phone (443-470-9804) is updated as needed.