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Baltimore's latest snowfall

It seems unseasonably cool out there this morning. Actually, it's just about right. The low at BWI-Marshall was 51, a degree above the long-term average for May 9. Here are the normal lows for this time of year. But it was nothing like it was on this date in 1923, when snow fell in downtown Baltimore. That trace of snow still stands as the latest on record for the city.

The archives of The Sun contain a clipping from May 10, 1923 that recounts that miserable day:

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"Reports from various sections of the state say considerable damage was caused to the fruit crops by the sudden drop in temperature so late in the spring," the story says. The thermometer dropped to 40 degrees in the city, and even lower elsewhere.

"The heaviest snow was reported from the mountains in the vicinity of Altamont, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where a depth of three inches is said to have fallen," the story continues. "The temperature there at an early morning hour was 30 degrees. The ground at Frostburg was covered with snow throughout the day, with blizzard weather prevailing."

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"The storm (in Cumberland) recalled the blizzard of May 10, 1861, when more than two feet fell and small game was driven from the mountains to the city for want of food," the writer says. There were "flurries" in many parts of Baltimore County. The city saw sleet during the storm, which was preceded by thunder and lightning.

So, all you snow-phobes, you may now rest easy. There's virtually no chance for snow again for exactly five months - until Oct. 9. That's the date of the earliest snowfall on record in Baltimore. The flakes fell on Oct. 9, 1895, and again on the same date in 1903. And lest you think that such freak events are a thing of the dim past, you'll note that the earliest measurable snow for Baltimore - 0.3 inch - fell on Oct. 10, 1979. The earliest significant accumulation was a 2.4-inch storm on Oct. 30, 1925.

The bad news is that the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season begins officially in exactly 23 days.

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