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Rainiest year on record in Carroll County could yet yield snowy winter

Rainiest year on record in Carroll County could yet yield snowy winter
Passersby share an umbrella as they walk through the parking lot at Carroll Hospital Center in Westminster as rain falls Nov. 9, 2018. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times file)

“Well … soggy.”

That’s how Bobby Miller, a National Weather Service observer based in Carroll County near the Pennsylvania line, described the past year.

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It rained a lot in 2018.

The most ever in the county, according Miller, who’s been tracking precipitation totals since August 1981 on his own accord and since November 1987 for NWS.

His rainfall totals reached 79.65 inches of rain by midnight Dec. 31, he told the Times on Thursday. Miller’s previous record was 63.48 inches — more than a foot less — in 2011. He said he shattered that tally in October.

Those numbers are in line with those officially recorded at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. The precipitation total of 71.82 inches in 2018 blew away the previous record of 62.66, according to The Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore weather stats have been kept since 1871.

According to U.S. climate data, Westminster sees just under 42 inches of rain during an average year. But 2018 was anything but average.

“I’ve never seen a year like this,” Miller said. “What was unusual is we didn’t really” get smashed by a hurricane or tropical storm.

But a couple of storms, including Hurricane Michael in October, contributed greatly to the historically wet year, said Keith Krichinsky, director of Foot’s Forecast.

Ten days of nearly constant rain in early June. One July weekend yielded 6 inches of precipitation.

Cranberry Branch Creek reached a peak water level of 8.73 feet in July, surpassing the previous record of 7.5. Cascade Lake overflowed, prompting a controlled breach of the dam.

The rains just wouldn’t relent.

Krichinsky said he’s been approached by people telling him that this winter is already a bust — save for an early snowstorm in November.

Not so fast, the forecaster said.

“I was reading today how the scientists are predicting the polar vortex is going to split into three different regions and one of those is going to play havoc with our area,” he said. It’s going to make temperatures plenty cold for snow “and set up a blocking high over the northeast Atlantic, which will keep those storms from moving too quickly through us.”

That means there likely will be snow.

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Krichinsky expects there will be two to three “really good snows,” he said. “Not just 3- [or] 4-inch things, I’m talking about enough to close schools for a couple of days.”

Don’t expect that snow to come for the next few weeks.

Right now, Krichinsky said, the area is amid a four-day pattern — meaning there will be some weather event every couple of days.

Over the next week to 10 days, temperatures should remain on the warmer side, he said, thus any weather event will likely yield rain.

Krichinsky predicts snow will come sometime after Jan. 15, he said. “By that time it will be plenty cold for snow to appear.”

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