Maryland Environmental Service will measure snow at airport this winter.
When the snowflakes start flying at Baltimore's airport this winter, a new group of employees will be wielding the yardstick.
Maryland Environmental Service, an independent state agency, is replacing a federal contractor that inadvertently inflated last year's snow totals by failing to follow the rules prescribed by the National Weather Service.
The errors forced meteorologists to recalculate both individual storm accumulations at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and the seasonal snow totals. That knocked more than 3 inches from the previous total. The result was a "conservative estimate," meteorologists admitted, but nevertheless a record 77 inches.
"Fortunately or unfortunately, there is a policy prescribed by the National Climatic Data Center that we've got to follow," said James E. Lee, meteorologist in charge at the weather service's Baltimore- Washington forecast office, in Sterling, Va.
"We think we're starting on a real good track this year for climatological snowfall observations at the three major airports we cover," he said.
MES spokeswoman Christina Garrigan said the weather service contract is not yet final. But employees will be trained to do the snow measurements in the manner prescribed by the National Weather Service.
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