Garrett County will have their weather forecasts, advisories, and alerts handled by a different National Weather Service (NWS) office beginning today November 17.
Garrett County will move from the NWS Pittsburgh Weather Forecast Office to the NWS Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office in Sterling, VA.
This change means that NWS Baltimore/Washington will now handle NWS forecasts and warnings for all Maryland counties west of the Chesapeake and including Cecil County. NWS Mount Holly will continue to handle forecasts for Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties while NWS Wakefield, VA. (Hampton Roads area) will continue to serve Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.
Typically, the Maryland Emergency Management Association (MEMA) coordinates weather advisory and alert calls with the NWS offices, local emergency managers, and state agencies in advance of major events like hurricanes, high-wind events, and winter storms.
“In developing our Hazard Mitigation Plan and our county-wide Emergency Response Plan, we have found that severe winter weather is Garrett County's highest threat,” said John Frank, Director of Garrett County Emergency Management. “By condensing NWS stations across Maryland, faster weather alerts will provide better situational awareness for our dedicated volunteers and staff to serve Garrett County's citizens and visitors.”
Garrett County had been a part of the Pittsburgh office since the 1990s, in large part, because the doppler radar at that NWS office better covered the area. However, improvements in technology now allow for easier sharing of weather data between offices.
NWS Baltimore/Washington has access to all of our surrounding 88D (doppler) radars - including KPBZ in Pittsburgh PA, KRLX in Charleston WV, KDOX in Dover DE, and KDIX in Mt. Holly, NJ. NWS Baltimore/Washington can utilize all of them, in addition to local weather observers, for the best forecast and warning service possible.
Broadcasters will continue to get the same NWS information to assist in their forecast for the Garrett County area. Only the NWS office that issues the NWS forecasts and warnings for Garrett and Cecil Counties will change. The service provided by radio or television will remain the same.
As part of the change, the National Weather Service will be offering a free online SKYWARN weather spotter class for Garrett County. The Garrett County class is on Nov. 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with additional classes to be announced.
The changeover was initially scheduled for last week but severe weather in Florida postponed the update for the NWS team.
For more information about this change, please visit the Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office news headlines