A long overdue blast of winter weather was due in Maryland, bringing snow late today to Western Maryland, with blustery winds and plummeting temperatures to central and eastern counties.
The National Weather Service said 3 to 6 inches of snow was possible in the extreme western portions of the state late today, after a coldfront sweeps through and drops temperatures out of the 50s and into the teens tonight.
For central Maryland, the forecast called for showers and RTC thunderstorms today, with winds increasing to 30 mph as the colder air approaches.
By tonight, lows will have reached the upper 20s, with gusty northwest winds diminishing to 10 to 20 mph.
The arctic wake-up call is long overdue for Marylanders. The overnight lows at Baltimore-Washington International Airport have reached the teens only twice this winter, on Dec. 19 (16 degrees) and Dec. 20 (14 degrees).
Baltimore has recorded no measureable snow yet this winter. The latest first-snow on record at the airport fell Feb. 21, 1973.
Last night's lows stuck in the balmy 50s in the Baltimore area, adding a dense fog to the light rain that slowed travel early today in many areas.
The mild winter thus far has saved hard-pressed subdivisions millions of dollars in snow-removal and road-salting costs.
The mild weather also has cut heating-fuel consumption by 8 percent in the suburbs, and by 23 percent downtown, the weather service said.
But it's back to reality today, as a low pressure system moves east out of the Ohio Valley, trailing a cold front packing strong northwest winds.
High-wind warnings and a snow advisory were posted for extreme Western Maryland. High temperatures there tomorrow will stick in the 20s.
The extended forecast calls for continued cold weather through Saturday, with a chance of snow showers Thursday and highs in the upper 20s to mid-30s and lows in the teens and 20s.
Next week's forecast calls for near-normal temperatures, with highs in the 30s to low-40s, and lows in the 20s.