Christmas: No snow but color it cold

December 25, 1992|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

The region won't have a white Christmas this year -- just cold one. As if anyone leaving home yesterday morning didn't already know that.

Gusts of wind between 45 and 50 mph greeted area residents venturing outside for some last-minute shopping on the day before Christmas. National Weather Service forecasters said they twice recorded gusts of 48 mph at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

WBAL employees reported a 50 mph gust on Television Hill in North Baltimore yesterday morning.

The wind knocked out power to about 10,000 area homes yesterday beginning about 10 a.m. Baltimore County was hardest hit, where the lights went out in about 3,000 homes, said Peggy Mulloy, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. All power was restored by 5 p.m.

Though temperatures were in the low 30s and upper 20s yesterday afternoon, meteorologists estimated the wind-chill factor to be as low as 5 degrees yesterday.

Today's wind gusts should diminish as temperatures plunge into the 20s tonight.

But all this frigidity will probably be wasted: There's only a very slight chance for snow showers Christmas night, according to Weather Service meteorologist Bob Melrose.

Otherwise, Christmas Day will be fair, with temperatures in the 30s and light winds, according to the Weather Service.

The absence of snow for Christmas should come as no surprise in Central Maryland, since there has been precious little reason for holiday sleigh rides over the course of two decades. Mr. Melrose said snow has fallen on Christmas only four times in the area since the 1970s -- and those flakes didn't amount to much: one-tenth of an inch in 1975, three-tenths in 1976, and traces in 1985 and 1989.

Snow is expected today in mountainous Garrett County in Western Maryland, with accumulations of 3 inches to 5 inches possible as a strong high pressure system blows in moisture from the Great Lakes with cold Canadian air, the Weather Service said.

Mr. Melrose predicted windy, cold and dry weather in the area tomorrow and Sunday.

Many Marylanders will be enjoying a four-day holiday this weekend, the first of four straight years when both Christmas and New Year's Day fit into a three-day weekend by falling on either Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

If you are traveling, you can expect busier airports, train stations and highways. Many economists expect the busiest travel season since the recession began in July 1990 because of the improving economy.

"They say it's standing room only," said Frank Heck of Baltimore as he waited Wednesday in Baltimore's Penn Station for a train to take him, his wife and son to his mother's house in Albany, N.Y. "We were hoping in the middle of the day, two days before Christmas, we would avoid it, but I'm afraid not."

Staff writers David Simon and John Rivera contributed to this article.

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