The cold facts: Temperatures expected to stay below freezing for several days

December 28, 1993|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Staff Writer

Cold. Frio. Froid.

That's about the only way to add variety to Baltimore's forecast for the next several days, as below-normal temperatures settle in for a post-Christmas visit.

Highs are expected to stay in the 20s, while lows will be in the upper teens. Snow was in the forecast for this morning, but the National Weather Service predicted Baltimore would catch just the northern edge of the storm as it moved through.

The best-case scenario? The mercury may edge up to 32 degrees, the freezing mark, by Thursday.

"We were spoiled a little bit in the first part of the month, with warmer than normal temperatures, and now we're getting below normal and people are taking notice," said Ken Shaver of the National Weather Service.

It probably won't be a record-breaking cold. Nor is it a cold worthy of a nickname, like the Siberian Express that roared through 10 years ago and set some of the very records against which Baltimore now measures itself. (Today's record low of 5 degrees in Baltimore, however, was set in 1914.)

The cold weather was responsible for one fatality, authorities reported. The body of JoAnn Dunway Brown, 39, of 21 E. Cedar Hill Lane in Brooklyn Park was found Sunday at the Cedar Hill Cemetery near her home. An autopsy showed she died of exposure, Anne Arundel County police said.

L Elsewhere in the metropolitan area, there were few problems.

Yesterday, Baltimore had fewer than 10 complaints for broken pipes and lack of water service, said Nick Stephen, chief of the utility maintenance division for the city's Department of Public Works.

"If the weather continues at these below-freezing temperatures we would expect to see water mains start to break," Mr. Stephen said. "It's a normal thing that happens every year at the time."

The department recommends that in buildings with a history of freezing pipes people run a thin, continuous stream of cold water through their pipes. But in households without such problems, this preventive measure should be avoided because it would run up water bills, he said.

Baltimore's homeless shelters have not experienced problems finding beds for people, said Susan Thompson, an administrative assistant with the Mayor's Office on Homeless Services, although the number of beds, about 1,600, falls short of the 2,400 people estimated to be homeless. "A lot of it is due to the fact that folks are more likely to have a place to go at Christmastime," she said, explaining that friends and relatives, moved by holiday sentiment, may find room temporarily for the homeless.

City officials estimate the demand for shelter by counting the riders on the Mass Transit Administration bus that serves 13 shelters. The bus begins its rounds at 6 p.m. at Broadway and North Avenue, stopping at six downtown sites and in Fells Point.

Over the past week, fewer than 100 people have shown up for the shuttle each night, slightly below the average, Ms. Thompson said.

She said anyone knowing of a need for shelter should call a hot line, 685-0525 or ask a police officer for guidance.

Weather forecasters said yesterday that new snow accumulation was most likely in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.

said demand was up but the weather had created no problems for the utility.

The area's cold wave was triggered last week by what the weather service calls "clippers" -- fast-moving low pressure systems packing frigid air. "These systems would go zipping through every day, and each one brought in a little more cold air, moving so fast we never had time to recover," Mr. Shaver said. "Finally, the one Christmas night did us in. That really brought in the cold air and the winds and we haven't recovered yet."

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