State must brace itself for chilly temperatures Cold front from west, strong winds from north send thermometer to zero

February 04, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The coldest weather of the year is expected to settle over Maryland today, less than a month after the Blizzard of '96 and a day after snow again blanketed the state.

A bitter cold front moving in from the west and strong winds from the north are expected to drop temperatures to 20 degrees today, said Tim Myers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Northerly winds gusting between 10 mph and 20 mph will bring the wind chill to zero or as low as 5 below zero. "We'll really feel the chill," Mr. Myers said.

It may be a bit warmer tomorrow, with highs in the upper 20s, he said.

On Tuesday, highs are expected to hit the low 30s, and more precipitation is expected Wednesday, Mr. Myers said.

The frigid temperatures come less than 24 hours after a winter storm blanketed much of the state with snow. Most of Central and Western Maryland received about 6 inches of snow. Cumberland in Allegany County reported about 4 inches, while Owings Mills in Baltimore County received about 7 inches.

Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore were hit the hardest. Hollywood in St. Mary's County reported 17 inches of snow, while Cambridge in Dorchester County received about 21 inches. Snow fell in those areas for nearly 24 hours; it fell for only six hours in Baltimore, Mr. Myers said.

"The duration and intensity of the storm helped them get three times more snow than we did," Mr. Myers said. "It was just a big sloth of snow, freezing rain and sleet."

The worst of the storm followed a narrow band stretching from Virginia across St. Mary's County to Rehoboth, Del. Pocomoke City, for example, reported only 4 inches of snow, but Ocean City only 30 miles away received about 12 inches.

The storm was caused by a combination of two weather fronts, Mr. Myers said. A cold front from the northern plains of the United States forced itself beneath a mass of warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. That, in turn, created the moisture that was converted into snow by the low temperatures, he said.

Tonight, temperatures are expected to dip anywhere between zero to 5 degrees below zero, Mr. Myers said.

Temperatures should rise every day to a high of 45 degrees on Wednesday, he said.

Experts suggest staying inside and avoid braving the cold temperatures.

But if you must go out, here are a few tips for keeping warm:

* Wear loose layers of clothing to trap warm air next to the body.

* Keep clothing dry.

* Cover yourself evenly. Do not wear thick layers on your chest and only thin slacks on your legs.

* Wear a hat, and shoes or boots with thick soles and linings.

* If you suffer a power outage, call BGE's customer service at 685-0123 or (800) 699-0123.

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