Arctic chill grips state record likely

Mercury expected to reach between 0 and 5 degrees

Governor urges caution

Homeless shelters reported at or near capacity last night

February 05, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A blast of Arctic air that swept into Maryland this weekend is expected to bring the coldest morning this winter to parts of the state today, possibly breaking 40-year records for low temperatures.

The mercury was expected to drop to between zero and 5 degrees this morning at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, making it the coldest morning so far this winter at the airport, said Amet Figueroa, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

At midnight, the temperature was 8 degrees at BWI, the weather service reported. The record for the date is 7 degrees, set in 1955.

The temperature in Baltimore was likely to dip to about 10 degrees this morning -- well short of the minus 1 recorded for the city in 1886, Mr. Figueroa said.

Today's forecast for Central Maryland called for mostly sunny skies with highs in the teens to low 20s and partly sunny skies Tuesday, with highs in the low 20s.

In Western Maryland, temperatures were expected to drop to minus 5 to minus 15 degrees today in Allegany County and range from minus 10 to minus 20 in Garrett County.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday issued a statement urging people "to use caution" and to be compassionate by checking on neighbors, the elderly and any motorists stranded as a result of severe weather conditions.

"Maryland can expect to feel the brunt of this cold spell, with the coldest weather of the year expected to blanket Maryland today," the governor said in a statement.

Several Baltimore homeless shelters said they were at or near capacity last night.

"We had room for one more at 8 p.m., out of 190," said Hal Saal, supervisor at the Baltimore Rescue Mission, on North Central Avenue.

"I've been at the mission for 25 years, and this is the coldest winter I think I've ever seen. They're all talking about the cold."

Utility officials reported no weather-related outages yesterday, but said they anticipated a big demand for power this morning as customers left homes to return to work.

'We're asking customers to be conscious of the power they use, to make sure they're using it as efficiently as possible," said Angela Walters, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman. She advised customers to clear vents of any obstructions and clean snow from heat pumps, storm windows or doors.

Mr. Figueroa said the cold weather is due to the same blast of Arctic air that swept across the country last week and sent temperatures plummeting to record lows throughout the country, especially the upper Midwest. "It's a dense, large system of cold air that's pushed its way southward and eastward on the heels of the storm," Mr. Figueroa said.

Public works crews across Maryland continued to dig out streets and highways yesterday, cleaning up after a storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

Trash pickup almost everywhere was expected to return to its normal schedule today.

Schools also are expected to open at their usual times, but parents are advised to check area radio or television for announcements of cancellations or late openings. School officials usually wait until about 5 a.m. to make decisions on whether to close or open late. However, Anne Arundel school officials announced last night that schools would open two hours late today, with no morning kindergarten.

The cold weather yesterday had furnace and heating system technicians busy making emergency repairs.

"Today's a busy day because it's Sunday and people are home and because it's been very cold for a few days now," said Michael Giangrandi, owner of A. J. Michael's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning on York Road in Baltimore.

The cold weather overworked furnaces and prompted up to 30 calls to his company for service, roughly three times the usual number, he said.

Mr. Figueroa, the weather service forecaster, said it is impossible to say whether it will get colder this winter.

"It's gotten cold enough this winter as far as I'm concerned," he said.

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