New year begins balmy and bright Unseasonably warm weather brings folks outside for fun in sun

January 05, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF Assistant City Editor David Michael Ettlin contributed to this article.

Baltimore-area residents flocked to parks and other amusements as balmy weekend weather brought an unseasonably warm start to the new year.

Yesterday's high temperature was 68 and Saturday's was 62, said Dave Thede, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Thede attributed the unusually warm weather to a high pressure system over Bermuda.

"During the summer months we typically have Bermuda highs, which give us warmer temperatures," Thede said yesterday. "It was the same thing for today."

At the U.S. Custom House, which monitors temperatures with an automated sensor, the high was 71, surpassing the 70 degrees reached in 1950, according to Sun records.

Thede said Custom House temperatures are not considered official.

"The Custom House always reads high because it's on top of a building surrounded by asphalt and air-conditioning vents," he said.

Record-breaking or not, the temperatures were high enough for folks to get out and enjoy a stroll in the park.

In Pasadena, hundreds went to Downs Park on the Chesapeake Bay shoreline to skate, walk and ride bikes in the sunshine.

Among them was Tim Carroll, owner of an awning company, who walked along the park's miles of pathways with his children -- Timmy, 7, Gabby, 6, and Mike, 3.

He was bemused by the weather, wondering where winter had gone.

"If it's going to snow, let it snow 3 feet," he said. "I don't like the 1 or 2 inches; it just makes a mess."

Snow?

That was the last thing on the mind of Baltimore resident Melanie Pefinis, a producer with Maryland Public Television, who rode her bike to the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus and lounged on the wide swath of grass known as "the beach" in front of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library.

"It reminds me of summer, and it felt like that today," Pefinis said.

Thede said the warm weather will continue over the next few days, with highs in the mid- to upper 60s and lows between 40 and 45 degrees. Later in the week, he predicted cloudy skies and a chance of showers, with temperatures dropping to the mid- to upper 50s.

Richard Knight, owner of the carousel at the Inner Harbor, hopes the warm spell sticks around for a while.

The comfortable weather allowed Knight to open the ride for the weekend. On Saturday, he sold more than 800 rides, and yesterday he was hoping for 500.

L "Thank you El Nino, this is better than Christmas," he said.

But Thede, of the National Weather Service, doubted that the temperatures of the past two days were produced by El Nino, a periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific.

"We weren't in an El Nino year last year and the temperatures were as warm as today," he said.

Pub Date: 1/05/98

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