Winter puts a little spring in our steps

Weather: High temperatures make for a day to romp outside -- with more to come.

January 03, 2000|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

After a week that felt like winter, Marylanders enjoyed a preview of spring yesterday -- and record-tying temperatures.

They emerged from hibernation, shed their coats and basked in the unseasonable temperatures. Some even ice-skated amid the puddles of water at outdoor rinks.

It was, they agreed, a day to spend outdoors.

"Global warming has its good side," joked Kevin Bailey, 44, who walked his two mixed-breed dogs in Baltimore's Druid Hill Park.

Temperatures were high across the state, but only Salisbury met a record. Temperatures there hit a local high of 68 degrees, tying the record set Jan. 2, 1985, according to the National Weather Service.

At Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the high was 68 degrees, measured at the Maryland Science Center. The record for Baltimore is 71 degrees, set in 1876.

Compare that with the normal high for the day, 41 degrees -- which is colder than the lows of 45 to 50 degrees predicted for last night, meteorologists said.

"If you like warm weather, today is the day," Julie Arthur, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said yesterday.

The weather service reported that high temperatures ranged from 70 degrees at Cumberland in Western Maryland to 58 degrees at Martin State Airport in Middle River, a cooler spot because of its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay.

Expecting the unexpected

Bailey, who walks his dogs twice daily in Druid Hill Park, has learned to expect the unexpected where area weather is concerned.

"Meteorologically, Baltimore's a funny place," he said. "It's very unpredictable."

Baltimore residents Thomas and Mytokia Fair jogged in Druid Hill Park yesterday with son Geoffrey Pickett, 20, and his friend, 24-year-old Jasmine Favors. They marveled at the change from last week -- when average temperatures in Baltimore ranged from 27 degrees to 45 degrees and a night marked by a dusting of snow.

"This is just an extra good day," said Mytokia Fair, 39. "I know the worst stuff is coming -- the snow, the sleet, the ice."

Warm weather factors

Weather Service meteorologists said the unusual balminess was caused by several factors: warm air moving in from the Southwest; a cold front from the West and a strong high-pressure system off the East Coast forcing warm southerly winds into the state; and the effects of La Nina, a weather phenomenon that leads to warmer temperatures in the Eastern United States.

The temperatures will gradually return to normal this week, meteorologists predict. Arthur said that highs should be in the low- to mid-60s today, in the mid- to high-50s tomorrow and in the mid-40s Wednesday.

A mild winter

Winter is shaping up to be mild, she said.

"Don't expect a lot of snow this winter -- because of La Nina," Arthur said. "It's going to be like last year."

On Federal Hill, families gathered in the park, people fed peanuts to pigeons and parents pushed babies in strollers.

Playtime

Among the small crowd were Monica and Mike Ercolani, who brought their 17-month-old son, Mark, and their dog, Chi, for some playtime.

"It's an unusual break to be playing on the swings and in the sand in the wintertime," said Mike Ercolani, 33.

By mid-afternoon, several hundred people had turned out to skate at the outdoor Inner Harbor Ice Rink -- which was feeling the heat.

"It's a puddle. It's one big swimming pool," said rink employee Scott Kosmicky, 18. "A lot of people come down, skate and get soaked."

Bowie residents Courtney Hopkins and Gina Rotella, both 12, had waterlogged jeans after each fell three times. But they weren't complaining.

"It's more like spring than winter," Gina said. "We're having a good time."

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