A welcome respite from winter spurs residents into motion

50-degree temperatures were enough to mean trips to zoo, car washes

March 09, 2003|By Rebecca McClay | Rebecca McClay,SUN STAFF

Across the region yesterday, residents basked in the return - if only temporarily - of warm weather by washing their cars, eating ice cream and visiting the zoo.

With his sweat shirt sleeves pushed up to his elbows, Jamie Jenkins squeezed a dripping sponge across one of five sudsy cars on his Sandtown street. Jenkins, owner of J&V Carwash, a curbside business he has operated in front of his house for 12 years, found himself busier than usual because of the higher temperatures.

High pressure moving in from the west brought the region a welcome break from an unusually cold winter. Temperatures hit a high of 53 degrees, and plentiful sunshine made it seem warmer than that.

"Circulation around high- pressure areas means southerly winds," said Howard Silverman, a National Weather Service meteorologist. At upper levels of the atmosphere, winds from the south bring warm air.

It will be warm again today, and possibly rainy. But the winds are expected to shift, as a cold front moves across the area and winds from the northwest bring lower temperatures tonight.

At the Inner Harbor, visitors replaced their thick coats and scarves yesterday with thin jackets and sunglasses. Visitors flocked to ice cream stands, outdoor cafes, and an acoustic guitarist playing at the Harborplace amphitheater.

"We've been missing the sun," said Frank Laws, a lawyer who spent his lunch break with his wife and granddaughter at Phillips Restaurant, where all the outdoor tables were full.

Across the sidewalk, Rico Barton of Chase, a musician and sailor, spent the day in short sleeves polishing his sailboat.

"I've been neglecting my boat all winter," Barton said. "I've been inside reading sailing magazines and thinking about sailing and islands.

"We've had a cold winter, but we got a break today, so I've got to take advantage of it," he said.

The chimps and tigers at the Baltimore Zoo found themselves with more company than they had had in some time as an estimated 5,500 visitors stopped by, according to Stacy MacGregor, senior marketing manager of the zoo. "It was extremely busy for a weekend in March."

But the warmth won't last long.

Forecasts call for highs near 60 today, with a 30 percent chance of rain in the morning.

Temperatures are then expected to drop into the lower 40s on Monday, with a chance of snow Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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