State's weather forecast offers little cheer for the winter-weary

February 02, 2004|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

The sound of shovels chipping away at ice was heard yesterday as Marylanders took advantage of a sunny day and temperatures barely above freezing to clear their slippery steps, sidewalks and driveways.

But as the sun set, and temperatures dropped into the teens, any surfaces still wet hardened into treacherous sheets of ice again.

Forecasters keeping track of winter's chill say the cold won't be leaving, and ice won't thaw much until early next week - regardless of whether the groundhog sees its shadow today.

In the meantime, Baltimore could receive more snow, sleet and freezing rain. A storm system is expected to reach the Baltimore area tonight and linger into tomorrow morning - with the early prognostication for 1 to 2 inches of snow.

"Yes, Tuesday's morning commute could be very messy," said Andy Woodcock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Woodcock said daytime temperatures will rise several degrees above freezing throughout the work week, with a nighttime drop to the low- and mid-20s.

More snow could fall Thursday night, he said.

The cold temperatures could mean many more days on the Chesapeake Bay for crews of Coast Guard ice-breaking ships. The prolonged cold snap has coated the bay in a layer of ice that is thicker than 18 inches in some places, making travel for tugs and barges difficult, said Chief Warrant Officer Dave Merrill, commander of the Coast Guard ice cutter Frank Drew.

"[The ice] is especially bad up in the northern bay, toward the Elk River," he said. "It's very, very thick up there. So thick that it is getting close to the limits of our ice breakers."

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