Cold front brings light snow to region

Dozens of minor accidents reported

Heavier accumulation expected late Sunday

February 18, 2005|By Jessica Bylander | Jessica Bylander,Special to baltimoresun.com

A cold front moving through the Baltimore area early this morning brought freezing temperatures and light snow showers to the region.

According to the National Weather Service, the showers were caused by a low pressure front that began passing through Wednesday. Northwesterly winds followed the front, picking up moisture off lakes and cold air that caused today's flurries.

While the morning snowfall seemed to come as a surprise to some, with some area school systems scrambling to decide whether to delay or cancel classes, forecaster John Darnley said the National Weather Service had anticipated the showers.

"This was not really a snowstorm, just some lake-effect stuff that drifted," Darnley said. "We said little or no accumulation, and at best some areas had an inch."

But the mixture of ice and snow still created problems for some residents. Slippery roads north of Baltimore City caused a headache for commuters, while sections of Interstate 95 and Interstate 83 were temporarily closed after dozens of minor accidents were reported.

Crews had cleared all state roads by 8 a.m., a spokesman for the State Highway Administration told the Associated Press.

Still, Baltimore County public elementary and middle schools were closed, while high schools opened two hours late. Schools in Carroll and Harford counties were also closed.

According to the weather service, the high-pressure system that caused today's showers is expected to drift off by midnight on Sunday. A low-pressure system will follow, bringing in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and possibly more snow.

"With the Arctic air mass overhead, conditions are just right for snow showers [early next week]," Darnley said.

He forecast 3 to 5 inches of snow for the area late Sunday night. The storm is expected to begin with flurries on Sunday afternoon that will become heavier overnight and into Monday morning before turning into a mix of snow and rain.

Darnley did not anticipate many problems for drivers.

"Monday is Presidents' Day, so there will be less commuters," he said. "Also, we've already contacted road managers so they're ready. We do that for anything over 2 to 3 inches."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

February 18, 2005, 10:16 AM EST

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