Forecasters expecting snowfall of 6-10 inches

February 28, 2005|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Meteorologist Rich Hitchens was monitoring a winter storm headed for Baltimore on three computer screens last night.

"It's on its way," he said of a warm-air system from the Gulf of Mexico on a collision course with the cold air over the Mid-Atlantic region.

The storm could bolster this month's snow total significantly. It is expected to blanket Central Maryland with 6 to 10 inches of snow before midnight, when it would push north, Hitchens said from the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va.

Forecasters declared a heavy snow warning for 24 hours starting at 1 a.m. today but said the bulk of the snow would fall between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The new snow was unlikely to set records, but even a little would push Baltimore over the average of 6.4 inches for February snowfall. Through yesterday, the official snowfall for the month stood at 6.4 inches.

January is typically Baltimore's snowiest month, Hitchens said, with an average 7 inches. Last month, the weather service recorded 7.6 inches.

Baltimore's average seasonal snowfall is 18.2 inches, a mean based on 30 years of weather-watching, Hitchens said. So far this winter, 13.8 inches of snow have fallen.

The region's snowiest February was two years ago, when a series of storms dropped 40.5 inches of snow, Hitchens said.

"It doesn't look like this storm will put us over that record, but you never know," he said. "Weather is a fickle thing."

Administrators were waiting for the first flakes to fall before announcing decisions on school closings. But in Prince George's County, school officials said their system's first day of the Maryland Assessment Test, scheduled for today, would be delayed until Wednesday because of last week's snow.

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