Snow in forecast for weekend

Storm watch in effect tomorrow and Sunday

5 inches or more predicted west of I-95

February 10, 2006|By FRANK D. ROYLANCE | FRANK D. ROYLANCE,SUN REPORTER

For the first time since mid-December, Baltimore is facing the possibility of accumulating snow this weekend.

You remember snow. Cold, white and slippery?

Several inches seem likely in the urban corridor, forecasters say. And up to a foot is possible in some places from Northern Virginia to New England as a classic Nor'easter swirls up the coast tomorrow and Sunday.

A winter storm watch is in effect from tomorrow morning through late Sunday night for counties north and west of Baltimore and Washington. The National Weather Service says that 5 or more inches of snow are likely just west of the Interstate 95 corridor, including the western and northern suburbs of both cities.

"This will be a quick reminder to people that winter is by no means over yet," said Jeff Warner, a meteorologist at Penn State Weather Communications.

After the storm, a blast of even colder air is expected, keeping daytime highs in the mid-30s for Sunday and Monday, even with sunshine. Overnight lows will sink into the teens before moderating in midweek.

Calvin Meadows, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Sterling, Va., forecast office, said the computer models yesterday were not all in agreement about this storm.

Everything hinges on how the storm tracks as it moves from the Gulf Coast states to the Mid-Atlantic coast, he said, and "we won't make any comment until we get more data.

"We're expecting some accumulation, yes," Meadows said, "but how much is rather problematic."

Warner said, "Most of the region is going to have more snow than anything else if it follows the track it looks like it's going to be on. If it deviates farther inland, that would bring that rain-snow line in with it."

Some forecasters were anticipating as much as a foot of snow in a narrow swath from Virginia to New England.

"A foot is certainly possible," Warner said. But that would be "in a very narrow band ... north of the Baltimore-Washington area into New England." Higher elevations from Virginia to Massachusetts could see the most snow.

It will be "a strong winter storm ... certainly one of the strongest, if not the strongest storm of this season," he said.

The National Weather Service forecast office in State College, Pa., issued a winter storm watch yesterday for central Pennsylvania south to the Maryland line. A similar watch was issued for Garrett County in Western Maryland.

Last month was the 11th-warmest January here since 1871, when recordkeeping for Baltimore began.

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has recorded 6.5 inches of snow this winter. The long-term annual average is 18 inches. The average February brings 6.4 inches.frank.roylance@baltsun.com

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