Storm wallops out the warmth

Winds, rain and a record high precede the cold

December 02, 2006|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Reporter

December introduced itself yesterday with record-breaking warmth, blustery winds and a scattering of showers. It also brought an end to a spate of unseasonably mild weather.

A huge storm system in the Midwest was to blame, forecasters say. But Maryland was lucky: The region largely escaped the snow that blanketed much of the nation's midsection.

"We're on the warm side of this thing, so we're not really going to get anything in the way of winter weather," said Marisa Ferger, a meteorologist with the Penn State Weather Communications Group in State College, Pa.

A low-pressure system that marched north yesterday from Texas to Michigan dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas, caused at least three deaths and knocked out power to an estimated two million homes.

In Maryland, the storm's tailwinds produced wind gusts of more than 30 mph and sent temperatures up to record-breaking levels.

The winds and rain also were likely to cause minor tidal flooding in some low-lying areas, forecasters said.

Strong winds knocked down power lines and trees in Carroll County yesterday afternoon. Firefighters extinguished fires from burning wires downed in Taneytown and Mount Airy by 6 p.m., according to county police. BGE's Web site reported that fewer than 5,000 of its 1.2 million customers lost power.

State police in Westminster fielded an emergency call about airplanes flying low over Carroll County about 4 p.m. Police said high winds forced the planes to loop around on their way to landing at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Jonathan Dean, an airport spokesman, said arriving flights at BWI were not affected by the weather but that some departures were canceled because of conditions at certain destinations, such as Chicago.

The temperature hit 75 degrees by about 3 p.m. yesterday at BWI, breaking a record of 73 set in 2001, said John Darnley, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Sterling, Va.

The average high for yesterday's date is 51 degrees, Darnley said.

The warm spell could be traced to a pattern in the jet stream that brought a ridge of warm air over much of the East Coast, Ferger said.

But the warmth is expected to end today as colder air from Canada arrives, Darnley said. The air mass will send temperatures down to the mid-40s, with sunshine expected, Darnley said.

dennis.obrien@baltsun.com

The Associated Press and Sun reporter Laura McCandlish contributed to this article.

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