Meteorologists are tracking a storm that could reach Maryland by Friday afternoon and leave behind as much as a foot of snow by the time it ends on Saturday.
"This one certainly has some credentials," said Steve Zubrick, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va. "It's probably the best-looking chance for measurable snow we've had since December."
Zubrick was cautious. "We would be looking at a potential for more than 4 inches in some parts of the mid-Atlantic region," he said.
Others, at AccuWeather.com and at FootsForecast.org were more enthusiastic, talking up the potential for from 6 inches to as much as a foot of snow.
Born in the Pacific, the El Nino-fueled storm was coming ashore with heavy rain in southern California Tuesday. It was forecast to track across the country by the weekend.
"The track is going to determine just where the heaviest ... snow is going to take place," Zubrick said.
Early forecasts based on a variety of computer models suggested that cold air moving into the Midwest and Northeast this week will set the stage for the storm to slide across the Deep South and deliver substantial snow in a broad swath from northern Texas to the I-95 corridor.
"There's lots of cold air," Zubrick said. "At this point it doesn't look like any mixed precipitation" for Baltimore.
"If the storm track stays a little further south, across the Carolinas, we could end up with lesser amounts. Maybe some in the northern part of the region will get nothing."
That might suit many Marylanders.
So far this season, Baltimore's airport has recorded 25 inches of snow, topping the seasonal average of 18.2 inches. It's the most snow here in any winter since 2002-03, when 58.1 inches fell.
Most of this season's snow fell on Dec. 18-19, when more than 21 inches piled up at BWI-Marshall. It was the biggest December snowstorm, and the 7th biggest in any month here since officials began keeping track in 1883.