Frigid temperatures will refreeze melted snow

"Welcome" rain due Thursday as region warms to 50s

February 22, 2011|By Frank D. Roylance, The Baltimore Sun

Weather forecasters warned that sharply colder temperatures overnight would re-freeze much of the water released by melting snow on Tuesday, laying down a dangerous layer of ice for Wednesday's morning rush hour.

"With lows getting into the low teens, or around 10, yeah. … It will all refreeze, anywhere that's been damp," said meteorologist Bryan Jackson, at the National Weather Service's regional forecast office in Sterling, Va.

There's more precipitation on the way, too, he said. BWI-Marshall Airport can expect a quarter- to a half-inch of rain overnight Thursday into Friday as a storm moves our way out of the Southern Plains and the Tennessee Valley.

"It will be welcome rain," Jackson said. Tuesday morning's snowfall was "the first appreciable precipitation since Feb. 5." Baltimore has had below-average precipitation each month since October, and 80 percent of the state was rated last week as "abnormally dry."

The overnight snowstorm began as rain and sleet. But it changed to snow by 10 p.m. and continued until almost 5 a.m. Skies cleared quickly, and strong late-February sunshine quickly began melting the snow, despite daytime highs that stalled in the mid-30s.

It was the first measurable snow at BWI since the 7.5-inch storm on Jan. 27 that snarled both the morning and evening rush hours in Baltimore and Washington.

Tuesday's storm closed schools, delayed openings in government offices and added some difficulties to the morning commute until plows, salt and sunshine could do their work.

In Anne Arundel County, police responded to 32 crashes between midnight and 8 a.m. Tuesday, department spokesman Justin Mulcahy said, and the Fire Department handled three serious weather-related incidents, according to Division Chief Michael Cox.

About 6 a.m., rescue workers extricated a 24-year-old man from a car that had spun on Interstate 97 near the exit for Route 100. Maryland State Police said James Francis Burns II, of Linthicum Heights was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He was listed there in critical condition.

In Laurel, a 50-year-old man got his hand stuck in a snow blower. He was taken to the Curtis National Hand Center at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore.

The 3.2 inches at the airport Tuesday morning brought the season's snow total there to just over 15 inches, still three inches below the 30-year average for Baltimore.

Snow depths across Central Maryland by Tuesday morning ranged as high as 7 inches in Manchester, Carroll County, and Bel Air, in Harford County, according to the National Weather Service.

Glyndon, in Baltimore County, reported 5.8 inches. Columbia measured 3.5 inches. Pimlico, in Baltimore City, had 4.5 inches. Amounts tapered off sharply to the south of the city, dwindling to less than an inch in Charles and Prince George's counties.

Clear skies behind the storm, coupled with calm winds, the snow cover and dry air, Jackson said, were the "perfect" conditions for radiational cooling overnight. "We'll get a low of 20 in the city, and it will be teens, if not localized single-digits out in the suburbs," he said.

Temperatures will climb into the low 50s before the rain begins on Thursday, forecasters said. That storm is expected to bring thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes to the lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys before moving into the mid-Atlantic states.

Jackson said it was too soon to say whether Maryland would see any violent weather from the storm system. "But we certainly do expect rain."

The National Weather Service predicted between a quarter- and a half-inch of rain for the Baltimore region Thursday night, with lows in the 40s. The rain could linger into Friday, with highs reaching the 50s before the next cold front passes by as drops Friday highs to the 40s.

Forecasters expect things will warm up again for the weekend, with sunshine Saturday and highs once again in the 50s.

More clouds and rain move in for the start of the new week.

frank.roylance@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporters Liz Kay, Michael Dresser, Andrea F. Siegel and Larry Carson contributed to this article.

Maryland weather blog: Frank Roylance on meteorology

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