High wind watch issued across Central Maryland; BGE warns of outages

December 20, 2012|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

Central Maryland is under a high wind watch starting Saturday morning, with gusts expected to reach 60 mph during the day. The forecast prompted utility Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to warn of possible power outages.

Rain is forecast to usher in the change in weather pattern Thursday evening, with blustery weather expected Friday and through Saturday. Sustained winds of 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph are expected Friday, increasing to sustained 30 mph winds with up to 60 mph gusts Saturday.

That means the potential for falling trees damaging power lines, Jeannette M. Mills, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE, said in a statement.

The high wind watch covers all of metropolitan Baltimore and Washington, D.C. A gale warning is also in effect for the Chesapeake Bay.

The National Weather Service is forecasting about a half an inch of rain possible Thursday afternoon and evening, less than earlier predictions of 1 inch. Sustained winds are expected to reach 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph by Thursday night and lasting through Saturday evening.

Showers were moving northeast through Virginia and West Virginia toward Central Maryland on Thursday afternoon.

A coastal flood advisory is in effect for the length of the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, from Harford County to St. Mary's County, with high tides possibly 1-2 feet above normal late Thursday and early Friday morning.

The chance of more showers Friday afternoon and evening also brings a slight chance of a wintry mix of precipitation, according to the weather service forecast.

Garrett County and western Allegany County are meanwhile bracing for a winter storm, with snowfall predictions upgraded to 8-12 inches. Allegany, including Frostburg, is under a blizzard warning from 1 a.m. Friday through 6 p.m. Saturday. The brunt of the storm is expected on Friday.

Near blizzard conditions are expected there, with gusts up to 45 mph blowing snow and possibly causing white-out conditions.

Garrett County Emergency Management Coordinator Brad Frantz said the storm is expected to be more routine for the county than Superstorm Sandy was in October, dropping two feet of snow while there were still leaves on many trees. But a few factors could make the storm more challenging, including the blizzard potential and the fact that many residents may be using new portable generators for the first time.

"The generator should be completely away from the residence in a shelter of its own," Frantz said. 

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.

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