Light snow expected to bring 1-3 inches on grass, slushy pavement

Warm-up forecast ahead in time for Orioles Opening Day

March 25, 2014|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

Wintry weather dragged on Tuesday, with light snow falling by midday expected to bring a slushy couple of inches of snow.

The National Weather Service predicts 1-3 inches across the region, with a winter weather advisory in effect until midnight. But accumulating snow likely will stick to grassy surfaces for the most part, as the springtime sun makes accumulation difficult on pavement. Snow was expected to continue into mid-afternoon.

State Highway Administration crews treated roadways ahead of the storm, expecting slick spots once snow starts falling by midmorning Tuesday and possibly lasting into the evening.

"We do think there will be some [snow] on the roadways," said Heather Sheffield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. "We're expecting temperatures to drop below freezing overnight, so that will help the ground stay cold when the precipitation starts."

The precipitation is forecast to come from one of two systems expected to converge off the Mid-Atlantic coast, potentially forming what is known as a "meteorological bomb" of steeply falling pressure, according to a blog post by the Weather Underground's Jeff Masters. The storm's pressure could be so low it could be on par with a Category 2 hurricane by the time it reaches Newfoundland on Wednesday, possibly bringing blizzard conditions to Cape Cod and eastern Canada, he wrote.

But the storm was not expected to pack much strength as it passes by Maryland. Precipitation likely will start as snow between about 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., before turning to a mix of rain and snow in areas along and east of Interstate 95 by the afternoon.

While temperatures were expected to start the day below freezing, they could reach the mid- to upper-30s by the afternoon.

"Any accumulation is certainly contingent on temperatures," said Lora Rakowski, a State Highway Administration spokeswoman.

The highest snowfall accumulations could be expected at higher elevations, in parts of Carroll and northern Baltimore and Harford counties, according to Foot's Forecast. If snow continues after sundown, that could make for hazardous conditions on roadways, Rakowski said.

State highway crews were out on interstates and arteries Monday spraying a brine solution and will be ready Tuesday morning in case accumulating snow requires salting of roadways, Rakowski said.

March 25 may seem late for wintry weather to continue, but 3.2 inches of snow fell a year ago on the same date, more than any single snowfall of winter 2012-2013. That snowfall holds the record for Tuesday's date in Baltimore.

Since December, 38.6 inches of snow have fallen at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, the point of record for Baltimore, making it the 14th-snowiest season on record here. It would take 4.8 inches of snowfall for this season to crack Baltimore's top 10 snowiest seasons.

After the storm moves past the Mid-Atlantic, it was expected to dump 6 inches or more on eastern Massachusetts late Tuesday. The worst was expected to strike overnight Tuesday on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

The storm's strength may continue to be felt Wednesday in the Baltimore area as gusty winds sweep in behind the storm. Breezes of 20 mph were expected Wednesday morning through the afternoon, with gusts of 30-40 mph, making air temperatures in the 20s and 30s feel like the teens and 20s.

Temperatures were expected to rebound starting Thursday, with highs around 50, and Friday, with highs in the mid-60s. Dry, sunny weather and temperatures in the 60s were in the early forecast for the Orioles' Opening Day on Monday.

Reuters contributed to this article.

Snowy winters

Baltimore's snowiest winters, as measured at BWI Airport from 1950 on, and at the U.S. Customs House in Baltimore before that.

1. 2009-2010: 77 inches

2. 1995-1996: 62.5 inches

3. 2002-2003: 58.1 inches

4. 1963-1964: 51.8 inches

5. 1898-1899: 51.1 inches

6. 1933-1934: 47.9 inches

7. 1960-1961: 46.5 inches

8. 1921-1922: 44.4 inches

9. 1891-1892: 44.3 inches

10. 1966-1967: 43.4 inches

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