The National Weather Service at Baltimore/Washington is continuing a Blizzard Watch effective from Friday afternoon through Saturday evening.
Computer forecast models are now reaching more of a consensus on a potential winter storm that could reach historic proportions and rival those that pummeled the Middle Atlantic region in the winter of 2009-2010. The time frame looks to be Friday afternoon through Saturday evening and all of the ingredients for a winter storm are on the table: cold, high pressure over New England and an intense area of low pressure developing along the Virginia coast. Consensus among the various computer forecast models is growing; however, only a slight shift in the track of the storm could have major implications for places like Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia which are typically on the borderline of receiving snow, a mixture of precipitation, or plain rain.
Ideally, an all-snow or mostly-snow scenario for the cities requires that the center of low pressure track to the east of Norfolk, Virginia. This will enable high pressure in New England to keep areas west of the Chesapeake Bay cold enough during the storm to produce all frozen precipitation. A track to the west of Norfolk would just about guarantee mixed precipitation in Washington and Baltimore, with a cold rain over much of the Delmarva Peninsula. A track over Norfolk would provide accumulating snow in Washington and Baltimore, followed by a period of sleet or mixed precipitation which would change back to a period of snow at the end. The only scenario that does not seem likely at this point is for the storm to track far enough offshore to produce only light precipitation in the Middle Atlantic states. At this time, the first scenario seems more likely with heavy snow west of Chesapeake Bay and snow changing to sleet and/or rain along the coast of Maryland and Virginia before changing back to snow.
Snowfall amounts in this storm may range from 12 to 24 inches with isolated amounts around 30 inches. Where the core of the heaviest snow sets up is yet to be determined, but it will be close to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. In addition to the heavy snow, winds may gust over 40 miles per hour at times. The combination of heavy snow and strong winds may result in power outages and treacherous driving conditions. Closer to the Atlantic beaches, milder air will enable accumulating snow to change over to a period of rain or mixed precipitation and then back to accumulating snow for several hours at the end of the storm. Additionally, the beach resorts will be pounded with heavy surf, wind gusts over 50 miles per hour, and flooding due to high tides. This storm has the potential to be the most significant winter storm to impact central Maryland since the winter of 2009-2010 when three blizzards walloped the region with heavy snow. Stay tuned for further updates as new data becomes available.
Here is the exclusive weather forecast for Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington DC. Thursday: Sunny with a high in the lower to middle 30s. Thursday Night: Clear and chilly with a low in the upper 10s. Friday: Increasing clouds with snow by evening. The high will be in the lower to middle 30s. Friday Night: Windy with heavy snow. The low will be in the middle 20s. Saturday: Windy with heavy snow. The high will be in the lower 30s. Saturday Night: Snow tapering to snow showers late. Windy with a low in the middle 20s. Sunday: Sunny with a high in the lower 30s.
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