Hold onto your hats

So how sweet is this? It's 57 degrees at 10:30 a.m. at The Sun. And the forecasters out at Sterling say we're headed for a high of 67 degrees this afternoon at BWI. My bet? If the sun stays out we could top 70 degrees, at least downtown.

UPDATE: The official high today at BWI-Marshall was 70 degrees. It was 71 at Reagan National, and at The Sun.

But before the day is out we'll be watching for increasing clouds as a sharp cold front blows through, bringing cooler temperatures and strong, gusty winds. There's even the chance of some isolated thunderstorms tonight. We may even have flakes in the air by Saturday. 

You can watch the mercury rise and fall at The Sun's weather station, at Calvert & Centre streets. Just click here.

The record high for a Feb. 11 in Baltimore is 72 degrees, set WAY back on this date in 1887. That was just 16 years after the Weather Bureau began recording weather data for Baltimore. Breaking that mark today would really be something.

The overnight low at BWI this morning was 44 degrees. That is just 4 degrees short of the record high minimum for the date - 48 degrees, set in 1925. Our low here at the paper was 50 degrees. So maybe if we still used downtown as the official weather station for Baltimore, we would have bested the 1925 record. Here's AccuWeather.com's take on the surge of mild air into the Northeast.

Seventy-degree weather in winter in Baltimore is not at all unusual. We pulled it off three times last winter and three times the winter before that:

Dec. 1, 2006:  75 degrees

Dec. 18, 2006:  72 degrees

Jan. 6, 2007:  71 degrees

Jan. 7, 2008:  70 degrees

Jan. 8, 2008:  70 degrees

Feb. 6, 2008:  72 degrees

UPDATE: Feb. 11, 2009:  70 degrees

The cold front due here tonight is part of the same system that set off a rash of deadly tornados in Oklahoma. The violent weather is occurring along the cold front, which extends south and west from a powerful low-pressure center moving through the Mississippi Valley toward the Great Lakes today.

You can see it in action in this radar loop.

By tonight that front will reach Maryland, and as the cold air plows into the warm air being drawn up from the Gulf, it will trigger strong winds, showers and perhaps a T-storm or two. Winds could gust as high as 41 mph tonight, and continue strong and gusty into Thursday.

Temperatures behind the front are not dramatically colder. The highs Thursday and Friday at BWI should be in the 50s - still 10 degrees above the norms for this time of year. But more cold air will get pumped in as Friday rolls by, and when the next storm center fires up over the Southern Plains and heads this way, we could see some more wintry weather.

Once again, it will depend on the storm's track. Sterling is expecting a more southerly track for now. "This would keep us on the cold side of the system," they say. "And with an intensifying coastal storm off Hatteras by Saturday afternoon, would provide for a rain/snow mix or even mostly snow."

But, they're not too certain about all that yet, so for now the forecast calls for "a period of snow Saturday morning, then rain."

So, enjoy today while you can.

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