There will be no rest for the snow-weary in Maryland as a storm with the potential to drop 10 to 20 inches of new snow bears down on a region still reeling from the 24 inches and more that fell over the weekend.
The National Weather Service issued Winter Storm Warnings on Monday for all of Maryland west of the Chesapeake Bay, calling for light snow to begin mid- to late afternoon today. Forecasters said it should intensify early Wednesday morning as colder air moves into the region, and continue throughout the day.
Thurgood Marshall Airport, it would be the third such pummeling this season, a trifecta unprecedented in Maryland weather history.
"I think we're all awed by it," said meteorologist Matthew Kamar, a forecaster at the weather service's Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office in Sterling.
It also seems sure to set a new seasonal snowfall record for Baltimore. The old record is 62.5 inches, set in 1995-96. The total for this winter stood at 60.4 inches as the storm approached.
"I hope, with the weight of the additional stuff, it doesn't cause too many problems," said James E. Lee, meteorologist-in-charge at Sterling. "But there is a point where some structures are going to succumb to the heavy weight."
Then there's the big melt.
"Sooner or later we're going to be talking about flooding on the Potomac and flooding on the Susquehanna. I hope we just get a nice, even warm-up and not a real strong blast," Lee said.
There may be a little good news in the forecast. While the new storm will start with the sort of wet, heavy snow shovelers dread, once the cold air arrives early Wednesday the flakes will become fluffier, lighter and easier to move when the digging and plowing begins anew late Wednesday and Thursday.
The bad news is that lighter, fluffier snow piles up faster, which is why the predictions range as high as 20 inches. Or maybe higher.
The student forecast team at FootsForecast.org, which predicted the weekend storm would deliver 25.6 inches of snow at BWI-Marshall Airport (within an inch of the 24.8 inches the weather service estimates fell there), is expecting lots of snow this time, too.
"The forecast team ... told me the number they're looking at is about 1.6 inches of liquid," a measure of how much water would fall if the storm delivered all rain, said Rich Foot, the Baltimore County physical sciences teacher who heads the group.
"So we're thinking if you just go by the rule of 10 to 1 [inches of snow for each inch of liquid water in the storm], that could be roughly 16 inches of snow.
"Our concern with the cold air that's in place now [is] the ratio won't be 10 to 1. The ratio may be closer to 16 to 1. And that's a number I'd rather not calculate, because I just don't think our area could take that right now."
Do the math anyway, and you get more than 25 inches of snow.
Kamar said the complex storm system headed this way is unusual in that its most potent piece is a pair of lows coming from the west, rather than up the coast. Usually, the coastal storms are the worst for Maryland.
As the western lows merge, intensify and head this way, a new, weaker, secondary low is forecast to form off the coast of Florida and Georgia, and move up the coast toward Delmarva.
"Some light snow will develop Tuesday morning to early Tuesday afternoon for the Baltimore area," Kamar said. That snow will look much like the light snow on Friday, which fooled some into thinking the weekend storm would be a dud.
The coastal low will even draw some warm air into the mix. "So we're going to see maybe a transition across Southern Maryland to include some sleet and even some rain Tuesday night," Kamar said. "Where that [line between rain and snow] sets up exactly is a matter of detail we probably won't be able to define until the system is nearer."
Weary Maryland girds for Round 2
10-20 more inches of snow expected
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.