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Frigid air, snow chances forecast for first week of spring

By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

11:17 AM EDT, March 19, 2014

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Spring starts tomorrow and brings a brief return to seasonable temperatures, but an echo of a winter that won't go away may not be far behind.

Early next week, climate forecasters predict another in a series of intrusions of frigid Arctic air that has made for a brutal winter for the eastern United States. Temperature outlook maps from the Climate Prediction Center show an icy blue over the right half of the country, signifying a near certainty of below-normal temperatures.

As the cold air dominates once again, there is a chance some moisture could move through, bringing more snow.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington office wrote in a forecast discussion that weak "clipper" systems could move through as the cold air is in place, bringing "limited opportunities" for snow or rain. Clippers are systems that move quickly through from the west, often bringing dustings of light, fluffy snow.

But some forecast models suggest a coastal system, bringing up moisture from the Southeast, could bring snow Tuesday.

Former Baltimore TV meteorologist Justin Berk points out that the Canadian and European models have supported that idea, though it's too early to count on it or to predict any possible accumulation. 

WMAR-TV's Mike Masco says the European models are showing "a winter's tale in spring", agreeing it's too soon to know where the system might develop. But temperature models meanwhile show air some 15-25 degrees colder than normal, putting highs in the 30s to lower 40s.

Normal highs by the first week of spring are in the upper 50s. Record cold in Baltimore at this time of year includes highs in the mid- to upper-30s and lows around 20 degrees.