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Snow expected through most of day

Carroll County will get more snow Thursday than previously expected. That's the conclusion of multiple forecasters who have trained their radars and computer models on the winter weather system that is expected to move through the region.

Afternoon rain will continue through Wednesday evening and eventually switch over to sleet and then snow as a slow-moving cold front pulls the mercury down, according to Keith Krichinsky of Foot's Forecast.

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"It looks like what's going to happen is [the snow] will start shortly after midnight and go for probably 12 to 16 hours. We could see around 8 inches or so," said Krichinsky, of Hampstead.

There is some wiggle room in that prediction, Krichinsky said, but in all likely scenarios, Thursday is still looking white and flaky.

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"Last time I checked it was 60 percent [likely] we get more than 8 inches and 40 percent [likely] we get 6 to 8 inches," he said. "It's going to be a heavy snow too."

The National Weather Service is even more bullish than Krichinsky, according to meteorologist Matt Elliott.

"Right now we're forecasting between 8 and 10 inches for Carroll County," Elliott said. "The key question is when does that change over [from rain] occur. We are thinking sometime in the overnight hours, maybe between 3 and 5 a.m."

A change over to snow around 3 a.m. could mean rapid and heavy snow accumulations that overwhelm relatively warm surface temperatures and then lasts until Thursday afternoon or later, according to Elliott. A later change over, meanwhile, could mean more sleet and less snow, but he said the possible impact to Thursday morning commutes could be just as bad or worse with icy rather than snowy morning hours.

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Part of the puzzle is the rain that began falling throughout the region Wednesday afternoon, according to Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration. SHA cannot pre-treat the roads with salt brine because it will simply wash away, and so plow and salt crews will be stationed on the roads in the early morning hours in order to begin operations the moment the storm changes over to sleet or snow.

Regardless of how the morning precipitation plays out, Gischlar said Thursday would be an excellent day to stay home if possible.

"Tomorrow morning is going to be terrible," he said. "I don't know what the school systems are going to do, but people have this tendency to say, 'I am going to trudge into work anyway.' The more unencumbered we are on the highways, the more we can get cleared."

Reach staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com.

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