Autumn 2017 hasn’t exactly been unseasonably warm, yet the central Maryland region has yet to experience truly cold temperatures this fall.

That will change Friday and through the weekend, when Old Man Winter will make his presence known and temperatures drop below freezing into the 20s. In some areas, record overnight lows could be challenged. A few areas have yet to have an overnight freeze, making this weekend the latest first freeze in the Baltimore area in more than a dozen years.


A freeze watch is in effect from Friday night through Saturday morning, and the National Weather Service issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for central and western Maryland, including Carroll County, because of the cold weather.

Locally, the chilly forecast prompted Human Services Programs of Carroll County to announce its Cold Weather Shelter for homeless individuals will open a few days early. The shelter, located at 127 Stoner Ave. in Westminster, will be open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Typically, the cold weather shelter doesn’t open for the season until the evening of Nov. 15. The cold weather shelter serves homeless adults over the age of 18 and provides a warm meal and a place to sleep out of the cold.

Freezing temperatures are likely early Saturday morning, marking Baltimore's latest "first freeze" since 1994.

Temperatures are expected to rebound next week, but the cold snap should serve as a reminder to homeowners to make sure their homes are prepared for the chilly months ahead.

Winterizing your home can save you money by lowering home heating costs, but also could save you from some expensive — and occasionally catastrophic — damage to your home. During a cold stretch a few years ago, there were multiple reports of people’s pipes freezing and bursting, causing hundreds of gallons of water to rush into the interior of their houses and causing significant damage.

One of the simplest things you can do to winterize your home is turn off water to outside faucets. When temperatures dip below freezing, ice forms on water supply pipes leading to exposed outdoor faucets, but pipe ruptures caused by frozen faucets usually occur inside walls.

Disconnect any hoses from exterior faucets and drain them, then inside the house, find the individual shutoff valves for each supply line leading to exterior faucets. These are typically located just inside from the faucet or near the main water supply line. Make sure after shutting off the source inside to open the faucet outside and drain the line completely.

If your outside faucet is leaking or valves are corroded and stuck, it’s better to call a plumber to get it fixed now than risk major damage and expensive repairs later.

Other steps to winterize your home include having your heating system serviced to make sure it is working properly and changing your furnace filter. Dirty filters make the furnace work harder and drive up your energy costs.

If you have a fireplace, make sure to have the chimney swept before using it this winter. The National Fire Protection Association notes that failure to clean chimneys is a leading factor in home heating fires.

Taking these steps now can also help you avoid the rush in calls that come when cold weather settles in for the winter and everyone else is trying to get their heating system serviced as well.

Consider installing a digital thermostat, if you don’t have one already, to help improve energy efficiency. To save more energy and money, close vents in unused rooms and shut the doors; and caulk and weather strip around windows and doors as necessary.

Winter is closer than you might think. This weekend’s shot of cold weather should serve as a chilly reminder to be prepared for the long winter nights ahead.