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Buck up for a possible white Thanksgiving in Harford

A home in the 1200 block of Jenny Road in Bel Air is decorated for Thanksgiving.
A home in the 1200 block of Jenny Road in Bel Air is decorated for Thanksgiving. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Could the trip to grandma's house be a white one this Thanksgiving?

After Monday's temperatures in the Bel Air area flirted with 70 degrees, you wouldn't have thought so, but forecasts for Harford County and much of central Maryland say some snow is coming Wednesday, especially if Grandma lives in the north county or across the Mason-Dixon line.

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Figuring out the forecasts of how much snow may actually fall has become akin to putting your turkey in the oven without a thermometer; however, the latest range is one to five inches, depending on elevation. In Harford, that usually means more snow will fall north and west of I-95 than south and east.

Given that Wednesday is historically one of the busiest travel days of the year nationwide, the forecasters and the people who have to deal with snowy and icy roads and the associated emergencies that arise from them were taking no chances in the week. Pre-Thanksgiving highway travel is particularly heavy along Harford County's stretch of I-95.

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The Harford County Department of Emergency Services and the Maryland State Highway Administration began issuing snow advisories Monday.

"Winter is here," Harford emergency services spokesman Robert Thomas said succinctly.

The National Weather Service downgraded what was initially a winter storm watch for the Baltimore - Washington area to a winter weather advisory for snow between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. today.

Snowfall accumulations of three to five inches were forecast for near the Mason-Dixon Line, one to two inches elsewhere, according to the National Weather Service.

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According to the National Weather Service, a winter weather advisory means periods of snow will cause travel difficulties and motorists should be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibility.

Forecasters said a nor'easter storm moving through the region was expected to bring rain late Tuesday night or early Wednesday. With temperatures falling during the early morning hours, the rain was forecast to change over to all snow between 7 and 10 a.m. today, with the heaviest snow occurring between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. Daytime temperatures are expected to be in the low to middle 30s.

The National Weather Service forecast for Bel Air today is rain and snow, becoming all snow after 1 p.m. with temperatures falling to freezing by midafternoon. The chance of precipitation is 100 percent, with new snow accumulation of one to three inches possible. There may be additional light snow into the early evening; however, skies are expected to clear overnight.

People planning to visit relatives or friends for the long holiday weekend had been advised to start out early to avoid being caught in hazardous driving conditions.

Highways officials and meteorologists urged travelers to prepare a "Plan B" and watch weather forecasts, with the potential for heavy precipitation that could snarl traffic and delay or cancel flights, even if snow accumulations are light.

"Travelers, particularly professional truck drivers and distributors, need to pay close attention to forecasts and adjust plans," SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters said in a Monday news release. "If you planned to travel Wednesday, please consider altering your schedule and drive Tuesday or Thursday instead."

SHA will activate the Emergency Operations Center near BWI Marshall Airport to monitor and manage storm response throughout the state, the agency said

The National Weather Service forecast for Thanksgiving Day in the Bel Air area is for a slight chance of rain and snow showers before 1 p.m. Otherwise, skies are expected to be mostly cloudy, with a high near 39. The chance of precipitation is 20 percent Thursday.

Temperatures are expected to fall into the mid to low 20s Thursday night into Friday morning.

So pile into your sleigh, buckle up and head over the river and through the woods a little earlier this year.

Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Dance contributed to this story.

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