It may not be a white Christmas for Baltimore, but if you go out today without bundling up, you may have a blue Yule.
A strong cold front that crept into Central Maryland last nightbrought a sharp drop in temperatures from the balmy 60s of Christmas Eve to the low 30s predicted for today.
Winds in the 20 mph to 25 mph range were expected to bring wind chill readings of zero to 10 degrees this morning.
Although sunny skies are forecast, today's highs are expected to reach only into the upper 30s.
Rain that began falling yesterday afternoon made Christmas Eve commutes a little more treacherous, but police reported no major problems.
The National Weather Service reported that 0.15 inches of rain fell by 5 p.m., bringing the total for the year to 58.10 inches at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, making this the third-wettest year since record-keeping began.
In the second-wettest year, 58.98 inches fell.
Traffic was heavy last evening, but no more so than usual.
Many people seemed to have taken Monday and yesterday off for an extended holiday, leading to lighter traffic and less of a Christmas rush, authorities said. Some congestion was reported off-ramps and streets near major malls as last-minute shoppers made a desperate dash to buy presents.
"The last few days it's been a little unusual in that the morning rush hours have been almost nonexistent because so many people have taken off," said Dave Buck, a State Highway Administration spokesman.
Interstate 95 was heavily traveled last evening from the split with Interstate 895 to Bel Air, but no major backups were reported.
"Actually, it's probably a little lighter than I would be expecting from previous years," said Cpl. John Wilhelm of the state police barracks on Kennedy Highway in Harford County.
The rain appeared to cause few problems for motorists.
"I'm sure it's making them a little more cautious, but right now it's not causing any delays," Wilhelm said.
At BWI, vehicular traffic was steady.
"It's heavy but it's moving," said state police Sgt. Dan McCrary.
Pub Date: 12/25/96