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Storms or showers could interrupt Orioles home opener

Rain showers or thunderstorms are likely late Friday afternoon and in the early evening, possibly forcing at least a delay at Opening Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

A wedge of cold air stubbornly hung over the region through midday, with temperatures yet to break out of the 40s. But forecasters still expect a slowly moving warm front to creep up from Virginia, raising temperatures to around 70 degrees by late afternoon.

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Just south of the frontal boundary in Virginia, temperatures surged into the 60s and 70s by midday.

Once the warm air arrives, it is expected to create instability in the atmosphere ahead of a cold front that is likely to trigger a line of thunderstorms and heavy rain showers. The weather service predicts showers and storms moving from west to east from about 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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First pitch for the Orioles' home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Friday morning team officials were planning to meet to discuss weather forecasts and possible make up dates. Despite the gloomy conditions and forecast, gates to Oriole Park were still opening at noon, officials said.

There is a risk of severe weather from the mid-Atlantic through the Carolinas and along the Gulf of Mexico coast, according to the Storm Prediction Center. The front spawned strong storms along the nation's midsection Thursday, with tornadoes spotted in Iowa, Illinois and Ohio and baseball-sized hail reported.

Forecasters expect the warm and muggy air flowing into the region Friday to provide fuel for storms, and any sunshine that breaks through the clouds during the day could increase the risks of severe weather, forecasters said.

An alert from the weather service's Baltimore/Washington forecast office cautioned of possible damaging wind gusts, hail and isolated tornadoes. The storm center includes central and southern Maryland in an area with a 5 percent risk of tornadoes and 5-15 percent chances of severe winds and hail.

But the best chances for severe storms is south of Washington, D.C., with the warmer air slow to move northward Friday morning, limiting how much instability develops in the Baltimore area.

The storm center had included central Maryland in an area expected to see scattered severe storms on Thursday, but revised that map Friday to shift the risk zone southward. The region is still in an area that could see isolated severe storms develop, according to the center.

Umbrellas are allowed inside the ballpark, per the O's website, "as long as they do not interfere with other fan's view and enjoyment of the game."

Temperatures are expected to stay warm through the evening as the chance of rain decreases.

Precipitation chances are expected to taper off after nightfall, and a pleasant weekend is forecast after that, with sunshine and highs in the 60s.

Baltimore Sun reporters Eduardo A. Encina and Jon Meoli contributed to this report.

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