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Meteorologists expect the bitter chill of the polar vortex to return to Maryland by the middle of next week, and the cold snap could start off with a chance for accumulating snow.

A flow of Arctic air from the northwest is forecast to arrive Wednesday, keeping daytime highs only in the mid-20s and overnight lows in the teens or single digits for the second half of the week.

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Strong winds are expected to make it feel as cold as the teens and single digits, and wind chills could drop below zero at higher elevations west of Baltimore.

Though that is still five days off, National Weather Service forecasters said the intense cold is looking “increasingly likely.” Waves of cold have been moving down from the Arctic since early this month, when a column of frigid air known as the polar vortex fractured.

Less certain is a chance for wintry precipitation as the cold blows in.

Thunderstorms and strong winds are expected to sweep the Baltimore region Thursday, before temperatures plummet in the evening, according to the National Weather Service.

A wave of low pressure is forecast to move across the Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday, steered by the cold front delivering the icy weather. But weather forecasting models differ on whether the moisture will move through before the cold air arrives, or if it could linger long enough to produce some snow.

Foot’s Forecast meteorologist Keith Krichinsky said there could be “a rapid conversion” of precipitation from rain to snow overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, and “possibly high rates of accumulation” early Wednesday morning.

Weather Service forecasters said it’s possible some drier air could push the precipitation east of the region before the cold arrives, creating “high uncertainty” in the forecast, for now.

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