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Maryland weather: Sunnier week ahead, but travelers might still face hurdles

The bitterly cold holiday weekend is nearly over, but travelers might not yet be free of hurdles.

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A sunnier, warmer week is in the forecast ― a welcome reprieve after an Arctic cold front blasted the Baltimore area Friday, bringing strong gusts that toppled wires and trees, resulting in power outages, disrupted transportation services and frozen pipes.

Power has since been restored to most Baltimore Gas and Electric customers. As of Monday morning, about 3,500 customers were without power, a small fraction compared with Friday night.

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But airline travelers might still face some challenges. BWI Marshall Airport listed more than 30 canceled Monday flights, as of about 11 a.m., with some additional delayed flights.

Baltimore experienced a low of 6 degrees on Christmas Eve, the coldest temperature recorded yet in 2022 and barely warmer than the area’s record low of 4 degrees in 1983.

After a high of 32 degrees Christmas Day, the week will warm up starting Monday, and temperatures will climb to around 33 on Monday, into the 40s Tuesday, and then into the 50s later in the week.

Baltimore has opened five warming centers to help people with power outages following the cold front.

Baltimore Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa issued a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration for Friday morning until Monday morning. This is the first alert issued this season for Baltimore City. A declaration is issued when temperatures, including wind chill, are expected to be 13 degrees or below, and when other severe conditions are life-threatening to vulnerable Baltimore residents.

Baltimore County opened two freezing weather shelters through Thursday. The two shelters, open 24 hours, are at the Eastern Family Resource Center in Rosedale and the Woodlawn Community Health Center.

Canceled flights

Flight cancelations continued into Monday, following dozens of impacted routes through the weekend.

As of Sunday evening, more than 60 of the day’s departing flights were listed as canceled. Thursday saw about 30 cancelations, primarily due to bad weather in other parts of the country, according to airport spokesperson Jonathan Dean.

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While most flights were getting out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Thursday morning, a growing number of cancellations were evident as a winter storm was beginning to cause problems across the country.

FlightAware, a flight tracking platform, showed more than 100 delays and cancelations for BWI.

Dean advised leaving passengers to leave plenty of time to park and go through TSA screening. He suggested drivers use the upper-level departures road to pick up and drop off passengers to reduce traffic in the arrivals area, particularly during the afternoon and evening.

“I would simply encourage anyone with travel plans to be in touch with their airlines for updated flight status information,” Dean said. Airlines have put travel waivers in place to allow customers to change itineraries without penalties, he said.

What to expect when traveling

Roads are mainly clear as sunny skies Friday helped prevent major roadways from icing over after heavy rainfall Thursday.

Drivers should make sure their vehicles are ready for inclement weather and have blankets and emergency kits, according to a release from Baltimore’s Department of Transportation.

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Residents are advised to put together emergency kits for their homes and charge mobile devices to prepare for possible power outages.

“This is a busy week for holiday travelers and we’re asking them to be extra cautious as they make their way to see friends and loved ones,” Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administrator Tim Smith said in a news release Wednesday.

The State Highway Administrator will patrol for icy roads, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses, the release said.


Tips, services to fight the freeze

Throughout the Code Blue Extreme Cold season, the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services also works with city homeless shelter providers to extend shelter hours and to provide expanded bed capacity as part of the Winter Shelter Plan.

Cold weather tips for staying healthy:

  • Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing.
  • Always wear a head covering, like a hat and/or scarf, when outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Protect yourself against falls in icy or snowy conditions by walking slowly and avoiding steps or curbs with ice on them.
  • Check on those who are most vulnerable including children, the elderly and/or chronically ill.
  • Provide appropriate shelter for domestic animals.

Other tips for keeping safe in cold weather:

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  • Keep space heaters and candles away from flammable materials, such as curtains, furniture and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Check your carbon monoxide detector and make sure it’s working.
  • Do not use prohibited heat or power sources inside your home, such as stoves or generators. They might cause fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not leave your car running in a closed space such as a garage.

During the winter season, there are several services available to eligible residents to assist with energy expenses. For more information on energy assistance, residents can call 410-396-5555 or visit the Energy Assistance Program website.

Older residents or caregivers can call Maryland Access Point at 410-396-CARE for assistance completing and mailing energy assistance applications.

The Weatherization Assistance Program helps reduce energy expenses by installing energy-conserving materials and products in a resident’s home. To check if you are eligible for this free service, visit the Weatherization Assistance Program’s website or call 410-396-3023.

For more information about Baltimore City’s Code Blue Extreme Cold Plan, visit the Health Department’s website.

For other cold-related inquiries and service requests, or to find a nearby homeless shelter, residents can call 311 or 211.

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