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Maryland weather: Snow fails to materialize as expected, though forecasters still warn of wet conditions later

Forecasts of early-morning snow went unrealized in and around Baltimore Saturday, but the National Weather Service was still predicting a light snowfall to go with sleet and freezing rain beginning midday and continuing through the afternoon.

The inch or so of snow expected to begin accumulating around 8 a.m. as part of a storm across the Northeast never materialized. But forecasters were sticking with their expectation that a wintry mix would leaves roads icy and driving hazardous in the Baltimore area throughout the day.

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The National Weather Service had called for chances of snow in the morning hours Saturday, before turning to ice and then rain and freezing rain. Forecasters now expect less than an inch of snow and a glaze of ice in Baltimore and along the Interstate 95 corridor before a changeover to rain in mid- to late afternoon or early evening Saturday.

The heaviest wintry precipitation, as much as 2 inches to 3 inches of snow and a tenth of an inch of ice, was expected north and west of Baltimore in areas that typically see heavier snowfall — at higher elevations along the Pennsylvania line in Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties. But forecasters scaled their predictions back to 1 to 2 inches in those areas.

Meteorologists said any snow that falls Saturday is likely to stick to untreated surfaces because temperatures dropped into the lower 20s overnight, after spending most of Friday close to the freezing mark. Temperatures hovered around the freezing mark Saturday morning and are expected to reach the upper 30s.

There is still uncertainty over types and amounts of precipitation, though. Meteorologists said Friday that if the system were to pass farther north or south than expected, it could mean little to no snowfall, according to Ray Martin, a weather service meteorologist. And if cold air lingers, or if it moves out more quickly, that could affect ice accumulations.

Meteorologists said they expected relatively mild air to begin flowing in, especially at higher levels of the atmosphere, throughout the day Saturday, producing the mix of precipitation types. Mixed precipitation occurs when warmer layers of air allow snow to melt as it falls, but then refreeze as it reaches cold air closer to the ground.

AccuWeather.com had predicted precipitation in Central Maryland starting around 8-10 a.m. Saturday, first as snow, then ice, then rain. The meteorology company is predicting little to no snowfall accumulation across Maryland for now, mainly just in western counties and along the Pennsylvania line, though that could change. It predicts a foot or more of snow in parts of Pennsylvania, New York and New England.

The National Weather Service is calling for snow and sleet before 4 p.m., then rain, freezing rain, and sleet with temperatures reaching near 34 and occasional wind gusts of up to 22 mph.

The storm system, which moved into the area from the Midwest, is forecast to mark the beginning of an extended period of colder-than-normal weather. Lows around 20 degrees and highs in the 30s are forecast for the rest of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend and into next week.

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