Snow showers left light accumulations around the Baltimore region Tuesday, and a bigger winter wallop was set to arrive by Wednesday: a stretch of cold weather forecast to last through the week.
The National Weather Service received reports of 3.3 inches in the Manchester area of Carroll County, 3.1 inches in Bel Air, 2 inches in northern Baltimore County and 1.2 inches in Columbia.
While only slight accumulations, if any, were reported along the Interstate 95 corridor, meteorologists cautioned that falling temperatures could freeze any wet or slushy pavement overnight.
A winter weather advisory across the region was canceled by 7:30 p.m. A snow emergency plan in Carroll County was lifted around 11 p.m.
The snow came ahead of a cold front moving through Tuesday night. And then an even colder front is forecast to pass through Wednesday, delivering bitterly cold air across the Great Lakes and Northeast.
Arctic air early Tuesday dropped temperatures in the Dakotas and Minnesota to as low as minus 27 degrees, with wind chills as cold as minus 59. And it was advancing eastward. On Wednesday, record-setting cold was forecast in Chicago. At O’Hare International Airport, the high temperature is expected to be negative 14 degrees, which would break a record set Jan. 18, 1994.
Around Baltimore, lows early Wednesday morning are forecast in the upper teens, with wind chills dropping to the single digits, and temperatures are expected to top out only in the mid-20s Wednesday afternoon. Winds could gust up to 35 mph, and brief but intense afternoon flurries are possible.
Then, Thursday is expected to be even colder, with early-morning lows in the single digits and wind chills dropping several degrees below zero. High temperatures are forecast in the upper teens Thursday afternoon, with gusts up to 20 mph making it feel like the single digits throughout the day.
Lows in the lower teens and highs in the mid-20s are forecast Friday. Calmer winds are expected — and more snow showers are possible.
Interim Baltimore City Health Commissioner Mary Beth Haller declared a “Code Blue” emergency from Tuesday night through Friday morning. The designation prompts agencies to offer free meals for senior citizens, encourage homeless people to seek shelter and help residents apply for utility bill assistance.
Baltimore public works officials said they are preparing for the likelihood of water main breaks, and urged residents to protect outdoor or exposed pipes from the cold. They encourage shutting off water to outside faucets and allowing a trickle of water to flow from a basement faucet, because moving water is less likely to freeze.
The Department of Public Works was responding to about 30 water main breaks around the city Monday, including nine that were reported Sunday. Cold snaps and the thaws that follow often cause an increase in water main breaks.
Temperatures might not rise above freezing again until Saturday afternoon, with highs forecast slightly above freezing. They are expected to return to normal by Sunday, with highs in the mid-40s.
Highs could reach the 50s early next week.