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Cool winds hold back record-setting heat

A "backdoor" front blowing cool winds from the northeast prevented Baltimore from setting a heat record Thursday, but not from enjoying a fourth-straight unseasonably warm day.

Temperatures peaked at 73 degrees atBaltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, shy of the upper 70s forecast and the record of 82 degrees set in 1990.

The cool front did not reach the Washington area, where records of 82 and 84 degrees were set at Reagan National and Dulles airports, respectively.

The warm spell resumes Friday and won't leave soon. Meteorologists forecast temperatures to remain 20 degrees above normal highs, usually in the mid-50s, through early next week.

The slight cooling Thursday didn't bother those who took whatever chance they could to enjoy the weather.

"This is like the spring I grew up with in Northern California," said Eliana Trenam, a ballerina in town for a month to prepare for the Baltimore Ballet Company's performance of the second act of "Giselle" on Saturday. Trenam spent Thursday afternoon under the pink blooms of a cherry tree in Mount Vernon Square writing a letter to family back in California.

High temperatures have remained above 70 degrees since Monday, as measured at BWI. Halfway through March, highs have surpassed 60 degrees all but five days.

Cool easterly winds were expected to linger through Thursday evening, said Heather Sheffield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. But a warm-up was expected Friday, she said. Forecasts call for temperatures in the mid-70s with afternoon thunderstorms.

While the risk of freezing temperatures remains, long-term forecasts predict above-average temperatures lasting through the month, Sheffield said.

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