Meteorologists are watching forecast models closely for signs that a winter storm could sweep up the East Coast this weekend, but say it’s not likely to bring snow to the Baltimore region.
A system is forecast to develop in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday and then head northeast, a weather pattern that is known to produce significant winter storms in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. But in this case, there are a handful of factors that have meteorologists downplaying any threat of significant wintry precipitation.
It’s not likely to be cold enough here to support snowfall, for one, they said. For that to happen, there typically must be a high-pressure system to the north or northeast, steering storms over the region and supplying them with abundant frigid air from the Arctic. That isn’t in the forecast.
There are also doubts about the storm’s track. If it moves up the Interstate 95 corridor, that would likely mean rain in those areas, with wintry precipitation confined to areas farther inland, into the Ohio valley, according to AccuWeather.com. If it stays off the coast, that could mean some wintry precipitation for the I-95 corridor, but temperatures could still be on the warm side for much accumulation.
“Given lack of cold air in place ... this does not appear to be a favorable setup for heavy snow for our area at this time,” National Weather Service forecasters wrote. They added, though, that they “can’t completely rule out some light wintry precipitation just yet especially in our higher elevation areas like Appalachian Mountains where it is typically cold enough to snow anyway this time of the year.”
It’s also possible the storm stays far enough off the coast that the weather stays dry this weekend.
For now, the weather service is forecasting 30-40% chances for rain Friday night and Saturday around Central Maryland, with lows in the lower 30s and highs in the mid-40s.
Snowfall this winter remains well below normal in Baltimore and most of the rest of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. For example, New York City and Pittsburgh have seen about half their normal snowfall. Washington and Philadelphia have only recorded fractions of an inch, when they typically receive 7 inches and 8.5 inches of snow by this point in the year, respectively.
At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, there has been 1.8 inches of snow so far this season, about one-sixth of its average total by the end of January.