Winter, according to weather forecasters, is coming for Carroll County this weekend, and it’s bringing snow, followed by ice, followed by sub-zero wind chills.
Winter precipitation is expected to begin as snow mid-day Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, which Friday afternoon issued a winter storming warning for Carroll and northern Baltimore counties in effect from 1 p.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday.
“It looks like for Carroll County the snow isn’t going to be the main impact. My guess is up that way you will see an inch or two,” said NWS meteorologist Jeremy Geiger. “I believe the main factor for the winter storm warning [going] into effect for you guys will be the ice.”
Temperatures are expected to rise somewhat throughout Saturday afternoon, perhaps reaching the mid-30s, according to Geiger, pushing the snow to transition to a wintry mix and, eventually, rain into Saturday evening.
But with cold roads and air that might not get much above freezing, that rain will won’t be running down the gutters, according to Keith Krichinsky, executive director of Foot’s Forecast.
“Honestly, for Carroll County, especially the northern part of the county, I think we are staring down the barrel of an ice storm,” he said. “I think we’re going to get slammed with ice.”
The National Weather Service reduced the winter storm warning to an advisory around noon Saturday. The warm air lingered around the Baltimore area longer than expected, downgrading the wintry mix forecast to rain, according to NWS meteorologists. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)
As of 5 p.m. Friday, Geiger said, the National Weather Service was estimating as much as one-fourth to three-tenths of an inch of ice in northern Carroll County, and maybe two-tenths of an inch around Westminster, while Krichinsky sees that gradient trending more south and delivering a thicker coast of ice.
“If the roads stay cold enough and the air stays cold enough, you’re going to have a freezing rain situation,” Krichinksy said. “That means as it falls, on contact with anything, it turns to ice.”
The slight warming period will peak early Sunday morning, with the high coming between 1 and 3 a.m., according to Geiger.
“By 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., most of the county will be below freezing,” he said. “From that point on, temperatures will be slowly dropping throughout the day.”
It’s what happens to any melting snow or ice Sunday that worries Krichinsky.
“Whatever is left on the roads, even a slightly damp spot, is going to flash freeze during the day Sunday,” he said. “Road treatments are only good down to between 20 and 25 degrees with the salt, and once it gets below that, salting roads is not going to help much. It’s going to get nasty.”
And while the precipitation is not expected to last beyond Saturday, Geiger said the cold snap will only get worse as the weekend wears on.
“The Sunday into Monday overnight period, lows right now we’re expecting to hover anywhere in the single digits,” he said. “Single digits with wind chills reaching below minus-5 likely, very good chance below minus-10 at points. It will be pretty breezy.”
And the latest forecast for temperatures on Monday are not much better, Geiger said, with most parts of Carroll county failing to breach 20 degrees for a high.
“We expect the highs on Monday to be in the teens, and the northeastern part of Carroll County could actually be closer to anywhere between 12 and 15 degrees,” he said. The corresponding wind chills could again be below zero. It’s going to be a very cold start to the week.”
Tuesday could also be cold, but both Krichinsky and Geiger said there could be a slight thaw — up into the 40s — on Wednesday, along with a chance of precipitation.
Deep cold seems likely to return by Thursday and Friday, according to Krichinksy, with another chance for a winter storm over the weekend.