Ice, rain, flooding tonight; more snow Saturday?
Oh my. What a forecast Sterling has dished up today. Don't let the sunshine this morning fool you. There's a real mess headed our way late today and tomorrow.
Depending on where you are, there may be a Flood Watch, a Winter Storm Watch or a Winter Storm Warning posted for your area. And forecasters are already watching the next round of wintry weather - another coastal storm with a 30 percent chance for snow here on Saturday.
Are we having fun yet? (The school kids are. Here's the discussion at Foot's Forecast.)
First on the menu is that huge storm system that came ashore in Southern California (left) yesterday. It's now grinding across the continent with heavy snow and rain, and deep cold in the northern Plains. (It was 33 degrees BELOW zero this morning in Havre, Montana.) Some mountain locations are expecting 3 to 4 feet of snow.
The storm should begin to affect us late today as the storm's center moves toward the Great Lakes, staying to our west and keeping us on the warmer, wetter side of the circulation.
Forecasters say it should begin around dinnertime here, with snow and sleet for the I-95 corridor. That will change to rain and sleet during the late evening, and then to all rain before midnight as surface temperatures rise.
The rain, fueled by copious moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, could be moderate to heavy at times. Widespread amounts of 1 to 2 inches are expected, with some locations receiving as much as 3 inches. A Flood Watch has been issued for all of the Western Shore, from Harford to St. Mary's counties, westward to Frederick and Montgomery, and for the Lower Eastern Shore. Watch for small streams to overflow their banks, and for more standing water in poorly drained and urban areas.
Farther north and west, including Baltimore's northern and western suburbs up to the Mason-Dixon Line, the cold air at the surface and frozen precipitation will linger longer, posing more of a hazard to travelers. A Winter Storm Watch is posted for Carroll, Frederick, Montgomery and Washington counties, where freezing rain could accumulate up to a quarter-inch of ice.
The most significant ice accumulations are expected still farther west, in Allegany County, where temperatures at the surface may stay near freezing for most of the night, increasing the risk of freezing rain. The NWS has posted a Winter Storm Warning for Allegany until 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Had enough yet? Wait. There's more.
After this storm moves off, temperatures in its wake will drop sharply. High temperatures will slip through the mid-30s for the rest of the week, with overnight lows falling to 20 degrees by Friday morning.
With that cold air in place, the next system could deliver another Saturday snowstorm. It's too soon for guessing accumulations. Chances for snow in Baltimore are put at 30 percent for now. But forecasters do expect higher amounts this time will be in the southern counties, closer to the coastal low that's expected to develop.
And winter is still two weeks away!
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, Monday)