Friday-Saturday snowfall could reach 12 inches
Much still depends on the final track and timing of the storm, but forecasters seem to be converging on a major snowfall for the Baltimore-Washington region, beginning here sometime Friday afternoon.
The low-pressure system is still closing on California this (Tuesday) morning (left). It's the latest in the series of Pacific storms that have been dumping heavy rains on California in recent weeks.
The low is forecast to move across the continent this week to the Carolinas. There, forecast models predict it will intensify off the Atlantic seaboard, and draw in more Gulf and Atlantic moisture.
With cold air surging into the region out of the Canadian arctic, and being held in place by a "blocking" low over eastern Canada, we should be seeing the classic setup for a snowstorm to swing around the edge of the cold air and give us quite a storm. But how much?
The National Weather Service forecasters out at Sterling are always cautious this many days out. Too much depends on the final track the storm takes, the amount of moisture it makes available, and the temperatures in the mid-Atlantic states.
Officially, Sterling is calling for a 50 percent chance of snow at BWI by Friday, rising to 60 percent Friday night and Saturday. Their morning forecast discussion offers no accumulations guesses, only a "later Friday through Saturday night" timeframe.
Uncertainty doesn't phase some other folks. Assessing the likely impact from Texas eastward, AccuWeather.com says: "The winter storm threatens to cause substantial disruptions to travel and daily routines. Schools will likely be cancelled Thursday into Friday. Residents and visitors to the mid-Atlantic may be forced to alter their weekend plans." Here's more.
"This is going to be a good snowstorm for you folks down in Baltimore-Washington, probably a good 6 to 12 inches the way we see it right now," said AccuWeather.com blogger Henry Margusity. "Not a blizzard. Just your normal February heavy snowstorm."
Mr. Foot and his legions are just as excited about this one. Low temperatures and high snow-to-water ratios, they say mean that snow totals "could easily exceed 12 inches by midnight Saturday." But, for now, they're going with 6 to 12 inches, too. As we get closer, and the storm's start time becomes more clear, school districts will have to decide whether to close, order an early dismissal, or hope to get the buses off before the driving gets dicey.
A 12-inch storm at BWI would place this one - just barely - among the top 20 on the record books for Baltimore, according to the NWS.