Several inches of snow fell across the Baltimore region overnight, with more expected into Tuesday afternoon, but forecasters scaled back their expectations of accumulations as sleet and freezing rain mixed into the precipitation and left a glaze of ice instead.
About four to six inches of snow are forecast for Baltimore and the Interstate 95 corridor, with as much as 10 inches still possible in northern Baltimore and Carroll counties, according to the National Weather Service.
Early morning snow reports included 6.4 inches in Norrisville, in northern Harford County; 5.5 inches near Manchester in Carroll County; 3.5 inches in Columbia; and 3 inches in Baltimore’s Woodberry neighborhood.
A significant coating of ice covered many surfaces. At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, 0.15 inches of ice was reported early Tuesday.
The National Weather Service reported 1.9 inches of snow at the airport, the region’s point of record, knocking this winter from a tie as Baltimore’s least snowy on record to No. 5 in the record books. There has been 2.6 inches of snow at BWI this season.
In a 7 a.m. news conference, Baltimore City officials said they anticipated one to four inches of snow falling before noon Tuesday.
“We’ve been spared,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said amid her first major weather event in office.
Some secondary roads still needed to be cleared Tuesday, but “the main thoroughfares” had been cleared early Tuesday, Pugh said.
“We really do want people to stay off of the roads,” Pugh added.
Forecasters have downgraded their predictions for snowfall accumulations because of a slight shift in the track of the storm, a classic “nor’easter” feeding off cold polar air and warm Gulf of Mexico moisture.
“The closeness to the coast has resulted in warm air infiltrating much of the Mid-Atlantic region this morning,” weather service forecasters wrote early Tuesday.
When warm air moves in overhead while temperatures are cold close to the ground, snowfall melts and then refreezes as it falls, creating sleet and freezing rain.
Keith Krichinsky, executive director of Foot’s Forecast in Hampstead, said the denser sleet has packed down snowfall, leaving thin but slick accumulation on roads and sidewalks. In Carroll County, where the heaviest snow has fallen, another two or three inches could fall if the warm air retreats, but otherwise only an inch or two more could accumulate through early afternoon, he said.
Wintry precipitation is expected to continue through the morning, at least, with blustery 30-35 mph wind gusts and temperatures hovering just at or below freezing.
Forecasters said that although the mixed precipitation means less snow may fall than previously expected, it has created icy conditions. They urged residents to use caution if traveling.
At BWI, a number of flights were canceled early Tuesday and “very limited” operations were expected during the day, officials said. The airport’s snow team was “working to clear runways and taxiways for airline operations,” according to the BWI Twitter account.
Baltimore’s Light Rail was operating only between Hunt Valley and Camden Yards, but buses were running, the Maryland Transportation Administration said on Twitter.
About 9,800 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers were without power as of 8:45 a.m., and 4,500 outages had been restored. Most of the outages were in Anne Arundel County.
In Howard County, officials finally got a chance to put a revamped snowplow tracker website into action, and it showed major arteries like Little Patuxent, Snowden River and Broken Land parkways cleared. Few neighborhood streets were reported cleared.
Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Colin Campbell, Andrew Michaels, Jacob deNobel, Emily Chappell and Jim Joyner contributed to this article.
Maryland snow: Projections downgraded, but motorists urged not to travel – Baltimore Sun