Winter storm warning canceled, leaving only slight snow accumulations

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Expectations of a storm to bring the heaviest snow in at least two years for the region have been dialed back as the National Weather Service has canceled its winter storm warning. High winds and wet roads remain a concern.

Check here for live blog updates on conditions and forecasts.

4:36 p.m.: Weather service meteorologists are no longer expecting any meaningful wintry precipitation Wednesday night, lifting the winter weather advisory for much of Central Maryland. Concerns remain over high winds in the Baltimore area and dangerous conditions along the coast, however, with rough surf and some rescues needed.

One fisherman has been rescued and two are missing in the waters 15 miles east of Assateague Island, the Coast Guard reported Wednesday afternoon.

The Coast Guard received a distress signal at 10:39 a.m. from the 67-foot fishing boat, Seafarer, which was disabled and being towed by a sister vessel when the line parted in 40-mph winds and 12-foot seas.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C, found one man on a life raft and rescued him. The unidentified man was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.

The Coast Guard has deployed a 47-foot rescue boat from Station Chincoteague to continue the search.

Ocean City officials warned of higher-than-normal tides and beach erosion, with rough surf and wind gusts up to 50 mph through the evening.

A wind advisory was in effect until 11 p.m. for much of central and southern Maryland, with winds gusting to 45-50 mph expected.

 

2:40 p.m.: Odds for any late snow accumulations are waning, meaning what relatively few flakes have fallen across the region are likely to be all that's coming, according to one weather service forecaster.

The weather service canceled its winter storm warnings for the region about 2:30 p.m., replacing them with a winter weather advisory.

"We were expecting the cold air from out west to move in and modify the air mass over Central Maryland and give you some accumulating snow in the afternoon and evening, but it appears it won’t move in fast enough," said Calvin Meadows, a meteorological technician in the weather service's Sterling, Va., office. "The low is going to move away before that happens."

Snowfall totals around the region have not budged far from where they stood late Wednesday morning, with about 4 inches across northern Baltimore and Carroll counties, an inch or two in Howard County and just a trace at BWI Marshall Airport, according to weather service reports.

AccuWeather.com meteorologist Bernie Rayno, who acknowledged getting a lot of spiteful messages on Twitter from snow lovers, said he is still holding out some hope for snow showers over Central Maryland in a video posted Wednesday afternoon. But the earlier calls for as much as 8-10 inches across the Baltimore area were clearly no longer in the cards.

Strong winds were meanwhile expected to continue. The Maryland Transportation Authority shut down the Bay Bridge because of high winds.

 

1:07 p.m.: Given widespread school and office closures, the scant precipitation made for an awkward snow day for many.

In downtown Towson, the only difference from any other nasty afternoon was a lack of bustling bodies. Some businesses made the best of the lack of snow.

At bakery La Cakerie in Towson, shop owners were prepared for a quiet day but decided to offer a limited menu and shortened hours. They took to social media to ensure that everyone who had to trudge to work today would be rewarded.

Shop co-owner Jason Hisley said the shop offered two cupcakes for the price of one and free coffee to those who did trek into Towson.

"It was a good thing to do for the community," Hisley said. "The people that had to go to work, at least they got a cupcake and a coffee."

 

12:35 p.m.: With more rain than snow in many areas, a coastal flood advisory has been enacted for Anne Arundel and Calvert counties. Snowfall accumulation forecasts have meanwhile been slashed again across Central Maryland.

The weather service is forecasting 4-6 inches from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. High tides on the western shore of the Chesapeake are expected to be 1.5 to 2 feet above normal this afternoon.

The storm is still carrying some intensity, with reports of thundersnow in the Washington suburbs and a special weather statement cautioning of heavy rain and up to 55 mph winds on the Eastern Shore.

The weather service reaffirmed a winter storm warning in effect for the Baltimore area about noon, saying chances for 4-8 inches of snow across the region remain through Wednesday evening. The warning is in effect through 3 a.m. Thursday.

 

11:10 a.m.: Some reports of light snow were made around Baltimore City via Twitter. Strong winds were meanwhile reported.

Breezes of about 20 mph with gusts of 30 mph have been reported at BWI since 8 a.m., while a buoy on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Patapsco river recorded gusts of 45 mph.

BGE reported about 200 power outages at 10:45 a.m., with more than 250 restored.

Snowfall totals reached 2.5 inches near Cockeysville and 3 inches near Clarksville, according to weather service reports.

 

10:46 a.m.: Light snow was reported at BWI Marshall Airport, with a temperature of 37 degrees. About a third of an inch of liquid precipitation has fallen at the airport since about 1 a.m.

With rain still falling in Baltimore City and along the I-95 corridor, it may not be until 4 p.m. or later that precipitation could change over to snow, Foot's Forecast suggests.

 

10:13 a.m.: WBAL-TV meteorologist Tom Tasselmyer posted a helpful explanation on Twitter of what is keeping precipitation rainy for Baltimore City -- a warm easterly flow of air. While north and northwest winds are blowing to our west and south, warmer air from the coast is circulating into Central Maryland, he explained.

Once winds shift to the northwest, bringing colder air to Central Maryland, snowfall is expected in the area this afternoon and evening, forecasters said. But the delay is likely to pare back accumulations significantly. 

 

9:43 a.m.: Snow has yet to materialize in downtown Baltimore, and the delay has forecasters again cutting back on accumulation totals. The National Weather Service was calling for 4-6 inches close to the bay in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, with 6-8 inches still possible west of I-95 and 8-10 inches in Carroll County.

In Carroll, 5 inches of snow was measured in Manchester, and 4.3 inches near Westminster. Close to 3 inches was on the ground in Parkton in northern Baltimore County, while earlier totals of an inch or two in Howard County remained unchanged.

 

8:42 a.m.: Heavier bands of snow were moving through the Washington, D.C., area as the storm intensified. Rain over the I-95 corridor was expected to change into snow in the morning hours, with snow accumulation totals cut slightly for areas closest to the Chesapeake Bay.

The National Weather Service was still forecasting 8-10 inches for areas north and west of I-95, with 4-6 inches forecast to the east and south, including Anne Arundel, southeastern Baltimore and Harford counties.

Local meteorologist "Eric the Red" said that although the storm has yet to intensify and show its heaviest snowfalls, expectations of accumulations may need to be cut to 1-3 inches east of I-95, 2-6 inches in Baltimore and the surrounding suburbs and 4-8 inches further north and west.

 

7:58 a.m.: Winds have already been gusting heavily, but power outages are minimal so far with only light snow coating trees so far.

Gusts of 25-30 mph have been recorded every hour since 4 a.m. at BWI Marshall Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. was reporting 131 customers without power as of 7:45 a.m.

At BWI, airlines are still operating flights though there were a number of canceled flights with impacts from the storm being felt across the Midwest and East. There were no unusual lines at the airport Wednesday morning, and many airlines relaxed ticket change policies, said BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean.

“To this point in the early morning hours conditions at BWI are mostly just wet," Dean said. “The airport’s snow removal team has been planning and preparing for several days. The airport employees have been here all night and are prepared to clear runways and taxiways as needed.”

 

7:22 a.m.: Light snow had already fallen by daybreak across many areas west of I-95. In Westminster, 2 inches had fallen, with 2.5 reported in Eldersburg, 1.6 inches in Columbia and 3.5 inches in Frederick. Lighter totals were reported to the east, with half an inch in Middle River.

The prospect of more snow had many offices and governments around the region closed. That included the federal government. State government employees were granted liberal leave, along with employees of Baltimore City and Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties. Offices were closed in Carroll County.

Government offices in Anne Arundel County are open and functioning regularly Wednesday -- making them the exception in the region. Annapolis government offices were meanwhile delayed 2 hours opening with a liberal leave policy, and the Maryland General Assembly's schedule was unchanged.

 

6:00 a.m.: Snow was expected to begin early Wednesday morning, possibly starting as rain or a wintry mix. Forecasts as of late Tuesday were calling for 6-12 inches of accumulation across the region, with the highest totals to the northwest of Interstate 95, according to the National Weather Service.

Blustery winds were meanwhile expected, with breezes of 15-25 mph and gusts of 35 mph or greater. The weather service cautioned that could mean poor visibility with blowing snow, and combined with snow-covered roads could make for treacherous travel.

A winter storm warning was in effect for all of Central Maryland through 3 a.m. Thursday. While earlier forecasts had called for lighter accumulations south and east of I-95, forecasts as of late Tuesday included Baltimore and points west and south in an area that could see 8-10 inches.

The snow was forecast to be wet and heavy, causing concerns of power outages from downed trees and tree limbs. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. officials said they were preparing for the possibility of hundreds of thousands of power outages.

The forecast spurred a flurry of activity Tuesday among everyone from first responders to utilities to school districts. For more details on storm preparations, read this morning's print edition story.

The snow was expected to continue through Wednesday evening. To view the latest snowfall forecasts from the weather service, visit its winter storm page.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Kevin Rector, Alison Matas, Candy Thomson and Jon Meoli contributed to this report.

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