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Chesapeake Bay weather for March 2: increasing clouds, winter storm on the way

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Brian's exclusive forecast for Baltimore, Annapolis, and northern Delmarva:

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*The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for tonight and Monday*

Today: Increasing clouds with an afternoon shower possible. The high will be 45 to 50.

Tonight: Rain changing to sleet overnight, then sleet changing to snow by sunrise. The temperature will fall to around 32 by daybreak.

Monday: Snow, heavy at times. Snow may accumulate 8 to 12 inches. Very windy and cold with temperatures falling through the 20s. Winds gusting over 20 miles per hour at times.

Monday Night: A few flurries early, then clearing and unseasonably cold with a low around 5.

The extended forecast calls for sunshine on Tuesday with a low around 5 and a high in the upper 20s. Mostly sunny on Wednesday with a low in the upper 10s and a high near 32. Clouds and sun on Thursday with a low in the lower 20s and a high in the upper 30s. Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow on Friday. The low will be in the mid 20s and the high will be near 40.

The second day of March begins with a mostly cloudy sky and mild temperatures with the mercury showing readings in the upper 30s to lower 40s at 10 a.m. As we move through the afternoon hours, clouds will increase and temperatures will hold steady or rise slowly through the 40s; the exception will be southern Maryland into southeast Virginia where temperatures will climb into the 50s. There may be a few light rain showers this afternoon, but otherwise conditions will remain mild and dry.

An arctic front will drop from north to south across the bay region during the overnight hours. At the same time, an area of low pressure will move along the front and spread precipitation over the area. Initially, temperatures will be mild enough so that precipitation falls in the form of light rain in Washington, Baltimore, and Richmond. Between midnight and 6 a.m., temperatures will nosedive and fall through the 20s. This will allow for the precipitation to change to sleet and then to snow (there may be a period of freezing rain as well which would create icy conditions.) The transition from rain to sleet to snow will occur first in the Baltimore area, then Washington DC, and then Richmond. However, all locations will be reporting moderate to heavy snow with falling temperatures. In fact, by afternoon, places like Annapolis may be experiencing heavy snow with the mercury in the teens and winds gusting over 20 miles per hour!

Intense snowfall rates can be expected in the convergence zone, a place where warmer, subtropical air to the south merges with fresh arctic air to the north. This will result in tremendous uplift or convection, and will produce a wide swath of moderate to heavy snow across the region. Since the arctic front will be to our south, we will be on the cold side of the storm and will see mostly snow from this system. Farther to the south, in southern and southeast Virginia, a prolonged period of mixed precipitation is likely before the changeover to snow. When all is said and done, a zone of 8 to 12 inches of snowfall can be expected in Baltimore, Washington, and Annapolis with a few isolated spots receiving up to 15 inches of snowfall before the precipitation tapers to flurries during the late afternoon.

As we move into the nighttime hours and into early Tuesday, the sky will clear and arctic air will become entrenched in the Middle Atlantic region with near-record low temperatures on Tuesday morning. Lows may fall to near zero just to the north and west of Baltimore and Washington, with single digits around Annapolis. During the day on Tuesday, high pressure will build over the region with plenty of sunshine; however, temperatures will be unseasonably cold with highs only in the mid 20s. The average high for this time of year is near 50 degrees!

On the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay, a Small Craft Advisory is in effect from 3 p.m. this afternoon through Monday afternoon. Winds this afternoon will come out of the west, but then shift to the north at 10 to 15 knots with gusts over 20 knots and waves from 1 to 3 feet. Winds tonight will come out of the north at 10 to 20 knots with gusts over 25 knots and waves from 1 to 3 feet. Visibility will be reduced in rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, and fog. Winds on Monday will come out of the north at 10 to 20 knots with gusts over 25 knots and waves from 1 to 3 feet. Visibility will be reduced in snow and fog. Visibility will be reduced in snow and fog. Marine information is provided as general guidance. Boaters should always stay tuned to the latest forecasts and advisories from the National Weather Service.

The average high temperature for March 2 is 49 degrees and the average low is 30 degrees. The records at Baltimore on this date are 80 degrees in 1972, and 13 degrees in 1960 and 1980. Today's sunrise will occur at 6:38 and the sunset will occur at 6:00. Weather data courtesy of the National Weather Service. For more weather updates, please visit my Chesapeake Bay Weather page on Facebook, and if you're heading to Ocean City feel free to check out my Ocean City MD Weather page on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter @chesbayweather.

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