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Environmentby Mark Reutter5:00 pmJan 21, 20140

Baltimore shuts down for a day of snow and falling temperatures

Fashionista Alert: Even the malls are closed!

Above: Dropping temperatures make for slippery roads and bridges. Traffic this afternoon on the Kelly Avenue Bridge in Baltimore.

A classic snow day gripped Baltimore today, releasing kids from schools, closing government offices and banks, snarling car and air transportation, and even shutting down Columbia Mall and other shopping emporiums.

Prognosis: it will get worse before it gets better.

With snow expected to accumulate up to 10 inches in the northern suburbs, officials are urging residents to get home and stay there.

Heavy snow showers are expected this evening, with possible localized white-out conditions. The white stuff is forecast to end around midnight in Baltimore City, with as much as 8 inches on the ground.

This compares to about 4-7 inches expected in the Washington area and as much as a foot in the New York region as the entire Northeast, from Virginia to Maine, braces for the second blast of arctic conditions this month.

And the Wind Began to Howl

The big unknown is the wind. Now calm, at least in the city, the wind is forecast to pick up speed during the evening, reaching gusts of 30 mph in the early morning hours and continuing through tomorrow.

Temperatures, now in the low twenties, are expected to plunge to the single digits tonight, creating wind chills of 10 degrees below zero or colder. (Homeowner Tip: Keep a small stream of tap water running tonight to avoid frozen pipes.)

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake talks about this city's snow preparedness with afternoon. To her right is incoming Public Works Director Rudolph Chow, Transportation Director William M. Johnson. Dr. Oxiris Barbot, head of the Health Department, is to her left. (Office of the Mayor)

Mayor Rawlings-Blake said the city is prepared for the snow, speaking today at the Emergency Operations Center on North Calvert St. (Office of the Mayor)

Crews are out on the roads as Snow Emergency Operations went into effect in the city and surrounding counties. Fender benders and highway backups are reported throughout the region.

Going into the evening, most flights at BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport have been canceled. The biggest carrier, Southwest Airlines, has annulled about 85% of its outbound flights.

The Maryland Transit Administration reports minor delays on Baltimore area buses (with several lines re-routed) and no delays on the Metro Subway and Light Rail.

Due to the closure of federal offices in Washington today, MARC train service on the Camden and Brunswick lines were canceled today. There is limited service on the Penn Line, which is operating on its “S” schedule.

No major problems have been reported by Amtrak. But with snow falling throughout the Northeast, expect major delays tonight and into tomorrow.

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