CUMBERLAND — The coldest temperatures of the winter season descended upon the tri-state region Monday night, prompting delays in opening of the region’s schools.
Allegany, Garrett and Mineral, W.Va., counties will operate on a two-hour delay today, as well.
“Zero was the low this morning and right now it’s a blistering 6 degrees,” said Maryland State Police Sgt. Matt Jones of the McHenry barrack at about 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Occasional winds and a dusting of snow complicated travel conditions Monday night but the snow emergency plan for Interstate 68 in the county was lifted by the State Highway Adminstration before 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
The plan had been placed in effect at 8:30 p.m. on Monday in Garrett County.
About an inch of powdery snow fell in Frostburg by Tuesday morning where the temperature hovered at 5 degrees at mid-morning. The daytime high predicted by the National Weather Service was 12 degrees.
The extreme cold prompted the NWS to issue a wind chill advisory in effect until noon Wednesday.
Wind chill readings of 5 to 15 degrees below zero were predicted at higher elevations. Temperatures were expected to range from 5 to 20 degrees and winds were anticipated to gust up to 35 miles per hour.
“A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills. This will result in frost bite and hypothermia if precautions are not taken. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves,” read the advisory issued by the NWS at 3:29 a.m. on Tuesday.
Tim Thomas, NWS observer in Cumberland, said the bone-chilling temperatures will be hanging around for a while.
“This doesn’t look like a great week unless you are a fan of the cold. We came from 60 degrees last week to 11 degrees this morning,” he said early Tuesday afternoon.
Thomas said that the last week of January and the first week of February typically mark the worst weeks of winter weather for our region.
“We walked through winter last year, but now we are getting a taste of what winter is supposed to be. It’s fairly normal for this time of year,” said Thomas.
Thomas said temperatures could rise into the 20s by Friday when snow, freezing rain and/or sleet were expected.
Accuweather reports that a combination of lingering arctic air and two merging storms has the potential to spread a large swath of snow, wintry mix and slippery travel from the Midwest to the East at the end of the week.
Essentially, the area between I-64 to I-80 in the Midwest to the central Appalachians has the potential for a significant snowfall and the associated travel delays.
Thomas urged anyone venturing outdoors to dress in layers of clothing and wear hats and gloves.
Travelers were being urged to have winter safety kits with them to cope with cold temperatures in the event of a vehicle breakdown. The kit should include food and water, jumper cables, any prescribed medications, road flares and blankets.
Thomas said temperatures could be in the low 40s next Monday, according to the extended NWS forecast.
Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at email@example.com.