CUMBERLAND — The new year could get off to an icy start as a storm system pushes across the middle of the country toward Western Maryland. A cold front is expected to blow through the region Thursday, bringing with it some light rain.
The slick stuff, however, is slated to get underway when cold air filters in behind the storm system sometime between 10 a.m. and noon Friday, dropping light freezing rain that is expected to continue until the evening.
“There won’t be any wind with the storm system,” said Chad Merrill, a city native who is now the Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack meteorologist. “There will be a little bit of a breeze on Saturday, but the ice will melt before the wind picks up. I don’t expect there to be many power outages as a result.”
Merrill expects the Cumberland area to see around a tenth of an inch of ice accumulation, with greater accumulation in the surrounding region and at higher elevations.
The National Weather Service on Thursday issued a winter storm watch for most of the area from 7 a.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday. According to the weather service, a quarter-inch to one inch of ice is possible.
“Basically, it’s the roads that will be affected, I think; the interstate will be in fine shape, it’s the secondary roads that’ll have some icy spots,” said Merrill.
When things could get dicey is later on in the day Friday if the expected dense fog sets in. Thick fog is likely to develop at higher elevations and especially around Garrett County, with lighter fog developing around downtown, Merrill said.
“The icing will occur during afternoon and evening,” said Merrill. “Then, Friday night into Saturday morning, even though the precipitation will end, we’ll have widespread dense fog and also areas with wet spots that may have developed on the road that may become icy.”
Temperatures aren’t likely to rise on Friday and the wet spots left on the road could accumulate ice and become black ice overnight, Merrill said. The fog may make those spots even more difficult to see and avoid.