Strong winds, severe storm threat raise power outage concerns

Meteorologists and utility officials cautioned of possible power outages Wednesday night as wind gusts up to 50 mph blow through the region, along with possible thunderstorms and then a burst of cold air.

The combination of high winds and saturated soil was expected to down tree limbs and trunks, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. officials warned. Slightly more than 16,000 BGE customers were without power as of 11 p.m., slightly less than half of them in Baltimore County.

The National Weather Service placed Central Maryland under a wind advisory through 11 a.m. Thursday, with sustained winds of 20-30 mph and gusts of 40-50 mph.

Wind gusts neared or surpassed 50 mph across the state Wednesday night, including a 53 mph gust at BWI Airport, 51 mph in West Baltimore, 51 mph in Middle River and 46 mph in Westminster. The strongest gust reported in the state was 66 mph in the Flint area of northern Frederick County, near Camp David.

A coastal flood advisory is in effect for Anne Arundel County and Southern Maryland, with afternoon high tides a foot to a foot and a half above normal. A gale warning is in effect on the Chesapeake Bay.

Storms brought heavy but brief rain Wednesday evening as a cold front approached.

In the Baltimore area, temperatures reached the upper 60s Wednesday afternoon, but were expected to drop by as much as 40 degrees overnight.

The city issued a Code Blue for tonight into Thursday morning. Temperatures were expected to fall by as much as 40 degrees from Wednesday afternoon to early Thursday morning, with lows in the upper 20s. Clear skies and dry air were forecast Thursday, with highs in the mid-30s.

Lows were forecast in the lower 20s early Friday morning, but the chill was expected to end there, with highs returning to around 50 on Friday and 60 on Saturday.

National Weather Service forecasters joked Wednesday's weather "has something for everyone", with chances for strong or severe storms, snow, strong winds, coastal flooding and both above and below normal temperatures across Maryland and Virginia.

"WE SOMETIMES SAY THE FORECAST HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE," they wrote. "I THINK WE CAN TAKE THAT LITERALLY AT THE MOMENT."