Snow is in the forecast for Central Maryland on Thursday, but is expected to spare northern and western counties of more wintry weather -- instead coming up from the south. It could make for a treacherous evening commute, but is proving difficult for forecasters to call precisely.
A winter storm watch is in effect for Howard and Anne Arundel counties and points south and west. The National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington forecast office has shifted its forecast around a few times, calling for for as much as 4-6 inches across southern Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties, 2-4 inches across northern Arundel and Prince George's and 1-2 inches around Baltimore and Howard County.
Queen Anne's, Talbot and Caroline counties on the Eastern Shore are also under a winter storm warming with 2-6 inches possible, according to the weather service's Philadelphia forecast office.
Given the large amount of moisture expected in the system, forecasters at the weather service's Baltimore/Washington office predict rain starting midday Thursday but quickly turning to snow in the afternoon in southern areas far enough from the Chesapeake Bay.
As the area of low-pressure bringing Wednesday and Thursday's rainy weather moves off the coast, another system is expected to move up from the Gulf of Mexico and bring snow across much of the Southeast. National weather service forecasters expect the area seeing snow to stretch from central Mississippi northeastward, through the southern and central Appalachians.
But some are dissenting from the weather service forecast. It's possible the snow could stay to the south of Maryland, according to local meteorologist and blogger Eric the Red. Others took to social media criticizing the weather service's forecast for being too bullish on snow chances, including the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog.
Runs of one key model, the NAM Model, shifted from snowfall across the earlier runs to no accumulating snow across the region late Wednesday afternoon. The ever-changing models had forecasters hedging on their predictions.
"We may be looking at some light accumulations possible, but on the other hand a track difference of 50 miles will make an all or nothing difference for central Maryland," Foot's Forecast writes.
AccuWeather.com is calling for 3-6 inches stretching from northern Georgia up the Appalachians into southern Maryland and the lower Eastern Shore, with a dusting to 3 inches in a narrow band across Central Maryland.
The weather service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center expects the heaviest snow to fall across a band to the south of Maryland mostly across Virginia and North Carolina and the Atlantic.