Patches of dense fog socked in state residents and plagued motorists yesterday morning as unseasonably warm temperatures produced weather more suitable for shirt sleeves than skiing -- even in Western Maryland.
Bill Miller, a National Weather Service forecaster at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, said warm temperatures and evaporating snow created fog that was particularly dense in areas of central and western Maryland, which felt the brunt of last Thursday's snowstorm.
State police said the heavy fog contributed to an unusual chain-reaction traffic accident near Frederick yesterday morning when an out-of-state motorist stopped his car in the middle of Route 26 to ask for directions. That set the scene for five collisions that sent 13 people to the hospital.
The unidentified motorist, who was from Ohio, was driving along Route 26 one mile east of U.S. 15 in dense fog when he stopped his car in the roadway about 10:32 a.m. to ask a jogger for directions.
Visibility was less than 100 feet, and the motorist's parked car was quickly struck from behind by another car, which was then hit by another. Eventually, police said, five chain-reaction accidents occurred on the road, involving at least 10 cars.
State police and ambulances responded quickly to the scene and the roadway was cordoned off for more than an hour while 13 people were See FOG, 2B, Col. 1FOG, from 1Btransported to Frederick Memorial Hospital.
Nursing supervisor Jo Ellen King said 11 people, including the Ohio motorist, were treated for cuts and bruises and released.
An unidentified 9-year-old girl was hospitalized for facial injuries, and her mother underwent orthopedic surgery for the injuries she received. Both mother and daughter were listed last night in stable condition.
At 6:30 p.m., after a day of steadily warming temperatures, the temperature in downtown Baltimore -- 67 -- tied a record set in 1971.
But Baltimore was by no means the hottest spot in the state: Easton registered a high for the day of 70 degrees, and other parts of the Eastern Shore -- much of which escaped Thursday's snow -- were in the high 60s well into the evening.
At the other end of the state, skiing became an endangered sport at the Wisp ski resort near McHenry, where it was so balmy Saturday night that would-be skiers were walking about outside without coats.
By yesterday morning bare patches had appeared on the slopes of Maryland's only ski resort, and business appeared down from Friday and Saturday, when hundreds of skiers in their brightly colored snowsuits dotted the mountainside.
The heaviest remaining snow was in Allegany County, between Cumberland and Frostburg, where up to 15 inches fell during the storm -- the heaviest in the area in five years.
Flash flood warnings were posted for Allegany County, and on Interstate 70, dense fog remained in low-lying areas between Hancock and Hagerstown into early afternoon.