More snow predicted, and then more snow

January 08, 1991|By Alisa Samuelsand Joe Nawrozki | Alisa Samuelsand Joe Nawrozki,Evening Sun Staff Richard Irwin, Mark Bomster and Monica Norton contributed to this story.

After a brief intermission from yesterday's blitz, snow was to begin falling again today in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The National Weather Service called for an accumulation of possibly 3 more inches by nightfall.

Forecaster Richard Diener said up to 2 inches could fall in the region this afternoon. Then, he said, the snow will start up again about 5 p.m. and could add another inch.

More could fall in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore, he said.

Tomorrow and Thursday, temperatures will rise into the mid-40s and the sun should appear. Friday will be cloudy with a chance of rain or more snow, with highs in the 30s. Saturday should be partly sunny with highs near 40 and lows in the 20s, the weather service said.

Those areas hit hardest by yesterday's storm delayed school openings today. Harford County schools opened two hours late. Schools in the Hereford zone of Baltimore County were one hour late, as were schools in Kent County.

The first snowfall of 1991 dumped about 5 inches of snow on the Baltimore area yesterday, but anticipated road difficulties were headed off by city, county and state road crews who put down a base of salt on most primary roadways early yesterday morning and throughout the day.

State Police reported all major thoroughfares in good shape today but many motorists, chilled by the 20-degree temperature, found it difficult to get inside their vehicles because locks and doors were frozen.

The storm, which dropped heavy wet snow, also wiped out electrical power to almost 20,000 homes across central Maryland.

Yesterday's snow, which started before dawn, ranged in depth from 2 to 4 inches south and east of the city and 4 to 7 inches north and west of the city, forecasters said.

Forecasters said 2 inches fell at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, while 4 inches fell around the Pikesville area. Up to 7 inches fell in Westminster.

No deaths or major accidents were attributed to the snowfall.

Schools in Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties and several others around the state closed. City and Anne Arundel County schools opened but closed early.

The snowfall twice interrupted operations at Baltimore-Washington International Airport to allow plowing of runways and taxiways.

There were delays in incoming and departing flights, state officials said.

At 6 p.m., the city lifted Phase 1 of the snow emergency plan, which requires vehicles to be equipped with snow tires, all-season radials or chains. Phase 1 had been invoked at 7 a.m.

Vanessa Collins, spokeswoman for the city Department of Transportation, said no major problems were reported on the slushy and wet city streets.

Collins said 110 trucks and 220 personnel were used to plow and salt city streets and were expected back today if the predicted second storm strikes.

The city has adequate supplies of salt with 11,000 tons on hand and still is within the $1.5 million budget for snow removal, Collins said. About 6,000 tons of salt and $300,000 were used in fighting the first snow of winter, which fell Dec. 27 as the last snow of 1990.

In Anne Arundel County, government spokeswoman Louise Hayman said the county was not anticipating any problems with its $330,000 budget allotted for snow removal.

Baltimore County lifted Phase 1 of its snow emergency plan at 7 p.m., police said.

"The roads right now are wet," said George Wittman, a highway maintenance employee for the State Highway Administration. "Everything is passable."

Wittman said there were "a few problem areas" during the night, such as icy patches on the Beltway.

While there were no serious accidents reported on state roads yesterday, there were plenty of others reported.

In Anne Arundel County, for instance, police said there were 41 accidents by 3 p.m., mostly fender-benders. Police also had 37 calls to assist motorists.

Also, there were patchy icy spots on the Bay Bridge, especially the westbound lanes, but no major problems, officials said.

Across the area, 19,783 BG&E customers were without power at one time or another during the snowfall, said Art Slusark, director of public information for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

By 5:30 p.m., 4,300 were still without power, he said. By 8:45 HTC p.m., 1,800, and by 1:30 a.m. today, all customers had their power restored, Slusark said.

The city had only 53 power outages, Slusark said, but other metro counties were not as lucky.

Carroll County reported 6,200 customers without service; Baltimore County, 8,800; Harford County, 1,800; and Howard County, 3,000. Anne Arundel had 430 customers without power, 420 of them in Glen Burnie, Slusark said.

The weight of the snow was the main culprit, he said.

"The snow was weighing heavy on tree branches and caused branches to snap and fall on power lines," Slusark said. "Some sagged and fell on power lines."

Because the snow fell for such an extended period, it was difficult for utility workers to completely restore power, Slusark said.

Unlike the season's first snowfall two weeks ago that snarled traffic and caused scores of cars to be abandoned on roads and highways because of icy conditions, yesterday's snow was a piece of cake, highway officials said.

"This is an entirely different storm," Wittman said. "That storm Dec. 27 hit at rush hour and came with colder temperatures," making it difficult to apply salt to fight ice.

"This was an easier storm," he said. "This storm started earlier," allowing workers a chance to apply salt before rush hour.

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