As temperature rises, snow, ice melt away so do cleanup budgets

January 10, 1991|By David Michael Ettlin Michael J. Clark, Martin C. Evans, S. M. Khalid, Thom Loverro, Joel McCord, Dennis O'Brien and Roger Twigg of The Sun's metropolitan staff contributed to this article.

The snow and ice that frosted Maryland and glazed roads this week largely disappeared yesterday as temperatures rose past the freezing point -- but not before disrupting school schedules and leaving many car owners with dented fenders.

In the metropolitan area, schools were open only in the city and Anne Arundel County, which started classes two hours late. Icy roads closed schools in Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

For all the difficulties, blame a mere six-hundredths of an inch of precipitation -- the amount measured between late afternoon Tuesday and yesterday morning at the National Weather Service monitoring station at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

"The whole point here is it sure doesn't take much of that light freezing rain to cause problems," said Fred Davis, the chief meteorologist there. "It's not even a tenth of an inch all total."

For area governments, the snow and icy rain have taken a hefty bite out of public works budgets for road clearing -- with yet another dose of winter looming in the forecast for tomorrow.

Carroll County reported expenses so far this winter of about $100,000 -- nearly 25 percent of the money allocated.

Baltimore County public works director Gene Neff said the season's three storms have cost the county roughly $728,000 in salt, fuel and overtime for its 225 highway workers. The county budgeted only $250,000 for snow removal, he said.

Mr. Neff said he will use money in the highway maintenance budget for storm drain repairs, paving and other projects to pay the excess snow removal costs and probably will ask the County Council for more money for snow removal this month.

Howard County's highways chief, Granville W. Wehland, said about $134,000 has been spent from a total snow removal budget of $409,640. He predicted the balance would cover five more snows.

In Harford County, spokeswoman Susan J. Collins said the storms have made a dent of nearly $65,000 in the $355,050 snow removal budget.

Baltimore, which budgeted $1.5 million for snow removal, spent about 20 percent of it to clean up after last month's snowstorm, but transportation officials yesterday had not yet tallied the cost NTC of Tuesday's snow and ice storm. That kept about 150 trucks staffed by two-member crews on the streets from 3 p.m. to midnight.

Traffic conditions were largely back to normal by midmorning yesterday -- with hardly a hint of the white-knuckle nightmare experienced earlier by drivers on interstates and the Baltimore Beltway.

Along the Beltway, state police reported many accidents, including several multi-vehicle, chain-reaction mishaps near U.S. 40 late Tuesday and three accidents about 5:30 a.m. yesterday near the Loch Raven Boulevard exit.

"The troopers were running pretty good all night long. It was a busy night, no question," said state police spokesman Sgt. Joseph Jenkins.

Interstate 795 near Route 140 was closed for about three hours yesterday after a tractor-trailer rig and a car collided shortly before 5 a.m. No one was hurt, police said.

In addition to the collisions that turned the roads into real-life bumper-car rides, accidents blamed on Tuesday's snow and ice took three lives. The victim of the latest of the accidents -- a two-car collision on Johnnycake Road near Woodlawn -- was identified yesterday as Gerald M. Patterson, 46, of the 6000 block of Gwynn Oak Avenue.

The storm may have claimed another victim.

The body of an unidentified man was found at 10:15 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot at East Lombard Street and Central Avenue in Baltimore, police said.

The man wore several layers of clothing and was under a makeshift lean-to made of cardboard. Police suspect the weather was a factor in the man's death, but an autopsy had not been completed last night.

Despite the dozens of accidents Tuesday and early yesterday as cars skidded and slid into each other and off the roads, a survey of auto body repair shops yesterday indicated there was no immediate boom in business.

"You are not going to see the increase probably until Monday," said Mubariz "Raz" Razvi, owner of the aptly named Sudden Impact repair shop in Laurel.

First, he said, owners will be contacting their insurance companies to get claim numbers and appointments for drive-in estimates of damage -- at least for vehicles that still can be driven.

And tomorrow, they can watch out again for icy roads.

Mr. Davis, the meteorologist, said the outlook is for a mixture of sleet, freezing rain and snow tomorrow morning, "hopefully changing to rain during the day. We're going to be right on the borderline."

School snow days

Here is a look at the number of snow days scheduled anused by school districts in the metropolitan area. Unscheduled days off must be made up before school lets out for the year. If scheduled snow days are not used, students get out of school early for the summer. A day in which school starts late or ends early does not count as a missed day.

Jurisdiction.. .. Days.. .. .Days

.. .. .. .. .. .. planned.. .used

Anne Arundel.. .. 4.. .. .. .0

Baltimore.. .. .. 0.. .. .. .0

Baltimore Co.. .. 1.. .. .. .2

Carroll. .. .. .. 3.. .. .. .2

Harford. .. .. .. 4.. .. .. .2

Howard.. .. .. .. 3.. .. .. .2

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