Shovels in hand, Marylanders look for warmer temperatures

March 15, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich and John Rivera | JoAnna Daemmrich and John Rivera,National Weather ServiceStaff Writers Staff writers Larry Carson, Peter Hermann, Mike Klingaman, Amy Miller, Sherrie Ruhl, Glenn Small and Norris West contributed to this report.

Marylanders were continuing to dig out today from a late winter blast of snow, ice and frigid air that had people wondering if spring really would arrive next Sunday.

Forecasters say temperatures will rise through the week. The high tomorrow in the Baltimore area was expected to be 48, and temperatures in the 40s were being predicted for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

But for now, Western Maryland still was crippled by the storm labeled the Blizzard of '93.

Stranded travelers were camping out in crowded motels, and schoolchildren reveled at the prospect of a day off today.

Amet Figueroa, of the National Weather Service at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, said double-digit snowfalls were recorded throughout most of the state, with Garrett County getting at least 33 inches and Frostburg 30 inches.

Baltimore got between 10 and 12 inches and Baltimore-Washington International Airport recorded 11.9 inches.

Rural areas west of Baltimore were immobilized by blowing snow on secondary roads -- with drifts as high as 15 feet reported by the state police in Carroll County. But many in metropolitan Baltimore were feeling every bit as trapped by icy streets or cars encased in the snow banks left by road crews' plows.

Winds that blustered across the state, toppling power lines and tangling telephone wires in tree limbs, died down by yesterday afternoon.

By evening, Interstates 70 and 68 in Western Maryland had reopened, but travel remained difficult on some highways west of Frederick. Nearly all major highways in neighboring Pennsylvania remained closed under a gubernatorial order.

Among the casualties of the storm in Maryland were a young man killed in an Anne Arundel County traffic accident, and a woman found dead on a snowy North Baltimore sidewalk -- possibly from a heart attack, police said.

A Carroll County man had a fatal heart attack while riding a snowmobile, and a Harford County man was seriously injured in a traffic accident on an icy road near Bel Air.

Airports and shopping malls reopened yesterday, but for countless thousands of the snowbound, the task at hand yesterday and today was shoveling sidewalks and digging out cars.

Many will have a second day to cope with the back-breaking work caused by the storm as cancellations were announced for every school system and most colleges in the Baltimore area. The city also halted trash pickups until tomorrow because of ice in side streets and alleys.

Despite all the inconvenience, much of the state was spared heavier snow and expected hurricane-force winds when the storm strayed inland instead of staying along the Atlantic Coast.

The result was slightly warmer air that turned the snow into sleet or rain from Baltimore eastward, reducing accumulations and wind force.

Even so, gusts as strong as 52 mph were reported at 11 a.m. yesterday before tapering off to a steady 20 to 30 mph. With temperatures hovering in the 20s, the result was a wind-chill well below zero.

The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said wind and wet, heavy snow combined to knock out power at various times Saturday and early yesterday to 132,000 of its approximately 1 million customers. Company spokesmen said poten

tial disaster was averted because the high winds that were predicted for yesterday morning did not materialize for the most part -- and because many trees and limbs that might have caused trouble had been felled by a storm a week earlier.

In Ocean City, the beaches showed little erosion, and property damage appeared slight.

"We're in great shape. Ocean City can thank its lucky stars," said Nancy L. Howard, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

Roads generally were clear on the Eastern Shore, which was soaked with heavy rain and sleet. In Southern Maryland, where about 10 inches of snow and rain fell, highways were slippery, with 3 inches of ice in spots.

Northern and Western Maryland were pretty much shut down in the wake of the storm.

In the Harford County community of Forest Hill, Denise Blake said her family was trapped by 12-foot drifts. "We've been trying to dig ourselves out since yesterday, but the wind just pushes the drifts back again."

Gov. William Donald Schaefer toured the Frederick and Hagerstown areas yesterday, and said state highway crews would help speed the clearing of county roads. He also said the state would earmark $100,000 to help out in Garrett and Allegany counties.

Highway closings forced hundreds of motorists to take refuge in motels and temporary Red Cross shelters in Western Maryland.

"We have a lobby full of people," said Kathy Pryor, a desk clerk at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Hagerstown. The restaurant ran out of food, she said.

Hancock officials opened a community center for 105 travelers who were unable to get motel rooms. Baltimore County police and fire officials spent Saturday night and yesterday morning helping free motorists, ferrying workers to hospitals and shuttling each other to work.

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