County sees red in snow

January 18, 1994|By Katherine Richards and Kerry O'Rourke | Katherine Richards and Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writers Staff writer Bill Talbott contributed to this article.

Not only did yesterday's snow make travel a hassle, you couldn't even make a decent sled run or snowball after sleet began to fall around midday.

Barry Leppo of Manchester said it took him 90 minutes on what is normally a 45-minute commute to his job as a building contractor in Timonium.

The snow refused to cooperate after he made it back home and took his family to Manchester Elementary School to go sledding.

Heather Leppo, 7, said she and her brother Travis, 4, were having fun -- "kind of."

But the snow was crusted with layers of sleet, and her sled stalled halfway down the hill, even after a push from her mother, Cindy Leppo.

"I thought it would pack down a little better," said Ms. Leppo, before she was tackled by Mr. Leppo.

The snow wasn't even good for snowballs, she said. "I already tried to get him [Mr. Leppo] with one."

State, county and municipal crews were out in force yesterday trying to keep roads clear, but it was a losing battle much of the morning as snow fell at a brisk clip.

Weather observer Bobby Miller measured 6 inches at 10:45 a.m. yesterday at his station in Millers in northeast Carroll. "It was snowing 1 to 2 inches an hour," he said.

Carroll County sent out 48 trucks -- its maximum -- to clear roads yesterday, said Benton Watson, chief of the Bureau of Roads Operations.

Public works employees, who earned time-and-a-half pay because yesterday was a county holiday, began loading salt into trucks at 5 a.m., he said. Then they waited for the snow, which began falling between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., he said.

Workers continued to toil through the sleet, which fell in the afternoon, and were scheduled to stay out until roads were clear, Watson said.

Plans were further complicated by the sleet that fell later in the day, and another blast of arctic air was poised to send temperatures falling toward single-digit readings tonight.

The county had spent its annual snow removal budget by last week, he said. He hoped to tally the amount spent so far -- on five winter storms since Christmas -- today.

Budget records show that the county spent an average of $490,000 for snow removal in each of the past six winters, but this January has kept highway crews unusually busy.

Mr. Miller has measured 12.4 inches of snow at his home so far this month. January usually brings 8 to 9 inches, he said.

The average temperature so far this month is 24.6 degrees Fahrenheit at his station; the normal is about 30 degrees, he said.

Winds were howling in Manchester over the weekend.

Weather watcher Herb Close said he recorded 49 mph winds Friday night and a wind chill of about minus 35 degrees. He recorded a low temperature of minus 3 degrees Sunday, with wind chills of up to minus 40 degrees.

Mr. Close said 4.8 inches of snow and about a quarter-inch of sleet had fallen at his home by midafternoon yesterday. Snow began falling at his home -- which, at an elevation of 1,040 feet, is one of the high spots in the county -- between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m., he said. So far this month, he said, he has measured 10.8 inches of snow. The average in his area for the entire winter is 32 inches, he said.

In Westminster, weather observer Larry Myers measured 3.6 inches of snow by 11 a.m. yesterday. He recorded a low temperature of 3 degrees at 3 a.m.

"We're in the worst part of winter," when the sun is at its lowest angle in the sky, he said.

In Finksburg, weather observer Ray Muller measured 3 inches of snow by 1 p.m. yesterday. Visibility was a half-mile then because of fog, sleet and freezing rain, he said.

Mr. Muller has measured 5 inches of snow at his home so far in January and 4 inches in December.

That has left homeowners busy trying to keep their sidewalks cleared.

Treva Bowman, of Main Street in Manchester, was worried about her husband, Charles, 71, who had started clearing their front sidewalk about 10:30 a.m. with a snow blower and was still shoveling at 3 p.m.

"He didn't even eat lunch," said Mrs. Bowman, who had cooked a pot of vegetable soup.

She said she fretted about her husband's health, especially because the family has lost several members to heart attacks.

"I just hollered at him out the back door, 'You told me you wouldn't shovel, and you're out there shoveling. . . . ' "

But the weather apparently caused few health-related problems in Carroll.

A spokeswoman reported only eight weather-related injuries in the Carroll County General Hospital emergency room by late afternoon yesterday.

County emergency units responded to only one personal injury traffic accident between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. yesterday.

Many stores and shops closed early yesterday, or didn't open at all. But the weather was a help to some area businesses.

Marie Skelley, of Video Showcase in Hampstead, said business was "busy, busy, busy!"

"I thought I would get a lot of paperwork done today, but I was wrong . . . The phone's been ringing off the hook," she said.

Marty Levy, of Rinaldo's Pizza and Subs in Westminster, said walk-in orders were down because of the weather, but that would be offset by an increase in call-in orders for delivery. "I've got orders backed up here for pizza tonight," he said.

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