Minus 14 makes Carroll the c-c-coldest place in whole area

January 20, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer Staff writers Anne Haddad, Traci A. Johnson and Bill Talbott contributed to this article.

Temperatures plunged to minus 14 degrees yesterday morning, making Carroll the coldest of the cold in the metropolitan area and tying for the coldest day on record in the county.

"I would call Carroll the leader of the pack for the metro area," said Bob Melrose, weather service forecaster at Baltimore Washington International Airport.

At minus 9 degrees, Cockeysville was the closest competitor for the low mark.

Meanwhile, school officials decided yesterday afternoon to keep classes closed again today because ice and snow on school sidewalks and lots and rural bus routes were not melting.

Larry Myers recorded the bone-chilling low at his Westminster weather station at 5:11 a.m. When that was coupled with 15- to 20-mph winds, the outdoors felt like minus 45 degrees, he said.

Yesterday's cold tied a record set Jan. 21, 1985, a Super Bowl Sunday, said Mr. Myers.

The frigid air mass shattered records at several other points around the county. Mr. Myers and other local weather statisticians calculated record lows and chilly wind factors to see who would be the lowest of the low.

"These may be all-time records," said Herb Close, who also read minus 14 degrees in Manchester at sunrise. "Sustained gusty winds put us at minus-50 wind chills and maybe beyond."

But, what's in a number?

"The numbers only matter statistically when it gets that cold," said Bobby Miller, who recorded "a new all-time record: minus 13," at his Millers home.

That record is 1 degree colder than the 1984 Inauguration Day, when frigid temperatures forced all outdoor festivities inside, he said.

The area may be in the most prolonged cold spell on record, he said.

"We have been freezing for so long that when it reaches 40 next week, it will feel like 60," said Mr. Miller.

Temperatures never rose above zero all day, said Mr. Miller.

In Manchester, Mr. Close said it never even got that warm. At 3:15 p.m., usually the warmest time of day, he read minus 3 degrees on his digital thermometer.

"That is about what I would expect," said Mr. Close. "When you dip down to minus 14 degrees in the morning, you probably aren't going to get out of the minus temperatures all day."

Mr. Miller did predict a slight warming trend for today when the mercury might hit 10 degrees. He forecast "very little melting" of the ice that is wreaking havoc on motorists and walkers.

"The sun has to spend all its energy to melt the snow," he said. "It is warming the atmosphere but not the ground."

In Finksburg, Ray Muller recorded minus 11 at 6:34 a.m., the lowest temperature in his 30 years of record-keeping. Temperatures may rise today, he said, but the county should be prepared for another light dusting of snow.

Mr. Miller offered advice for those who have to venture outdoors.

"Make short trips, no more than 15 minutes at a time," he said. "Limit your exposure, especially when wind is a factor."

Cindy Baker, a mail carrier who walks part of her Mount Airy route, said she found the ice more treacherous than the cold.

"I bundled up warmly and walked slowly," she said.

Utility workers also struggled to stay warm as they responded to a spate of calls.

"It's been steady. We've been pretty busy," said Thomas Konsen, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. overhead line mechanic.

Mr. Konsen, co-worker Todd Grimes and crew leader Frank Bosely were restoring power to a building on Railroad Avenue, which was not part of the planned rolling blackouts the company used to help conserve power.

"They've got us working around the clock," said Mr. Grimes. "We did that this weekend, too."

Volunteers came to the rescue of several dialysis patients when the weather forced Carroll Transit to curtail its services yesterday.

Elderly patients in wheelchairs face the most difficult transportation problems, said Mike Anderson, technical administrator at the Carroll County Dialysis Facility in Westminster. The facility, which operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday, depends on the ride service to transport many patients to its center at Route 97 and Main Street.

"Our patients are chronically ill, and dialysis is a life-sustaining process," said Mr. Anderson. "They can miss one day, if they are careful with diets and fluids, but it's not good."

Two days of missed treatments borders on the intolerable, he said. Some patients missed treatment last week during the Jan. 12 snow but were able to get in Friday.

Snow forced others to cancel appointments Monday. When freezing temperatures and icy road conditions shut down the transit system yesterday, it meant several patients might miss two treatments in a row.

Mr. Anderson called local radio stations for help. He and the patients were grateful for the quick response.

"Volunteers got everybody in for us today," he said. "One driver brought in three patients."

Carroll County schools are closed again today, with a "real possibility" of being closed tomorrow, said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling.

Mr. Shilling said his staff reported that roads were no better at late afternoon yesterday than they had been 24 hours earlier, because of the rock-hard ice and unrelentingly cold.

Today's closing means a second day shaved off spring break.

County offices also closed early yesterday and will not open until 10 a.m. today to conserve energy.

While the cold weather led to several chimney fires yesterday around the county, Carroll drivers have been involved in only a few accidents since the storm hit Monday morning. County emergency units responded to just two personal-injury accidents between 5 p.m. Tuesday and 5 p.m. yesterday.

A spokeswoman at Carroll County General Hospital said nine patients were treated for weather-related falls and accidents.

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