Freeze Frames

January 24, 1994|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Staff Writer

It was only a week long, but it seemed like an Ice Age. Freezing rain combined with subzero mercury readings brought Baltimore to its ankle, knee, hip and pelvic bones.

Winter's unyielding hammerlock arrived Jan. 17, seven endless days ago, and stubbornly refused to leave.

Some called it a snow sandwich, double slices of powdery precipitation with a thick ice middle.

The record-smashing weather plagued utility companies, water and fire departments. It kept plumbers, oil-burner repair workers, tow-truck operators and insurance claims adjusters on overtime. Hardware stores ran out of salt and other ice-melting chemicals.

Students from nursery to graduate school got a week off. Bustling hospital emergency rooms dispensed X-rays and sympathy. There was no cure for cabin fever.

People with sidewalks to shovel found out you could scarcely dislodge the ice with a pickax. Some tried hatchets.

Mostly people surrendered and just stayed indoors and watched television coverage of the Los Angeles earthquake. Video rental stores reported record business. There wasn't much mail delivered.

For all the misery of broken limbs, bruised knees and crumpled auto bumpers, there were a few good points. The ice delicately coated trees, shrubbery and fences. Sledders, skiers, ice skaters and ice sculptors realized their January fantasies.

People who feel that Baltimore usually is cheated out of a real winter got what was coming to them.

With any luck, some sunshine promised by forecasters today could coax temperatures to a balmy 50 degrees.

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