'Falling weather' lays down a dangerous glaze

February 10, 1994|By From Staff Reports Sun staff writers Donna Boller, Traci A. Johnson and Amy L. Miller contributed to this article.

Ice falling from the sky in pellets coated trees and brought branches down on power lines, turning streets and sidewalks slick.

It was a problem in Carroll County again yesterday, in the morning and evening, with a brief respite between.

In a rash of accidents related to the weather, the most serious occurred in the afternoon on Route 26 at Oakland Mills Road, not far from the Baltimore County line. The multi-car crash closed both lanes of the road and sent one person to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, but no details were available last evening.

Jay Nave, administrative assistant in the county bureau of highways, created his own name for the weather phenomenon.

"People laugh at me, but I call it falling weather," he said. "It's not snow, it's not sleet, it's not freezing rain. It's a mixture of all three."

Whatever it is, most Carroll countians endured it yesterday with patience.

Utility and roads crews worked throughout the night to deal with the problems caused by showers that pelted the area with ice pellets.

County roads workers were spreading "anti-skid," a mixture of salt and stone dust, to give motorists traction.

Mr. Nave said salt stocks were getting low again yesterday, but if an anticipated delivery of stone dust arrived, crews would have enough for the current storm.

"We're going to have to make it be enough," Mr. Nave said.

Westminster city workers had cleared major streets by midday and begun working on side streets when precipitation began again in the afternoon.

The city crews spread pure salt on the ice-crusted roads, but said salt stocks were running low.

Westminster City Streets Superintendent Donald A. Gross planned to have the crews switch to an anti-skid mix if the city didn't receive a scheduled salt delivery yesterday.

Few Carroll residents lost power during the storm, according to officials for Potomac Edison and Baltimore Gas and Electric companies.

Karl Neddenien, a BG&E spokesman, said he did not know of any power outages in Carroll. But he guessed there couldn't have been many.

Most of the outages BG&E dealt with yesterday were in Annapolis.

"We had only 4,000 customers with outages at one time and 3,000 of them were in Annapolis," Mr. Neddenien said. "The majority of it was caused by tree branches made heavy with the frozen rain."

Ice posed a problem for Potomac Edison as well -- but not in Carroll.

"We had none in the Carroll, Washington, Howard and Montgomery counties, and four in Frederick," said Cyndi Shoop, a power company spokeswoman. "The majority of our outages were in Western Maryland, Garrett and Allegany counties. "There's about 5,000 out there."

Ray Muller of Finksburg, a volunteer weather observer with the National Weather Service, said Carroll County had an inch of ice on the ground yesterday morning.

"Definitely in January and February we've had a record amount of ice," he said. "We've had a record number of glaze occurrences, and temperatures in January and February have been well below normal."

People have become accustomed to the drill of reporting power failures and demanding their streets be cleared of ice and snow.

Mr. Gross agreed, saying that callers were generally patient and polite with requests for attention to their streets. "I guess this winter, they're used to it," he said.

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