Storm triggers flooding, outages

March 04, 1994|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Sun Staff Writer

Marylanders were digging out snow, baling out water and resetting their digital clocks yesterday as the stormy opening act of March '94 ended in a flurry of snow.

The coastal storm left scores of streets and basements flooded in Central Maryland after soaking the area with 3 inches of rain and melted snow -- more than a quarter of all the precipitation that has fallen this year.

High winds, peaking at 47 mph as the storm raged, accounted for power outages affecting more than 150,000 of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s approximately 1.1 million Central Maryland customers between 5 p.m. Wednesday and late last night -- when crews were working to restore the last 711 homes and businesses.

Hardest hit by the storm were Carroll County, with 39,400 customers affected, and Howard County, with 34,500. BG&E spokesman Kevin Thornton said about 26,900 were affected in Anne Arundel County, 23,900 in Baltimore City, 18,700 in Baltimore County and 9,400 in Harford County.

In Western Maryland, there was mostly snow -- but, depending on where the measurement was taken, not as much as feared.

"The storm didn't happen," said Bea Crosco, an official observer for the National Weather Service in Oakland, whose tally was a mere 10.75 inches -- enough to paralyze most any metropolis. "In fact, a lot of the roads here are bare. It's all slushy and melting away," she said.

"We got about 18 inches to 2 feet," said Lisa Purnell, a clerk at the Sideling Hill Exxon in Little Orleans in eastern Allegany County.

"We're right between the mountains so we get it from all directions," she said. "This is about the worst we've had in a while."

At Allegany's other end, Frostburg Patrolman Irvin Buskirk estimated about 15 to 18 inches fell there -- although the weather service reported 21 inches there.

"We've had storms that were as bad or worse," Patrolman Buskirk said.

"This doesn't seem so bad because you can get outside and clean up. It's in the low 40s. You wouldn't want to go out in your shorts or anything. It's a pretty nice day, though."

In Ocean City, officials said damage was minimal -- although waves at high tide late Wednesday rolled over the protective sand dunes, into the streets and storm drains and then out into the bay.

Town Manager Dennis Dare said the dune barrier -- built and rebuilt in recent years to protect the resort's valuable real estate and stabilize its narrow beach -- accomplished its purpose in dissipating the energy of the wind-driven waves.

"We had some erosion of the dunes in areas that are traditionally eroded. It was very minimal damage," Mr. Dare said, adding that "the sand fencing along the toe of the dunes along the ocean side was largely washed away."

Many coastal roads in neighboring Delaware were closed yesterday because of flooding. John Hughes, director of the state's Division of Soil and Water Conservation, said.

The dunes were breached in Dewey Beach and leveled in the state parks along the coast.

The park dunes were bulldozed back into place and repairs were under way in Dewey Beach.

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