Digging gets harder Surprise snowfall hits Central Md., still reeling from blizzard

Businesses open, close

More woes in store: Another snowstorm is forecast for Friday

Blizzard Of 1996

January 10, 1996|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Kris Antonelli, Will Englund, Suzanne Loudermilk, Joe Mathews, Shanon D. Murray, Jackie Powder and TaNoah V. Sterling contributed to this article.

A new weather system caught Central Maryland by surprise '' yesterday, piling several inches of new snow into the area just as residents began to break free of the snowy prisons heaped upon them by Sunday's blizzard.

The snowfall, which measured 4.1 inches at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, caught residents just as they were digging their way back to work. Many businesses that had opened yesterday for the first time since the weekend threw in the towel by midafternoon and sent employees home.

The snow ended about 7 last night. Blustery weather, but with no precipitation, was forecast for today.

"It'll be cold, but nice," said Amet Figueroa, a National Weather Service forecaster. "Nothing falling from the heavens."

But now the region is staring into the teeth of a new bad-weather forecast for Friday -- a snowstorm beginning early Friday and lasting a good part of the day.

Main thoroughfares remained narrow and slushy or snow-covered even before the new snow arrived just before noon yesterday. Many side streets were hopelessly clogged. Schools and colleges remained closed throughout the region, and some announced that they would close for a third day today.

Authorities continued to advise Marylanders to stay home if they could, allowing road crews to widen the travel lanes and move plows and loaders into snowbound residential neighborhoods. But the new snow yesterday sent many road crews back to the main thoroughfares by afternoon.

Seventeen Baltimore-area commuter bus routes were running again, but the new snow put an end to the MTA's expansion plans. "We're going to try to hold ground with what we have now," said a Mass Transit Administration spokesman, Warren Monks.

The light rail had some snow problems yesterday, but was running close to schedule. The Metro today will continue to run only on its underground portion, from Hopkins to Mondawmin.

MARC commuter trains will run a holiday schedule again today on the Penn and Brunswick lines, Mr. Monks said.

Baltimore-Washington International Airport opened at noon yesterday but closed two hours later as 3 inches of new snow fell on the only functioning runway, officials said. Airlines managed to get 10 flights in or out during that time. The airport reopened at 6:25 p.m.

Business was picking up for Amtrak as more riders were able to get to the stations. Spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said the passenger railroad planned a nearly normal weekday schedule today.

Cabs remained scarce. But some resourceful travelers found vTC they could take Amtrak to BWI, and the shuttle to the airport terminal. There they could nab one of the two dozen four-wheel-drive airport cabs for a ride home. The cabs are not allowed to pick up fares anywhere but BWI.

At 3 p.m. yesterday, Baltimore parking agents began enforcing the Phase II snow emergency regulations. Cars parked along designated snow emergency routes will be ticketed and towed. Violators will be fined $52. Owners of impounded vehicles will have to pay a $169 fine. Residents were asked to call 396-7669 for information on towed vehicles.

Snow tires, chains or all-weather radials are required during the city's Phase II emergency.

Casualties from the Sunday storm have been few locally. Physicians noted the deep, fluffy snow is safer than the ice left by the typical mid-Atlantic storm. Also, people were just beginning to emerge yesterday into the outdoors.

A 76-year-old man from Baltimore broke his neck and dislocated his shoulder yesterday when he fell while walking down the street. He was being treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The hospital also treated a homeless man for frostbitten feet, which had become infected.

Yesterday's snow was a cruel blow to Marylanders already aching and weary from the week's Big Dig. Forecasters described it as a "weak" and very narrow disturbance that just happened to draw a bead on the Baltimore region.

It slicked up area roads again and covered the freshly cleared pavement on doorsteps, curbsides and driveways.

Doppler radar in the afternoon showed snow falling in a narrow band of moderate-to-heavy snow from Harford and Baltimore counties southwest to near Richmond, Va.

Forecasters downplayed it.

"This is not really a storm," said meteorologist Dick Diener, at BWI. It was a weak upper-air "disturbance" that organized ahead of a cold front moving toward the region.

An actual storm was being forecast for Friday, although the weather service was not yet venturing estimates of its size. The snow should develop after midnight Thursday, and continue on Friday. The first official snow-depth predictions were due today.

Downtown businesses tried hard to get back to work yesterday, but by midafternoon the new snow had turned it into the little workday that couldn't. By 3 p.m., a minirush hour was under way.

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