Record snow begins melting today 6 inches yesterday broke 74-year-old mark for January

January 13, 1996|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF Kris Antonelli, Jay Apperson, Ellie Baublitz, JoAnna Daemmrich, Donna R. Engle, Ed Heard, Peter Hermann, Howard Libit, Amy Miller and Norris P. West contributed to this article.

Six inches of new snow yesterday ended a paralyzing stretch of winter weather that buried a 74-year-old local record for January snowfall and generated far more snow in six days than the average winter season in Baltimore.

Mercifully, warmer temperatures and sunshine this weekend and Monday should start the long melt.

Yesterday's wet, slippery snowfall made once-passable roadways treacherous, set back the clock for neighborhoods still trapped by Sunday's snow and collapsed at least three roofs in Carroll County. Violent crime, mercifully, continued its holiday in most places.

Temperatures are expected to rise into the upper 30s this weekend and into the low 40s on Monday. Overnight lows will remain below freezing, however, slowing what might otherwise become the Meltdown of '96 from a snowpack holding the equivalent of 3 inches of rain.

"It's a good melting trend melt and freeze, melt and freeze," said Jose Marrero, a National Weather Service forecaster at Baltimore-Washington International Airport .

The week began Sunday with the Blizzard of '96 and its near-record 22 inches of snow, followed by 4 more inches Tuesday.

Yesterday's storm deposited 6 more inches before turning to freezing rain and drizzle. It brought January's snow total to 32.6 inches, making it the snowiest January on record in Baltimore, burying the 31.3-inch record set in 1922. The average snow total for January at BWI is 5.6 inches.

One year ago today the temperature at BWI reached a record 71 degrees, topping one of the warmest Januaries on record.

Since the first flakes of the fall, the airport has recorded nearly 36 nTC inches of snow -- about 63 percent more than the average snowfall for an entire winter in Baltimore.

Fast-falling flakes closed BWI from 9 a.m. to noon yesterday while crews plowed two of the four runways. "We really got pounded here for about an hour," said Carol Reily, an airport spokeswoman. "It was almost a total white-out."

In Carroll County, a farm building at Mill Dale Egg Farm, 3200 Mill Dale Lane off Clear Ridge Road just north of New Windsor, collapsed shortly before 10:30 a.m. yesterday.

About a half-hour later, more than 30 inches of snow brought down the roof of Angie and Norm Rebert's Thunderhead Bowling Lanes in Westminster.

Just before 11:30 a.m., about a dozen employees fled the Shannon Baum Sign Company near Eldersburg as a section of tin roof, approximately 75 by 50 feet, collapsed.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke peered through the thick snowflakes pelting the windows of his Jeep yesterday as the city sank beneath a new layer of snow. He acknowledged the frustrations that many city residents feel with the pace of snow removal.

Mr. Schmoke said Baltimore is coping with the storms as best as it can, given the limited equipment at its disposal compared with big cities in the Northeast and Midwest.

"For most of our residents, there is an expectation of faster snow removal because they think of storms of less than 9 inches," he said.

He is considering the example of New York City, where garbage trucks are fitted with plows in big storms. That would put more plows on Baltimore's streets and allow the city to keep up with garbage removal, now about five days behind.

The mayor said the city had received 12,000 calls by Thursday evening, most from residents still stuck along snow-clogged side streets.

The good news is that violent crime in Baltimore has eased during the snow storms.

On a typical day, police said, 250 violent crimes are committed in the city. Since the snow started falling on Sunday, the pace fell to 70 per day.

"It is reasonable to assume that this is directly related to the recent treacherous weather conditions," said Agent Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman.

Drug dealers, however, seem to be on the job, at least in some sections.

"The dealers are not as open as they normally are, but drugs are still being sold," said Maj. Robert Smith, commander of the Western District station.

Elsewhere in the region:

* ARUNDEL -- Yesterday's snow forced county highway officials to return crews to the main roads. That meant pulling them from the 10 percent of residential streets still needing plowing.

County crews will continue on 12-hour shifts all weekend. School officials will decide at noon Monday whether to reopen schools on Tuesday, said Dr. Carol S. Parham, superintendent.

* HARFORD -- County authorities are concerned about children's snow forts that have sprung up along roads in residential developments. Sheriff's deputies are marking such forts with spray paint when they see them. Residents are asked to warn their children of the danger of playing in the igloo-like forts.

Several forts have been demolished by snowplow drivers who didn't see them, but no one has been hurt.

Larry W. Klimovitz, director of administration, said the county would ask for an estimated $2.6 million in federal aid for snow removal and related expenses.

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