Four Carroll County school buses slid off the road yesterday, among dozens of minor accidents during the first hours of yesterday's snowfall, authorities said.
No one was injured in the four school bus accidents reported between noon and 2:30 p.m., said Sgt. J. W. Long of the state police barracks in Westminster.
One bus, westbound in the 3500 block of Middleburg Road, ran into a ditch; another struck a tree in the 3200 block of Shiloh Road near Hampstead; a third was rear-ended by a van in the 1400 block of Hook Road; and a fourth went into a ditch at Stone Chapel and Old Westminster roads.
Snow began falling hard late yesterday morning and soon after noon had police scrambling. By 1 p.m., state troopers and sheriff's deputies were responding to dozens of traffic accidents across the county.
"We're getting swamped," Long said. "It's just horrendous out there."
Most of the accidents involved only property damage, with a few minor injuries, he said. No roads were closed.
"We will somehow muddle through," Long said cheerfully.
Accident calls included a six-car collision in the 1200 block of Washington Road, and several vehicles that ran into a ditch along Gorsuch Road, about a mile east of Route 140.
At 1:20 p.m., a Westminster fire engine was stopped at Old Westminster Pike and Woodside Drive when it was rear-ended by a 1995 Buick, which was pulled away only to be hit by a 1987 Chevrolet Nova - pushing the Buick back into the engine, police said. No one was injured.
The county commissioners canceled a public hearing last night on a plan to increase water and sewer connection charges and implement a new maintenance fee before the next budget cycle. That means a delay of at least 15 days, because the public by law must have that much notice of a new hearing date.
At 2:30 p.m., the commissioners closed county offices.
S.E.R.V.E., a Western Maryland College community-service organization, rescheduled its annual fund-raising auction for Thursday.
By 10 a.m. - before the first flake fell in Westminster - Carroll County public schools decided to close three hours early.
"We have deadlines for making decisions - for two hours, three hours early - to give time to get the buses rolling," said Brenda Bowers, an assistant in the schools' public information office.
The early closing did not count as a snow day for the school system, which has used two of the four snow days built into its 2000-2001 calendar.
At Liberty High School in Eldersburg, administrators gave their young drivers safety reminders as school let out at 11:35 a.m. Wipe off car windows before driving, the female voice on the intercom gently reminded. Don't slam on your brakes. And please, drive carefully.
Despite the warning, cars almost immediately began colliding on several roads leading from the school. Administrators warned departing teachers about a five-car pileup nearby and a long line of vehicles unable to climb a hill at Johnsville Road and Route 32.
Sun staff writer Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.