It has been a while since we had a serious winter in Baltimore, and now that we have one, it won't go away.
For the second time this season, more than 7 inches of snow blanketed the Baltimore area, leaving people with airline flights to reschedule, cars to dig out and school days to make up.
But don't put away the shovel yet - chances are you'll need it again soon. Forecasters say there is a 40 percent chance of snow tomorrow night and Monday morning.
"This has been a real winter," said Adrienne D. Barnes, spokeswoman for the city's Office of Transportation. "Everybody's really thinking of spring. I'm thinking warm weather, Caribbean."
So far this season, 22.3 inches of snow has fallen, compared with just 2.3 inches at this time last year.
The snow started falling about 7 p.m. Thursday and continued for more than 16 hours, leaving 7.3 inches at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and as much as 8 inches in other parts of Maryland.
"If this isn't the roughest winter in recent memory, it's one of them," said postal clerk Connie Haddaway, who lives in Easton on the Eastern Shore, which was hit hardest by the storm.
In Baltimore, the city's 311 snow complaint telephone line received more than 500 calls for help.
"We get a lot of requests for snow removal," Barnes said.
Kelly Hewson, 27, who lives in Washington Hill in Southeast Baltimore, started shoveling her walkway when she first saw the flakes dropping. She recently moved to Baltimore from South Carolina, and it was only the second time she'd seen snow.
"Snow is still a novelty," Hewson said. "But not as much when you're shoveling."
City crews spread more than 800 tons of salt over city streets and dispatched more than 300 workers to salt, plow and clean up.
On state roads, more than 900 workers were deployed in an effort to keep the streets safe. No serious accidents were reported.
At BWI Airport yesterday, one runway was closed, and there were 26 flight delays and 16 cancellations between 9 a.m. and noon. Many of the flight changes were due to snow and ice, said airport spokeswoman Tracy Newman.
Area residents found the snow either exhilarating or annoying - mostly depending upon whether they had to go to school or work yesterday.
At the bustling Kiss Cafe in Canton, Chuck Shacochis and his wife, Yvonne, ate bagels and peanut butter at 10:30 a.m., when they normally would have been at work.
They were both snowed out of their jobs - he works at a photo supply store on Charles Street, and she is an administrative assistant at Loyola College.
"I like the snow," Yvonne Shacochis said with a sheepish grin.
But a few storefronts away at the General Nutrition Center, owner Dave Picarello said the snow hurts his pocketbook.
"My wife thinks I'm crazy for opening up, and maybe she's right," Picarello said. "My first customer got hit with a snowdrift that fell off my awning. Maybe that'll be the only customer I have all day."
In Howard County, where 7 inches of snow fell, workers didn't fare much better.
Dale Rosenberger, 20, a part-time landscaper, shoveled snow for at least 12 hours yesterday. He began removing snow from his clients' gardens in Columbia at 2:15 a.m.
"I'm tired, I'm beat up. I'm dreaming of spring, when it's not too cold and not too hot," said Rosenberger, his head half-hidden by his sweatshirt's hood.
At the Loews Annapolis Hotel, managers put up kitchen workers and other employees in the $129-a-night rooms Thursday night to take care of guests' early-morning needs yesterday.
On the Eastern Shore, workers were also dealing with the snow and ice. Maryland's coast was hit with 8 inches of snow, and a thin coat of ice covered much of Ocean City.
In Caroline County, four rural mail carriers headed out from the Preston post office as usual yesterday, although one wound up digging her way out of a snow-covered ditch near the village of Harmony.
"I guess the ice storm in '94 might've been the worst," said Haddaway, the postal clerk. "I remember it took my husband two hours getting here to pick me up and two hours getting home. This time of year, this is not a glamorous job."
Several courthouses were closed across the state yesterday. In Carroll County, Administrative District Court Commissioner Heather B. Bader was on duty and said only one person came in to file a complaint.
"My biggest problem was finding my snow boots," said Bader, who had forgotten that she put them in her car the last time snow was forecast.
In Talbot County, where school officials have defended a closure policy that has brought seven snow days and delayed school 10 times, parents took the day off or scrambled for day care.
Amy Steward, a public relations writer for Shore Health Systems in Easton, worked from home, spending part of the morning building a snowman with her sons, first-grader Conner and seventh-grader Andrew.
Then the family amused themselves making snow cream, and watching squirrels and birds pilfer the candy they had used for the snowman's eyes, nose and mouth.