Storm drops snow, sleet, rain across Maryland

Officials caution drivers about conditions today

January 31, 2005|By Matthew Dolan and Greg Garland | Matthew Dolan and Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

A weekend mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain will likely recast itself into icy road conditions this morning, according to weather forecasters.

The "fairly sizable storm" came out of the Gulf of Mexico and started with rain in New Orleans late last week, said Christopher Strong, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va.

When it reached Maryland on Saturday, the northern edge of the storm covered the state with an average 2 inches of snow.

For the second Sunday in a row, churches around the region canceled services yesterday because of the dicey traveling conditions.

The storm started as light snow about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, turned into snow and sleet about 10:30 p.m. and continued as freezing rain about midnight. By 7:30 a.m. yesterday, it began to snow again when the storm reformed over the coast off North Carolina and drew in cold air from the north.

"I think it was a little bit of everything," Strong said.

The flakes finally stopped about 2:30 p.m.

The accumulation, Strong said, was haphazard, with no particular part of the state bearing the brunt. About 2 inches fell around Baltimore, with 3 inches in Annapolis, 2 inches in Bel Air, 2.3 inches in Owings Mills, 1.4 inches at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and 1.8 inches in Sykesville.

Sunshine peeked out yesterday afternoon, warming temperatures to a high of 36 degrees at the airport, he said.

But the mercury was expected to drop to 21 degrees last night, so Strong said drivers should expect to encounter black ice on the roads this morning.

The rest of the week, he said, should be dry, with high temperatures in the 30s and 40s, about average for this time of year.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said 1,700 highway workers and 1,400 pieces of equipment worked yesterday to clear icy roads.

Icy roads were blamed for a fatal two-car collision shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday in St. Mary's County. One of the drivers, Denis Gerald Tri, 37, and his passenger, Tricia K. Goken, both of Solomons, died as a result of the crash.

In West Baltimore, 65 firefighters fought a fire during the storm yesterday morning at a one-story brick warehouse, fire officials said. A caller reported the blaze at the Baltimore Canvas Products warehouse in the 2800 block of W. Franklin St. shortly before 6 a.m., according to Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright.

The firefighters worked for nearly two hours to extinguish the blaze, Cartwright said. The cause of the three-alarm fire was under investigation, he said. No damage estimates were available yesterday, and there were no injuries.

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