Southwest, Airtran cancel many Thursday flights Updated 6:13 p.m.: Southwest Airlines will cancel the majority of its flights at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport for a second day, according to a BWI spokesperson.
The cancellations for Thursday mean BWI's largest air carrier has not operated a normal schedule at the airport in nearly a week.
Airport spokesperson Lynda Warehime said BWI is looking pretty good, all things considered.
"It's very windy, but with the airlines having canceled the flights, it's a lot easier [snow removal] operation," she said, explaining that plows have to wait and cleanup is delayed when even one runway is active.
"We're still keeping ahead of it," she said.
AirTran has canceled 163 flights Wednesday and will cancel at least 11 flights Thursday morning, possibly with more to come, according to spokesman Christopher White. And to top that off, they're postponing a "beach party" that was set for BWI on Thursday to launch their new service from Baltimore to Montego Bay.
Michelle Deal-Zimmerman on Consuming Interests
O'Malley: Road conditions will remain perilous Updated at 4:40 p.m.:
Speaking late Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Martin O'Malley gave a blunt warning to state residents that local governments will not be able to scrape their streets down to the pavement anytime soon.
Addressing citizens who have been complaining about the progress of plowing, he said: "Stop already with the, 'Scrape my street down to the pavement.' That cannot happen for the next 72 hours."
O'Malley said the state's efforts and those of local government will be "entirely focused on public safety and clearing one or two lanes" so that humvees and emergency vehicles can use the roads. He warned that roads will continue to be perilous Thursday morning, and said Maryland has been working with Pennsylvania and Virginia to discourage truck traffic, with some success.
On a lighter note, O'Malley said one runway at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport was cleared Wednesday, and "a UPS pilot with a heart for adventure" managed to take off in a cargo plane.
State offices will be closed Thursday, and a state of emergency will remain in effect for at least the next 24 hours, according to the governor.
Outages down to 5,400, BGE says Updated at 4:08 p.m.:
Power outages in the area decreased to about 5,400 by 4 p.m., according to the Web site of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
That was down from about 15,000 at 10:15 a.m., said BGE spokeswoman Linda Foy. About 9,000 of those customers were located in Harford County.
"We certainly do expect the number of outages to continue to increase as long as the storm is here," Foy had said this morning. With tree limbs weakened and weighed down by snow, "this is just insult to injury."
About 1,500 people are working in the field, on 12- to 16-hour shifts in some capacity, she said.
"We're doing our best to restore service where and when we can, but of course safety is our greatest priority," Foy said.
Mikulski says state could qualify for disaster relief Updated at 3:13 p.m.:
Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said Wednesday that the federal government would consider the back-to-back storms that battered the mid-Atlantic region over the last week as a single event for the purposes of disaster relief.
The bureaucratic decision won't mean that money starts flowing any sooner. Nor does it guarantee federal disaster aid to the state, though that is considered likely.
Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley must go through the regular procedure of requesting disaster assistance from Washington. It would likely take weeks, if months, before aid is received.
Federal assistance would be in the form of budgetary relief to the state, which has already spent $70 million fighting the storm, according to Mikulski. In a prepared statement, she said that Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano agreed to merge the two storms into a single request.
"Secretary Napolitano said she would call it the Valentine's Day Storm," Mikulski said. "I said, 'Don't send chocolates, don't send flowers, send dough for snow.' This storm has been a white-out for Maryland's state budget. We can't let this snow disaster turn into a budget disaster for Maryland."
The senator reported that she was hunkered down at home in Baltimore on Wednesday.
She said that as someone who stands 4-foot-11-inches, she wasn't about to go out in the snow.
"You might not find me until spring break," she told WJLA television in Washington.
Mikulski, who is running for re-election this year, added: "I know there are some members of the other party who would like to freeze me out."
Storm totals now 20 to 30 inches Updated at 2:56 p.m.:
Things seem to be heading in the wrong direction again this afternoon.