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Eagle Archive: There is no predicting the weather in March

Eagle Archive

By Kevin E. Dayhoff, kevindayhoff@gmail.com

4:35 PM EST, March 8, 2013

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Hopefully, the snowfall this week was this winter's last gasp. We always seem so surprised when it snows in March, but throughout Carroll County history some of our most significant winter storms have occurred during this month.

Weather in March is just plain unpredictable; although the troubled month may be best described by the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder.

Among the biggest "spring blizzards" in Carroll County history was the storm March 29-30, 1942, when it snowed 22 inches; and March 15-18, 1892, when it snowed 16 inches.

Other notable March snowfalls in the greater Baltimore area include the Ash Wednesday storm of March 6-8, 1962, when about 10 inches of snow was recorded at Friendship Airport, now known as BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Many can still remember the storm that hit the area on March 12-14, 1993, when 12 inches of snow fell in the Carroll County area.

Of course, in March 1902, the county was still reeling from the mess caused by the winter storm of Feb. 21 of that year, when Carroll County experienced one of the worst ice storms to ever hit the area. The now out-of-print American Sentinel newspaper hailed it as "The Great Sleet Storm," according to research by local historian and current state Sen. Joe Getty.

According to research for the Historical Society of Carroll County by Jay Graybeal, the March 1, 1902, issue of the defunct Democratic Advocate newspaper reported, "The ice accumulated so heavily on wires … the wreck of the system in this city of the Western Maryland Telephone Company was nearly complete. Two-thirds of the poles were down, cross-arms broken off and wires snapped and tangled all over the city, particularly from the railroad east.

"The wreckage closed the alleys, and access to stables was blocked for full twenty-four hours. The electric light company suffered some damage and for three nights the city was without street lamps," the paper reported.

According to research by Graybeal, the March 14, 1924, issue of the Westminster Democratic Advocate newspaper reported on another significant storm: 'Blizzard Strikes Carroll - Roads Blocked By Drifts - No Mail Delivery - Telephone And Telegraph Wires Broken Down - Trains Delayed By Wrecked Freight Train That Was Derailed By Drift."

"The worst spring blizzard since March 4, 1909, visited Maryland Tuesday and isolated our city and county from the outside world until Wednesday. The snow started to fall Monday evening about 7:30 o'clock and was accompanied by high wind that piled the snow in huge drifts, blocking roads, interrupting railroad traffic and demoralizing telegraph and telephone service," the paper reported.

"It is estimated by the C&P Telephone Company that 15,000 telephones in the state were out of commission, 5,000 poles down and that the total damage would represent a loss of about $500,000. It will require 10 days to restore service again. … The county roads were drifted shut and were shoveled open by men."

At this point spring cannot come soon enough.

When he is not out shoveling snow, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com