Snow day: Storm falls short of expectations but doesn't fizzle in Carroll

Jon Kelvey
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times
Snow falls short of expectations, but doesn't fizzle in Carroll

It certainly snowed Tuesday. Perhaps not as much as the forecasts had predicted and eager snow-day aficionados might have held out hope for, but enough to cover the grass and the roads in white powder with a heavy, soggy tinge of sleet — and enough that the stop sign at South Center Street and Gist Road in Westminster was knocked over by a plow.

But not quite enough for Tony Baiocchi, who was outside his house on Wampler Lane using his snowblower for only the second time this winter.

"I was really hoping to get a lot more," he said as his 2-year-old son, Zachary, pushed a toy lawnmower along the sidewalk in imitation of his father.

"We didn't get much of anything this year."

It could have been a little lighter to move though, in the estimation of Baiocchi's neighbor, Terry Anderson.

"It's the heaviest I have ever seen with this amount of snow," Anderson said, using a shovel to clear his driveway. Still, when it came to the total amount of snow, he couldn't help but feel "a little disappointed."

Nearby, at Westminster Elementary School, the Nowosielski family — father Dave; daughters Alina, 15, and Kylah, 7; sons Everett, 13, and Luke, 8; and Charlie the goldendoodle — took turns sledding and snowboarding down the steep hill by the school parking lot.

"I'm just glad we got one good storm to play in," said Nowosielski, who works as a nurse in the Johns Hopkins Hospital emergency department. "This is the first snow day we've had in years when I wasn't stuck down at work during the storm."

The large hill at McDaniel College is almost always a popular sledding destination for the region after a good snowstorm, but around noon Tuesday it was empty, with one, solitary, meager set of tracks visible on the slope.

An hour later, however, just in time for a renewed shower of snow and wind-whipped sleet, more than 20 people had arrived to give the hill a try. Families and teens tried their hands on sleds and snowboards, eyes to the stinging wind, seeing how long they could last.

Some, such as 16-year-old Dominic Stull, of Westminster, seemed impervious to the cold, despite being dressed in just a hoodie and sweatpants, his gloveless hands a bright red after just a half-hour on the slope.

"It's never that cold," he said. "It's definitely nice to get out and get to act like a kid for a while."

Stull and his friends lasted another 20 minutes before they left to seek some warmth and shelter.

Early predictions of more than a foot of snow didn't pan out, but Carroll had higher accumulations than the rest of Central Maryland.

National Weather Service meteorologist Isha Renta said Carroll County got 8 inches of snow about a mile west of Westminster, 7.8 inches near Lineboro and 5 inches southeast of Westminster.

Herbert Close Jr., a National Weather Service trained observer located about 1 mile southwest of Manchester, registered about 5.5 inches of snow early in the day, but it was compressed after it turned to sleet, a result of the storm coming more inland, bringing in warmer air, he said.

Had the storm stayed off the coast more, there would have likely been more of the fluffy snow on the ground, Close said.

"We didn't get as much as we thought we would," he said.

Keith Krichinsky, of Foot's Forecast in Hampstead, said the warmer air in the middle of the atmosphere turned much of the snow into sleet before falling. The denser sleet ended up packing down the snow that fell, leading to a smaller but slicker accumulation on the grounds, roads and walkways.

State and county roads crews worked diligently throughout the day to keep roads clear, and had them in reasonably good shape and down to asphalt by midday Tuesday, according to Jeff Castonguay, director of Carroll County Public Works.

He expected crews to continue working through the evening hours and into the early morning putting down layers of salt to assist with Wednesday's commute.

The Maryland State Highway Administration had about 2,600 pieces of equipment out across the entire state during Tuesday's storm, focusing on plowing where snow accumulation was heavier and salting in areas where precipitation was more of a wintry mix, said Chantee Felix, a spokeswoman for the organization.

Sheriff Jim DeWees was pleased that most Carroll residents heeded the warning to stay in and allow state and county crews to clean the roads. The Sheriff's Office responded to few incidents during the storm.

His deputies were patrolling in four-wheel vehicles in case of emergencies, but the Sheriff's Office has not experienced difficulties like last January's blizzard, in which emergency vehicles had trouble responding to calls.

The Gamber volunteer fire company had little to no issues Tuesday despite the snow, spokesman Bruce Bouch said.

Bouch, who also serves as a senior deputy fire marshal with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, said the snow hadn't built up too much, and Gamber has an ambulance with four-wheel drive, which helps first-responders get to calls.

Bouch said people should keep in mind that the snow is heavy with the icy mix, meaning that shoveling should be done in shifts. Those who go out and shovel also need to stay hydrated, he said.

And although it's been snowing, there are fire concerns. Bouch said people will dry clothes on space heaters.

"Do not ever do that. Once they dry out, they become a fire hazard," he said.

Gamber had not dealt with any ATV collisions, as of about 3 p.m. Bouch said, but it's slippery and people like to challenge the equipment when it's snowy. Bouch urged people to wear helmets.

"An ATV can flip very easily when handled improperly," Bouch said.

Times reporters Emily Chappell, Jacob deNobel, Michel Elben and Heather Mongilio contributed to this article.

jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com

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