Harford snow ends short of forecast; cold follows

By late Monday morning it was all over for Harford County, which fared much better in the latest winter storm than what the dire forecasts had predicted.

The storm Sunday night through Monday was forecast to be one of the worst of this bitter cold and snowy winter, with snow accumulations initially pegged at 8 to 12 inches.

By Sunday evening, however, forecasters had downgraded the snowfall projections to 6 to 8 inches, with the lesser amounts north near the Mason-Dixon Line.

In the end, Harford received considerably less snow, but it did get the plunging temperatures that were forecast to follow the snow Monday night.

The snowfall was in the three-inch to five-inch range, with Bel Air getting 3.5 to 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service's online precipitation map, and 4 inches reported in Pylesville and 3 inches in Darlington.

Another shutdown

Lighter than expected or not, the snow was enough to shut down most of the county Monday.

Harford County Public Schools officials announced around 8:30 Sunday evening that schools would be closed Monday. Essential personnel were told to wait for further instructions. After-school activities were canceled Monday, and schools opened two hours late on Tuesday because of concerns about icy road conditions.

Harford County government offices and Circuit and District courts were closed Monday, as was Aberdeen Proving Ground and Harford Community College. County offices opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday, with liberal leave in effect for all employees.

There were expectations of wind gusts and possible drifting on Monday, a possibility of power outages and plunging temperatures overnight Monday into Tuesday morning.

Harford County Department of Emergency Services spokesman Bob Thomas said there were five reported outages from BG&E customers as of 11 a.m. Monday.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the BGE online outage map showed two problems, one north of Forest Hill and one northeast of Bel Air, both involving damaged equipment. Fewer than five customers were affected at both locations. Delmarva Power reported fewer than five customers affected by outages in the Darlington area. The cause was under investigation.

Icy roads were blamed for at least three major accidents Monday morning in Aberdeen, Darlington and Monkton.

A vehicle overturned in the 3200 block of Jarrettsville Pike around 7: 06 a.m., the Harford Fire Blog reported. One person was transported to the trauma center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.

Another vehicle overturned at Route 40 and Spesutia Road near Aberdeen, the Harford Fire Blog reported at around 7:16 a.m.

All lanes were blocked at Route 136 at Trappe Church Road in Darlington for a vehicle overturned, the Harford Fire Blog reported at around 8:50 a.m.

According to Thomas, at least three other accidents involved vehicles sliding off the road; however, no serious injuries were reported.

"Traffic is very light; people have adhered to our recommendation and stayed off the roads," he said.

From midnight through early Monday afternoon, 161 calls from Harford County citizens were received at the call center. Of those calls, 103 were 911 calls, the Office of Emergency Services reported.

Another budget buster

More than 100 county Department of Public Works personnel and contractors had treated and plowed about 1,000 road miles through Harford County since early Monday morning, according to the Department of Emergency Services.

County and contractor crews and equipment also worked into early Monday night and then resumed operations around 4 a.m. Tuesday to clear remaining streets and to deal with refreezing problems.

Harford County Government budgeted $1.4 million this winter for snow removal and remediation efforts, Thomas said Monday afternoon, with total spending already exceeding $2 million.

"We're still in the middle of the incident," Thomas said, explaining he wouldn't have full updated figure until mid-week.

Thomas said the snow removal budget includes costs for employees, salts, plows and other things.

With the snow over, winter is destined to continue hanging on as temperatures stay below average for the first week of March.

The National Weather Service predicted nighttime temperatures would continue to be in the 20s through Friday, but daytime temperatures are forecast to move into the low to mid-40s Friday and Saturday. At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the temperature in downtown Bel Air was 28 degrees.

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