The snow came down steadily for several hours Saturday afternoon, giving Bel Air area roads a fresh, but fairly light, coating of snow that also dusted roofs, evergreen trees and road signs.
Christmas shoppers appeared to be undaunted by the forecast that started out warning of up to five to six inches but was revised downward as Saturday morning gave way to afternoon before any snow started falling.
A steady stream of mid-afternoon of shoppers hurried in and out of Harford Mall and the many big box and other retail stores around the busy intersections of Routes 1 and 24.
Outside on entrance to the mall, people stopped to put money in the red Salvation Army kettle watched over by bell ringer Valerie Phythyon of Havre de Grace, as snowflakes deposited on their coats.
Over at Bel Air Marketplace on the other side of Route 1 from the mall, admirers of former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich showed up in good numbers for a signing event for his latest book, “America: Hope for Change,” at Barnes & Noble.
The former Republican governor and four-term U.S. congressman representing Harford County signed about 100 copies of the book that were available for sale.
“Luckily the snow held off, which is fantastic, to make it a very successful signing,” Cindy Melrose, the store manager, said.
Ehrlich, who was joined by his wife Kendel, said the East Coast signing tour for the book, which was released in November, will have few stops in Maryland.
“I had to do one in Harford County because we love the county so much,” he said, saying Saturday’s signing in Bel Air was a time for “seeing old friends.”
“America: Hope for Change,” is Ehrlich’s second book. The first, “Turn This Car Around: The Roadmap to Restoring America,” and was released in 2011.
Diane Cowie of Bel Air came to the signing with her daughters Megan, 15, and Erin, age 9.
“We’re big fans,” she said, as the trio got a signed copy of Ehrlich’s book and posed for a picture with him.
“He seemed very personable,” Cowie said. “He seemed very genuine.”
The signing was scheduled to last for an hour and a half, but it continued for about 30 more minutes as people kept coming in for the last handful of copies.
Jim Lindauer of Bel Air received the third-to-last copy.
“It was very nice,” Lindauer said of meeting Ehrlich. “I appreciate him doing this.”
Organizers initially thought Lindauer got the last copy, and he posed for a special picture with the author, but two more copies quickly surfaced.
The final copy went to Jennifer Garick of Abingdon, who also posed for a picture with Ehrlich.
“It's awesome,” she said. “I came here doing some Christmas shopping; I didn't even know he was going to be here.”
Garick said she and her husband are “big supporters” of Ehrlich, who is currently a member of the King & Spalding law firm.
“I hope he runs again,” she said. “He was a great governor.”
Melrose, the store manager, said signed copies of Ehrlich’s book would be available at the Barnes & Noble as Christmas gifts.
She noted customers lined up “well before” Ehrlich arrived.
“The governor is a friend to Harford County and certainly a friend to the Bel Air Barnes & Noble, and we certainly welcome his partnership,” she said.
Saturday’s snow eventually gave way to a wintry mix and then all rain by early evening, with the rain continuing well into the night in the Bel Air area.
The Winter Weather Advisory issued by the National Weather Service was in effect until 1 a.m. Sunday.
About 1 to 2 inches of snow and sleet were expected to accumulate, with “trace amounts of icing” overnight near the Mason-Dixon Line, according to the weather advisory posted on www.weather.com.