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.

Michael Dresser

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.

Liz Kay