The blanket of as much as 5 inches of wet, slushy snow that fell across the Baltimore area Monday was the heaviest snowfall of an underwhelming season and the latest measurable springtime snow in a decade.
The snow caused a few distruptions for morning commuters and minor power outages. It gave a snow day to some schoolchildren eager for sledding and snowball fights after a winter of multiple disappointments.
"I've got to do something, or I'll have a mutiny," said Clark Lare, chuckling, as he bought bacon and eggs to feed his son, Jack, and daughter, Sasha, at Whole Foods in Mount Washington.
Jack and Sasha had their own ideas of what to do on their day off from elementary school.
"Making a snowman!" exclaimed Sasha, a kindergartner at Garrison Forest School.
Snow chances rose and fell in forecasts leading up to Monday, like so many times during the past winter, but finally the snowfall exceeded the expectations of many. The difference, meteorologists said, was timing: The precipitation arrived overnight, before the spring sun's melting influence.
That meant one late taste of winter weather with spring already under way and milder weather arriving Tuesday, which is supposed to have a high in the low 50s. But there still may be a wait for the arrival of real spring weather, one forecaster said.
"Anybody that's looking for spring, they're just going to have to wait because it's not coming anytime soon," said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com. "If you're looking for those stretches of two to three days in the 70s with sunshine, it's going to be a while."
A measurement of 3.2 inches at BWI as of 2 p.m. made Monday Baltimore's snowiest March day since March 2, 2009, when 4.7 inches were measured at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. It was Baltimore's snowiest March 25 on record, surpassing the 2.5 inches measured on that date in 1933.
It was also the latest snowfall for Baltimore since March 30, 2003, according to the National Weather Service.
Without more accumulation, Monday's snow will bring the seasonal total to 8 inches at BWI. That is more than four times as much as last season's 1.8 inches but well below the norm of about 18-20 inches.
Heavier snow fell to Baltimore's west and north, with 5 inches from Columbia to Parkville, and Arbutus to Loch Raven Reservoir.
March snow is relatively common in Baltimore — an average of about 2 inches have fallen during the month since the 1880s. But after a handful of snow predictions that didn't pan out, some were surprised to find they stilled needed their shovels.
At Ayd Hardware on York Road, owner Vincent Ayd decided just last week to put shovels, ice melter and other snow supplies into the basement storage room, he said.
"We took all the snow shovels away," he said, "and kind of just went into our spring mode."
Then came the snow. Luckily, the shovels weren't too far away, "and I did actually leave a couple bags of ice melter on the shelves, just in case."
The store sold a few snow shovels and sleds on Monday, he said.
Snow supplies are an important income source throughout the cold months, Ayd said.
"All winter long in my business, I suffer when I don't have snow, because that's my cash flow in my winter months," he said.
His store is stocked with spring supplies such as fertilizer, seeds and garden spades.
"All that has been selling, and when the weather warms up, it'll go back to selling," he said.
The weather wasn't a threat to those gardens, though, said Gene Sumi, horticulturist at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville. The snowfall had more affect on business — things were unusually quiet there Monday — than on the health of most of the center's plants and flowers, he said.
Most of Homestead's outdoor plants, from pansies to roses and fruit trees, are hardy enough to withstand considerably colder weather than Monday's, he said, and snow can even be a boon.
"Snow actually helps a lot of wintering-over plants by acting as insulation," he said.
Still, the unseasonably cold weather is potentially harmful to a variety of perennials the garden center has brought in from nurseries in North Carolina and Georgia, where they were planted during a growing season that starts about a month earlier than Maryland's.
"We're moving those inside," Sumi said. "That's really just an inconvenience, and again, it has to do with the temperatures, not the snow."
The snow isn't expected to stay around for long, with high temperatures forecast to hover around 50 degrees for the rest of the week.
But that's still well below normal for the month. Normal highs approach 60 degrees by the end of March in Baltimore.
The average temperature this month was running 2 degrees below normal through Sunday, at 40 degrees. If the trend holds, it would be the first string of consecutive colder-than-normal months since December 2010-January 2011.
Baltimore Sun reporters Alison Matas, Jonathan Pitts and Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.
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