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Maryland digs out from storm

FinanceBudgets and BudgetingHoward County General HospitalNational Weather Service

A few more inches of snow were forecast to accumulate by midday Saturday, further straining government snow-removal budgets and setting back efforts to clean up from the region's heaviest snowfall in four years.

The forecast portends a third winter pelting of the region in a few days' time, and it was met Friday with frustration. Residents said they were tired of digging out more than once, after Thursday's successive snowfalls.

The cleanup was a daunting task for many, like Stu Haley and his neighbors on Gittings Avenue in North Baltimore's Cedarcroft neighborhood. They spent hours shoveling Thursday to clear sidewalks, and then had to spend three hours Friday morning moving snow that had been plowed back onto the sidewalks, Haley said.

"They plowed it so hard they moved all of what they plowed yesterday off of the street up into our yards and filled up everything we were able to shovel out yesterday," Haley said. "It impacts dog walkers, parents with children, people who are disabled or the mail delivery up on our street."

Kathy Dominick, a spokeswoman for the city's transportation department, asked for patience from residents as crews work to clear wet, heavy piles of snow.

"We do our best not to block vehicles in or block sidewalks in on the side, but it's just difficult because city streets are so skinny, they're so narrow," she said.

When the storm's final tallies came in, the highest accumulations in the region Thursday were reported in Glyndon, with 26 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Other measurements included 24.8 inches in Westminster, 20.5 inches near Savage, 17.5 inches in Bel Air and 17.1 inches in Park Heights as of late Thursday night.

A revision in snowfall totals measured at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport put a record, and distinction as one of the 10 snowiest days on record here, out of reach.

Officials had erroneously reported 12.3 inches of snowfall at the airport Thursday morning. The final storm total was 11.5 inches, including the snow that fell in the second round of precipitation. Of that, 9.6 inches fell Thursday. A snowfall of 15.5 inches on Feb. 13, 1899, holds the record for Thursday's date and ranks as the 10th-largest single-day snowfall here.

The toll has been heavy financially.

Baltimore County had allocated $6 million for snow removal ahead of Thursday, and had spent $9.9 million by Friday. Lauren Byrd, county spokeswoman, said the extra expense will be financed through surpluses from other departments.

Ted Zaleski, Carroll County director of management and budget, couldn't immediately say how much has been spent this season, but said the county has "certainly exceeded" its $1.8 million budget and will cover the difference through a reserve contingency budget.

Howard County had spent more than double its snow-removal budget of $1.2 million. Spokesman Mark Miller said the county has about $2 million from a natural disaster contingency fund to fall back on. Anne Arundel County does not budget for snow removal. Baltimore City officials did not respond to requests for information on the status of their snow-removal budget.

The snowfall was also noteworthy for thunder snow. Two or three cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were reported in Anne Arundel County between about 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, said Eric Wanenchak, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com. A mix of sleet and snow was falling at that time, an indication that there was some warm air overhead mixing in with the cold.

"It's relatively rare, especially for this part of the country," Wanenchak said. "It usually tends to happen up toward New England ... but it can happen just about anywhere up and down the East Coast."

Howard County officials on Friday provided more detail on the deaths of three men Thursday. Richard Tucker, 56, of the 1600 block of Woodstock Road in Woodstock, and Kenneth Frame, 61, of the 5000 block of Southern Star Terrace in Columbia, were both shoveling when witnesses saw them in distress, county Fire Department spokesman Marc Fisher said.

Both men were taken to Howard County General Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

James Wells, 57, collapsed outside of his home in the 9700 block of Owen Brown Road in Columbia, Fisher said. Wells' family and several bystanders called 911, but rescuers were unable to resuscitate him, officials said. Officials could not confirm whether he was shoveling or had recently shoveled before he collapsed.

Much of the snow on the ground could stay a few days, with highs predicted in the mid-30s and lows in the lower 20s Saturday and highs in the upper 20s and lows in the upper teens Sunday, under mostly cloudy skies.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Kevin Rector, Nayana Davis, Amanda Yeager, Luke Lavoie and Sara Toth contributed to this article.

sdance@baltsun.com

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FinanceBudgets and BudgetingHoward County General HospitalNational Weather Service
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