When two men in their late 50s died after shoveling Thursday's heavy snow, Howard County officials urged residents to take regular breaks while shoveling. Officials did not disclose the men's identities. Another man in his 40s died outside his home within a three-hour window as the other men, but officials couldn't confirm that shoveling was a factor.

While health systems, including the Johns Hopkins Health System and the University of Maryland Medical System, closed clinics for the day, emergency rooms and inpatient care remained open.

Babies don't always come on their due dates, but Jewelle Johnson's daughter was determined to be born on hers even in the middle of a snowstorm.

Johnson, 19, texted her mother about midnight Wednesday saying that her contractions, which had started a little earlier, were becoming too much to bear. With the storm brewing outside, Natosha Thomas, 44, suggested that her daughter wait a little longer.

By 7 a.m. Thursday, Johnson said she couldn't. Thomas drove Johnson in her 1990 Oldsmobile at 20 mph from Brooklyn Park to Harbor Hospital. By midmorning, the pair were at the hospital awaiting the baby, whom Johnson planned to name Ahayla.

"This baby wasn't waiting," Thomas said.

The snowstorm prompted neighborly gestures and even good deeds from strangers.

Michael Scott, a patient service associate at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, was on his way to work Thursday morning when he saw a man and woman treading through the snow at Loch Raven Boulevard and Woodbourne Avenue.

It turned out the pair were headed to get dialysis at Good Samaritan, and Scott picked them up to take them to their appointments.

In downtown Annapolis, Naval Academy midshipmen hit the streets to shovel snow. With classes canceled, some liked the idea of having something productive to do.

"Instead of sitting around working out or playing video games, we might as well help the community," said Midshipman Charles Alcasid, who was shoveling with classmates Paul Ahn and Nathan Ritter.

Midshipman Brent Aldridge of Roanoke, Va., thought shoveling was a nice way to give back to the community they call home for four years.

"This makes up for all the candy from football games," he said, referring to a local tradition of fans pelting the Brigade of Midshipmen with candy as they march to football games.

Businesses saw opportunities.

Dave Stahl, owner of Pete's Grille in Better Waverly, had stopped to pick up a few snowbound employees on his way from his Timonium home to the restaurant at 4 a.m. when the idea occurred to him to pick up some customers, too.

Stahl posted an offer on the restaurant's Facebook page to pick up customers in his Subaru Outback and wound up taxiing a few dozen people, most in groups of two or three. He offered rides to those living within about eight blocks of the restaurant.

"We were really busy today," he said. "Our phone must have rung 100 times in the first hour, with people just checking to see if we were open."

Heavy Seas Alehouse in Little Italy offered customers a free beer from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. And the weather didn't close Jimmy's Famous Seafood in Fells Point, which wrote on Twitter: "We haven't closed in 40 years — you really think this snow is going to slow us down?"

"If you're a bar in the city — Fed Hill, Canton, Fells Point — and you're not open on a snow day, you're making a big mistake," said Matt Akman, a local attorney who drove to Canton from Federal Hill to have brunch with friends at Mama's on the Halfshell.

Of course, rock salt, ice melt, shovels and sleds were in high demand.