Weather service warns of ice as winter advisory continues

A winter weather advisory remains in effect for the Baltimore area until 1 p.m. Saturday, as rain continues to fall on top of last night's snow, creating an icy mess.

The wintry mix left less than an inch of snow around Baltimore City, but higher accumulations in the outer suburbs, according to observations from the National Weather Service, which lists 1.9 inches near Bel Air and 1.4 inches near Laurel.

Freezing rain will continue to fall in the morning, changing to rain in the early afternoon, the National Weather Service says. About a tenth of an inch of ice could build up on top of what's already fallen. The NWS warns that the ice could make roads treacherous and build up on power lines.

In Baltimore, road crews were starting to wrap up salting and plowing operations, with most roads expected to be done by 11 a.m.

"It's turning into a rain event," said Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Transportation. She said crews will be working throughout the day and night, but they will be hitting targeted, problem areas, instead of cruising the streets.

Barnes said that all primary and secondary roads were salted and plowed by this morning and as of 10 a.m. crews were responding to individual calls for service or complaints.

"We haven't encountered any major challenges or problems," she said. "Friday night, there was a low volume of traffic, which definitely was a tremendous help. People stayed indoors last night, which was great, so we were able to maneuver through the city without any problems."

Barnes said that as of 9 a.m., trucks spread 275 tons of salt on 1,500 miles of city roads. The city has 13,725 tons of salt remaining for the winter.

Only a handful of diehard shovelers and joggers were in downtown Baltimore early this morning, with the Inner Harbor mostly deserted as dawn approached. Authorities were dealing with two road incidents, both in the Washington suburbs. Two right lanes were blocked on the outer loop of the Washington Beltway at Route 450 in Prince George's County because of a disabled tractor trailer. And on I-270 near Falls Road in Montgomery County, a truck hit an overhead sign, forcing police to block two lanes of that highway.

But Chuck Gischlar, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said both incidents were cleared by 8:30 a.m. and all lanes reopened. No backups were reported as traffic was light, and Gischlar said that roads throughout central Maryland are for the most part clear.

Still, Gischlar said, "Every now and then, you get someone who spins out, with people going too fast for the road conditions. It's looking really good but the situation is fluxuating. Be careful and don't go too fast. The speed limit is set for ideal conditions an these are far from ideal conditions."