"Medic!" came the cry from across the field of snow blanketing McDaniel College on Thursday afternoon.
Moments before, McDaniel sophomore Mollie Murphy had sprinted — about as fast as one can sprint through almost 10 inches of fresh powder — across the McDaniel football field and laid out to catch a Frisbee, rapping her knee against some nearby ice.
Once Murphy's friend Nick Mollica had pulled her from the bank of snow and ice, her injury was found to be superficial, a knee bruised on the packed ice. All it needed, she told him as he carried her over to a nearby bench, was a little snow for the swelling. Thankfully, there was plenty to go around.
While most of the college campus, and Carroll County for that matter, stayed indoors, Murphy and about a dozen of her friends took the hills of the college golf course to go sledding before trudging out on the football field for a game of ultimate Frisbee, growing warm enough to doff their coats.
"I was actually sweating, so I took my coat off. I'm not cold," said Kirsten Coleman, a McDaniel junior who said she was enjoying the cold weather as an escape from the dank humidity of her home in southern Florida.
The sweeping snow, which pelted the players' faces constantly as they followed the arc of the flying disc, was less impressive to sophomore Jesse Guttman, of Middlesex, Vt.
"This is child's play, but it's fun though. It's a fun little powder," he said. "It reminds me of home a little bit."
By the time Thursday's snow — which some forecasters are saying will be the final major storm of the season — ceased, it had dumped nearly a foot in the northern parts of the county, with National Weather Service spotters in Manchester reporting 11.8 inches of snow just after 4:30 p.m., a short while before the final flakes fell.
Nine to 10 inches accumulated in Westminster, and Winfield in the southern part of the county received about 7.6 inches of the white stuff, according to National Weather Service figures.
While Murphy and her friends had frolicked in the snow at McDaniel, students on the rest of the campus were reluctant to go anywhere but the dining hall before late afternoon.
"I stay in McDaniel Hall, and I just got out and came right [to the dining hall]," said sophomore Chloe Gudmundsson, originally of Dundalk. "It's a lot of snow."
Gudmundsson was lounging in the warmth of the dining hall at noon but said she did hope to get out and sled later in the day, a desire she shared with Jessica Garcia, a freshman from Dallas.
"I've never gone sledding, so I really want to do that," she said. "Hopefully I'll gather some people up and take them with me."
Growing up in Texas, Garcia had never experienced trudging through snow before Thursday, though she noted the irony that the same winter storm pummeling Westminster had also dumped snow on her hometown.
"I am looking like a liar — 'Guys, I promise, it never snowed there before this,' " she said. "This is pretty. I like the snow. Everybody is telling me that I will get tired of it soon, but I'm pretty good right now. I could handle a little bit more."
Locals didn't quite see things that way.
Ayaba Mckell, a sophomore at Gateway School in Westminster, was out taking his Pekingese dog Munchie for a walk with frequent stops to allow the dog a chance to frolic in the snow. Mckell said though Munchie loves the snow, he is starting to get sick of it.
"It's nice that it gives you a day off from school, but they're going to just start taking it from spring break," Mckell said.
Carroll County Public Schools, Carroll County government and other agencies were closed or delayed as a result of Thursday's weather. It was the ninth time schools have been closed this winter for inclement weather.
No decision had been made by 7 p.m. Thursday whether school would be in session on Friday.
Despite the closures, there were still those who had to make the trek to the workplace for businesses that remained open.
In Westminster, Amanda Juarez was busy cleaning off her car so she could head to work at Best Western. She said that though the weather has been bad this season, it hasn't affected her too much.
"I've been lucky in that I haven't had to work the days of the other snowstorms," Juarez said. "After today, though, I don't want to have to shovel out in the morning again."
For many of those enjoying a snow day away from their 9-to-5 lives, it was responsibilities to their four-legged friends that brought them out into the winter weather.
Dog-owner Chris Plassman was out shoveling his walk, not because he had anywhere to be that day but for his 12-year-old dog who doesn't care for the snow. Plassman said he's trying to look at the bright side of the winter weather.
"It's a chance for me to catch up on my housework," Plassman said. "I don't like to say I'm sick of winter; I like to say I'm ready for spring. I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy."
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National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Whitt expected temperatures to drop throughout the night and reach a low of 3 degrees at 7 a.m. Friday.
"We will have a dry forecast over the next couple of days," Whitt said.
Accuweather meteorologist Mark Paquette said to expect cold temperatures Friday with highs in the low 20s.
The weekend, however, should bring slightly better weather.
AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bob Smerbeck said to expect a deep freeze Friday but to look forward to sunshine Saturday and Sunday with temperatures reaching highs in the mid 40s Sunday, which is still below historical March averages.
Paquette had even better news.
"There's a likelihood that this will be the last major winter storm this season," he said.
Incidents on roads mostly minor
For the most part, drivers stayed off the roads after snow began falling Thursday morning and only one crash requiring hospitalization was reported in Carroll.
Two vehicles collided near the intersection of Hook Road on Md. 97 Thursday morning, with one driver being taken to Carroll Hospital Center, according to a spokesman from the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack. No other serious traffic incidents were reported on Carroll roads as of 6 p.m. Thursday, according to State Highway Administration spokeswoman Kellie Boulware.
By late morning, the roads in and around Westminster were still rough going for vehicles without four-wheel drive despite those roads having been plowed at least once, and more than one car was seen fishtailing or even spinning a full 360 degrees on southbound Md. 97.
A few stuck motorists were not uncommon throughout the storm, according to a spokesman from the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack, but troopers did not have to respond to crashes after minor incidents in the morning.
Carroll County Sheriff's Office deputies came across multiple abandoned vehicles that would be towed as a result of the snow emergency plan being in effect, a spokesman for the office said.
Troopers from the Maryland State Police Frederick barracks dealt with several jackknifing tractor trailers on a stretch of Interstate 70 near Md. 27 in Mount Airy, which briefly closed the road Thursday, but lanes were clear by midday, according to a spokeswoman.
Boulware said that area in particular was a trouble spot where steep hills caused problems for large trucks and small passenger cars alike.
On main roads, drivers who were using appropriate speeds for the conditions appeared to be getting by fine, Boulware said.
As SHA crews work to finish clearing snow and begin treating roads for icy conditions overnight, Boulware said drivers need to be aware that wet and slushy pavement and low temperatures through the night are expected to affect the morning rush hour Friday, and drivers are urged to use caution.
Crews continue working on roads
Carroll County roads crews were expected to work until midnight widening main roads and clearing back roads and cul-de-sacs of snow, according to County Administrator Roberta Windham.
"Side roads can still have 4 to 6 inches of snow, and they are hard-packed," she said.
The county's 80 miles of gravel roads are also being treated by road graders, Windham said.
County crews will be sent home for a short rest at midnight and will be back at it early Friday. Windham expects snow removal to take another 24 hours.
"We are fighting the elements as best we can, but it'll take some time," she said. "We are still asking people to be patient and stay at home if they can."