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More frigid weather hits Harford on heels of big weekend snow

Snowplow drivers kept busy Saturday as at least 6 inches of snow fell on Harford County, making roads treacherous and slippery.

Most of the snow that fell over the weekend has been cleared from Harford County roads, but lots the white stuff remains on the ground, along with icy spots on roads and walks.

Overnight temperatures fell back into single digits and were unable to crack the freezing mark Monday and Tuesday afternoon, causing residents to once again contend with plumbing and heating problems, as well as the danger of falls posed by icy spots on walks that won't go away, despite daytime sunshine.

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With the exception of today (Wednesday), when the high could reach a balmy 34 degrees, forecasters say the final days of February and this coming first few days of March will feature more sub-freezing cold.

Highs of only 26 are forecast for Thursday and Friday, with overnight lows dipping back into the 8 to 10 range, according to the National Weather Service.

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Six to 10 inches of snow blanketed Harford Saturday into Sunday morning, the largest snowfall of the season.

Most of the snow that landed on roads and rooftops had disappeared by sundown Sunday, however, as temperatures soared into the 40s under sunny skies. Left behind were many large piles of plowed snow in parking lots and along roadways, including in downtown Bel Air.

And then back came the cold. Harford officials urged residents to be cautious, as water from melting snow banks turned into sheets of ice on some roads and sidewalks by Monday morning.

After not having classes Friday and all weekend activities canceled, Harford County public schools opened two hours late on Monday and were back on their normal schedule Tuesday.

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Swift accumulation

Snow began falling in Harford around noon Saturday and quickly accumulated.

A National Weather Service meteorologist warned residents about the cold weather that followed the snow.

"We've been in a pattern where we have a trough of low pressure across the eastern United States," meteorologist Heather Sheffield, of the National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington office in Sterling, Va., said Sunday. "That usually draws down Canadian air, and we've had some pretty strong cold fronts come through in the past couple of weeks."

County government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Harford County crews began treating and plowing roads around noon Saturday, and they worked through midnight.

"Ninety-five percent of the county roads had one pass in and one pass out," she said.

Mumby noted drivers were dealing with "near whiteout conditions" as the snow fell quickly during the afternoon and covered the roads as many people were running their typical weekend errands.

"It was such a fine snow that visibility was very difficult around 12, 1 o'clock," she said.

County crews went back out around 4:30 a.m. Sunday to continue plowing and apply salt to the roads, Mumby said.

"Conditions were hazardous early [Sunday] morning," she continued. "Our crews were reporting at 5 o'clock in the morning, 5:30 in the morning, that there was ice and slush on the roads."

County workers finished their duties around 2 p.m. They went back out again at 5 a.m. Monday.

"They went through every route to find areas where salt was needed, and they applied salt," Mumby said.

She noted that Harford County Executive Barry Glassman had been in the Emergency Operations Center helping monitor conditions.

Mumby said Glassman wanted to extend his thanks to all county staffers, crews, volunteer fire company members "and just everyone who was out in this weather and working to keep our citizens safe, and to the citizens for their cooperation."

Fires, accidents

Local fire companies had to deal with several auto accidents and a structure fire during Saturday's snowstorm.

Members of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company responded to an accident on I-95 North. One person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries after a crash on the bridge over Winters Run in Edgewood, according to fire company spokesperson Andy Doyle.

Drivers were navigating main and side roads around Bel Air Saturday afternoon as operators of privately-owned and town plows tried to clear the roads during the steady snow.

While most of the stores in Harford Mall were closed, dining establishments remained open during the afternoon. Members of a landscaping crew were clearing the lot next to the building, and plows rumbled through the parking lot.

People were also walking along side streets, or shoveling walks and driveways.

Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company EMTs and firefighters, with support from the Joppa-Magnolia, responded to a two-vehicle crash on I-95 South shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, as the snow changed to sleet and rain.

One person was taken to the hospital, according to the Abingdon company's Facebook page.

Fire Chief Monti Arrington said the person had minor injuries, and the accident was caused by the "inclement weather."

About 50 firefighters with the Susquehanna Hose Company of Havre de Grace responded to a dwelling fire in the 900 block of Eugene Drive Saturday. A car in a detached garage caught fire, which also damaged the garage.

Fire Chief Scott Hurst said the homeowner started his car while in the garage, went outside and then he saw smoke coming from the building about 20 minutes later.

Hurst said the car was a total loss, and there was "moderate damage" to the garage. No one was hurt.

Hurst said Susquehanna Hose Company members also dealt with a handful of calls Saturday regarding burst sprinkler pipes and flooded basements from the cold.

"It was certainly a challenging day, with the snow and ice," he said.

Freezing pipes challenge

As some residents and business owners found out last week, the prolonged cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst, something not frequently experienced in northeastern Maryland.

Hurst encouraged residents to continue to flush their toilets, run their faucets and keep their dwellings warm to avoid burst pipes.

He said residents should keep an eye on their pipes and explained that a blow dryer is the best tool for heating up a cold pipe.

Hurst said using a propane torch is "asking for a disaster."

Using a heating torch, which has an open flame, to thaw a pipe means risking starting a fire or boiling the water in the pipe and causing it to burst, according to the RemodelingMySpace website.

Hurst said residents should also close the inside water connection to their outdoor hose bibs.

The fire chief noted the Susquehanna River off Havre de Grace had frozen across Saturday.

"It's been a long time since I've seen the river frozen like that," he said. "That's for sure."

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