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Snow squall creates ice, snarls Beltway


An unexpected snow squall that struck the Baltimore area early yesterday created hazardous driving conditions in some areas and clogged roadways with bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic.

"The whole Beltway was a parking lot," said a state trooper at the Golden Ring barracks.

Traffic reporters said that by 8 a.m., the Beltway was paralyzed from Essex to Pikesville -- doubling and tripling commuting times for many workers.

State and local police reported dozens of minor accidents, including one in which a Baltimore County school bus was rear-ended on Reisterstown Road, but no one was seriously injured.

The hardest hit highways were Interstate 695 from Towson west, and Interstate 795, where a traffic jam stretched nearly 19 miles from the Beltway to Reece Road and Westminster.

Buses, delayed by the gridlock on major thoroughfares in the central county, were as much as an hour late getting students to some schools, said Rita Fromm, director of transportation for the Baltimore County schools.

"But in the northeast and southeast parts of the county, they hardly knew what was even going on," she said.

The snow squall began about 5 a.m., arriving with little warning. Police and state highway officials said that once the sun rose and started melting the snow, sheets of ice formed on roadways in many spots, mostly north and west of Baltimore.

The light snow quickly turned to water in Baltimore, causing far fewer problems for motorists. Downtown traffic moved slower than normal, and police reported few accidents.

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