A fast-moving low-pressure system carrying plenty of Gulf Coast moisture wound its way northeast yesterday and could dump up to 8 inches of snow in parts of Maryland by this afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
The forecast prompted a winter storm warning as snow began blanketing the state last night.
In Baltimore, flurries began turning into steady snow between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. as the storm system eased into the region. Heavy accumulation was expected between midnight and 10 a.m. today as the system moves offshore.
Travel became treacherous as police reported dozens of fender benders. Vehicles spun out and plowed into each other on slick sections of Interstates 83 and 95 and other area roads. Several minor accidents on the northbound approach to the Fort McHenry Tunnel backed up traffic.
The State Highway Administration began mobilizing its fleet of more than 2,000 salt trucks and plow drivers yesterday to coat roadways with a salt brine and clear major thoroughfares. Officials said motorists need to remember to drive carefully - particularly on icy bridges, ramps and overpasses.
The agency has spent $5 million more than it had allocated for snow-clearing expenses in the current budget year, but will deal with the cost overruns through a budget amendment process after the winter, said spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar.