Six to eight inches of snow blanket region

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Winter's first major storm churned through the Baltimore region yesterday, and the 6 to 8 inches of powdery snow it dropped are expected to blow and drift today.

Steady winds will whip at 25 to 30 mph throughout much of the day, and gusts will hit 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

"It's going to be very windy and cold," said David Manning, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. Wind chill will make it feel like it's close to zero early today, he said. Any snowfall today is expected to be scattered and slight. In Central Maryland, the snow started falling about 9 a.m. yesterday, according to the weather service. The initial, significant snowfall had ceased by 4 p.m. Some churches had decided by then to cancel today's services.

As Marylanders shovel snow and re-shovel drifts today, they will be able turn on their televisions and see the people who caught the brunt of the storm -- those in Boston and New York and spectators at the National Football League playoff game this afternoon in Philadelphia. Those areas faced a second storm that meteorologists were monitoring last night as it developed east of Ocean City.

As much as 18 inches of total snowfall was forecast in northern New Jersey and accumulations of up to 20 inches were possible in parts of New England and the New York City area, the weather service said. A foot was likely in northern sections of Ohio and Pennsylvania, where it was snowing late yesterday.

Local accumulations varied from Carroll, Harford, Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, as well as the city, but all were coated with between 6and 8 inches.

The Upper Eastern Shore, such as Kent County, was hit with 7 inches, according to the weather service. The Lower Eastern Shore had less snow. Ocean City got less than an inch; Salisbury had 2 inches and Cambridge had 3, meteorologists said. In Oxford, at Schooner's Landing, a dockside restaurant, the lunch crowd was just six people -- and all local residents, none of the tourists who frequent in warmer weather.

In Western Maryland, 4 to 6 inches of snow had fallen by last night and a couple more were expected, the weather service said.

Before the snow stopped around Baltimore, road lanes were marked by tire tracks, not dotted lines; flights and SAT tests were canceled; and major shopping malls closed early.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said just before 6 p.m. that the cleanup had gone well after a "pretty daunting" afternoon in which parts of the state received 4 inches of snow in two hours. He said there had been no traffic fatalities as of that time.

In Baltimore at the storm's peak, the city was spending about $18,000 an hour on overtime for snow crews and contractors, Mayor Martin O'Malley said. The total bill was expected to hit $150,000, he said.

Area police reported fender-benders around the region. During some of the worst hours on the roads -- between 2 and 4 p.m. -- many drivers sought refuge under overpasses on Interstate 97 in Anne Arundel County. In Carroll County, a county snow plow slid into a deep ditch along Highway 91 near Gamber. A tractor-trailer jackknifed on northbound Interstate 95 near the Russell Street exit, creating a small diesel fuel spill.

Flanagan said road crews would continue their work through the night.

"If we don't get any significant new snow or serious problems due to drifting, the highways should be reasonably clear in the morning," he said last night.

The transportation chief warned that roads could have patches of snow and ice today because salt is not as effective when temperatures dip into the teens, as is expected tonight.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reported that 3,100 customers were without power yesterday -- nearly all in Anne Arundel -- about 3 p.m. But fewer than 200 of 1.2 million customers were without power as of 7 p.m.

Cultural events such as a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert and the matinees at the Everyman Theatre were canceled yesterday. Sporting events were affected as well.

The storm delayed the reopening of Laurel Park horse track, which was to have unveiled its new dirt track and other upgrades yesterday after a 10-month hiatus. High school and college games, including Coppin State's basketball match at University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, also were canceled.

At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, travelers -- some headed home from last week's presidential inauguration -- were stranded or delayed. All airlines were affected, as one runway was closed for 90 minutes and another for an hour, Flanagan said.

Today was expected to be better, airport spokesman Jonathan Dean said. Southwest Airlines, the carrier with the most BWI flights, expects to have all its normal overnight fleet at the airport today and should be operating on a normal schedule.

Many of the flights out of BWI were canceled yesterday not because of the conditions here, but because of the storm's impact elsewhere. "Pretty much the Midwest was out of the question," said Cheryl Stewart, an airport spokeswoman.

Up to a foot of snow had fallen by late yesterday in Wisconsin and Michigan, and wind gusted to more than 60 mph across Iowa. That potent storm system moved east across the country, and a coastal system contributed moisture that was then dumped over the eastern United States, meteorologist Manning said.

Around Baltimore, it had been a nearly flakeless winter until Wednesday, when 1 to 3 inches fell across the region.

Then the anticipation shifted to this weekend. How much would it snow? Five to 10 inches? Six to 12 inches? Three to 5 inches?

At one time or another, depending which meteorologist, neighbor or colleague was pre- dicting, just about anything seemed possible.

Marylanders had fair warning. Many stocked up: Friday was the busiest day in the six-month history of the Giant supermarket in Baltimore's Waverly neighborhood.

Some still ventured outside yesterday. And some even claimed to be surprised by the storm.

Eight midshipmen ventured to Westfield Shoppingtown in Annapolis early in the afternoon, planning to see Oceans Twelve. Instead, they found a closed mall.

The midshipmen, each dressed in full uniform, trudged to a bus stop near the mall, where they pelted each other with snowballs.

"This is great," said James Lawsing, a plebe from Castine, Maine. "It's like back home."

Sun staff writers Josh Mitchell, Michael Dresser, Chris Guy, Jamie Stiehm, John Lindner, Gus G. Sentementes, Jeff Barker and Norm Gomlak and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Snow accumulation

Snowfall totals in inches from this weekend's storm

Maryland ................... Total

Arnold ............................ 6.8

Cumberland ................... 5.5

Elkton ............................ 8.3

Fort Washington ............ 5.0

Owings Mills ................... 6.0

Salisbury ......................... 2.0

Nationwide

Milwaukee ...................... 13.0

Chicago ........................... 10.5

Detroit ............................. 12.1

Johnstown, Pa. ................. 8.0

Philadelphia ..................... 10.5

Providence, R.I. ................. 2.5

SOURCE: National Weather Service observer reports posted as of 8 p.m.

ON THE WEB

For weather-related developements and forcasts, go to

www.marylandweather.com

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