Students take advantage of their first snow day

THE BALTIMORE SUN

As she and her friends took turns speeding down a snow-covered hill on the campus of Anne Arundel Community College yesterday afternoon, Rachel Bessmans confessed that studying was the last thing on her mind.

"I slept in until 12, woke up and went sledding," said Bessmans, a junior at Severna Park High School. "It's a snow day."

In fact, it was the first snow day of the season for many students across the state, including those in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel and Harford counties. Students in Carroll, Howard and Baltimore counties were already scheduled to have yesterday off.

Thirteen school districts closed or opened late yesterday while crews continued to clear snow from secondary roadways and sprinkle salt on icy bridges, ramps and overpasses.

Although it was frigid - with temperatures climbing no higher than 25 degrees - children crowded hills, most still covered in powder from the weekend storm, to sled and snowboard.

Howard County highway maintenance workers reported to work at 4 a.m. yesterday - an hour and a half earlier than usual - to begin pouring salt and cinders on slick areas.

"We were a little bit concerned with the frigid temperatures that were forecast," said Bill Malone, the chief of Howard County's highways bureau. "So we wanted to be ready for rush hour."

According to officials at the State Highway Administration, snow removal crews responded so quickly and efficiently to the snowstorm that traffic moved smoothly yesterday, and all of the state's major roadways had been cleared in time for the morning commute.

Although there were no reports of major traffic accidents yesterday or delays at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, some area hospitals reported an increased number of patients because of injuries sustained on icy sidewalks and hills crowded with sledders.

"I've seen a few lacerations, fractures and bruises from sledding and falls on the ice," said Dr. Jeffrey Sternlicht, an emergency room physician at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

As a light snow fell on some parts of the state late yesterday afternoon, some school officials were weighing whether to close or delay openings for a second day in a row. The decision to close or delay school generally starts hours before dawn, when transportation officials check road and weather conditions and make recommendations to superintendents.

Anne Arundel County schools announced late yesterday that schools would open on time today. Harford County schools will open two hours late.

Dave Manning, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a slight warming trend is expected, with temperatures in the Baltimore area reaching a high of 40 degrees by tomorrow. On Thursday, however, the forecast calls for another cold front to hit the area, bringing frigid weather and a chance of snow showers this weekend.

Sun staff writers Laura Cadiz, Athima Chansanchai, Hanah Cho, Josh Mitchell and Sarah Schaffer contributed to this article.

For the latest closings or delayed openings from other Baltimore-area school systems, go to: www.baltimore sun.com/closings

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