Breaking news updates on snowstorm in region

Roof collapses in Southern Maryland

Updated 9:53 p.m.:

A roof at the St. John School in Hollywood Md., collapsed Saturday destroying six classrooms, the library, the computer lab and offices, said a spokeswoman with The Archdiocese of Washington.

A pastor discovered the collapse at about 4 p.m. when he went to hear confessions, said Susan Gibbs, the spokeswoman.

The school has two sections, one which was built in 1924 and the other in 1953. The newer part of the building was where the roof fell in also causing the walls to buckle. The roof was flat, so more susceptible to collapsing. "It's pretty significant damage," Gibbs said in a phone interview.

The school teaches kids from kindergarten to eighth grade, who will be sent to other schools in the area, Gibbs said. The roof on a storage warehouse in California, Md., also collapsed the Associated Press is reporting. A firefighter cut his hand in the incident, but no other injuries were reported.

by Andrea Walker

More Amtrak schedule changes for Sunday

Updated 5:43 p.m.:

Amtrak managed to run a reduced train service Saturday from Baltimore to Washington and New York, on a day when southbound I-95, the East Coast's main ground transportation artery, was totally blocked in Maryland for at least six hours.

Amtrak plans further service cuts on Sunday. Here's a preliminary list, with more changes expected:

The following service through Maryland has been canceled for Sunday, February 7

• Carolinian trains 79 and 80 will operate only between Raleigh and Charlotte with no alternate transportation between New York and Raleigh.

• Palmetto trains 89 and 90 are canceled in their entirety between New York and Savannah.

• Silver Service trains 97 and 98, operating between New York and Miami are canceled with no alternate transportation.Trains 91 and 92 will operate between Miami and Savannah only.

• Crescent trains 19 and 20, which operates between New York and New Orleans, are canceled with no alternate transportation.

Amtrak says passengers are encouraged to call 800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com for schedule information and train status updates.

By Paul West

Blizzard warnings lifts; storm not yet classified a blizzard

Updated 5:16 p.m.: The National Weather Service has lifted the blizzard warnings for the Baltimore area, which had been in effect for nearly 24 hours. A coastal flood advisory remains in effect for portions of Maryland that border the Chesapeake Bay until 10 p.m. tonight.

The possibility of minor flooding exists in areas of Harford, southern Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert counties, the Weather Service said.

Weather Service officials, still grappling with the question of whether the Storm of 2010 was the all-time largest on record in Baltimore or not, also have yet to declare the storm a blizzard. Officially, a blizzard is defined as a storm that contains large amounts of snow OR blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 1/4 mile for at least three hours.

By Paul West

BWI Airport to remain closed till Monday

Updated 5:01 p.m.: BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport will remain closed Sunday and is not expected to open until mid-day Monday at the earliest, Gov. Martin O'Malley said late Saturday afternoon.

The governor also said that the state of emergency, which he imposed Friday before the massive snowstorm began, also remains in effect.

Southwest Airlines has announced that it intends to resume flights to BWI, where it is the leading carrier, at mid-day on Monday.

By Michael Dresser

Neighborhood bands together amid storm

Updated 4:03 p.m.: Eugenie Jenkins awoke Saturday to a sickening discovery that, in hindsight, explained why her dog had been cowering and "totally freaked out" the night before. Part of a large tree in her Roland Park yard had fallen during the snow storm.

And with the wind blowing hard, the two surviving trunks looked ready to topple any second.

Good thing Jenkins' next-door neighbor is an amateur woodsman with experience felling trees in Maine. And good thing that neighbor had a chain saw handy Saturday.

Jim Melia is his name, and when he saw the situation he knew Jenkins was right to worry. The two tree sections, roughly 50 feet high, were leaning precariously toward Wickford Road, threatening several cars. Before long, other neighbors appeared to lend a hand.

But Melia couldn't just fire up the chain saw and yell, "Timber!" Not if he wanted to guide the tree away from car-lined Wickford and across desolate University Parkway instead. To do so, he needed ropes to pull on the tottering tree.

This is where the neighbors really joined forces. Melia supplied one rope. So did neighbor George Chang. A third rope came from yet another neighbor.

"We tied them all together to create enough tension to get this to go where we wanted it to go," Melia said.

"Really nice job," Chang said. "It fell right where it was supposed to fall."

By early afternoon, Melia was cutting up sections of the tree to clear the sidewalk and University Parkway. Jenkins, Chang and a few others dragged branches off to the side of the road.

The only damage appeared to be a street sign that was bent during the initial fall overnight. "That was nature, not us," Melia hastened to point out. "In case the new mayor asks."

By Scott Calvert

Snow winding down; bitter cold tonight

Updated 3:43 p.m.: The record-breaking storm that has stalled the region under a weighty layer of wet snow is moving out to sea. Snowfall is coming to an end from north to south across the region as the low pressure center off Delmarva drifts to the northeast, forecasters said.

As the storm departs, cold air out of the northwest will sweep in behind it, dropping overnight temperatures into the teens and single digits Saturday night. That should turn the snow and slush on the ground to hard ice and limit the effectiveness of road salt.

There won't be much relief - or melting - on Sunday or Monday as highs stall near the freezing mark and drop into the teens at night. Worse, there's a chance for more snow on Tuesday.

The official forecast calls for a chance of rain or snow on Tuesday afternoon, followed by a 70 percent chance for snow Tuesday night. That will be followed by a 40 percent chance of more snow Wednesday.

NWS forecasters at Sterling aren't venturing any accumulation totals yet. There's still too much uncertainty about the storm and the precipitation types we can expect. Safe to say it won't rival the snows of the last 24 hours.

Frank Roylance's Maryland Weather blog

Md. state police say teen injured in plow crash

Updated 3 p.m.: Maryland State Police say a 15-year-old girl was critically injured when a van she was riding in crashed into a snow plow.

State Police say the unidentified teen was injured late Friday afternoon on Route 462 at Interstate 95 in Harford County. State police say the van ran into the back of a snow plow truck parked on the shoulder.

Associated Press

Not exactly ideal sledding conditions

Updated 2:42: Would-be sledders in Mount Vernon were thwarted by the heavy, wet snow as the snow still fell Saturday afternoon.

Siblings Rob and Rebecca Tate first tried skis on Monument Street between St. Paul and Calvert streets and abandoned them in favor of small plastic sleds. But they weren't getting very far.

Although walkers had forged two paths on the steep hill, the Tates weren't able to slide on the moist buildup.

Once the snow got packed down a little more, "maybe we could build a jump, put in a ski lift and start making some money today," said Rob Tate, who lives on Mount Vernon Square.

His sister said she planned to get snowed in at his house, bringing snow toys they used as kids.

Rebecca Tate said she used to attend McGill University in Montreal, where they are able to do more snow removal.

"It's great that there aren't any cars," Rebecca Tate said. "I love how here the whole city shuts down."

On Mount Vernon Place, Peabody Conservatory students Shawn Whalen, Rachael Jones and Scott Nadelson were among a group of friends also trying to get some downhill speed on an inflatable mattress without much luck.

The street, which parallels the park, had not been plowed at all, and although it seemed promising, the heavy accumulation wasn't very slick.

With his friends trailing behind him, Nadelson attempted to make a running start and jump onto the airbed. But he couldn't get very fast in the knee-high snow and only traveled a few feet.

But he was doing better than Whalen's first try. "As soon as I jumped on, the wind picked it up and flipped me right over," he said.

Earlier Saturday, Derrick Hamlin was looking for a steep hill. He was on a snowboard and asking passersby to take his picture with his camera. An attorney in Baltimore (hamlinlegal.com), he was supposed to be on a ski trip this weekend with Chesapeake Ski and Sport Club (the only African-American Ski Club, he says). The trip was canceled. But he looked out the window this morning and told his wife he was going out. By 10 a.m., he says he'd been snowboarding for two or three hours. East Lexington Street, heading downhill from St. Paul Street to Calvert Street, near his law offices, was quite good. Then he left for for Saratoga Street, which looked even steeper.

Priscilla Henderer, a graphic designer, was crossing Pratt Street near Light Street on cross-country skis. "This is the best," she says, to cross country ski before the streets are salted. It took her about a half hour to ski from her house on West Hill Street. "It's great to be on the roads with people, talking to each other."

Heidi White, who teaches in Baltimore County, and David Suskin, a medical student, were also enjoying the chance to walk on streets mostly free of vehicles.

"I'm from New England, and we didn't have anything like this," White says. "This is just like nothing I've seen." She is used to many smaller snowstorms, not one storm of 20 inches and counting.

Suskin was supposed to be on call this weekend but was sent home yesterday at 1 p.m. "I'm not essential," he says. "In a year, that'll all change." Then he'll be a doctor. "Then I'll be essential."

Liz Kay and Elisabeth Hoffman

View from SHA operations center

There is a recurring amazing sight here at the operations center just a few minutes ago. One of the SHA video cameras is trained on Interstate 395 where it merges into southbound Interstate 95. At various times, as I glance at the screen over my shoulder, there is not a single moving vehicle in sight on that entire stretch of highway. It's eerie, in science fiction sort of way.

Just as the fantasies of the end of the world start welling up, a few lonesome vehicles roll into the picture as a reminder that I-95 is still open. You can see the pavement on what looks to be two lanes northbound and southbound. But the I-395 ramp hasn't been plowed in a while.

One reason for the extra-light traffic on 95 is that not too far south of there, traffic is still backed up from Route 175 to north of 100. I can tell you that right now, 2 p.m., because another video camera is trained on I-95 at 100. That picture hasn't changed since about 9 a.m., and I've been assured that it is a live feed.

Another video shot has come on the screen showing that that backup actually extends back to a point just south of Interstate 195.

If, perchance, you are sitting in that traffic jam and want to relate your experience, email michael.dresser@baltsun.com and include cell phone number.

Michael Dresser's Getting There blog

Less party guests, but more leftovers

Updated 2:14 p.m.For more than a decade Guilford Avenue residents Jan and Francis "Gil" French have thrown a Saturday afternoon winter party that has been a centerpiece of the Charles Village social season. Undiscouraged by weather predictions, Jan French cooked all week.

Jan, a former Barclay Elementary School kindergarten teacher, made her crab melt-aways, lasagna and hot beef. Gil, who taught for many years at City College, made a pot of potato leek soup.

Then came the storm. Early Saturday, Gil French, 79, shoveled two sets of steps and path to the door. Throughout the day neighbors lent a hand, re-shoveling the path so guests could reach the home, which sits on a terrace above the street.

Some 40 guests normally arrive at the party. A few guests called in early regrets but most neighbors said they would be hoofing it.

"There'll be lots of leftovers," said Jan French. "But there will still be 20 people here. It's a time to get people together and there certainly will be enough food." By Jacques Kelly

Baltimore stands for Kilimanjaro

Updated 1:44 p.m. If you are going to go outside today, be prepared.

Follow the lead of Mike Stone, who had filled his pack with about 30 to 40 pounds worth of food, water and equipment.

Mike Stone was supposed to be hiking about 15 miles in Pennsylvania Saturday as part of his training for his trip to Mount Kilimanjaro on Feb. 19.

But when you can't make it to the Appalachian Trail, Baltimore will just have to do.

Stone was wearing his pack and gaiters as he walked up Calvert Street with trekking poles on a round-trip from Hampden to Federal Hill with Laura Steinhardt.

"I do have a portfolio management textbook in there just for weight," he said.

Unlike many of the people out and about on Saturday, Stone had enough supplies to shelter in place if necessary, including a tarp, food and a gallon and a half of water, he said.

Stone was expecting a wider range of temperatures during his trip in Tanzania than what he experienced during his Baltimore walk, with warm weather at lower elevations but below zero at night at higher elevations.

But he's hoping for less snow. "Usually I don't think there's a whole lot of precipitation," he said.

By Liz Kay

Snow doesn't stop determined beau

Updated 1:34 p.m.: Andrew Kinnear took his dog out to play in Saturday's snow and came home engaged.

His flight to Las Vegas canceled -- he had thought of proposing in front of the fountain at the Bellagio -- a friend egged him on to pop the question on the steps of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Locust Point.

So with his boxer Clinton and friends standing in knee-deep drifts on East Fort Avenue, Kinnear brushed off the church steps, got down one knee and took out a ring he had bought in New York.

"It was very exciting and unexpected," said Reagan Rineerknecht, who works in behavioral medicine at Johns Hopkins Kennedy Krieger Institute.

She said yes.

"We popped the corks and drank on the street," said Brenda McHale, a friend and neighbor of the new couple and the wife of state Del. Brian K. McHale, who also joined in the outdoor festivities.

South Baltimore's Fort Avenue becomes a winter playground in the snow, a place where you're just as likely to see a mother pulling her child in a sled as you are a car, where residents have been known to sip beer while shoveling front walks, where taverns discount food for neighborhood snow parties.

So people sipping champagne in a snow storm doesn't turn too many heads.

Kinnear, who turns 29 next week and sells Toyotas at Car Max in Laurel, had all but given up on proposing this weekend.

He had bought tickets to Las Vegas, hoping to leave Saturday. He hadn't really made plans – "I was going to wing it," he said – but one idea was to propose in front of the hotel on the Strip.

When all that fell through, Kinnear didn't know what to do. He headed out to Latrobe Park with his boxer, joined by the McHales and their boxer Roxy and Matt Horstmann and Mary Enoch and their German short-haired pointer Sally.

He thought of taking Rinnerknecht to Fort McHenry, but that was closed. Brenda McHale and Enoch suggested the church steps. Kinnear got his girlfriend, who came bundled to play in the snow, not a proposal, and Matt and Mary got the champagne.

The friends hovered out of earshot and Kinnear said he began with a church-step confession.

"He couldn't have picked a more perfect place, Rineerknecht said. "There was snow and there were friends."

Cruise ship is still set to return to Baltimore tomorrow

Updated 1:27 p.m.: The Port of Baltimore has personnel working 12-hour shifts to clear parking lots, walkways and piers of snow in preparation for the Sunday return of the Carnival Pride cruise ship.

"It's a challenge for us right now at the terminal," said Richard Scher, Maryland Port Administration spokesman, in a phone interview Saturday. "It's like climbing a slippery slope. We need that snow to slow down or stop to make significant moves."

Scher said the port has about 23 inches of snow on the ground and is using about 20 pieces of snow-removal.

"It's all hands on deck," he said.

As of now, Scher said, the Carnival Pride is still scheduled to arrive in Baltimore early Sunday morning from a cruise to the Bahamas. The ship is expected to load food, water, supplies - and some 2,100 guests - before embarking on another 5-night cruise, set to leave the port at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

This would be the second time that the cruise ship has been affected by winter weather since Carnival Cruise Lines began offering cruises year-round from Baltimore last spring. During December's winter storm, the ship delayed its departure by several hours.

"That could happen again," said Scher, but he noted that the cruise line didn't end up having any more no-shows than usual for that cruise.

Scher said beyond the port, cruisegoers may be affected by cancellations and delays at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport, as well as how quickly state highways and roads are cleared. He said guests headed to the port should allow enough travel time, based on where they are coming from. As for those passengers returning from the Bahamas, Scher said "they may want to get back on the ship."

By Michelle Deal Zimmerman

Southbound I-95 clogged in Howard

Updated 12:53: p.m.:

Southbound Interstate 95 is clogged from Route 175 in Howard County, north to at least Route 100, according to Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser, who is monitoring road conditions at the state highway operations center in Hanover.

Dresser reports that three tractor-trailers, three sport utility vehicles and three passenger vehicles were involved in the clog-inducing tangle, which began some time before 10 a.m. The highway was jammed for hours, highway officials said.

By Baltimore Sun staff

Storm is on track to be largest in Baltimore history

Updated 12:46 p.m.:Just after noon today, the National Weather Service reported that the Storm of 2010 was on track to become the biggest snowstorm in Baltimore history.

At 11:45 a.m., weather observers at Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport reported 26.5 inches of snow on the ground. That was only .3 inches short of the 26.8 inch record at the airport during the Presidents Day storm of February 2003, according to the Weather Service.

The airport is forecast to receive an additional three to six inches before the storm ends this evening. The weather service says it will issue a report as soon as the record is reached.

Generally, 24 to 32 inches have fallen north of a line that runs from Annapolis to Washington to Petersburg, W.Va.

By Paul West

Howard Co. executive cancels Fla. vacation

Updated 11:56 a.m.: As dire predictions of heavy snow filled the weather reports Thursday evening, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman faced a wrenching decision. Should he go ahead with a family vacation they've been planning for a year in Miami with his parents and his brother Doug, not to mention wife Jaki and their two daughters, Maddie, 8, and Lilly, 4? Or should he stay home to manage the storm response?

After a four-hour meeting with county safety officials, Ulman finally decided to stay on the job. "This seemed to be so significant, I decided to stay," he said.

His daughters were very disappointed, he said. "They're only starting to talk to me now," he said at 11:30 a.m., speaking from the county's Emergency Operations Center in the Robey Public Safety Training Facility near I-70 in Alpha Ridge. Once they woke up Saturday and saw how much snow there was, they began to understand this was a special event, Ulman said. Jaki was more understanding, he said. "That's what happens when you're married to a county executive," he reported she said.

The family had trip insurance, however, and "we'll make it up to them," he said.

The executive's physical presence in this kind of emergency may seem like a mostly symbolic thing in this age of mobile communications, but Ulman said it is more. "I do think it's important when it's this severe to be sitting around the table with the police chief and the fire chief."

Meanwhile Kevin Enright, the county's communications director, said county police and firefighters have pulled about 35 stranded drivers from vehicles stuck in snow all over the county. One man clearing snow on a small Bobcat front-tend loader at 3 a.m. in Gateway Business Park suffered a medical collapse that led to the machine overturning, pinning him underneath for a time. Enright, who spend the night at the center, said firefighters rescued him, but it took a long time to get him to Howard County General Hospital.

Ulman said more than 30 government vehicles also had to be pulled from snowbanks through the night, and a plow is assigned to each fire station for emergency medical runs.

People must understand, he said, "it's going to take us a while, maybe mid to late Monday" to get all the streets plowed. Meanwhile Elkridge has been declared the snow-depth champion of the state, Ulman said, with 34 inches by 11 a.m and counting.

"I love Howard County being first in schools and libraries," the executive said, "but not in depth of snow."

By Larry Carson

Big Storm gets big, strong coverage on local TV

Updated 11:45 a.m.: It's a weekend of air mattresses, sleeping bags, couches, pets and even some kids in TV newsrooms as Baltimore's network owned and affiliate stations went to "all hands on deck" to try to cover one of the area's biggest storms in decades.

"Covering a storm like this is energizing and frustrating at the same time," Michelle Butt, news director at WBAL-TV, said in an e-mail Saturday morning. "... The magnitude of the coverage keeps everyone 'up' -- multiple live shots and extended newscasts are no big deal for my folks. ... However, when you have a storm like this, it takes a toll on your equipment and your people. Things break, people get stuck out in worsening conditions and you worry for your staff's safety. After all, we're telling everyone to stay in, and I keep sending them out."

So far, the bad weather has been met with some very good work by Baltimore's TV news community. WBAL, WBFF, WJZ and WMAR were all offering extra hours of storm-related coverage by Friday. Read more.

By David Zurawik on Z on TV blog

Snowstorm is now No. 3 on Baltimore's record books

Updated 11:45 a.m. At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service is reporting 23.5 inches so far at BWI-Marshall Airport. That makes this the third-biggest snowstorm since snow records for Baltimore began in 1883.

And the snow is still falling. Another 3 inches and this Super Bowl Weekend Storm will eclipse the No. 2 snowstorm - the 26.5-inch blockbuster on Jan. 27-29, 1922.

Forecasters do not believe the storm will topple the all-time record - the 28.2-inch storm on Feb. 15-18, 2003. We'll see More details.

From Frank D. Roylance on the Maryland Weather blog

O'Malley urges residents to stay put

Updated 11:25 a.m. By mid-morning, 18 to 20 inches of snow had fallen across much of Maryland, with Elkridge getting more than 30 inches and Howard County particularly hard hit with 24 to 30 inches, according to Gov. Martin O'Malley during a briefing for the news media about 10 a.m. at the State Highway Administration in Hanover. Allegany County received about 24 inches.

About 150,000 households statewide have lost power, O'Malley said, with about half of those in Montgomery County. While a large number, O'Malley noted it did not come close to the 1.3 million households knocked off the grid by Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003.

The storm halted all transit operations statewide except underground Metro trains in the Baltimore and Washington areas. Baltimore's Metro is running only between Mondawmin Mall and Johns Hopkins Hospital, said state transportation secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley. In the Baltimore area, light rail is not running, nor are any Maryland Transit Administration buses. Bus service is not expected to be restored at all on Saturday.

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall airport is closed, and no flights are coming in or out, said Paul Weidefeld, chief of the Maryland Aviation Administration. While the airport hopes to have runways clear by Sunday, he said it's not clear how quickly airlines will be able to get personnel and planes ready to resume flights.

The State Highway Administration has 2,700 personnel deployed statewide in about 2,500 salt trucks and plows to clear highways. SHA Administrator Neil Pederson said road crews are trying now to keep at least one lane open on all highways. But O'Malley urged Marylanders to stay indoors on Saturday and off the roads, to help road crews and emergency vehicles get through.

"All you need is one car to spin out and you shut down all of I-95," O'Malley said.

That's what happened Friday night, when a disabled vehicle in Interstate 95 southbound at Route 175 halted traffic until it was cleared.

The Maryland National Guard has 300 troops in the field now to help local officials and emergency providers, according to Adjutant General Jim Adkins. He said he is authorized to call in another 100. No state shelters have been opened yet, but officials say they are prepared to act if any are needed. The Red Cross and state Department of Human Resources are on standby to provide emergency assistance if needed, officials said.

By Michael Dresser

Get that snow off flat roofs, Arundel county exec says

' Updated 11:24 a.m. Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold sent out an advisory this morning warning everyone with flat roofs not to wait around for the snow to melt.

"Flat roofed buildings are extremely susceptible to collapse from the weight of large accumulations of heavy snow," he said in a statement. "In the interest of public safety I urge citizens to take the necessary steps to remove snow from flat roofs in order to avoid the increased danger of collapse."

It probably goes without saying, but be careful if you're going to take those steps. Read more.

By Jamie Smith Hopkins on The Real Estate Wonk blog

Why go shopping? Because the store's empty

Updated 11:17 a.m. So who goes to the supermarket after two feet of blowing snow fall?

Kyle Mathews, 28, a Web designer, and his Columbia roommate Jim Carter, 30, a plumber, were meandering the aisles at the Owen Brown Giant at 10 a.m., Saturday.


"Because there are no lines," Mathews quipped, though he sounded serious. In his arms were two packages of bacon and a dozen eggs. Carter had a sack of potatoes, the makings of a big brunch.

The two share a townhouse close to the AMC Movies Theater behind Columbia Mall, but with no groceries available there, they decided to go get some in their white Toyota FJ Cruiser, an all terrain vehicle.

Besides, there was the challenge of it all.

"Could we get out and would Giant be open?" is what Mathews said they were thinking. "Why not? It's just snow," he added. They were among four customers in the huge store at the time.

Including shoveling snow away from the Toyota, the entire four-mile trip took only 35 minutes, they said, though they did have one advantage. Carter is 6 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 315 pounds. Mathews is 6 feet 5 inches and 220 pounds.

They made much better time than store manager Monica Murphy did from the Columbia Hilton, where she stayed Friday night with her husband. Murphy had two employees stay at the store overnight to be sure it would open at 6 a.m., but her trip in took well over an hour just to traverse the last half mile, she said, even with her husband driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

A tired Nancy Wilson, 39, of Clarksville said she tried to nap in a office chair, but couldn't.

"I hope I never have to do it again," she said.

By Larry Carson

Blizzard Warnings expanded to Upper Shore

Updated 10:39 a.m. The National Weather Service forecast office in Mt. Holly, N.J. has expanded Blizzard Warnings to the Upper Shore of Maryland, including Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline and Talbot counties.

The warning is in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday. The additions fill in a gap in a swath of Blizzard Warnings that extends from southern Maryland to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Harford County, parts of the Eastern Shore, Delaware and coastal New Jersey.

In addition to the falling snow, as the coastal low intensifies today, winds will increase across the warning area. Blizzard conditions include falling or blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph decreasing visibilities to less than a quarter mile for a period in excess of three hours. More details.

From Frank D. Roylance on the Maryland Weather blog

No serious emergencies seen in city, so far

Updated at 10:28 a.m.: City officials reported no weather-related casualties and no serious emergencies during the first 18 hours of the Storm of 2010, according to the mayor's office.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, facing a significant governing challenge during her first days in office, was due to get an updated briefing at the city's Emergency Operations Center at mid-morning. At noon, she is to meet with road crews at the municipal salt yard.

She will also be recording automated phone messages advising 45,000 seniors on the best ways to deal with the storm and its aftermath, said mayoral spokesman Ryan O'Doherty.

Once the snow stops, the city will focus its message on what citizens should do next: clear snow from around fire hydrants, make sure sidewalks are cleared and reach out to seniors in their neighborhoods.

Bob Maloney, director of Baltimore's office of emergency manager, was cautiously optimistic as the storm moved into what was forecast to be its final phase on Saturday.

"We feel like we passed the first hurdle," Maloney said in a phone interview. "I wouldn't say we're keeping up," but the potentially record-breaking storm "hasn't interfered with our ability to keep the city moving."

There have been no major fires and there was one roof collapse related to the storm. The number of power outages in the city reached 5,000 early Saturday, but Maloney said that was not much more than on a normal day.

One of the biggest challenges overnight was transportation for workers at area hospitals. After requests for assistance swamped the city's 311 line shortly after 6 a.m., city officials asked local news media to request that citizens with four-wheel vehicles volunteer to drive nurses and doctors to work. Maloney said that after those messages were broadcast, the calls for help to 311 stopped.

The city's Guilford Avenue homeless shelter served an overflow number of people Friday night and no one was turned away, Maloney said. The city was also helping Our Daily Bread, the Catholic Charities of Baltimore hot-meal program, with its food services, he said.

The Baltimore Fire Department handled 200 calls and the police were able to respond to 400 calls overnight.

City crews made at least one or two passes to help clear emergency routes overnight. At no time were there fewer than 120 trucks on the streets, said Maloney.

By Paul West

Mail workers take snow day

Updated at 10:05 a.m.: The U.S. Postal Service says no mail delivery today in the Baltimore area.

From Scott Calvert's Twitter page

Power outages and abandoned cars follow snow

Updated at 9:32 a.m.: Precipitation that accumulated at rates of up to 2 to 3 inches an hour overnight buried the region in about 2 feet of snow, and if forecasters are right, another five to nine inches could fall by the time the storm ends this evening. The National Weather Service reported varying measurements, from 32 inches in Elkridge to 5 inches in Salisbury.

Some 34,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers in the region were without power and abandoned cars were scattered on state highways in the early morning today.

State highway spokesman David Buck said crews working overnight were struggling to keep one lane open on all highways, although they had fallen behind somewhat over the night as 2 to 3 inches an hour fell.

He said crews were reporting 24 to 25 inches of snow had fallen along the Interstate 95 corridor through Maryland, with snow starting to pick up in Carroll County. "We have abandoned cars all over. People got curious as the sun came up. ... People are waking up and thinking, 'Hey, time to go out.' Wrong move," Buck said.

Motorists should not assume that if they can get out of their neighborhood they will find bare road, he said.

Many hours of the storm remain, Buck said, and people should stay home.

BGE spokeswoman Linda Foy said crews have already restored power to 26,000 customers overnight, but there are 34,000 customers currently without power, including about 8,600 in Baltimore County and 8,700 in Anne Arundel County.

Crews from Tennessee and Kentucky are expected to arrive today with another contingent of linemen and support staff headed to Maryland from Ohio.

By Liz Bowie

Weather forecasters were right on this one

Updated at 9 a.m.: Turns out the weather forecasters knew what they were talking about. The big Super Bowl weekend storm that's been talked about, hyped and doubted across Maryland for days has finally delivered. Some locations have already topped 2 feet.

Here are some of the early measurements being reported at 7 a.m. by the CoCoRaHS Network.

• Elkridge, Howard County: 32 inches

• Crofton, Anne Arundel: 26.8 inches

• Columbia, Howard: 26.4 inches

• Clarksburg, Montgomery: 24.5 inches

• Mount Airy, Carroll: 20.1 inches

• WeatherDeck, Cockeysville, Baltimore County: 15 inches

• La Plata, Charles: 14 inches

• Deale, Anne Arundel: 11 inches

• Salisbury, Wicomico: 5.4 inches

BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport, the official station for Baltimore, where forecasters predicted 20 to 30 inches by tonight, was reporting 19 inches at 8 a.m. That would already put this storm on Baltimore's top 10 list -- at the No. 9 spot -- and the snow is still falling. More details.

From Frank D. Roylance on the Maryland Weather blog

Do you see storm damage?

Updated at 8 a.m. If you spot any snow damage in Baltimore or 'burbs, give me a shout. I'll be writing about the subject on Sunday for Monday's paper, assuming it's not a non-issue. Tell your stories here.

From Jamie Smith Hopkins on The Real Estate Wonk blog

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