"We still couldn't get around very well," he said.
For this winter, the Maryland State Police have brought in reinforcements - 39 brand-new four-wheel-drive vehicles - including three stationed in Hagerstown.
"It allows us to be better prepared," said Sgt. Laura Lu Herman, a state police spokeswoman.
In addition to the Ford Explorers, Herman said state police will have access to dozens of surplus military trucks.
During the blizzard of 1996, many troopers were stranded at home, Herman said.
"It was difficult for anyone to get around in the snow. This will increase our ability to be mobile," she said.
In response, the state police operated on two 12-hour shifts in some areas, Herman said. The troopers who could make it in doubled up in vehicles, she said.
Herman said the Ford Explorers also are ideal for some non-snow uses. For instance, some of the vehicles have been assigned to the K-9 division, where officers must haul lots of equipment.
Herman said the vehicles will be concentrated in regions of the state that see the most snow. For instance, 25 percent of the Explorers will be assigned to barracks in Western Maryland.
"Obviously, in Western Maryland where there's more snow, there's a greater need for four-wheel-drive vehicles," Herman said.
The Explorers replaced regular squad cars. In Hagerstown, two are assigned to sergeants and one to a trooper who handles a canine. In addition, the barracks also have one Ford Bronco, Smith said.
"When the snow storm hit, we kind of borrowed from other divisions some of these Broncos," he said.
If a massive snow storm hits the area this year, Smith said the barracks will not have to rely as much on loaners.