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Stubborn storm ice coats area

January 12, 1999

Ice problemsBy BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




Maretta Brown's car had already been stuck in the ice earlier Monday morning, and here she was spinning her wheels on the ice again at about 10:30 a.m.

"It's really bad. But it's winter," she said with a shrug as she struggled to free her Crown Victoria from the ice outside her North Jonathan Street home.

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Earlier, Brown said, her car had gotten stuck when was giving her daughter a ride to work. Brown's son pushed her car out that time.

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Throughout the Tri-State area on Monday, continuing cold temperatures kept a frosty layer over the roads and over people's lives.

Many of the secondary roads in Hagerstown had large icy spots and some vehicles packed in ice and snow along the streets looked as if they hadn't been driven in a week.

"It's better than it was last week," said Debbie Meyers, who was shoveling snow and ice off of her Chrysler LeBaron on Wayside Avenue. "It thawed out a little bit on Saturday. But last week, it was still a sheet of ice when it started to snow the second time on Friday."

Meyers said she has used her other car since last Thursday.

It looked like she had her work cut out for her. The LeBaron's windows were caked with snow and ice and the car was surrounded by frozen snow. Icicles extended from the bottom of the car to the street.

But Meyers didn't seem worried.

"I have front-wheel drive and brand-new tires," she said. "I'm a big fan of front-wheel drive."

The long-lasting ice has meant booming business for area hardware stores.

David Bush, who owns Valley Hardware Co. in Charles Town, W.Va., said he has sold many ice cutters, chippers and other winter tools over the last few days.

Rock salt and Ice Melt have been popular items as well, Bush said.

"The ice has been a problem. It's hanging in there," he said.

Bush said he stocked up on Ice Melt early in the season, but has had trouble ordering it since.

He can't keep rock salt in stock, either.

"Nobody will ship it to us," he said.

Bush said he has sent an employee to pick up 80 more 40-pound bags of rock salt from a supplier in Frederick, Md. The employee has had to make six to eight trips since last Monday, sometimes twice a day.

"We've been really busy," he said.

The Farm & Family Center in Hagerstown also has run out of rock salt, said assistant manager Bob Fulcher.

He said he was expecting a delivery on Monday but was not certain it would come. A delivery of wood chips due last Friday finally came on Monday, he said.

The snow shovels were all gone, also, Fulcher said.

"The people are going with regular square-point and round-point shovels - anything they can get their hands on," he said.

Fulcher said the store also has sold sleds and other items that were left over from last winter.

"It's helped us clear out some old inventory," he said.

Ben Witmer, who owns the Greencastle, Pa., Servistar Hardware Store, said his business has doubled in the last 1 1/2 weeks.

Witmer said he has sold about 20 tons of salt and ice-melting products since last Wednesday. He also has sold almost 50 kerosene heaters and a number of ice-chipping tools.

Frigid temperatures and ice might be a pain for many, but they're good news for Witmer.

"Absolutely wonderful," he said. "It's been crazy - but we don't mind that."

In contrast, business has been slower for some businesses.

"This weekend has really been slow," said Mike Twigg, who owns City Cab Co. in Martinsburg, W.Va. "You get a few people you don't normally get. But business in general always slows down during snow storms and ice storms."

The temperature has not crept above freezing since Saturday, keeping large piles of snow and ice on the sides of major roads.

The Alexander House sent an employee out on Monday to clear a path in front of the Washington Street building.

"We're not supposed to do that. The city is supposed to do that," said Danette Jones, assistant manager of the apartment building. "It really needs to be cleared away."

Hagerstown Public Works Manager Douglas Stull said city workers laid salt and limestone on the side of Washington Street on Saturday after receiving a call. If the ice and snow do not melt within the next few days, he said the city will consider hauling it away.

Meanwhile, Stull said work crews have targeted icy spots throughout the city.

"It's been so cold, it keeps freezing at night," he said. "We need some warmer temperatures - three to four days would help."

Those warmer temperatures are on the way, but the relative warmth will be brief.

The temperature is expected to rise into the 40s today and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

But the respite will be short-lived. Forecasts call for another cold front to move in on Wednesday afternoon, sending temperatures plummeting.

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