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Snow surprise

More snow than expected falls

More snow than expected falls

January 25, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Cold air gave Saturday's snowstorm an unexpected punch as a forecast for an inch of snow turned into as much as 8 inches in some parts of the Tri-State area.

"It went pretty well, other than nobody counted on the weather being 6 inches instead of 1 to 3. I think everyone was caught off guard by that one," said Eric Deike, public works manager for the City of Hagerstown.

By late Saturday afternoon, most local road crews were resting in preparation for today's expected storm, which is forecast to pack a double wallop of significant snow and sleet.

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Another 4 to 8 inches of snow followed by possible sleet is expected to start blanketing the Tri-State area around 3 to 4 p.m. today, National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Woodcock said.

While the sleet isn't expected until late today, roads still could be slippery because snow began melting Saturday and temperatures were to stay below freezing for the rest of the weekend and Monday, NWS meteorologist Luis Rosa said.

"We'll be lucky to hit 20 degrees" today, Rosa said.

Gary Shank, resident maintenance engineer for the local Maryland State Highway Administration office, said a few drivers remained out late Saturday to salt slippery areas.

People should drive slowly, use caution, be mindful of others and allow for enough time to get to their destination so they don't have to rush in bad weather conditions, said Sgt. Johnny Murray with the Hagerstown Police Department.

"The rule of thumb is if you don't have to be out, don't be out," Murray said.

Winds began picking up Saturday afternoon, which could cause some snow drifts with the snow being so light, Washington County Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said.

Even though Saturday's snow was powdery, it still was a bit slippery as Emmitsburg, Md., weather observer Lucille Beale said she found out when she slipped and fell. She said she was OK.

The cold air caused the snow-to-liquid ratio to be much higher than normal, Rosa said. Usually, the ratio is 10 inches of snow per inch of water, but the cold air created a ratio of 30 inches of snow per inch of water, he said.

The cold air mass provided a thin band of snow with the higher accumulations in Washington County; Frederick County, Md.; and the southern sections of West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, according to weather and police officials.

Trooper First Class C.E. Platt with the West Virginia State Police in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said the south end of Morgan County received about 7 inches of snow, but there was only about 3 inches of snow in the east end.

National Weather Service officials said today's snow could start light, but get heavier as sleet mixes in.

The forecast calls for precipitation to continue through Monday with freezing drizzle and sleet, Woodcock said.

The long-term forecast calls for frequent snow or ice events for the next two weeks, Rosa said.

Deike said he's heard various snow forecasts for today.

"Somewhere between an inch and a foot is what we're getting (Sunday)," Deike said.

With a replenished stock of road salt, Deike said his crew should be in good shape for the coming storm.

Road workers began plowing around 10 p.m. Friday and most drivers were done by 2 p.m. Saturday, he said.

Wolford said his department was low on salt, but should have enough to make it to Monday or Tuesday, when more salt is to arrive.

County crews began plowing roads around midnight Friday, he said. A few drivers kept working past noon.

USAirways Express had one flight leave a little late Saturday morning, but Hagerstown Regional Airport Manager Carolyn Motz wasn't sure why because the runway had been plowed.

"I thought it was pretty good, given it was 5 inches more snow than we expected," Motz said.

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