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Storm treacherous for drivers, inviting to skiers

December 10, 2005|By DAVID DISHNEAU

HAGERSTOWN -

A fast-moving winter storm coated much of Maryland with 2 to 7 inches of snow Friday, closing schools and slowing the morning rush for workers in the Baltimore-Washington area.

The Maryland Transit Administration canceled commuter buses and a train, and there were multiple-vehicle pileups on Interstate 270, according to police and emergency workers. No life-threatening injuries were reported.

Western Maryland got the most snow, with about 7 inches in the mountains of Garrett County, state police and highway officials said. Precipitation elsewhere ranged from about 2 inches of wet snow in the Baltimore area to rain and freezing rain on the Eastern Shore.

Public schools were closed everywhere in the state except Somerset and Worcester counties.

Operators of the Wisp ski resort on Marsh Mountain in Garrett County were grateful for the snow in Baltimore and Washington because it tends to make people think of winter sports, Wisp spokeswoman Lori Epp said.

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"It's almost as good as putting a written invitation in their mailbox," Epp said.

The new snow greatly improved cross-country skiing conditions at nearby New Germany State Park, according to the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce's online snow report.

The Maryland Transit Administration canceled its commuter bus service in the Baltimore-Washington area, and a 5:12 a.m. MARC commuter train from Frederick to Washington was canceled because the crew was delayed by poor road conditions.

Most of the snow fell between midnight and dawn, leaving roads in Central Maryland slushy for the morning rush, State Highway Administrator Neil Pederson said.

"If anything, it changed over to rain a little bit earlier than we had been told by weathercasters, accumulated a little lower than we had feared," Pederson said.

SHA spokeswoman Kellie Boulware said there were three significant accidents between 9 and 10:30 a.m. on I-270 in Montgomery County - a jackknifed travel-trailer and two pileups. Some drivers claimed the glare from the sun made it hard to see slowing vehicles, but Boulware said speeding might have been a factor

"People see bare pavement, they get a little excited," Boulware said.

Pederson said two snowplows driven by state contractors were involved in accidents overnight. One caught fire on I-270 near the Md. 80 interchange, and the other briefly was wedged beneath a bridge on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda because it was driven under the structure with its plow up.

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