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Winter weather returns

February 12, 2006|By ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE -

A winter storm that promised 2006's first major snowfall took its time gathering momentum before unleashing some of its fury on the Tri-State area late Saturday.

The late-arriving storm, which brought its first flurries of snow to Washington County by midafternoon, kept county road crews busy, but able to keep the roads in good condition by nightfall, said Ed Plank, interim director of the Washington County Highway Department.

"Up until this point, all of our chemicals have been working fine and the roads have just been wet," Plank said, adding he anticipated roads to begin icing over as temperatures started falling through the evening.

The snowfall is the first significant snow of 2006, following an unseasonably mild January.

The last significant winter storm in the Hagerstown area occurred Dec. 15 and 16, when 2 inches of snow and ice fell, according to weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site, www.i4weather.net.

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Before that, 5.2 inches of snow fell in the Hagerstown area during a winter storm on Dec. 8 and 9, according to Keefer's Web site.

Less than half an inch of snow and ice was reported in November, according to Keefer's Web site.

The area was spared the full onslaught of the winter snowstorm, which promised to bring blizzardlike conditions in the north and east from northern and western Virginia to New England, with snow expected to fall overnight at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour, according to a report Saturday from AccuWeather.com.

Heaviest snowfall amounts were expected between Saturday at 9 p.m. and today at 3 a.m., making work easier for road crews, State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck said.

About 1,900 State Highway Administration workers were on the job statewide Saturday night, using about 1,700 snowplows, salt trucks and other equipment, Buck said.

Traffic was relatively light, with Maryland State Police responding to only one minor accident by evening, a spokeswoman for the Hagerstown barrack said.

Other Tri-State area police agencies reached Saturday night also reported only minor traffic incidents in their jurisdictions.

Despite a tapering off of intensity by early Saturday night, more snow had been promised for overnight until early morning as a coastal low pressure system redeveloped, said John Darnley, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Sterling, Va.

"We're not out of the woods yet," Darnley said.

About 6 to 10 inches of snow was expected for the area region by this morning, Darnley said, and as much as 12 inches of snow was forecast for the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.

Maryland State Police in Hagerstown issued a snow emergency alert Saturday at 7 p.m. The plan requires that vehicles driving on snow emergency routes have chains, snow tires or all-season radial tires. Cars parked along snow routes could be towed and owners fined, according to an advisory issued late Saturday by state police.

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