- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2006

Thousands of local residents lacked electricity yesterday in the aftermath of the year’s first winter storm, which dropped more than 8 inches of snow in the D.C. area during the weekend.

Meanwhile, local officials expressed concern about flooding in low-lying areas later this week as temperatures climb into the 50s and tons of snow begin to melt.

Most of the power outages in the area — the majority caused by snapping, snow-laden tree limbs — were in Anne Arundel County, where nearly 30,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers remained without electricity yesterday afternoon.

On Sunday, BGE — which serves 1.2 million customers in central Maryland and in Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties — reported 90,179 customers without power, most of those in Anne Arundel.

“We had a lot of tree damage, a lot of trees and tree limbs coming down on our equipment,” said Linda Foy, a spokeswoman for BGE. “Because it was a winter storm, getting crews to the location where the damage occurred was time-consuming.”

BGE officials said they hope to have power restored to all customers by late tonight.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens designated the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, at 161 Ritchie Highway North, as a temporary shelter for residents without electricity.

Dominion Virginia Power and Potomac Electric Power Co. also worked to restore power to about 4,700 and 5,095 customers, respectively.

Snow combined with warm temperatures later this week have some area officials worried about flooding.

In Alexandria, officials said they will maintain a “vigilant” watch on the Potomac River and have barricades and sandbags ready in case the melting snow causes a change in the river’s level.

“That was a lot of snow in a fairly short amount of time, and it’s going to melt fairly quickly with these temperatures going up as they are,” city spokesman Steve Mason said.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service said temperatures will reach the high 50s by tomorrow and Thursday, and then drop to the 30s by the weekend. The region also could see snow showers this weekend.

They said, however, that flooding should not be a problem for most parts of the region because a minimal amount of rain — which can hasten the melting process — is expected to fall in the area.

“There could be a flooding potential if we were expecting decent rain on top of the temperatures,” said Mark Tew, a meteorologist with the Weather Service. But “most of the snow will probably be gone, other than the piles left where people have plowed it up, by Friday.”

Police and transportation officials reported few weather-related incidents on area roads because most were plowed and treated before the morning rush hour yesterday. But some said the dramatic change in temperature could cause potholes.

“The extremes we’re going to go through in three or four days … that’s going to equate to an improbable and unusual number of potholes …,” said David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Bill Rice, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, said below-freezing temperatures also could lead to slick roads and dangerous commutes in the coming days.

Most schools expected to resume normal schedules today.

Meanwhile, the snow gave ski resorts a boost in business.

“We’ve been really, really busy,” said Chris Black, marketing coordinator for Whitetail Mountain Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., where up to 10 inches of snow fell. “It has been pretty fantastic.”

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