Winter storm Jonas blankets mid-Atlantic states

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Kids play on Gay Street in Cambridge, amid snowed-in cars and covered sidewalks. “It was enough snow,” said one resident, but the Eastern Shore was spared the devastation suffered by the western side of the Bay.

CAMBRIDGE—The approach of winter storm Jonas was well-anticipated, thanks to modern prognostication techniques, but the intensity of the storm’s visit still turned out to be a surprise to many. “I expected a little bit of snow,” said one unidentified Cambridge resident, who went on to echo the sentiment of most of this cities inhabitants, “but this is more than enough!”

Jonas eased into Dorchester County just after noon on Friday, with a light snow that put everyone in mind of Christmas past. There was no petering out in the dark of night, though, and Saturday morning revealed a covering of white that would test the mettle of anyone wielding a snow shovel. The Neck District had at least eight inches of snow showing, and it was still coming down. Cambridge was reporting at least nine inches.
City and county road crews started clearing roads Friday evening, and worked through the night. Surprisingly, there was little trouble, despite the heavy snowfall.

Cambridge Police Chief Dan Dvorak reported a lack of real excitement, thankfully. “It was great that people stayed off the roads,” said Chief Dan, “and DPW did a great job plowing.  We didn’t even tow any cars for the snow emergency parking ban.”

A snow shovel-toting Brandon Hesson of Cambridge Main Street offered his opinion: “Considering the amount of snow we received, and how quickly we received it, our city did an amazing job of keeping roads as safe as possible throughout the entire storm. We were monitoring road conditions downtown the entire weekend, and while we were urging everyone to stay indoors, it was clear that emergency vehicles could make their way through our city center. We saw regular rotations of road crews maintaining things throughout the weekend.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again: our Department of Public Works has some of the hardest working people doing work no one recognizes and it is one of the major assets we have in this city,” continued Mr. Hesson. “It’s not glamorous, and they are under-appreciated, but there are neighboring towns that were unable to deal with the amount of snow received.”

Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the closure of the entire 34.7-mile length of I-270 and I-70 from I-81 in Washington County to the Baltimore Beltway. The highways remained closed until 7 a.m. on Sunday to all motorists except for emergency personnel. T “Closing I-70and I-270 will give us the time needed to deploy all our resources to clear these essential interstates as quickly as possible as we prepare to get our transportation network back up and running, said Governor Hogan.”

Cars parked on city streets were the only problem, as always in such a storm, but in many neighborhoods there is no place to move cars to get them out of the streets. Back-breaking labor is the result, as plow-packed snow must be dug out in order to get the cars moved after the storm. Snow shoveling was blamed for the only death in Maryland attributed to the storm, as a 60 year old Fort Washington man (Prince Georges County) collapsed and died while shoveling snow on Saturday.

Local storm totals vary, but up to 12 inches was reported in parts of Cambridge, with the average being between nine and 10 inches. South of Cambridge a maximum total of 13 inches was reported. Generally, the Eastern Shore got off easy, as 29 inches of snow was reported in Baltimore, Washington D.C. reported 17 inches, and a total of 33 inches was reported in Frederick. New York City broke snowfall records with between 26.8 and 30.5 inches reported over varying parts of the city. The small town of Glengary, West Virginia claimed the highest snow total for the storm with 42 inches.

As of Saturday, more than 200,000 homes and businesses in the footprint of the storm had lost power due to Jonas, although outages were not as widespread as had been feared. Delmarva Power reported outages in the northern shore area and  Sussex County, Del., and had considered disconnecting portions of Ocean City due to the threat of storm surge flooding. Delmarva Power crews monitored the area Saturday night and made the decision to not pull the plug after all. No local outages were reported.

Choptank Electric reported Saturday that outages occurred in, Pocomoke City, Berlin, Snow Hill, and Girdletree, and several outages were scattered throughout the Denton and Chestertown areas, resulting in the highest number of outages reported throughout the entire storm of 1,285 members. The larger outages in the Berlin District were mostly due to fallen trees which brought down approximately six to seven utility poles.

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