Rt. 50 Eastern Shore Snow Advisory 12-27-2010

Posted on December 27, 2010

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PLENTY OF SNOW AND SLUSH ON RT. 50 BUSINESS ENTERING SALISBURY, ABOUT 3 P.M. MONDAY.

WEATHER UPDATE, 10:45 P.M., DEC. 27, 2010: The low temperature in Ocean City overnight will be about 25 degrees. Tuesday will be sunny, windy, and a little warmer, with a high of about 37 to melt some of the snow and ice.

Please use extreme caution if you must drive on Maryland’s Eastern Shore this evening, especially if you have to drive the rural roads outside the cities and towns. The Christmas Snow of 2010 missed most of D.C. and its Maryland suburbs, but hit heaviest on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland. Monday was sunny, cold and windy.

I drove Route 50 Monday afternoon from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to West Ocean City. Route 50 is open and appears deceptively clear in many places. Just east of the bridge, the pavement is clear and mostly dry. But gusting winds are blowing the dry snow across the bare fields and onto the highway in many places. Between the Bay Bridge and Easton, I drove through at least 10 short stretches that were slippery with wind-blown snow.

HERE'S ONE OF THOSE TREACHEROUS SNOWY PATCHES ON RT. 50 ENTERING EASTON.

A few times the snow was blowing so hard it was difficult to see the road, even though the sun was bright all day. Several times, traffic traveling at normal highway speeds came unexpectedly upon a slippery, snow-covered patch. I passed a few cars off the road in the median, or in a ditch.

IN CONTRAST TO THE SNOWY PATCH IN THE PREVIOUS PHOTO, THIS INTERSECTION IN EASTON IS CLEAR OF SNOW, BUT WET. THE PILE OF SNOW WAS CREATED WHEN A PARKING LOT WAS PLOWED. GENERALLY, SNOW WASN'T VERY DEEP IN THE EASTON AREA.

The snow gets gradually deeper and the highway more treacherous as you drive east. It’s not the depth of the snow that’s causing traffic hazards, however; it’s the wind drifting the snow onto the highway. Snowplows are out in force on Route 50, and front-end loaders, large and small, are in high demand.

The episodic drifting continues between Easton and Cambridge. Cambridge to Salisbury seemed a little better. I didn’t take the main Route 50 bypass around Salisbury to the north, so I can’t report on conditions there. I stayed on Business 50 straight through downtown Salisbury, where the road was in good condition, but with frequent patches of snowy slush and water.

THE SALISBURY PART OF THE SHORE RECEIVED MUCH MORE SNOW THAN EASTON. THIS IS A SIDE STREET JUST OFF RT. 50 EAST OF SALISBURY.

AND HERE'S A SLUSHY RT. 50 INTERSECTION EAST OF SALISBURY.

Driving from Salisbury to Ocean City, Route 50 became increasingly covered with snow, slush and water. All that slush and water  will likely turn to slippery ice Monday night and into Tuesday morning. From Berlin to OC, the highway was increasingly snow-covered.

A SHOPPING CENTER ENTRANCE EAST OF SALISBURY.

I suspect  that many of the two-lane country roads and farm lanes are much more difficult and dangerous than the main highways such as Route 50. It’s possible that some rural roads have been blocked by snow drifts. At night, it will be very difficult to see the icy patches on Route 50, and even more difficult on narrow country roads. If you have to drive, remember that many rural roads on the Shore have drainage ditches just off the sides of the pavement. And most of the ditches are covered with snow. Best way to stay out of a ditch at night is to simply stay home.

The side streets in Salisbury remained snow-covered late Monday afternoon. And many of the side streets in the smaller towns are also snowy. It will probably take all of Tuesday and possibly into Wednesday to clear all the roads and side streets.

The snow did not stop until nearly dawn on Monday in Salisbury. I believe that Worcester County and Ocean City piled up the most snow in the state. Usually, the opposite is true, with heavy snow in the Western mountains, medium snow in Central Maryland, and little or no snow on the Eastern Shore. Last winter was exceptionally snowy in Ocean City, and it looks like we’re picking up where we left off.

A snow drift nearly closed Golf Course Road in West Ocean City earlier this afternoon, but there was enough pickup truck and SUV traffic to keep a lane open through deep snow.

I’ve not been on the island of Ocean City today. I’ll try to report from the island tomorrow.

There’s no snow on the Bay Bridge. Driving from Gaithersburg to the Bay Bridge, I saw no snow. My route was Gaithersburg to Olney, and from Olney through Laurel (on Route 198) to Route 32, then Route 97 and the Bay Bridge.

All my driving on Route 50 was on the east-bound lanes. I guess the west-bounds must be about the same.

By a stroke of luck, I received an ergonomic snow shovel for Christmas, and I needed that snow shovel when I got my driveway late Monday afternoon.

— John Hayden

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