WINTER WEATHER WARNING
From Harford County government:
Good Evening, this is Emergency Manager Rick Ayers with a winter weather message. Harford County has been placed under a Winter Weather Warning. The heaviest snow will occur during the daylight hours Wednesday and we should expect 4 to 6 inches of heavy wet snow. The winds will also gust 30 to 40 mph during the day making hazardous driving conditions. The combination of heavy wet snow and high winds will most likely result in power outages as well. The EOC will partially activate at 8 AM to monitor the storm conditions in the county. Thanks and be safe.
STATE FIRE MARSHAL REMINDS ALL MARYLANDERS OF FIRE AND LIFE SAFETY ISSUES DURING POWER OUTAGES
From the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office:
The potential of Winter Storm Saturn may cause disruption in electrical service to our homes. State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard is cautioning residents when using alternative light and electrical sources during power outages. “These easy to follow tips will help all Marylanders avoid injury or death during power outages,” said the State Fire Marshal.
• Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles. Keep plenty of fresh batteries on hand at all times. If you prefer the look of candles, consider flameless battery operated candles that offer the flickering light without the potential fire hazard.
• If using candles, make sure they are placed on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that will not tip over. Candles should fit in the holders securely and the holders should be made of material that will not burn.
• Keep candles away from anything combustible, such as; clothing, books, papers, curtains, decorations or anything else that can burn.
• Do not place candles where they can be knocked over by children or pets.
• Always extinguish all candles when leaving the room or before going to sleep.
• Never use candles, matches or lighters if medical oxygen therapy is used in the home.
• Check portable electric heaters for frayed/damaged wires and ensure they are clean and placed on a flat level surface. Use only “listed” by an approved testing laboratory equipment and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
• Do not use extension cords with portable space heaters. The extension cord can overheat and cause a fire.
• If you use kerosene fuel fired heaters, use only “K-1” kerosene fuel. Never fill the unit inside, remove it to the exterior after it has cooled before refueling.
• Open a window enough to provide proper ventilation.
• Keep combustibles (furniture, curtains, clothing, paper goods, etc.), at least three feet from all heat sources.
• Fuel burning appliances can produce the deadly, tasteless and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide. Install and maintain CO2 alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide.
• Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods. Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.
• If you are depending on portable generators for electricity during power outages, use extreme caution when refueling. Fuel splashed on a hot muffler could ignite, causing severe burns and serious injuries.
• Never attempt to refuel a generator while it is running. Always allow the unit to cool before attempting to refuel.
• Operate generators outside of the home and outside of garages. Carbon monoxide gas produced by operating generators is poisonous and can quickly cause severe injury or death.
• Ensure placement of the generator does not allow carbon monoxide to enter the home through windows, doors or other openings.
The State Fire Marshal offers one final tip that is just as important. “Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These early notification devices are some of the most effective fire and life safety tools for preventing injury or death from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning”.
BGE Pre-Mobilizes Employees; Prepares for Potential of Several Hundred Thousand Power Outages.
From Baltimore Gas and Electric:
BALTIMORE, March 5, 2013 – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced that as it continues to closely monitor the impending winter storm, the company has begun the process of pre-mobilizing approximately 1,750 storm and field personnel, including out-of-state mutual assistance crews, in preparation for the potential impact on BGE’s central Maryland service area. The forecasted weather front is expected to bring heavy, wet snow and wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour across the majority of its central Maryland service area late this evening and throughout Wednesday, possibly continuing into Thursday. Snow accumulations are forecasted to reach between six to 15 inches. Coupled with high wind gusts, heavy, wet snow can cover tree limbs, electric delivery equipment and power lines, and cause power outages. BGE reminds its customers to take the time now to make preparations for their families and homes.
“BGE has begun the process of pre-mobilizing its field and contractor crews, as well as support staff, in advance of the potential impact of the winter storm, enabling the company to be in a position to begin restoring service as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Jeannette M. Mills, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “As a reminder, the safety of our employees and customers is our top priority, and in periods of sustained high wind, it may be unsafe to operate bucket trucks. Customers should prepare for the possibility of extended power outages in the event that the snowfall causes treacherous road conditions, which may delay crew travel and restoration times. BGE is proactively coordinating and securing out-of-state mutual assistance crews to ensure they are in place in advance of the storm.”
BGE is anticipating and preparing for the possibility of several hundred thousand customers to be affected by the storm and is continuing efforts to secure approximately 500 out-of-state and contract linemen, tree personnel and support staff from Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, many of which are expected to begin arriving today in advance of the storm’s full impact. BGE is also in the process of setting up several large, remote staging sites across the service area to provide a base for extra crews and vehicles. BGE has taken these proactive steps so that crews can respond to outages as safely and as quickly as possible, should they occur.
“BGE customers have been or are being contacted via an automated telephone message strongly urging them to have a plan in place now to protect their families and property in advance of the storm’s arrival in central Maryland,” said Mills. “We are also reminding our customers who are elderly, physically challenged or dependent upon electricity for medical equipment that it is critically important for them to always have alternate arrangements in place in the event they experience an extended power outage. We appreciate our customers’ efforts to prepare in advance for adverse weather and to assist BGE in identifying and reporting outages and downed wires through our recently introduced mobile website at bge.com or our automated phone system at 877.778.2222.”
It is important to note that customers may now report power outages from mobile phones and devices through the company’s new mobile website at bge.com or by calling 877.778.2222. An enhanced power outage map is also available through the mobile and full websites, and provides the general location and status of current electric power outages in BGE’s service area. Customers can view affected area(s), the number of customers affected by an outage, estimated time of restoration, if available, and the status of the field crew assigned to repair the issue.
BGE encourages its customers and employees to proactively prepare for severe weather and the possibility of power outages and to take steps to ensure the safety of their families and property during service interruptions by taking the following steps:
Stay informed – Be aware of changing weather conditions and plan ahead. Have a battery-powered radio with a weather band so you can hear emergency information when the power is out.
Make a plan – Discuss and document an emergency plan with those in your care. Develop a family emergency plan that includes alternative arrangements should the need arise to leave your home. Make provisions for special needs of any family member such as the elderly, disabled, medically affected or infants. If you are dependent on electric-powered medical equipment, you are encouraged to seek alternate arrangements in the event that your electric service is interrupted.
Make a list of emergency phone numbers (including 877.778.2222 to report an outage or a downed wire to BGE) and keep a personal telephone book and one corded phone or a cell phone on hand.
Build an emergency kit – Keep enough emergency supplies on hand for you and those in your care. Remember supplies for children, those with special needs and pets.
Keep the following items readily available:
–Flashlights – not candles
–Battery-operated clock radio
–Fully charged cell phone
–Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation
–First aid kit
Customers also should consider filling the fuel tanks of their vehicles in the event a power outage affects service to neighborhood gas stations. For customers who rely on well water, filling a bathtub with water in advance of severe weather is strongly encouraged.
To help ensure uninterrupted gas service, customers are reminded to keep outside gas meters clear ice buildup and snow. Customers should check the meter on a regular basis and gently clear it with a tool such as a broom. Never melt ice or snow with a heat source, chip the ice away or use a shovel to scrape it off. These methods can easily damage or break the meter. It is also important to remove icicles from the roof or gutters that hang over the meter. Dripping water can cause freezing and damage the meter or equipment. If the meter becomes encased in ice, please call BGE at 800.685.0123 for assistance.
Customers can find information on preparing for natural disasters and other emergency events at bge.com, as well as storm preparation information and restoration progress via BGE’s social media sites on Twitter and Facebook.
STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION PREPARES FOR FORECASTED MAJOR WINTER STORM
From the State Highway Administration:
SHA Warns Snow and Wind May Make Driving Treacherous; Knock Power Out at Signals
Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) crews are preparing for a storm forecasted to begin later today and continue into Wednesday, with the possibility of significant accumulations and travel impacts to motorists. Crews pre-treated major roads with salt brine, which will help prevent initial bonding of snow and ice on pavements.
“After numerous squalls with minimal snow accumulation in the metropolitan areas, many drivers may have become complacent in preparing for driving in winter weather,” SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. “If predictions are correct, everyone will need to be alert and prepared. Our trucks will likely need to put the plow blades down on pavement, so please use caution and don’t crowd the plow – stay at least five car lengths behind.”
SHA held an operations briefing today and reviewed equipment availability, camera status and supplies such as fuel and salt. More than 2,700 personnel (state and contract) and 2,400 pieces of equipment are available statewide and 330,000 tons of salt (more than 90 percent capacity) available at salt barns and salt domes across the State. SHA will deploy six heavy duty tow trucks across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region to assist disabled tractor trailers along the interstates.
“The snow is predicted to be heavy and wet, which can cause tree limbs to break onto roads and power lines,” added Ms. Peters. “Combined with heavy gusts of wind, there could be power disruptions that cause signals to be out. Remember the new law – treat intersections without power as four-way stops.”
SHA Emergency Operations personnel are reaching out to the trucking community to alert their drivers to the potential for significant travel impacts, with delayed travel recommended if at all possible. SHA offers free emergency truck parking at key locations throughout Maryland. In storms that produce six inches or more of snow, truckers can safely ride out the storm. A free mobile application is available at http://roads.maryland.gov/pages/emergencytruckparking.aspx?pageid=856.
SHA crews will plow and salt as needed, but motorists must modify driving behavior for conditions – slow down, use caution, allow plenty of distance between vehicles, use snow tires and allow plenty of time for travel.
Know Before You Go. SHA provides a new FREE service the “511 Traveler Information” system. To Know Before You Go! Simply dial 511 from a land line or mobile phone for traffic, weather alerts and road conditions. For internet access, visit www.MD511.org. While there, register with My511 to customize your reports on your most frequent routes and areas of interest.
If your vehicle does become disabled, make every effort to move from the travel lane and onto the shoulder. Stay tuned to radio traffic reports for the most up to date information. Additionally, if traffic signals are out as a result of power outages, use EXTREME caution and treat it is as a four-way stop. Don’t assume the other vehicle will stop; only pass through an intersection when clear.
Drivers should always have an emergency survival kit to include:
• a shovel
• jumper cables
• blanket or sleeping bag
• flashlight with extra batteries
• high calorie non-perishable food
• first aid kit
• extra clothes
• bottled water
• a charged mobile phone
• kitty litter or other abrasives
Remember to buckle up and “Take It Slow on Ice and Snow.” Before leaving the office or home, log onto www.roads.maryland.gov and click the CHART icon for the latest road conditions, live traffic cameras and a variety of information to help with travel decisions and planning. Citizens can also follow SHA on Facebook and Twitter. Call 511 or visit www.md511.org for the latest travel information.
For tips on preparing for winter storms, residents can visit www.mema.state.md.us, click on the “Be Prepared” button on the left side of the screen and click on the “Winter Storms” link. There also are tips for general preparedness that are helpful for any type of emergency.
TROOPERS PREPARE FOR INCLEMENT WEATHER
From Maryland State Police:
Maryland State Troopers, in coordination with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the State Highway Administration, and other local agencies prepare for the approaching snow storm.
Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police, advises motorists to be aware of the possibility of hazardous conditions that may arise from the pending snow event. Colonel Brown has directed barrack commanders across the state to be prepared to assess road conditions in their area and deploy troopers as appropriate.
Motorists are reminded of highway restrictions should a snow emergency plan be activated. If declared, parking is prohibited on roads and streets designated as snow emergency routes. All motorists are required to use approved mud and snow tires or chains while operating their vehicle during a declared snow emergency. All unattended vehicles along major roads will be towed. A motorist whose car or truck has been towed can contact the local state police barrack for information regarding their vehicle.
During snow storms, abandoned and disabled vehicles cause major concerns for snow removal trucks and for troopers responding to emergency situations. Maryland State Police encourage those who do not need to travel during the storm to stay off the roads. If you find it necessary to travel, make sure your vehicle is in good working condition and have an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle.
In the event of power failures, motorists are reminded of Maryland’s law concerning non-functioning traffic lights. The law requires all drivers approaching an intersection with a non-functioning traffic signal to stop. Drivers may proceed only after they have yielded to any vehicles or pedestrians already in the intersection. They must remain stopped until the intersection is clear and it is safe to proceed.
For the latest statewide emergency information, citizens are urged to visit the Maryland Emergency Management Agency website at www.mema.state.md.us. Up to the minute statewide traffic information, including road closures due to snow or ice is available on-line at www.511md.org, or by calling 511. Road conditions and views of live traffic cameras are also available on the State Highway Administration website at www.roads.maryland.gov. Citizens are urged not to call Maryland State Police barracks simply to check on road conditions. Calls to police or 911 centers during the storm should be for emergency situations only.
Commercial vehicles are invited to wait out the storm at one of ten Maryland State Police scale house parking lots that will be available overnight. The following is a listing of all the Maryland scale house locations:
Delmar on US 13 in Wicomico County
Finzel on I-68 Eastbound in Garrett County
Hyattstown on I-270 in Montgomery County
Parkton on I-83 Southbound Baltimore County
New Market on I-70 Eastbound in Frederick County
Upper Marlboro on US 301 in Prince George’s County
West Friendship on 1:70 Westbound in Howard County
College Park, Park & Ride on I-95/495 in Prince George’s County
Conowingo on US 1 in Harford County
Cecilton on US 301 Southbound in Cecil County
Maryland State Police will be working closely with State Highway Administration and Maryland Emergency Management Agency officials throughout the storm. Marylanders are urged not to travel during the storm unless absolutely necessary.