As another round of sleet, snow, ice, freezing rain, and high wind (did I get all of them?) advances upon Harford County, local governments, state agencies, law enforcement, and even well-intentioned elected officials are helping get the word about how to stay safe, warm, and dry as it gets increasingly dangerous, cold, and wet outside.
Provided below is a round-up of weather-related warnings, advisories, and tips from a collection of local sources. Check back with The Dagger for updates as the weather worsens:
From Harford County government:
Harford County Braces for Wintery Mix of Snow and Ice; Citizens urged to make preparations in the event of power outages
Harford County is bracing for yet another winter storm which should pass through the area within the next 48 hours. The forecast calls for a wintery mix of snow, sleet and ice to cover most of Harford County, which may result in downed power lines and power outages.
“Preparation is the key to successfully meeting the challenges of any significant weather event, and this one is no different,” remarked Harford County Executive David R. Craig. “The Harford County Division of Emergency Operations is urging everyone to take the necessary precautions in the event of downed power lines and loss of electricity,” the County Executive stated.
The Harford County Division of Emergency Operations recommends citizens prepare for this winter weather event by taking the following actions:
– Use flashlights – not candles in the event of the interruption of electric service
– Maintain a supply of fresh batteries for flashlights and portable radios
– Use portable battery powered radios to check current weather conditions
– Fully charge cell phones before the storm
– Maintain a supply of non-perishable food items in the home
– Make sure there are ample blankets to help keep warm in the event of the temporary loss of heat in the home
– Avoid cooking or preparing meals indoors using a bar-be-que. Not only is this a fire hazard, but a health hazard as well
– For citizens who rely on well water, fill a bathtub with water in advance to help provide a temporary source of water
– Fill fuel tanks of vehicles prior to the storm in the event of a power outage at neighborhood service stations
– Whenever possible, refill prescription medicines prior to a storm to ensure appropriate medication is maintained and is available for use
For further information on storm preparedness, visit the Harford County Division of Emergency Operations website at www.harfordpublicsafety.org.
From the office of Harford County Councilman Jim McMahan:
Capt’n Jim’s Coffee Talk©Jan 31, 2010
UPDATE 1630 HRS.. MONDAY JAN 31 2011
Basically, we have two events that we need to prepare for.
First Event: Will begin tonight (after midnight) into tomorrow morning. This will be a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain possible before daybreak. Accumulation from this first wave could be up to 2 inches in some Harford County areas. This still could affect morning commute.
Second Event: (SERIOUS THREAT) – Will begin late Tuesday into Wednesday. This could be a devastating ice storm and the potential for ½” of ice or greater exists for Harford County. Also, behind this system on Wednesday the winds will gust to 20 to 25 mph. Therefore, the potential for widespread power outages exist and we have to assume could last for days.
The Harford County Emergency Operations Center will be on full activation during this storm.
Again the warning. This storm could make for WIDE SPREAD power outages in our area so be prepared to have lots of blankets on hand and emergency heating if possible. DO NOT BRING OUTSIDE COOKING DEVICES INSIDE FOR HEAT AS THEY PRODUCE CARBON MONOXIDE AND THAT CAN KILL. PREPARATION IS THE BEST ADVICE. PLEASE PLEASE BE CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE TO USE CANDLES… DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO BURN WHILE YOU SLEEP. GET PLENTY OF FLASH LIGHT BATTERIES
From the State Highway Adminstration:
* WINTER STORM ALERT *
GOVERNOR O’MALLEY URGES MOTORISTS TO PREPARE FOR ICE AND DANGEROUS DRIVING CONDITIONS
SHA Crews Extensively Pre-Treated Interstates Today in Preparation for Two-Day Ice Event
Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) crews are preparing for a storm forecasted to begin later tonight and continue Tuesday with sleet, freezing rain and light snow possible through Wednesday morning. Motorists should be aware that even a thin layer of ice on the roadway can result in dangerous driving conditions.
“Based on the latest forecast, this next storm will begin later tonight and continue through Tuesday morning’s rush hour with another wave coming Tuesday night into Wednesday,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Forecasters say ice may cause the biggest headache for citizens during this storm. Motorists are urged to be prepared for rush hour driving and throughout the day tomorrow. Slow down, leave plenty of time for your commute and allow plenty of room between you and other vehicles. Safety needs to be everyone’s number one priority.”
SHA and its contractors will be out in full force in advance of this storm. More than 2,700 personnel and 2,400 pieces of equipment are available statewide along with roughly 270,000 tons of salt.
SHA crews pre-treated interstates with salt brine today as a proactive measure to delay the initial bond of snow and ice from forming. However, even with pre-treatment, roads can still be icy. A small patch of ice can cause drivers to lose control, so motorists are urged to keep speeds well below the posted speed limit.
SHA will deploy six heavy duty tow trucks across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region to assist any disabled tractor trailers along the interstates. If any vehicle encounters trouble on the road due to conditions, make every effort to move from the travel lane and onto the shoulder.
Winter storms have other impacts beyond those associated with travel. For tips on preparing for winter storms, residents may go to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency website at www.mema.state.md.us. Winter preparedness tips are on the home page.
The following are tips for driving safely on icy roads:
1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
6. Don’t use cruise control on icy roads.
7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
8. Don’t pass snow plows. Plow drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles encounter trouble on icy roads.
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. Don’t assume the other vehicle will stop. Only pass through an intersection when clear.
Motorists 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 cell phone
– kitty litter or other abrasives
Remember to buckle up and “Take It Slow on Ice and Snow.” Before leaving your home or the office, you can see the latest road conditions by logging onto www.roads.maryland.gov. 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 Twitter @MDSHA.
From Maryland State Police:
CAUTION URGED AS NEXT STORMS MOVE IN
Maryland State Police are urging drivers to use caution and to think twice before heading out during the next two morning rush hours, due to the potential for icy roads.
With weather advisories, watches or severe warnings now in 18 counties and weather forecasters calling for challenges during the next two morning commutes, state troopers are advising motorists to be aware of conditions before beginning their travels. The potential for icy roads exists for both tomorrow and Wednesday. Even a thin layer of ice can cause dangerous driving conditions.
“For the next two mornings especially, drivers should make informed decisions before they leave home because once you are on the highway, it may be too late to change your mind,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan said. “Make every effort to say off the highways if at all possible during these next two morning rush hours. Our troopers are ready to address traffic crashes and delays and will be working in coordination with the State Highway Administration, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and other related agencies.”
Drivers can take advantage of the live traffic cameras made available by the State Highway Administration. Those traffic cameras are positioned at strategic locations throughout Maryland and can give drivers important information about their route of travel before leaving. The cameras and other real-time traffic information can be found by visiting www.marylandroads.com and clicking on “commuter and travel” and then clicking on “live traffic.”
Troopers will again be working with State Highway Administration personnel and tow companies throughout the state to remove abandoned vehicles so that snow and ice removal operations can be efficiently conducted. When snow emergency plans are placed into effect, motorists are not permitted to park on the shoulders of an interstate or state highway and vehicles left there will be towed.
Motorists whose vehicles are towed from an interstate or a state highway by State Police can determine where their vehicles were taken by contacting the Maryland State Police barrack in the county where they abandoned their vehicles. A complete list of barracks can be found at the Maryland State Police website at www.mdsp.org. Those whose vehicles were towed by State Highway Administration personnel should check with the district offices for the region where their vehicles were left. Contact information can be found at www.marylandroads.com. Click on “regional information and districts,” near the bottom of the home page.