Community Members Urged to Prepare for Predicted Significant Snow
The National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Watch for Germantown and all of Montgomery County, effective at 12:00 pm Friday, January 22 through 6:00 pm on Saturday, January 23. Due to the dangerous weather conditions predicted, Montgomery County community members are encouraged to prepare for heavy snow, high winds that may reduce visibility to less than a quarter-of-a-mile for over three hours and power outages.
According to MoCoSnow.com, “While there is still time for the storm to shift some, things are looking pretty good for those of you that want a major, possibly historic, snowstorm.”
In terms of the storm’s effect on MCPS schools. There is no official word from MCPS yet on if school will be closed or delayed on Friday. However, all MCPS high school basketball games originally scheduled for Friday, Jan. 22 have been moved up to Thursday, Jan. 21 due to the coming snowstorm.
MoCoSnow.com said, “There are still questions surrounding the start time for this storm. It may start snowing in our area as early as 10:00 am or as late as 4:00 pm. That will be the deciding factor when it comes to the delay/early dismissal/closing decision for Friday. Anything scheduled for Saturday will probably be canceled or rescheduled.”
MoCoSnow.com, which makes predictions as to whether the weather will require school to be closed or delayed, has issued the first prediction for this storm of three pencils. MoCoSnow.com said, “Normally this means 50 percent chance of the whole day off and very good chance of a delay, but in this situation it's 50 percent chance of a day off and a very good chance for early dismissal.”
“This will probably change as we get more details about when the storm will actually start,” said MoCoSnow.com. If the Blizzard Watch becomes a Blizzard Warning, as I expect, it can complicate things. It would be tough to justify keeping kids in school and sending them home during a Blizzard Warning (even an early dismissal would release students during the Blizzard Warning). One thing that would help keep schools open will be if the potential Blizzard Warning is pushed back to a later time.”
Montgomery County leaders are urging community members to subscribe to Alert Montgomery at https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov/ to stay updated on the latest important information. Alerts can be sent to one or more electronic devices, including cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, and home and work emails.
For information during the storm, go to the County website www.montgomerycountymd.gov, check the County’s Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/MontgomeryCoMD or Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/montgomerycountyinfo. The MC311 County informational call center remains open for extended hours during periods of emergencies and can be reached at 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311. Questions can also be asked of MC311 through their website: www.MC311.com.
Preparing for the Storm
Residents are asked to check with neighbors or elderly family members who may require special assistance, to see if they need help in stocking up on supplies or medications, and call them during the storm.
If there is a power outage, be prepared by having enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries to last two days. Make sure portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights are working properly. Make shelter, food, water and medication preparations for pets and livestock.
Car owners are urged to help clear the way for snow plow operators. When parking on-street, pull close to the curb on the even-numbered side of the street. Park vehicles in driveways or off the street whenever possible. Plan where you will park if a State or County Snow Emergency is declared, making parking illegal on those roads. Drivers may park in County garages and lots. Fees are waived during a snow emergency.
Be sure your vehicle(s) are ready to drive after the storm by filling the gas tank; checking tires to make sure they have an adequate tread and are fully inflated; checking oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels; and ensuring windshield wipers, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, and defroster are all working. Keep a windshield scraper, small shovel, and broom in the car for ice and snow removal, and a small sack of sand or kitty litter to improve wheel traction.
During the Storm
Treat all “dark” intersections as four-way stops. Stop - then proceed cautiously.
During a power outage, relying on battery-operated lights, rather than candles, is much safer. Using candles increases the risk of fire.
Refrigerated food will remain unspoiled only about four hours if the refrigerator is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Use ice to keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and the freezer at 0° or lower if there is a prolonged power outage.
It can be fatal for those without power to use gas or charcoal grills, propane heaters, and stoves, kerosene space heaters or generators indoors. These items are a source of carbon monoxide, which can build up indoors and cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Snow Treatment and Removal:
State-maintained roads, which are the numbered roads in Montgomery County, are cleared by the Maryland State Highway Administration. Snow clearance of County roads begins with pre-treating major County roads with salt brine, a solution of salt and water before snow begins falling unless there is rain to wash the solution away.
Plowing of County roads begins when three or more inches of snow accumulates with a temperature below freezing. The County’s Department of Transportation clears emergency and primary routes before it begins clearing neighborhood streets. Neighborhood streets are not cleared to bare pavement but are made passable.
Residents are asked to remain patient. There are approximately 1,000 lane miles of primary (arterial roads connecting subdivisions or business districts) and secondary roads (main collector streets through subdivisions) which are continuously treated with salt and sand and kept in “bare pavement” condition. Once the snow stops falling and major roads are clear, crews turn their attention to making streets passable for the more than 4,100 miles of neighborhood streets.
For more information about snow removal operations visit the county’s website at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcg/emergency/snow.html or call 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311.