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Germantown, MoCo Prepares for Late Winter Snowstorm

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Germantown and all of Montgomery County, effective at 2:00 pm Monday, March 13 through 7:00 pm on Tuesday, March 14. 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.

“Snow will overspread the area Monday evening and persist through Tuesday morning,” said the National Weather Service. While the NWS is calling for “Snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches” some areas including parts of Germantown, Boyds, Clarksburg, and Damascus may receive 12 to 14 inches of snow, according to other reports.

“The heavy snow will make many roads impassable and may produce power outages due to the weight of the snow on tree limbs and power lines,” said NWS. “Winds will be northeast 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph.”

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 Tuesday.

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 four pencils. MoCoSnow.com said, “While I’m pretty confident we will have the day off, there’s a solid chance this storm underperforms (even if it does, we will still likely have the day off). Due to the wide range of possibilities that come with this storm, our Pencil Prediction for Wednesday will come on Tuesday afternoon.”

Earlier today the Maryland State Police announced it would be reassigning troopers for storm duty. “State troopers not normally assigned to road patrol are being reassigned to storm duty as the Maryland State Police joins other state agencies in preparation for the pending storm,” said Maryland State Police.

“Maryland state troopers will be ready to assist motorists and respond to other calls for service where needed,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi said. “It is important for everyone to heed travel warnings and other safety information in order to reduce risk for themselves and to decrease the demand for public safety services during the storm.”

Troopers from the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Automotive Safety Enforcement Division and Special Operations Division are being assigned to State Police barracks across Maryland to add to the usual road patrol force beginning tonight and lasting through the duration of the storm. Additional troopers from the Aviation Command will be reassigned to patrol duties as well.

Community members are urged to subscribe to Alert Montgomery at 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 or Facebook page. 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

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 at least two days. Make sure portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights are working properly. Make shelter, food, water and medication preparations for pets and livestock.

Automobile 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 public-parking garages and lots for free 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

Power Outages: 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 a 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 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. Please see the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue site for more information.

Snow Treatment and Removal:

State-maintained roads, which are the numbered roads in the 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 on the roads.

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 lane miles of neighborhood streets.

For more information about snow removal operations visit the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/snow or call 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311.

Snow Emergency Routes:

Both the State of Maryland and Montgomery County have designated certain roads as SNOW EMERGENCY ROUTES marked with red and white signs. When the State and/or County initiates its snow emergency plan, it is illegal to park on these designated roads or drive without snow tires, all-weather tires, mud/snow radials or chains. Vehicles without the proper type of tire (all-weather) or chains that block snow emergency routes during an emergency may be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

Snow Shovel Law:

County residents are required by law to clear sidewalks in front of and alongside their properties within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm. Everyone is encouraged to help seniors or others who may not be physically able to shovel. Remember not to shovel snow over fire hydrants and make a point to shovel hydrants out with a three-foot diameter around the hydrant.

Snow Removal in Parking Lots:

Parking lot managers are reminded not to block disability parking spaces and their adjacent striped areas when removing snow from commercial or residential parking lots.