Monday, February 16, 2015

Snow Emergency Declared in Howard County

(Update 7 AM: It appears the snow was on the low side of predictions in our neighborhood, closer to 2 inches, but trash collection has been cancelled and it remains very cold at 15 degrees.)

Right now it appears that forecasts for the most significant snow of this season (as much as 5 inches, depending on the forecaster) may be accurate. A list of closings will be updated here:

  • Howard County Public Schools are closed for Tuesday, 2/16. All evening activities are cancelled.
  • Howard County Libraries are closed Tuesday. Most County offices will open late at 10 AM.
  • The Maryland State Highway Administration has declared a snow emergency in Howard County. Vehicles should be parked in your driveway if possible to allow for snow removal.
    • 5 AM Update: it is still snowing heavily in some parts of Maryland. Temperatures remain in the teens in most areas. Please STAY OFF OF THE ROADS so our crews can plow them. If you must drive, completely clear off your vehicle first. Take it very slow and DO NOT pass our plows.
  • Because temperatures are very low, travel is not advised tonight unless absolutely necessary. The salt/brine/liquid magnesium mix used to treat roads becomes ineffective below 20 degrees.

Other reminders:
  • Trash collection will likely slide a day this week, but this has not been announced yet.
    • (9:30 PM) Howard County Government Per the County's Department of Public Works, Bureau of Environmental Services, a decision regarding tomorrow's curbside trash and recycling collection will be made early in the morning once the winter storm outcome is known. Please stay tuned for updates.
    • (6 AM) Curbside trash and recycling collection are cancelled today, February 17. The inclement weather slide schedule is in effect, i.e. Tuesdays collection will slide to Wednesday, Wednesday to Thursday and so forth. For details, visit 
      The Alpha Ridge Landfill will be open today.
  • Please keep the gutters clear of snow when shoveling to allow melt-off to drain.

From Howard County Government:

  • Helpful tips from the County's Bureau of Highways: don't park your car in the street, especially on a cul-de-sac, as that makes snow removal nearly impossible for highway crews. 
  • Vehicles should be parked in a driveway if you have one. This allows police officers, firefighters and paramedics to respond quickly to public safety tasks while driving in treacherous conditions and leads to quick and complete clearing of the roads
  • Residents may also want to delay shoveling driveway aprons and sidewalks until the street has been completely cleared. Otherwise, it is very likely a full blade of snow will slide off the plow onto the driveway.

Winter Trivia:
  • For about 5 years, the State of Maryland has been using salt brine in most areas and a sugar beet molasses solution in Western Maryland, building brining facilities to produce brine prior to the winter season.
  • Brine prevents ice from forming in the first place (ice prevention vs de-icing) and allows the state to reduce the use of harmful salt.
  • Mixing the brine with molasses derived from sugar beets also helps the mixture adhere to roads, reducing the need to recoat them while also working at lower temperatures.

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