What is storm surge?

Storm surge is a bulge of water pushed toward shore by high winds. It can cause water levels to rise 10 feet or more above average, flooding low-lying areas. When combined with high tides, it can cause even more damage.

How long can I expect to be without power?

The short and simple answer is "no idea."

"Right now, it could be several days, depending on where you live," a BGE spokeswoman said this afternoon.

Where can I find dry ice?

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. will distribute dry ice this afternoon at three locations. Rose Kendig, a BGE spokeswoman, said the utility would open those sites at the following times: Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore City at 4:30 p.m.; Loyola College at Timonium at 7 p.m.; and the Westfield Shoppingtown in Annapolis at 7 p.m.

Kendig said those sites will remain open until supplies run out. She said those will be the last distributions for today.

Customers will receive one 10-pound bag per person. Kendig said that's enough to "keep your entire freezer frozen."

"We are urging customers to be patient," she said. "We do have more coming. We are competing with other utility companies."

Late this morning, the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative began dry ice distribution at seven locations:

--Calvert County: The Prince Frederick and Solomon's Island volunteer fire companies.

--Charles and Prince George's counties: Picowaxen School, Wal-Mart in La Plata and the Hughesville fire company.

--Saint Mary's County: The Ridge fire company and the Wal-Mart on Route 235.

How can I avoid becoming ill from food spoilage?

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends the following:

  • Perishable foods without refrigeration --and from the freezer -- that have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and above for two hours should be discarded; this includes meats, milk, yogurt, eggs, mayonnaise and cream dressings, pastas and desserts.

  • Food items that can be kept for a limited time without refrigeration include: hard-process cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, provolone, Romano and Parmesan); butter and margarine; opened canned fruits and fruit juices; peanut butter, jellies, jams; mustard- and vinegar-based dressings; bread products such as rolls, muffins, bagels, waffles; and herbs, spices and raw vegetables.

  • It is OK to refreeze foods if the item still contains ice crystals and feels cold and hard to the touch. This includes meats, seafood products, juices, casseroles, egg products, cheeses, vegetables, pastries and frozen meals.

  • Discard all foods that come in contact with flood waters, including canned goods. Thoroughly wash all kitchen utensils, pots, plates, etc., after contact with flood water with hot, soapy water and sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them in a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water for 15 minutes.

  • When discarding spoiled foods, place them in double plastic bags, closed with ties. Place in animal- and bird-proof trash cans.

  • As a rule, an unopened, well-functioning freezer, half full, will keep foods safely for up to 24 hours. A fully stocked freezer, unopened, can keep foods safely for 48 hours.

  • Use common sense when dealing with the issue of possible food spoilage. Do not taste foods to see if they are spoiled -- if in doubt, throw it out.

    Should I be worried about my drinking water?

    No, or at least not yet. As of this afternoon, state health officials were not recommending that anyone needed to boil their water before use.

    How can I find tree-removal service?

    A list of companies can be found here.