Despite less snow than expected, Baltimore County crews are in action

Despite less snow than expected, Baltimore County crews are in action

While there has been less snowfall than expected in the Baltimore region, Baltimore County officials urge motorists to stay off the roads so plows can remove the snow.

Lauren Watley, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County's Department of Public Works, said Tuesday morning 2 to 4 inches of snow was reported throughout the county, with slightly more in the north and west areas.

Predictions Monday from the National Weather Service estimated between 6 and 12 inches of snowfall in the county.

"As far as expectations are concerned, the county is ready for whatever mother nature is going to deal," she said. "So in terms of snow removal, whether it's 2 inches or 8 inches, it's still snowing and we're still plowing."

Watley said crews were deployed at 8 p.m. Monday to monitor county roads. Once the snowfall began, roads were treated with salt. Once all the roads were treated, crews began plowing.

The county has 423 trucks and equipment, 491 personnel and 2,700 miles of roadway.

According to Baltimore County, four to six hours of salting costs $108,622 per hour, while 18 to 24 hours of plowing costs $54,425 per hour. The county has $5.98 million budgeted for snow removal this winter, with about $3 million spent, so far.

Plows are concentrating on main roads, which are still covered in snow, Watley said, adding plows are starting to work on secondary roads. Neighborhood roads are plowed within 48 hours of the last snowflake falling, she said.

The concern, moving forward, is freezing precipitation, Watley said. If temperatures stay below freezing, roads may freeze.

"If you have to be on the road, heed caution and take it slow," she said. "Be careful on bridges and hills."

Baltimore County government offices and schools were closed Tuesday, with only emergency and essential employees required to report to work.

The county's emergency operations center opened at 7 a.m. As of 9:30 a.m., there are no serious issues reported, according to Baltimore County police.

Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department President John McDowell said extra crews have been on hand since 7 p.m., but the day has been relatively quiet, so far. His concern for later on today is if freezing rain and heavy winds become prominent.

"It's not as bad as it sounded like it was going to be, but I know it's not over with, yet," he said. "It could get worse."

In Towson, Filicori Zecchini owner Jordan Pompey said he opened his Italian coffee shop in the Towson Town Center mall on time, at 8 a.m.

While the morning rush was slower than usual — he said the 15 to 20 customers who came in as of 10:15 a.m. was about half of a normal day — he said he saw some new faces.

"People are scared to take on the roads right now," he said. "It's snowing. They don't want to take a risk, I guess."

He said he wanted to open because he knew the nearby Starbucks would be closed.

"It was a good opportunity for us to get customers who have not tried the Italian coffee," he said.

A manager at the Starbucks, at 10:17 a.m., said the store was open, but did not open on time. She did not say what time the store opened.

Baltimore County Public Schools announced Monday night that schools would be closed Tuesday. Area colleges also closed for the day, with the exception of The Community College of Baltimore County, which is expected to open at 5 p.m. today for evening classes.

County residents can track road conditions and report storm-related problems at baltimorecountymd.gov/stormfighter.

This report will be updated.

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