The the first snowstorm of 2014 dumped six to eight inches of the white stuff accross Harford County from Thursday afternoon into early Friday morning, forcing the closure of schools and government offices and making driving treacherous.
Harford County Public Schools canceled classes Friday. After school and evening activities were canceled Thursday in anticipation of the storm.
The county government initially planned to open its offices at 10 a.m. Friday, later moved the starting time back to noon but then announced a complete shudown for the day.
Aberdeen Proving Ground is operating on a four-hour delay.
With temperatures expected to be around 25 degrees and winds between 20 and 25 mph, Harford is under a wind and wind chill advisory until noon Friday.
The advisory means that with temperatures in the teens to lower 20s, the wind chill is expected to be between zero and five below zero. Winds from the northwest will bel 20 to 30 mph with gusts from 45 to 50.
"The combination of cold temperatures and strong winds may cause... frostbite and hypothermia. Strong gusty winds will also lead to blowing snow," according to the advisory.
Bob Thomas, spokesman for the county's Department of Emergency Services, said about eight inches of snow fell across the county's northern tier, with accumlations closer to six inches in and around Bel Air and in the eastern and southern areas of the county.
The snow began falling about 3:30 p.m. in the Bel Air area on Thursday and ended around 2 a.m. Friday.
In a news release, Thomas said the Harford County Department of Public Works, Division of Highways dispatched more than 130 personnel, both employees and contractors, to help clear and treat roads.
Crews began working Thursday afternoon and worked until approximately 10 p.m., he said. County and contractor crews and equipment resumed plowing and treating county roads at approximately 3 a.m. Friday.
Shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, Thomas said county roads are passable, but he also warned drifting snow is a concern and could result in some roads being temporarily closed.
The Harford County Department of Emergency Services 911 Center reported 23 accidents occurred throughout the County from 4 p.m. Thursday until 4 a.m. Friday. Four of the 23 accidents resulted in personal injuries.
There was a collision between a tanker truck and an SUV on Route 152 at the I-95 exit ramp shortly after 9 a.m. Friday that had traffic backed up on Route 152 and forced detours for several hours. Minor injuries were reported by the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company which responded.
According to Thomas. the Harford County Emergency Operations Center north of Bel Air activated to Level 1 staffing at 5 a.m. Friday, with Harford County Emergency Manager Rick Ayers and emergency management staff to monitor the storm and conditions throughout the county.
Despite winds gusting to 35-40 miles and early morning temperatures in the teens, power outages were minimal. As of 7 a.m., there were less than 15 customers without power in the county, according to the county news release.
In an early morning Facebook post, Ayers had expressed concern about drifting snow on roads and widespread power outages. Those concerns had lessened by mid-morning, but emergency officials continued to advise people to stay off the roads if possible.
“Today one of our concerns is the subfreezing temperatures and wind chill,” Ayers said. “Those who venture outdoors should dress for blizzard like conditions and stay hydrated."
"Because of the icy conditions on our roads, those who do not have to travel should wait until conditions improve,” Ayers added.
Thomas said Harford County Executive David R. Craig decided to close government offices because of the severe weather and hazardous driving conditions.
Weather-related crashes Thursday
Thursday night, the snow was to blame for an accident that closed Route 161 for several hours, police said. It was one of 35 to 40 crashes around Harford County.
A portion of Route 161 [Darlington Road] in the Havre de Grace area remained closed around 11 p.m., several hours after a utility pole was damaged as a result of a two-vehicle accident.
No one was injured in the crash, the result of icy roads, but power lines were downed and the damaged pole later fell across the road, according to Maryland State Police.
Crews with BGE were on the scene at Route 161 and Green Spring Road, clearing the lines and repairing the pole.
Thirteen customers were affected, according to BGE’s online Outage Map. Utility officials projected that power would be restored by 3:15 a.m. Friday.
Sgt. Robert Cummins, duty officer and shift commander at the State Police Bel Air barrack, said the crash was reported at 6:50 p.m. Thursday and the road remained closed until late in the night.
Cummins said BGE crews had to remove the downed lines and pole, and then repair the damage.
State Highway Administration crews then had to treat the road.
Cummins said the crash at Route 161 and Green Spring was one of about 35 to 40 around Harford County Thursday night. Many were caused by ice and snow.
The crashes were minor, and minor injuries were reported in only one accident.
Check back with www.exploreharford.com for updates.
Aegis staff writer David Anderson contributed to this story.