After Sunday snow, Harford bracing for the 'big one'

Harford County is bracing for another round of winter weather that could produce the heaviest snowfalls this year.

The area is under a winter storm watch from 7 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday, as a snow storm moving up from the South is expected to drop at least 5 inches, and probably more than 8 inches, of snow on the East Coast.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service was forecasting 8 to 10 inches of snow and sleet for the northern Harford area and 6 to 8 inches closer to the I-95 corridor.

A small area along the Pennsylvania border could get 10 to 14 inches. There are also computer models forecasting about 20 inches in some places.

The ultimate track of the storm will depend on the merging of a Canadian system with one coming from the Southeast, leaving some forecasters qualifying their predictions with notes of caution until closer to when the storm arrives.

Temperatures were projected in the mid- to upper-20s Wednesday night, slowly rising into the mid-30s by Thursday afternoon.

Snow may mix with sleet and rain throughout Wednesday night and Thursday.

Heavy, wet snow could lead to power outages, according to the National Weather Service.

The county's emergency management department announced Tuesday afternoon it would activate to Level 1 staffing Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Slippery Sunday

A burst of snow just before dark Sunday hampered drivers, as roads quickly got slippery.

The National Weather Service had called for an inch or two of snow for the area north of Baltimore, and some Harford residents reported up to an inch of snow falling in the span of an hour, turning many roads treacherous.

Harford County Public Schools opened two hours late Monday; Harford County government opened on time.

The county's emergency services department reported 13 calls for accidents within 45 minutes by about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company reported a crash with multiple vehicles at Route 152 and Old Mountain Road at about 6 p.m.

Aberdeen Police also reported an accident on West Bel Air Avenue at 5:08 p.m.

"Tell people to slow down," Bob Thomas, emergency services spokesman, said via e-mail. "Roads are covered in slush and snow - very slippery."

He said public works crews had been treating roads and plowing when necessary since about 5:30 p.m.  

Havre de Grace had about an inch of snow by 5 p.m., about an hour after snow began falling, while Fallston had 1 1/2 inches at about 5:40 p.m.

BGE crews meanwhile wrapped up the last of the power outages remaining after Wednesday's ice storm that left thousands of Harford homes and businesses without power.

About 65 BGE customers still lacked power Sunday morning, but all were restored by Sunday evening, Thomas said.

A BGE crew was checking wires and poles and cutting down tree limbs in the Old Fallston area shortly before noon Sunday.

About 500 people had been to the Tollgate yard waste drop-off site as of 2:30 p.m. Saturday, according to a worker at the facility.

The two yard waste drop-offs, at Tollgate in Bel Air and Scarboro, had extended hours Saturday and the Scarboro facility is open all week.

Power restoration

BGE officials had said previously more than 170,000 customers in the Baltimore region lost power at some time as a result of the Tuesday-last Wednesday ice storm that knocked out service from a combination of downed trees and fallen limbs and other weather-related damage to overhead lines, transformers and other transmission equipment.

Delmarva Power, which serves northeastern Harford, reported it had restored power to all its Harford customers by Thursday afternoon. Early Wednesday morning, nearly all of the company's 5,300 Harford customers did not have power because of ice on wires, downed trees that collapsed overhead wires and other damage to transmission equipment.

Around 9:30 a.m. Friday, the BGE outage map showed 1,559 homes and businesses customers among the 100,800 BGE serves in Harford did not have power. The company said it had restored service to more than 22,000 Harford customers who lost service because of the storm.

By 1 p.m., however, total outages listed for Harford were 938, with 22,775 customers restored, according to the map, although county emergency officials had said earlier the figure might be higher and, working with the American Red Cross and Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company, they opened the Whiteford firehouse as a warming center Friday night.

"A lot of folks still don't have power; it really was a mess up here," County Councilman Chad Shrodes, who represents northern Harford, said via telephone about noon Friday.

Harford County Public Schools opened on time Friday after being closed Wednesday and Thursday.

Joe Licata, the school system's chief of administration, said they had received a report Friday morning of water problems at Norrisville Elementary, so the facilities department sent washing stations and bottled water. By the time students arrived, however, the school's water had been restored.

Licata also said Norrisville's power was restored Thursday night, but any food that had been refrigerated was thrown out, at a cost of a few hundred dollars. He said the refrigerator at Jarrettsville Elementary experienced a mechanical problem during the storm, which caused food to be thrown out there, as well.

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