While Winter Storm Jonas continues blanketing Howard County with heavy snow, County Executive Allan Kittleman says the emergency crews have everything under control thanks to months of preparation and dedicated staff.
Snowfall predictions were downgraded from 28 to 30 inches to 18 to 24 inches as of 9 a.m., county public information officer Mark Miller said, but snow and substantial winds are still expected throughout the county through 10 p.m. Saturday. The county is also anticipating snowdrifts of 4 to 5 feet.
So far, he said, some areas of the county have seen up to two feet of snow.
"[The Emergency Operations Center] has been activated fully since 7 o'clock [Thursday] morning," Miller said. "Our crews have been out and we hope to make a pass at all the main county roads. …We have been plowing the main county roads since 7 [Friday] morning and we will stay at it nonstop until this is over."
Once the snowstorm passes, Miller explained crews hope all main roads will be in "great shape" by Monday morning, as they continue their 12-hour plowing shifts. However, it may take until Wednesday or Thursday before the county's 4,100 streets are cleared. The National Guard has also provided vehicles for assistance, which Miller described as "massive."
"We are confident that we would be able to get into any area, if the need were to arise in any situation," he said.
Around 11 a.m., Kittleman said approximately 24 power outages have been reported in the county; a number he said was surprising low.
"I'm sure any of those 24 families are upset, but when you think about what it could be, I think we've been fortunate that the winds have not been as high as we were initially anticipating," Kittleman said, preparing for another meeting with the emergency center's senior policy team to be held at 6 p.m. Saturday. "Because of the tree trimming done [by Baltimore Gas and Electric], that might be one of the reasons we have not had the issues we would normally have in this type of storm."
Sharon Hopp, spokeswoman for Howard County General, added that the facility has not experienced any power outage issues, with plenty overnight staff prepared to care for patients.
"Everything's going smoothly so far," Hopp said. "We're working with staff who are having difficulty getting in, but we have contingency plans in place for that."
Kittleman echoed Hopp, saying he is pleased with everyone's work so far during the blizzard.
"Things are running according to plan," Kittleman said. "All of this is because of the preparation that was done months and months ahead of time. You never know when this kind of event is going to happen."