Pugh says Baltimore is ready for winter, although it's not in the immediate forecast

Baltimore is ready for the snow, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said Thursday, even though snow isn’t in the forecast yet for Baltimore.

Since last winter, the city has replaced its entire fleet of more than 300 snow-removal vehicles and has built new salt and salt brine facilities on North Avenue for additional storage space, the mayor said at a City Hall news conference with agency heads.

The city has 18,100 tons of salt, 36,000 gallons of salt brine and about 600 city and contractor plows, trucks and other heavy equipment at the ready, Pugh said.

“We are prepared,” Pugh said. “I want everybody to know this has been a collaborative effort.”

Pugh’s announcement was not a response to any forecast of imminent winter weather. The National Weather Service expects mostly clear skies — with maybe some showers Saturday — at least through Thanksgiving.

The city also is hiring students between the ages of 14 and 21 who are interested in part-time snow-removal jobs, the mayor said. Those who are interested should call 311 or email jobs.trans@baltimorecity.gov for an application. The deadline is Dec. 8.

Michelle Pourciau, director of the city’s Department of Transportation, said she and the other members of Pugh’s cabinet held a practice run-through of the city’s snow emergency plan earlier Thursday.

“I’m really proud and excited and looking forward to the snow season,” Pourciau said, doing what she called a “little snow dance.”

Rudy Chow, director of the Department of Public Works, encouraged residents to keep 72 hours’ worth of bottled water and other supplies on hand, and asked people to run their faucets during sustained periods of bitter cold.

Fire Chief Niles Ford reminded the public that the city will install and check smoke alarms for free to anyone who requests it by calling 311. About half of all fires happen during the December, January and February winter months, the chief said, and he asked people to refrain from heating their homes with their stoves and to keep space heaters away from anything flammable.

This past January, six children died in a Northeast Baltimore house fire, the cause of which was ruled undetermined.

“We want people to be prepared going into the next several months,” he said. “We want them to use safe measures to stay warm.”

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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