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Ice storm prompts Baltimore County schools to close early

Baltimore County public schools closed two hours early today in anticipation of an ice storm expected to slicken roads Tuesday afternoon as rush hour begins.

The Community College of Baltimore County announced its campuses including those in Catonsville, Dundalk and Essex, will close at 3 p.m. due to the weather.

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A National Weather Service winter weather advisory is in effect until 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The storm could bring as much as 1/10 of an inch of freezing rain to the county, as part of a complex system pushing in from the west and gradually making its way east, said Jason Elliott, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Crews from the county's Department of Public Works are monitoring conditions and will begin salting once precipation begins to fall, said Lauren Watley, a county spokeswoman.

Roughly 300 personnel and 400 pieces of equipment will be clearing county roads, Watley said.

Rain is expected to start around 4 p.m. as rush hour begins, Watley said.

"If you can leave work early, do what you can to get on the roads before the storm starts," Watley said. "If you can't, drive using caution and leave plenty space in front of you."

"Any surface that is wet -- assume that it's ice," she said.

Watley said the county has plenty of rock salt on hand to clear road surfaces of snow, ice and sleet, although local hardware stores say they have run out of the substance.

Ron Young, owner of Ferguson Hardware store in the Paradise community of Catonsville, said his small hardware store ran out of rock salt.

"Once it gets later in the year we run out... and I don't know where to send [my customers],"Ferguson said.

The Home Depot store in nearby Lansdowne on Commerce Drive ran out of rock salt at 1 p.m., said Scott Johnson, one of the store's managers.

"Some of the reason is the storms up north," Johnson said.

Local businesses in Catonsville, such as Objects Found say the winter weather impacts their business.

"All this weather has affected this business terribly," said Objects Found owner Regina Sajauskas. "I don't know where the customers are shopping, but they're not on Frederick Road."

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Elliott said residents can can expect to see temperatures warm up Wednesday before a snow storm predicted to blanket the area with 4-6 inches of snow Thursday.

"The good news is that temperatures are going to warm up a bit, so folks should be waking up to temperatures well above freezing and it will be raining," Elliott said.

By Friday, residents can expect to see sunny skies and a high near 24 degrees, according to the NWS website.

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