Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency starting Friday at 7:00am in anticipation of this years first snow storm. (Baltimore Sun video)
Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday declared a state of emergency beginning Friday in anticipation of this weekend's snow storm which could blanket some areas with up to two feet of snow.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency, State Highway Administration, and National Guard are preparing for a potentially record-breaking snowstorm. Many local jurisdictions have announced preparations for this weekend's storm.
The state of emergency will go into effect starting at 7 a.m. Friday. The declaration gives Hogan powers to "deploy resources and make decisions to promote public safety," officials said, and indicates to residents the gravity of the forecast.
"Our first and main priority is keeping Marylanders safe and making sure that all levels of government are working together to respond to this weather system," Hogan said at a news conference at Maryland Emergency Management Agency headquarters Thursday. "I want all Marylanders to know that their state is ready and working together to respond effectively."
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a city state of emergency that started at 4 p.m. The City's Emergency Operations Center will be activated at 9 a.m. Friday.
The city's health commissioner also declared a Code Blue for Friday-Sunday, activating agencies to help shelter vulnerable residents.
"Now is the time to refill your prescription medications; ensure your home has sufficient supplies, including an emergency kit; and to check in on your neighbors," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.
Hogan and Maryland Transportation Secretary Peter K. Rahn said the state had 2,700 pieces of snow clearing equipment and 365,000 tons of salt ready. The National Guard and local state troopers were gearing up to potential help respond to stranded motorists or other emergencies.
About an inch of snow fell during the evening commute Wednesday, and the untreated roads led to gridlock that lasted until after midnight in some parts of Maryland. Hogan said Thursday he "expressed my frustration" to State Highway officials about the response.
Rahn said the forecast for Wednesday evening was "nowhere near" the actual conditions. "Once we recognized that it was different from what had been forecasted, we mobilized additional pieces of equipment out to address the issue," he said.
Hogan said it could take up to a week to clear some roads as the heavy snow taxed the resources of local governments. He urged Marylanders to stockpile food and other supplies for up to a week, to not drive unless necessary, and to check on elderly neighbors.