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SHA cautions drivers to stay off the roads; crews continue to plow

The Maryland State Highway Administration is asking residents to stay off the roads if possible, as the heaviest snow is slated to fall between noon to 5 p.m., which could lead to a messy commute for those who need to drive home around that timeframe.

County and SHA crews and contractors will be out plowing during the storm in an attempt to make the roads passable, according to an SHA news release. Yet, SHA warned that blowing snow can quickly cover a recently plowed road, as

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AccuWeather.com

senior meteorologist Carl Erickson said accumulating snow isn't likely to taper off locally until about 7 or 8 p.m.

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"Please heed the warnings to stay off the roads this afternoon - it will not be safe to be out later today in heavy, blowing snow with frigid temperatures," SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters said in the release. "SHA crews will continue to plow and battle Mother Nature; however, it will take four to six hours to reach bare pavement after precipitation stops, which isn't predicted to happen until late tonight."

Carroll road crews started salting at about 7 a.m. Tuesday, and soon after began plowing and salting as the snow accumulated, according to Jeff Topper, Carroll County Department of Public Works deputy director.

"It just kept getting worse and worse, so rather than call everybody in early with the snow supposed to start later in the morning around 9 [a.m.], we just thought we'd get out there and get going around 7 a.m. because the guys can only go so long before they need breaks," he said.

It's a tough call, he said, involving listening carefully to the forecasts, which can quickly change.

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Typically, the 49 county snow trucks and 14 contracted trucks can get around the county in about four hours, according to Topper.

"The snow was getting ahead of us today, and it takes longer that way," he said.

County public works crews will be on the roads until 11 p.m. Tuesday. They'll take a four hour break, and then head back out at 3 a.m. to check for drifting and ice.

SHA crews will also be out on the roads. They will lower their truck's blades in order to plow snow, sometimes making a "plow train." This is when trucks line up in each lane to clear snow left to right. SHA is asking drivers to avoid cutting through or going around a plow train and to give them space on all sides, the release states.

Those who need to use the roads while the weather is bad should have their low beam headlights on, as well as their windshield wipers.

Additionally, truck drivers are asked to avoid traveling and can find emergency parking at park and ride locations that are found by clicking "emergency truck parking" at

.

Snow emergency plans are in affect in many central and western counties, and more are expected to declare emergency status as the snow moves east this afternoon.

Carroll's snow emergency plan went into effect at 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation's website. This means that parking on designated snow emergency routes is prohibited and the use of snow tires/chains should be used if the vehicle does not have all weather tires.

Residents can dial 511 for traffic, weather alerts and road conditions or visit

. Live traffic cameras and maps are available at

.

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