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Plows battle with snow, ice as emergency plan activated in Carroll County

Carroll County got slammed by a winter storm Wednesday that kept plows busy and forced many agencies to close for the day.

About 4 inches of snow accumulation was recorded as of 3 p.m. near Mount Airy, a little more than 3 inches near Eldersburg, and 1.5 inches in Westminster, according to a National Weather Service update.

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But several Carroll County residents took to social media reporting higher totals.

Facebook followers of meteorologist Justin Berk snapped photographs of where they lived and how much snow they were measuring. Around 5 p.m., people in Manchester and Westminster had 8 inches on the ground. Parts of Mount Airy and Taneytown saw 5 inches as of 5 p.m., according to some of Berk’s spotters, while a another from the Keymar area reported 6 inches of snow.

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As the snow started coming down across Carroll County, county and state plows began clearing the roads.

Carroll County Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said county officials prepared for the impending storm for the past several days by loading up trucks, attaching plows and making sure the necessary equipment was ready to go.

“The biggest tools we use are plow trucks and we had those loaded and waiting,” Wantz said Wednesday. “They’re actually out on the roads as we speak. They also pretreated the roads over the last several days with a salt brine material, so they’ve been preparing for this based on the forecast to make sure personnel are good to go.”

Wantz said the southern end of the county was seeing a bit less snowfall than the northern part in the early stages of the storm.

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“The Sykesville area and down that way typically gets less accumulation than in the northwest area up here near the Pennsylvania line,” Wantz said. “That’s usually the way these storms go and when you hear talk about the I-95 corridor, that usually holds true.”

Maryland State Police activated the snow emergency plan for Carroll County around noon Wednesday, meaning parking is prohibited on roads and streets designated as snow emergency routes.

Around the Baltimore region, the storm caused messy road conditions with more snow and ice to come.

Maryland State Police said it responded to 489 service calls Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., including 161 crashes and 60 unattended or disabled vehicles.

“The big hazard comes [overnight] when we get down into the mid 20s,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Cody Ledbetter. “Any snow or wet spots will all freeze back overnight, so that will be trouble for the [Thursday] morning commute most likely, with some icy spots on the roads.”

The Baltimore area is expected to see a total of up to a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation by Thursday at 7 a.m. As of Wednesday evening, a winter storm warning was set to be in effect in parts of Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties until 4 a.m. Thursday.

Bracing for the storm, a number of Carroll County entities announced closures ahead of the storm.

Carroll County government offices closed Wednesday at noon. The Resource Recovery Park (Northern Landfill) is also closed at Wednesday. There will be a possible delayed reopening on Thursday, which will be evaluated at a later time. A county government news alert said to check for updates before visiting the landfill site.

The Carroll Transit System and Trailblazer system closed Wednesday. Thursday’s operational schedule will also be evaluated as soon as possible, according to the news alert.

McDaniel College closed at noon, and Carroll Community College closed Wednesday with exams and a board of trustees meeting being held virtually.

For Carroll County Public Schools, classes used to be canceled or delayed when snow or storms made traveling conditions less safe. However, since students are learning at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, CCPS saw it best to continue learning during inclement weather.

While the storm was certainly disruptive, Vince Taormina, owner of Life is ... Pizza in Westminster, saw the bright side.

“If you think about it, the last time we had a white Christmas was years ago. Maybe this is a blessing ... at least the kids are going to have some fun,” he said.

The Baltimore Sun contributed to this article.

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