Chief of Carroll County Bureau of Roads Operations Jim Cook recommends Carroll residents park their cars in driveways to keep them off the roadways. When the path is clear, those plowing snow can do a better job.
A small amount of snow overnight Thursday will end Friday, before a significant storm moves in Saturday evening, forecasters say. A wintry mix overnight Saturday will turn to rain Sunday morning before temperatures plummet — the perfect conditions for a flash freeze complete with black ice.
“If people would do that, it would be much easier for our cars to clear. If you have to zigzag between cars, it kind of messes us up — and for a liability issue, we will not go in a spot that we don't think we can make it through,” he told the Times Monday.
“If we hit a car, we pay for it, and we don't want to do that. If there’s a car in the way, we don't go in there — and that makes our process that much longer.
“Then we get abandoned cars. People think they can go into the snow and get stuck. What do they do? They get out of the car and go home and there’s a car in the middle of the road.”
Throw snow to the right side of your driveway, clear in front of the mailbox
Cook said if residents are looking out to the road from their front door, it’s the right side of the driveway that snow should be thrown toward.
When snow plows come by, the snow will go on that pile and help keep people from extra shoveling.
“And if you cut out an area in front of your mailbox, even the size of the sidewalk, give yourself 20 to 30 feet — if you can do that, when the snow plow does come down it doesn’t block your mail box,” he explained.
“Two places you want to clear: one in front of your mailbox and one on the other side of your driveway,” said Cook, “so when he comes by, he fills in the little spot there. It doesn’t work all the time, but it does save you a lot of extra digging out.”
Don’t dump snow in the road
It is against county policy to throw snow into the roadway, said Cook, just as it is against county policy to toss grass clippings in the road.
The bureau chief said this regulation has not always been implemented, but because the population in Carroll County has grown over the past 50 years, staff will be keeping their eye on it.
“The more the population grows, the more they’re going to enforce it,” Cook said. “Back 50 years ago, it wasn’t a big deal. Now that there’s thousands of people moving into the area, it’s becoming an issue.”
Clean off the roof of your car
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency posted a tweet around noon Monday about the dangers of leaving snow on the roof of vehicles.
“This video shows what can happen (and it happens way too often) when snow and ice are NOT REMOVED COMPLETELY from your vehicles. #MdWx #WinterSafety,” states the tweet, which links to an MDMEMA Facebook post.
Shovel your sidewalk
Carroll County passed an ordinance in 2004 requiring residents in the county’s unincorporated areas to clear sidewalks within 12 hours of a snowfall, unless the snow falls overnight, in which case they have until 6 p.m. the following day.
The city of Westminster requires residents to clear their “sidewalk to a width of at least 30 inches within 24 hours after any snow or ice ceases to fall.” Union Bridge and Mount Airy have the same ordinance.
Hampstead requires snow to be cleared within 24 hours, but does not have a requirement for the width of the clearing.
New Windsor requires snow be cleared within 12 hours of a snowfall.
Manchester and Taneytown require all sidewalks to be cleared of snow and ice within 10 hours after snow stops — and Manchester’s town code, like the county’s ordinance, states if snow falls overnight, then residents have until 6 p.m. the following day to clear it.
Sykesville’s town code states the town reserves the right to “require that the owners of any property abutting on a sidewalk keep the sidewalk clear of all ice, snow, and other obstructions,” but neither states a time frame for the clearing of snow nor a width requirement for the cleared area.