Carroll County offices and schools are making schedule adjustments in light of Gov. Larry Hogan's executive order declaring a state of emergency in Maryland because of an oncoming snowstorm.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning to be in effect from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday. Maryland's state of emergency, which goes into effect starting 7 a.m. Friday, allows the governor to deploy resources and make decisions in order to promote public safety during the storm and enable a full-scale response.
"We are expecting nearly 36 hours of snow. It should be really going by 8 or 9 p.m. Friday," said Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Jackson said wind will be a main factor during the impending storm.
"We're expecting winds at 40 miles per hour, peaking at 50 miles per hour," Jackson said.
State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck said residents should already be prepared.
"This has been talked about for a week. Once it starts, it's supposed to intensify very quickly," he said. "Plan from 3 p.m. [Friday] on, where you are is where you'll likely stay for three days."
Buck said SHA's goal is to keep one lane open and passable on state highways during the storm for emergency vehicles. Cleanup is expected to be measured in days, not hours, he said.
According to an SHA news release, snow emergency plans will go into effect at noon Friday, requiring vehicles on snow emergency routes to be equipped with chains, snow tires or all-season radials. Also as part of the snow emergency plans, all parking on snow emergency routes will be restricted.
Foot's Forecast Executive Director Keith Krichinsky, of Hampstead, said he expects the storm to be significant.
"They're calling for 18 to 24 inches of snow in the Carroll County area," Krichinsky said. "We anticipate travel to be virtually impossible for the bulk of Saturday and into Sunday morning."
National Weather Service weather observer Ralph Hartsock, of Deer Park, said the storm could be the biggest the area has seen in a century.
"The blizzard of 2016 is coming," he said. "The National Weather Service does not issue these warnings lightly. It's a sure bet, we're in for one heck of a storm."
Bowman's Feed and Pet store manager Matt Barto said business really picked up around mid-afternoon Wednesday.
"Everybody started to panic and came in for shovels, scrapers and ice melt," Barto said. "People are getting prepared. We've had an increase in birdseed sales because people like to see birds in the snow and we've sold a dozen or so sleds in the last six hours."
Green's Ace Home Center owner Abby Gearhart said her store was frantic.
"We're very busy. The rush started three days ago," Gearhart said. "Customers are looking for shovels, ice melt, salt, propane, kerosene heaters, flashlights and battery-operated lanterns."
The spring semester will start a day late for McDaniel College undergraduate students due to the looming storm. The college will close at noon Friday, and will remain closed for the weekend.
Spring undergraduate classes scheduled to begin Monday will now begin Tuesday after the college made the call to cancel all classes, according to college spokeswoman Cheryl Knauer. Students are encouraged to delay travel for move-in until noon on Monday, Knauer said in an email.
A decision about whether to open campus offices Monday remains undecided. The college is advising students, faculty and staff to check their email for updates.
Carroll Community College's administration announced the school will close at 3 p.m. Friday. The college will likely be closed this weekend, causing Saturday classes to be rescheduled; school officials will make their final decision Friday.
At press time, Carroll County Public Schools are closing three hours early Friday.
Carroll County government offices, the Resource Recovery Park (Northern Landfill) and County Senior Centers will close at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Remember pets and livestock:
The Maryland Department of Agriculture reminds animal owners to plan for cold, dangerous conditions that may impact the health and well-being of their pets and livestock during this weekend's impending blizzard.
Maryland law requires owners provide an adequate supply of feed and water for their animals, as well as shelter from the wind and other severe conditions, according to the MDA. Animals should also have proper identification such as a tag or microchip. MDA officials also remind owners to protect their animals from exposure to de-icing chemicals and antifreeze.
Notice to readers:
Because newspaper delivery might be affected by the snowstorm, we are reminding readers that they can download an exact digital replica of the day's newspaper from www.digitaledition.carrollcountytimes.com. Our online snowstorm coverage will be available to all readers; no registration or digital subscription is required. For comprehensive news and updated information, visit www.carrollcountytimes.com.