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Snow will make for a messy commute

Today's record cold temperatures are expected to give way to snow this evening that will last until mid-day Tuesday, creating a potentially gnarly drive to work for commutes who chose to brave the conditions tomorrow morning.

Some Carroll residents were busy preparing Monday for what had potential to be the most significant snowfall of the season and temperatures that aren't expected to rise above freezing until the weekend.

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By midday Monday, Green's Ace Home Center in Winfield had already run out of wood pellets but was still steadily selling ice melt, firewood and coal.

"I need to get coal in case the electricity goes out," said shopper Joseph Gartland of New Windsor, who uses coal as a secondary heating source.

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A winter storm warning for Central Maryland goes into effect at 6 p.m. tonight through noon Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Dan Hofmann, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said snow accumulation is expected to be between 4 to 8 inches.

Carroll County is expected to receive 3 to 6 inches, said Keith Krichinsky, the executive director of Foot's forecast, who lives in the Hampstead area.

"Light snow will continue during the morning creating a slightly messy commute," Krichinsky said.

Maryland State Highway Administration officials said the extremely cold temperatures would likely make clearing and treating roadways a challenge. Crews were adding liquid magnesium chloride to salt applications to improve effectiveness since temperatures were expected to drop into the teens and single digits, according to a news release from SHA.

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Travel Monday night and Tuesday morning should be delayed since it could take SHA crews through noon Tuesday to get roads to bare pavement, SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters said in a prepared release. SHA is asking motorists to plan ahead and take care of shopping and errands prior to Monday evening and avoid travel overnight Monday and Tuesday morning.

"The expected snow, in conjunction with bitterly cold temperatures, could create very difficult travel conditions," she said. "It's simply not worth the risk of being stuck or stranded in these extremely cold temperatures."

Air and pavement temperatures will remain well below freezing so any precipitation has the potential to quickly freeze on roadways.

Crews work throughout storms to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the roads but it is not until several hours after a storm that they can truly clear the precipitation off highways.

The reported low of 5 degrees at Baltimore Washington International airport on Monday tied a record set in 1905, according to Hofmann.

"The bad news is that the cold will stick around for awhile," said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.

Kines said the rest of the week is expected to only reach highs in the upper 20s, with lows in the teens and single digits.

SHA and the Federal Emergency Management Administration encourage motorists to always be prepared through the winter by keeping an ice scraper, bottled water, cell phone, an extra heavy jacket or blanket, sand for traction, jumper cables and safety flares in the car.

Even with good preparation, motorists should avoid unnecessary travel for their own safety and to give crews the time and space they need to clear roads. The National Weather Service has issued weather advisories including winter storm watches and warnings for all of Maryland.

Reach staff writer Michel Elben at 410-857-7873 or michel.elben@carrollcountytimes.com.

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