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Mix of snow and sleet create slick travel conditions on Harford County roads

While snowfall totals fell well short of what was initially forecast for Harford County and much of Central Maryland, the wintry mix of snow and sleet has created hazardous conditions on area roadways, officials said.

“The forecasted snowfall amounts changed because the transfer to sleet happened earlier, rather than later in the day,” Cindy Mumby, a county spokesperson, said following a call the National Weather Service.

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Sleet began falling in most of the county around 5:30 a.m., Mumby said, and crews have been working to keep roads clear ever since.

Unofficial accumulations reported to the National Weather Service ranged from as little as a half-inch in Abingdon to more than 5 inches in Norrisville in northern Harford County.

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The main precipitation was over by 1:30 or so Thursday, but meteorologists were calling for light freezing rain and/or sleet through the evening and ice on the roadways, with temperatures dipping below freezing overnight, Mumby said.

Roads remain slick, and she said it was best for county residents to stay home if they don’t have to go out.

“Even if it doesn’t look like a lot of snow, it can leave you with a false sense of security,” Mumby said.

Troopers from the Bel Air and JFK Memorial Highway barracks had responded to 12 crashes in the area by 1 p.m. Thursday, said Ron Snyder, a spokesperson for Maryland State Police. Across the state, troopers had responded to 158 crashes, 93 disabled/unattended vehicles and nearly 400 calls for service.

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“The road conditions should still be considered hazardous. While we did not get as much snow as expected, many roads were still covered in ice,” Snyder said. “This can often be more dangerous than snow because motorists may look at a road and think it is clear when it could actually be covered in ice.”

Both state and county road crews began treating major thoroughfares with salt brine ahead of the storm, and worked through the night to keep roads passable for motorists.

State Highway Administration spokesperson Shanteé Felix said the agency had 95 pieces of equipment and 40 employees working from its Churchville shop by midday. The county is responsible for taking care of about 1,000 miles of non-numbered county roadways and about 150 pieces of county equipment have been out on the roads, including pickup trucks, dump trucks and salt trucks, Mumby said.

”We continue to encourage motorists to be extra vigilant if they do get on the roads, particularly bridges, ramps and overpasses, which tend to freeze first,” Felix said.

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