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Harford hunkers down for storm that could bring more snow, more than 30 mph wind gusts

Harford County government exhorted people to avoid travel in view of a winter storm blanketing parts of Maryland Monday and the possibility for wind gusts upward of 30 miles per hour.

County spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Harford was expecting to see between 2 to 4 inches of snow, with more possible, and experience wind gusts between 30 to 35 mph, per a briefing from weather experts. The county pre-treated its roads with salt and brine in the days leading up to Sunday’s snow, but the possibility of high winds could make for power outages.

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The latest winter storm warning issued at 3:41 p.m. by the National Weather Service called for heavy snow in northwest and southeast Harford County with visability limited to a quarter of a mile at times. The winter storm warning was in effect until 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Mumby encouraged county residents to charge their devices in case of an electrical outage, cautioned them against using a generator indoors and reminded them to check on neighbors.

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“We just want everyone to make it safely through the storm,” she said.

As of midday Monday, road conditions were more slushy than icy, Mumby said. She advised county residents to stay off the roads. If driving is necessary, stay farther away from cars ahead, turn headlights on and slow down, she said.

The county is responsible for taking care of about 1,000 miles of roadways, Mumby said, all of which takes about 8 hours to plow one time. The storm is an “all-hands-on-deck situation” and that about 150 pieces of county equipment have been out on the roads, including pickup trucks, dump trucks and salt trucks.

County residents should also avoid parking their cars on the street where possible, Mumby said. Particularly when cars are parked on both sides of a street, county plows have difficulty maneuvering and pushing show aside. If a car must be parked on the street, Mumby asked residents to park on the even-numbered side only.

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The volume of snow, Mumby said, is “something that our crews handle routinely,” but more concerning are the gusts of wind, which have been known to cause power outages. As of midday, neither BGE nor Delmarva Power reported any outages in Harford County. BGE serves about 105,000 county residents, and Delmarva provides electricity for about 5,400.

The county’s government offices were closed Monday because of the snow. The town of Bel Air’s government offices are also closed. Aberdeen’s city hall is closed to the public, but its essential services are still open.

Between midnight and 11:30 p.m. Monday, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office responded to 10 traffic hazards 16 crashes, eight motorist assists, spokesperson Cristie Hopkins said. For reference, the office was dispatched to less than half of Sunday’s calls the same time last week. Those calls do not include the number that the Maryland State Police or municipal police were dispatched to.

Spokesperson for the Maryland State Police Ron Snyder said “The JFK Barrack responded to 33 crashes and Bel Air responded to four between 8 a.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. [Monday].” Across the state, the MSP has responded to 330 mostly minor crashes, 146 disabled or unattended vehicles and 891 calls for service between 8 a.m. Sunday and 5 a.m. Monday.

Hopkins echoed Mumby’s points about snow driving and cautioned county residents against overestimating their ability to drive in the snow. She also recommended knowing your vehicle’s limitations and checking tire pressure and fluid levels before travel.

“We do recommend citizens prepare early for a storm and stay off the roads, whenever possible,” Hopkins said.

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