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Snow, cold blast Harford, with more to come

Scott Baur, left, an employee of Central Maryland Contracting, of Baltimore, tries to light a propane torch with help from coworker Jon Godfrey Monday as they demolish a house in Bel Air.
Scott Baur, left, an employee of Central Maryland Contracting, of Baltimore, tries to light a propane torch with help from coworker Jon Godfrey Monday as they demolish a house in Bel Air. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF)

Winter made a big splash in Harford County over the Presidents' and Valentine's Day weekend, as a snowy clipper brushed the area Saturday evening and left behind a wave of harsh, frigid cold.

But the worst may be yet to come, as forecasts are calling for 4 to 6 inches of snow overnight Monday into Tuesday, with more bitter cold temperatures expected to follow.

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Ashley Sears, a meteorologist with the NWS' Baltimore/Washington forecast office in Sterling, Va., said the snow is expected to be heaviest between 9 and 10 p.m. Monday and then again early Tuesday morning.

"In your area, we are looking at – right now – a snow total of 4 to 6 inches," Sears said late Monday morning.

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The overnight low temperature in Bel Air Monday is expected to be 12 degrees, with highs Tuesday reaching 24 degrees, according to the National Weather Service website, downright balmy compared to the weekend.

A wind chill warning was issued for Monday morning, but it has been canceled.

"The only thing you have to be concerned with now is the snow for tonight," Sears said.

Temperatures were reported in the low single digits around Harford County on Monday morning, following a day of gusting winds on Sunday, when high temperatures only got into the teens and the wind chill plunged below zero.

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State and county highway officials are warning motorists to be careful and not to travel on Monday night and Tuesday morning if possible.

The county's entire fleet of snow vehicles is expected to be out starting at 6 p.m. to pre-treat roads, especially hills, curves and intersections, county government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said. If snow starts accumulating, plows would also start working, she said.

The weekend weather took its toll, with eight traffic accidents reported on county maintained highways overnight between Saturday and Sunday, county spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Monday.

Between an inch to 3 inches of snow fell Saturday evening, with gusting winds causing visibility problems for motorists out on the roads on Valentine's Day. Mumby said that most county highways were pretreated with chemicals by 3 p.m. Saturday in anticipation of the snowfall, and crews went back in several areas after the snow started falling.

She also noted the southern end of the county appeared to have received more snow Saturday than the northern end.

A cardiac arrest while shoveling a driveway was reported to the county's 911 Center, Mumby said. There also were two calls for cold exposure, with one person refusing treatment and the other transported to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center.

Scattered power outages were reported by BGE throughout the weekend, as winds with gusts of up to 50 and 60 miles an hour blew through the area Saturday night into late Sunday afternoon.

Fire and EMS companies also responded to 16 calls for falls, with about eight occurring during the peak of the storm Saturday, Mumby said.

"We are certainly encouraging folks to stay safe in unusually cold weather," she said.

On Sunday, the county's 911 Center sent out a robocall urging residents to stay put during the cold, blustery weather. Mumby said the county also used social media to warn residents about the health threats posed by the weather and to encourage them to stay inside.

Those without shelter could use the four libraries normally open on Sunday afternoon in Bel Air, Jarrettsville, Abingdon and Aberdeen to get out of the cold four a few hours and charge cell phones and also find out about more permanent shelter opportunities, Mumby said.

Anyone who is caught out in the cold without shelter is urged to go to the nearest police station for information about finding shelter or other services, she added.

Mumby said the government has worked with local non-profits and other organizations to make sure homeless residents are not left out in the cold.

"Whenever there is a very frigid weekend, the county proactively reaches out" to those who may be left outside, she said.

At least one water main break was reported. Downtown Aberdeen businesses were without water Monday as city officials worked on a break on a 4-inch main on Walnut Lane and Parke Street, near City Hall, public works director Kyle Torster reported from the scene.

The break was reported at 8:30 a.m. and crews had repaired it as of about 1:30 p.m., Torster said.

He did not know exactly how many businesses or homes were affected, or whether City Hall, which was closed Monday, was out of water.

Bel Air Town Administrator L. Jesse Bane and Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty said their cities had no major incidents over the weekend.

"This weekend's been pretty easy," Dougherty said, adding there were no incidents of hypothermia.

"Knock on wood, we didn't have any major incidents," he added.

The city plans to run its employees on extended, 12-hour shifts again Monday night, Dougherty said.

"The worst thing you can have is tired crews," he said, adding that he doesn't know when or if more salt-spreading will be needed.

"An awful lot of salt is on the streets now," he said.

Torster, in Aberdeen, also said his crews have been monitoring communications with the county Emergency Operations Center early Monday afternoon and plowing crews are prepared to clear snow later in the day as needed.

He said the effectiveness of pre-treating with salt "is hard to say," but the temperatures are so low that some more salt may be needed.

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