Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has declared a state of emergency as Winter Storm Jonas brings heavy snowfall and strong winds to the area.
According to the National Weather Service, approximately 16 to 20 inches of snow is expected between 1 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, with whiteout conditions and zero visibility.
Kittleman signed the executive order earlier this evening after discussions with the county emergency operations center's senior policy group, including Chief Administrative Officer Lonnie Robbins, Police Chief Gary Gardner, Fire Chief John Butler, Department of Public Works Director Jim Irvin and Office of Emergency Management Director Ryan Miller. City officials said the order gives Kittleman "the necessary broad authority to take actions" to protect the county's residents and properties.
"This is a significant storm of historic proportions," Kittleman said, in a statement provided by the county. "We have been asking all day, and I can't stress it enough, please stay off the roads tonight, tomorrow and Sunday."
"During challenging times like these, we must all work together to help our neighbors stay safe, serve the needs of our community, and get our roads cleared as efficiently as possible,” County Council Chairman Calvin Ball wrote in an email. "I support all appropriate tools needed, including declaring a State of Emergency."
The county's emergency operations center opened at 7 a.m., county officials said, and staff will be available throughout the storm.