As the historic blizzard pummels the region and blankets the skies in white-out conditions, Howard County officials urge residents to stay off the roads.
All county roads are expected to be cleared by Wednesday, with primary roads likely cleared by Sunday.
After snow-related traffic incidents involving several tractor trailers, Gov.Larry Hogan ordered the closure of entire 34.7-mile length of I-270 and I-70 from I-81 in Washington County to the Baltimore Beltway this evening.
"I am urging all Marylanders to stay off every road in the state, whether it's the interstate or a local road. Stay safe and stay at home while crews do their jobs," Logan said. The closure is effective until 7 a.m. on Sunday.
"Many roads are virtually impassable," said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. Several plow trucks were stuck as windblown snow hit the region,
Maryland State Police responded to 661 calls for service, including 150 accidents and 238 assists to motorists between 3 pm. on Friday and late Saturday afternoon.
AAA Mid-Atlantic received 158 calls in Maryland for emergency roadside assistance and towed 123 vehicles, as of 4:15 p.m. on Saturday.
"Despite warnings from state government and agencies, not all motorists are staying off the roads today," said Ragina Cooper Averella, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson.
Culd-e-sacs and roads near townhomes require front-end loaders to clear heaps of snow in tight spaces, said Irwin. "You can't just blow here and there… it takes a lot of time," he said.
Snow totals averaged about 20 inches in the county, topping around two feet in Elkridge, Columbia and Ellicott City, according to a 5 p.m. update by the National Weather Service. A blizzard warning is in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday, but snow should taper off by midnight. The National Weather Service says tonight will be blustery, with a north wind 17 to 24 miles per hour and gusts as high as 37 miles per hour.
Kittleman applauded the county's snow removal crews as they work to clear the 1,048 miles of the country's 4,121 roads, saying they have done a "tremendous" job.
Snow crews were up since 7 a.m. on Friday - with punctuated breaks - and will begin the big dig beginning around 4 a.m. on Sunday.
The county has suspended the transport of non-critical county employees between its facilities, said Ryan Miller, the county's director of emergency management.
County officials urge residents to shovel around hydrants and clear vent pipes.
A large warehouse building in Jessup buckled and collapsed under the weight of snow at around 3 p.m. Saturday, causing substantial property damage. No injuries were reported, according to Robert J. Frances, the director of the Howard County Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits.
The building in the 7900 block of Oceano Drive houses several tenants, but was not occupied at the time, Frances said.
A blocked vent may have caused the situation, county spokesperson Andy Barth said. The cause is under investigation.
BGO reported increased levels of carbon dioxide in the homes of natural gas customers, urging residents to clear gas vents covered by snow. If you smell natural gas, leave the area and call BGE's emergency line at 1-800-685-0123.
County officials were "pleasantly surprised" by limited power outtages, said Barth; According to an update by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, 271 customers - roughly 0.2 percent of the population - were without power in Howard County as of 8:45 p.m. Saturday.