Snow falls at the intersection of Main Street and 7th Street in Laurel during a winter storm on Thursday, March 5. (Lauren Loricchio/BSMG Video)
As snow continued its steady accumulation late Thursday afternoon, Laurel Regional Hospital put out a Twitter request for four-wheel drive vehicles and drivers to help hospital staff get home after a winter storm dumped more than 4 inches of snow in Laurel.
Drivers can call the hospital at 301-725-4300 to volunteer.
The National Weather Service is calling for cloudy conditions in Laurel tonight before the storm gradually clears. Temperatures are expected to be as low as 7 degrees tonight, with a wind chill value as low as minus 3. Friday's highs are around 26 degrees, according to NWS.
Prince George's County Public Schools were among the first wave of cancellations announced for Friday. County schools and offices are closed; only emergency personnel are expected to show up for work.
Schools are also closed in Howard and Anne Arundel counties on Friday, March 6.
At 11 a.m. Thursday, an employee at the Lowe's in Laurel Lakes Shopping Center said the store had sold out of salt and snow shovels.
Laurel Department of Public Works crews were out collecting trash and recycling as scheduled Thursday, but Prince George's County officials suspended residential trash services. County trash pick ups will made on the next regularly scheduled collection day, county officials said, and curbside recycling collections may resume on Friday, March 6, if weather permits.
With dozens of flights delayed and canceled at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport on Thursday, travelers were scrambling to make alternate plans or trying to wait out the weather.
Lois Sibenik, of Laurel, and Florence Reynolds were hoping to get to Dallas on Thursday for the International Women in Aviation Conference. A member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II, Reynolds was going to connect with fellow WASP members and to support a friend who is being honored at the conference.
During the war, WASPs flew training missions and domestic logistics missions, freeing up male pilots to fly overseas.
Reynolds and Sibenik arrived at BWI at 9 a.m. and hoped to arrive in Dallas by the afternoon, but they got bumped to a 5:15 p.m. flight after their first flight was canceled when the plane was stuck in Wisconsin.
"We'll be very familiar with this airport," said Sibenik, who is a private pilot.
"And they're going to be very familiar with us," Reynolds chimed in.
The irony of pilots being stuck in an airport on the way to an aviation conference was not lost on the women -- although Reynolds said initially she had been more concerned about her train trip from her home near Pittsburgh to Baltimore than her flight from Baltimore to Dallas.
"In aviation, weather's always on the back of your mind," Sebenik said.
Rather than risk driving in the snow, the women met up Wednesday and stayed in a hotel near the airport. They took the hotel's shuttle to the airport on Thursday morning.
City snow emergency
Mayor Craig Moe initiated a snow emergency in the city that began at 11 p.m. Wednesday, and schools in Prince George's, Howard and Anne Arundel counties were closed for Thursday, March 5.
Under a city snow emergency, parking is not allowed on the even-numbered side of designated snow emergency routes, and Laurel police can ticket the owners and tow the cars. The parking restrictions are in place to keep these roads open for emergency vehicles, city Director of Communications Audrey Barnes said in a release.
To find a car that has been towed from a snow emergency route, call the Laurel police at 301-498-0092 for release information.
State Highway Administration officials urged drivers to stay off the roads during heavy snowfall. Crews did not prepre-treat roadways with a brine solution that can prevent pavement from becoming snow-covered because it would have been washed away by rain Wednesday night.
"If you do choose to drive, be sure your vehicle can maneuver in the snow. Just one abandoned car can create a traffic jam that impacts everyone, including our plow trucks," said SHASHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters in a statement.