As the pending blizzard barrels toward Laurel, Mayor Craig Moe has declared a snow emergency for the city, effective at 9 a.m. on Thursday, that will remain until further notice.
During the snow emergency, city officials said, certain streets are designated as snow emergency routes, and parking is not allowed on the even-numbered side of those streets. Parking is also prohibited on both sides of streets along state and county routes.
Robert Ferree, director of the Department of Public Works, said employees began checking all of the city's snow emergency equipment on Wednesday, including salt trucks and snow plows, to make sure everything was in working order. Ferree said employees also parked a few trucks inside a building for quick and easy access.
"We utilize all the different snow equipment we have," Ferree said."We do have large pieces of equipment that, for heavy storms, we can use to remove snow rather than just plowing. Trucks can just plow snow off of the streets, but with areas like cul-de-sacs, you have to go in with a front-end [truck] loader or a Bobcat with a snow blower and actually remove the snow."
However, before any snow falls, Ferree said roads will be pretreated with salt as the atmosphere becomes more saturated, indicating imminent precipitation. The salt then decreases the chances of snow binding to the pavement.
"We try to time something like an hour or two before the first snowflake starts falling," he said. "Then, we can put something down on every one of the streets."
Above all else, Ferree said safety remains a top concern for the city, urging residents to stay indoors if possible.
"If they're not on the streets, it makes it a lot easier for emergency vehicles and people who are clearing the streets to do their jobs," Ferree said. "That way, if they have to venture out or have an emergency, they would be able to get out and do what they have to do.
City officials stated that the public works will be posting additional "No Parking" signs at the following locations:
• Even-numbered streets, including A Street, Fourth and Main Street to the river, Haines Court, Carriage Hill, Plaid Drive, Carissa Lane, Erica Lane, North Lake Court, Cambridge Circle, Ashford Boulevard at Oxford Drive to the dead end.
• Odd-numbered streets, including North View Court.
Illegally parked cars will be towed and their owners ticketed. For information on towed cars, contact the Laurel Police Department at 301-498-0092.
In a statement provided by the city, Moe also reminds residents to remember the following tips during a snow emergency:
• City ordinance requires all owners and occupants to clear ice and snow from sidewalks fronting their property within 12 hours after snowfall. Failure to clear your sidewalk could result in a fine.
• Check on your elderly neighbors. Make sure they are safe and warm and help them shovel their sidewalks if you are able.
• Be sure to stock up on batteries for your flashlights and charge all your devices ahead of time. Utility companies are anticipating a possible loss of power associated with this storm system.
• Don't wait until the last minute to renew your prescriptions.
• Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.