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A Carroll County snow emergency plan is in effect, and a slushy commute will yield to arctic freeze Thursday

A snow emergency plan was in effect Tuesday evening in Carroll County, after an afternoon of slushy snowfall led to early closures for school and government offices.

Maryland State Police declared the snow emergency in a news release around 4:52 p.m. Tuesday, with a goal of keeping roads free for plows to clear the asphalt of slush before expected drops and temperatures, according to a state police spokesman at the Westminster Barrack.

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“Once it’s in effect there is prohibited parking on roads and streets designated as snow emergency routes,” he said. “The other thing is the use chains or snow tires, or all weather tires, which is what most people have nowadays, is required while the snow emergency plan is still in effect.”

The spokesman said state police had responded to two or three calls for minor snow related accidents Tuesday afternoon into evening.

Carroll County Public Schools dismissed three hours early due to the weather, Carroll Community College closed at 1 p.m. as did Carroll County government. McDaniel College canceled evening classes.

While forecasts had originally predicted rain transitioning to freezing rain and snow, with attendant ice on the roads, Keith Krichinsky, executive director of Foot’s Forecast, said slightly colder temperatures lead to precipitation that was mostly snow.

“We did have temperatures around 34 degrees today, which is warm enough for it to change to rain, but it wasn’t that warm up in the atmosphere which is why it stayed as snow,” he said.

Total snowfall, which was expected to taper off by early evening at the time of the interview with Krichinsky, about 5:45 p.m., ended up at the lower end of predicted ranges.

“Here where I live in Hampstead we got about an inch and a half out there, so we are expecting somewhere around 2 inches total,” he said. “It was never going to be a big snow maker.”

But with falling temperatures overnight, whatever water is left on the ground will freeze, Krichinsky said, which could impact schools opening on time and morning commutes.

Any ice that does form is likely to stick around a while, according to Krichinsky, as Thursday morning will see the arrival of an arctic air mass that has brought sub-zero temperatures to the mid-west.

“Thursday we could see could see high temperatures, if we are lucky, around 10 degrees. Of course the winds will be there so it will feel like minus 10,” he said. “Right before sunrise, when it’s coldest out there, we could see wind chills at minus 20 degrees.”

Carroll County Government sent out a media release Tuesday afternoon alert people to the fact that designated warming centers — the five senior and community centers, department of citizen services building and six branches of the Carroll County Public Library — will be open as warming centers during the day through Friday, while the Carroll County Cold Weather Shelter will be open from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. for those without shelter.

“This is cold we are going to be seeing that we probably haven’t seen in our lifetime,” Krichinsky said. “They are seeing temperatures up in the mid-west where for highs they are not even going to hit zero.”

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