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Dusting of snow Thursday night to make way for 'significant' weekend storm in Carroll

Snow showers will dust Carroll County overnight Thursday, only to make way for a “significant storm” Saturday evening, which will be followed by a steep temperature drop Sunday, forecasters say.

Winter is here, and it’s preparing to pack a punch.

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Precipitation in the form of snow will begin to fall in the late afternoon or early evening Thursday, with the bulk occurring overnight, said Kyle Pallozzi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Baltimore-Washington office.

Carroll County will see 1 to 2 inches of accumulation, said Keith Krichinsky, director of Foot’s Forecast. “It’s what I call a nuisance type of snow. It’s not really going to be anything that’s plowable … more so a pain in the butt for everybody than it is something to really enjoy.”

Overnight snow showers Thursday are expected to end by Friday morning, Pallozzi added.

Where Thursday’s snow seems likely to be a nuisance, a weekend storm is looking more and more considerable, the forecasters agree.

“This weekend will be a much more significant storm,” Pallozzi said. A wintry mix will break out Saturday evening but turn to rain Sunday morning, he added.

Any wetness could become a big issue considering the “very strong” cold front that will move in Sunday morning, Pallozzi added. “That could result in flash freezing of any remaining standing water.”

Folks taking to the roads Sunday and Monday should proceed with a heightened sense of caution, Krichinsky said, as temperatures over a period of six to 10 hours Sunday will drop about 25 degrees.

“Anything that’s wet, like where roads have been treated and are wet but not completely dry, will freeze into black ice,” he said. “It’s going to be a definite issue.”

These conditions present a challenge for the crews that work to keep the roads safe for travelers because it’s difficult to know when the weather will transition from snow to rain to ice, said Jim Cook, chief of the Carroll County Bureau of Roads Operations.

Regardless, the plow trucks will be loaded with salt with crews on standby, ready to go, Cook said.

Salt is the only tool Department of Public Works crews have to fight ice, said Doug Brown, the county’s deputy director of public works. “It provides traction because it’s rough and rocky” and, as cars drive over it, the salt breaks up and spreads to help to melt frozen material.

But once it drops down near zero or below, Cook explained, salt only functions as added traction — its melting capacity reduced.

“If you don’t have to work or go out ...” Brown said, the best thing residents can do to help public works crews is stay off the roads.

The Carroll County Emergency Management team encourages residents to stay informed about impending weather, said Valerie Hawkins, the acting emergency manager.

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She said residents should always be prepared with emergency supplies for at least 72 hours.

Supplies should include water, shelf-stable food, batteries and, in the case of a power outage, devices should be charged, Hawkins said. She also advised to make sure you have any needed medications.

In the case of inclement weather or a power outage, residents should plan to check on their neighbors, she said. “The way we always get through large storms is by the community coming together.”

Carroll County has a very resilient community, she said. “Folks here are good at preparing for emergencies.”

Pallozzi described the cold front moving into the area Sunday as the “coldest air mass of the season” and said low temperatures will drop to the single digits Sunday night. The front will feature strong winds, with sub-zero wind chills, he added.

Bitter cold will hang around through Tuesday, though the winds should dissipate by then, Pallozzi explained.

The splitting of the polar vortex into three pieces is what’s causing the forthcoming cold, Krichinsky said. “One piece that is over the eastern half of the United States is a significant chunk of cold air.”

Even in Orlando, Florida, the high temperature on Monday is going to be in the 40s, Krichinsky predicts. Temperatures in that area are in the 70s now.

And while it may warm up a few degrees, don’t expect the cold dissipate right away, Krichinsky said.

“We’ll be lucky to see temps raise out of the 20s to low 30s next week.”

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