Maryland Activates Emergency Operations Center
The Maryland State Highway Administration is urging residents to not travel today (March 6, 2013 at 6 a.m.) as the snow and wind are making driving conditions treacherous throughout our region. More than 2,000 Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) crews are patrolling Maryland roads – plowing and treating roads with salt. The Emergency Operations Center is activated, where personnel are continuing to monitor conditions and deploy resources as needed. SHA cautions drivers that travel will be treacherous today. As crews treat the state highway system, SHA reminds motorists not to travel as conditions will deteriorate as snow continues to fall and pavement temperatures hover at or below freezing.
“Don’t be misled by the bare pavement you may see as you wake up this morning. Conditions will change rapidly and we’re urging drivers to stay off the roads and leave the driving to our crews,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. “Although crews are primarily treating roads with salt, we fully anticipate plowing roads as snow begins to accumulate. If you encounter our crews, remember to leave plenty of following distance and never try to pass plows.”
More than 2,700 personnel (state and contract) and 2,400 pieces of equipment are available statewide. There are 330,000 tons of salt (more than 90 percent capacity) available at salt barns and salt domes across the State. SHA has deployed six heavy duty tow trucks across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region to assist disabled tractor trailers along the interstates.
“The best advice is not to travel today. The snow is predicted to be heavy and wet, which can cause tree limbs to break onto roads and power lines,” added Ms. Peters. “Combined with heavy gusts of wind, there could be power disruptions that cause traffic signals to be dark. Remember the new law – treat intersections without power as four-way stops.”
SHA offers free emergency truck parking at key locations throughout Maryland. In storms that produce six inches or more of snow, truckers can safely ride out the storm. A free mobile application is available at http://roads.maryland.gov/pages/emergencytruckparking.aspx?pageid=856.
SHA crews will plow and salt as needed, but motorists must modify driving behavior for conditions – slow down, use caution, allow plenty of distance between vehicles, use snow tires and allow plenty of time for travel. Know Before You Go. SHA provides a new FREE service the “511 Traveler Information” system. To Know Before You Go! Simply dial 511 from a land line or mobile phone for traffic, weather alerts and road conditions. For internet access, visit www.MD511.org. While there, register with My511 to customize your reports on your most frequent routes and areas of interest.
If your vehicle does become disabled, make every effort to move from the travel lane and onto the shoulder. Stay tuned to radio traffic reports for the most up to date information. Additionally, if traffic signals are out as a result of power outages, use EXTREME caution and treat it is as a four-way stop. Don’t assume the other vehicle will stop; only pass through an intersection when clear.
Drivers should always have an emergency survival kit to include:
• a shovel
• jumper cables
• blanket or sleeping bag
• flashlight with extra batteries
• high calorie non-perishable food
• first aid kit
• extra clothes
• bottled water
• a charged mobile phone
• kitty litter or other abrasives
Remember to buckle up and “Take It Slow on Ice and Snow.” Before leaving the office or home, log onto www.roads.maryland.gov and click the CHART icon for the latest road conditions, live traffic cameras and a variety of information to help with travel decisions and planning. Citizens can also follow SHA on Facebook and Twitter. Call 511 or visit www.md511.org for the latest travel information.
For tips on preparing for winter storms, residents can visit www.mema.state.md.us, click on the “Be Prepared” button on the left side of the screen and click on the “Winter Storms” link. There also are tips for general preparedness that are helpful for any type of emergency.