Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is preparing for the first snow of the winter season, but this year’s preparation looks different than year’s past because of the coronavirus.
The National Weather Service currently projects that on Wednesday northern parts of Montgomery County could receive up to 10 inches of snow and down county could receive between 5 to 7 inches, with temperatures possibly in the high 20s or low 30s.
In light of the forecast, MCDOT released a statement saying it has begun pretreating roads and preparing for the “significant winter storm” that’s expected to begin early Wednesday and continue through Thursday morning.
Stay weather aware for tomorrow as we have snow in the forecast. See the latest @NWS_BaltWash maps for forecast totals & onset timing. A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for tomorrow, Wed 12/16.
— MC Emergency Mgmt (@ReadyMontgomery) December 15, 2020
Normally before a winter storm, MCDOT says its staff, crews, and contractors will eat and sleep at the depots until the roads are cleared from snow. However, because of the public health crisis, MCDOT says it’s made the following changes to keep employees safe:
- limited amount of staff allowed inside depot facilities;
- prohibited nonessential staff and contractors from going inside depot facilities;
- erected barriers in depots to provide areas where staff can maintain physical distance when they need to rest or eat;
- prohibited passengers from going inside vehicles and plows;
- mandated masks inside depots;
- made the entire Storm Operations Center virtual.
MCDOT’s Plan for Treating Roads During Winter Storm
MCDOT says because of the coronavirus, it’s normal service times could be impacted, but its crews will respond as quickly and safely as possible for treating roads. It is responsible for “clearing snow from 5,200 lane miles of County-maintained roads, 60 miles of sidewalks along County right-of-ways and three miles of bike paths and trails.”
Once three inches of snow has fallen, MCDOT crews begin to plow roads—it waits until three inches have fallen in order to protect plow blades and roadways.
“MCDOT initially clears emergency, primary and arterial routes to ensure emergency vehicles have access to every household. Trucks then begin making neighborhood streets passable,” MCDOT’s statement says.
Resources for Montgomery County Residents During Winter Storm
MCDOT recommends that Montgomery County residents take advantage of its online Winter Snow Portal. This website can help residents find out if MCDOT is responsible for treating their street; it can also be used to check the snow removal status of an area or to submit a snow-related service request.
Here are other resources residents can use to get winter storm updates:
- Alert Montgomery notifications;
- the Montgomery County website;
- Montgomery County’s Twitter feed and MCDOT Highway Services’s Twitter feed;
- Montgomery County’s Facebook feed and MCDOT Highway Services’s Facebook feed;
- MC311 Customer Service Center (3-1-1 or 240-777-0311)—open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
MCDOT reminds residents to call 9-1-1 only for emergencies, such as downed power lines. The nonemergency police number is 301-279-8000.
The Shared Streets signs have been temporarily removed due to the upcoming winter storm event. The signs were removed given the potential for hazardous driving conditions & in order to make way for snow clearing ops. The signs will be returned following the winter storm event.
— MCDOT Highway Services (@MontCo_Highways) December 15, 2020
MCDOT encourages drivers to drive slow and stay alert for pedestrians; pedestrians are urged to wear reflective clothing, watch out for ice, and be aware vehicles may not be able to stop as quickly in icy conditions.
Montgomery County residents are required to shovel their properties within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm.