Motorists who head out are urged to be cautious.
It's not something we've experienced in a while: a winter storm dumping a lot of snow. But that's what's happening.
The National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. has put Frederick County under a Winter Storm Warning until 3:00 AM on Thursday. Snow accumulations could range from 8 to 14 inches, with higher amounts in other locations.
The State Highway Administration says its crews will be out on the roads on Wednesday, pushing the snow away. Spokesman Charlie Gischlar urges motorists who have to be out not to pass a snow plow. "We did have an incident in one of the earlier storms of this season in which somebody was trying to pass a snow plow. The driver had an evasive move to get around him, and subsequently took out some guardrail and almost overturned his truck," he says. The distance between you and the snow plow in front should be 25-feet to 50-feet, or more, says Gischlar.
If you come upon an intersection with a non-functioning traffic light due to a power outage, Gischlar says treat it like a four-way stop. It's the law in Maryland.
The area has not received a lot of snow so far this winter, but has had to use salt to treat some roads to keep them from being slippery. "We have plenty of salt throughout the entire state. 360,000 tons worth," he says.
SHA has also pre-treated some roads in the state, including Interstate 70 and parts of Route 15.
While it's best to stay home during a snow storm, Gischlar says if you have to be out, have some supplies in your car. "Including, water, a blanket, a fully charged cell phone, road flares, just in case you do get stuck," he says. And before you head out, give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. "In ice and snow, take it slow," is a motto from SHA.
Potomac Edison is also getting ready to deal with power outages from the storm. Spokesman Todd Meyers says crews from sister utilities have been brought in to help, in case customers lose electricity. "A third of that contingency will be in the Cumberland. The balance will be stationed in hotels in the area around Hagerstown," he says. "And that gives them very good mobility with I-70 to wherever they're needed east, or else to run down the 81 corridor if necessary." He says they can also be dispatched to Frederick County, if necessary.
If your electricity goes out during the storm, Meyers says the first thing to do is call Potomac Edison and report it. The number is 1-888-544-4877, or 1-888-LIGHTSS.
After that, be prepared in case the outage lasts a while. "Make sure you have non-perishable foods on hand that you can prepare and eat without having to heat. Have extra blankets on hand, sleeping bags. Congregate in the warmest room in the home," Meyers says. Rather than using candles, he says you should use flashlights.
If you're trying to stay warm, Meyers says don't use devices that are meant for the outside, such as barbecue grills. "We don't want anyone to succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning," he says.