Cumberland Times-News

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December 20, 2012

Blizzard conditions expected in Garrett

Forecasters calling for sustained winds up to 45 mph

CUMBERLAND — Maryland State Highway Administration crews in Western Maryland are preparing for blizzard conditions in advance of a storm that began as rain Thursday and then was forecasted to change to snow Friday and Saturday. Sustained winds of 25 to 45 mph are expected, which could cause issues with blowing and drifting snow, creating dangerous driving conditions.

“Based on the latest forecast, this storm will hit Western Maryland and points west,” said SHA Administrator Melinda Peterson on Thursday. “SHA crews are prepared and ready and we are asking anyone traveling west to do the same. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition if you must travel and please consider delaying your trip as conditions are expected to be treacherous through Saturday. Call 511 for current weather and traffic information and know before you go.”

Icy conditions forced officials to  close Interstate 68 eastbound at the 24-mile marker in Garrett County and the westbound lanes were closed at the 34-mile marker near Frostburg for about an hour late Thursday afternoon. The snow emergency plan also was placed in effect in Allegany and Garrett counties at 5 p.m.

SHA reached out to the trucking community alerting them to the potential for dangerous driving conditions. During snow storms of 6 inches or more, tractor-trailer drivers may use several park-and-ride lots as safe havens instead of parking on ramps and along roadsides.

Disabled vehicles should be moved from the travel lane and onto the shoulder if possible. If traffic signals are out on secondary roads as a result of power outages, only pass through an intersection when clear. Never pass a snowplow or snowplow train. The safest place to be is behind the plows as they clear the roads ahead.

Motorists should always have an emergency survival kit to include:

•Shovel

•Jumper cables

•Snacks

•Blanket or sleeping bag

•Flashlight with extra batteries

•High-calorie, nonperishable food

•First aid kit        

•Extra clothes

•Bottled water

•Charged cell 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. SHA is also on Twitter @MDSHA and  Facebook.

A new free service this year is the 511 Traveler Information system. Dial 511 from a land line or mobile phone for traffic, weather alerts and road conditions. For Internet access, visit www.MD511.org, where customized reports on most frequent routes and areas of interest are available.

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