Governor Martin O’Malley declared a state of emergency before the storm even got here Wednesday and crews scurried to treat state roads with salt in advance of the storm, which is expected to dump as much as ten inches of snow on central Maryland.
Meanwhile, Baltimore officials stocked up on salt, ready to deploy trucks late in the day. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in an afternoon news conference the city began replenishing its supply of salt after the last snow storm because there is only a small circle of suppliers and she wanted to make sure the city didn’t run out before winter is over. It’s paying off. “We’ve already started getting calls from other jurisdictions looking for salt,” she said. “You know we try to make sure we stay ahead of the game so we have enough salt prepared.”
She said the city has spent nearly double the $2.7 million budgeted for snow removal. But she assured city residents that won’t stop crews from plowing the streets. “We will spend what we have to do,” she said, “and make the adjustments needed just as we’ve done in the past to make sure we have the resources on the street to clean up after the snow.”
O'Malley said the state has some 2700 pieces of equipment ready to respond when the snow begins to fall. But, he added, it’s better not to drive if you don’t have to. “We're urging citizens to stay off the roads,” he said. “If you don't have to travel, don't travel. This is going to be a nasty wet icy event here in Maryland that will go on for 24 hours.”
He also urged Marylanders to conserve energy as the state braces for the storm. “We're asking that people do whatever they can to reduce their energy use in this time. That'll take some strain off the grid.” O'Malley said his office has been in touch with utility services across Maryland.
BGE has brought in 400 out-of-state utility workers to help in case of power outages. “We have staging sites set up throughout the entire service area that we will stock with crews and with materials so that they are closer to the action once the storm begins to impact us," said spokeswoman Rachael Lighty.
At BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, huge snow plows with blades wide enough to do a whole street at one swipe were lined up, ready to go. Right behind them were snow blowers the size of bulldozers, one of which just got in from Buffalo.
Wayne Pennell, the airport Chief Operating Officer, said the snow blowers will follow the plows down the runways, chewing through the piles of snow the plows make and tossing it onto the infield “so we have nothing left on the runway.”
He said 200 airport employees as well 100 private contractors will be working some long hours between now and Friday under miserable conditions, but they have “some top notch folks” who are used to working in those conditions. “They’re some of the best in the business,” he said.