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Snow Clearing Cliff Notes for the Suburbs

P. Kenneth Burns

Here we go again; another snowstorm. You’re probably wondering when the plows will get to your street. Since we already know when a Baltimore City street will be cleared after a snowfall, we asked the same question in surrounding counties.

While the state concentrates on interstates, like I-95, and highways such as U.S. 50 and state Route 100, the counties follow the same order as the city in clearing roads. 

They start with main roads like Owings Mills Boulevard in Baltimore County and Ritchie Highway in Anne Arundel County; many of which are also snow emergency routes. 

After the main roads are clear, the focus shifts to secondary roads; roads that connect to major routes.  Delp Road in Whiteford, Harford County, is an example of a secondary road.  Delp connects to Ridge Road and Cooper Road. 

Neighborhood roads are plowed after more traveled roads are done.

Baltimore County

The county says the time it will take to clear your street depends on the amount of snow accumulated.  If less than six inches fall during the storm, every street in the county should be cleared within 24 hours after the last flake falls.  If more than six inches fall, crews should have roads cleared within 48 hours.

Lauren Watley, spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Department of Public Works, says the County, like the City, does not plow alleys because they are viewed as sidewalks.  That means the homeowner is responsible for clearing them.

The county provides updates on twitter and the "Snowfighter" section of its website.

Anne Arundel County

County spokesman Owen McEvoy says county roads should be passable within 24 hours after the end of a snow storm.  It will be at least another 24 hours later before all county roads are cleared, depending on the storm.

Anne Arundel County does not plow the streets in Annapolis or Highland Beach.  Those municipalities handle their own snow removal.

Carroll County

Carroll County begins salting all 1,000 miles of county roads, including 80 miles of dirt roads, as the first snowflakes fall. That takes about four to six hours, after which the snow plow crews hit the roads.

Roberta Windham, Carroll County spokeswoman, says crews concentrate on making roads passable while it snows. They’ll work to completely clear travel lanes and shoulders after the snow stops.

Windham says the county has 63 snow clearing routes that take anywhere from six to 12 hours to complete and that crews repeat the routes once they are finished.

The amount of time it takes to clear roads depends on how fast the snow falls and how much is on the ground.

Harford County

Harford County officials say the time it takes to clear their roads also depends on the amount of snowfall.  If six inches or less fall, it can take eight to 16 hours from the end of the storm to plow or treat every county road. If the storm drops between six and 12 inches, county roads should be cleared within 24 to 36 hours, with a plow making one trip through a road.

County officials have launched a snow plow tracker on their website to help residents stay up to date on truck movements.  The tracker is only activated for major snow storms.  County Spokeswoman Cindy Mumby says residents will know the tracker has been activated when they see snow falling over the icon on the county website.

The county says roads within the municipalities of Bel Air, Havre de Grace and Aberdeen are handled by those governments.

Howard County

Howard County spokesman Andrew Barth says it's hard to say when all county roads would be cleared after a storm.  Again, it depends on the amount of snow and weather conditions overall.

But all areas should see a snow plow within 24 hours after the last flake falls.

Howard County also provides snow removal updates on its website