Harford walloped by 7 inches of snow, closing schools Monday

  • Snow came to Harford County mid-morning Sunday making driving, including on Bel Air South Parkway near Route 24, treacherous.
Snow came to Harford County mid-morning Sunday making driving,… (Matt Button, Aegis staff )
December 08, 2013

As many as seven inches fell on Harford County Sunday, catching many by surprise, making roads treacherous and closing Harford County Public Schools Monday.

Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools, started spreading the word shortly before 7:30 p.m. Sunday that schools would be closed Monday.

Parts of northern Harford County, such as Norrisville, had as many as seven inches of snow, county emergency services spokesman Bob Thomas said Sunday.

Officials were warning residents to continue staying off the roads as night set in, with freezing rain and ice expected.

Harford County's emergency services department fielded more than 87 calls for service between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., emergency services spokesman Bob Thomas said.

More than 36 of those calls were for accidents, he said. 

"Our concern is the snow is packed and icing conditions are setting in which makes driving extremely hazardous," he said at about 2:30 p.m.

State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck said later in the day: "We need people to continue to keep their speeds down. Obviously, people are going to keep coming home from the Ravens game – crazy-ending Ravens game – but after that, we're going to need as many people to stay home as possible."

No power outages or other problems were immediately reported, but a man in Whiteford did suffer a snowblower-related injury in the early afternoon.

The man's hand was apparently "amputated," in the 2000 block of Whiteford Road, according to Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association spokesman Rich Gardiner.

The blast of snow was a little more than forecasters had originally predicted, emergency manager Rick Ayers said Sunday at about 1 p.m.

He said parts of Harford County, including Bel Air, already had two to four inches of snow.

"I don't think they anticipated this much snow, to be honest with you," Ayers said. "There's accidents everywhere in the county."

SHA continued putting salt down on state roads as the snow took a break in the later afternoon.

Spokesman David Buck said crews had a good handle on the roads by about 5 p.m., as the snow slowed.

"This was supposed to be a one- to maybe two-inch snow," he noted. "It obviously overproduced from a snow perspective."

At 5:45 p.m., he said, "major roads are in very good shape."

Crashes, however, plagued Harford throughout the day.

The I-95 area in Harford was tied up throughout the day with several crashes, including one at the Route 24 exit that blocked all lanes to northbound traffic at about 5 p.m.

The crash was cleared within about an hour, according to Maryland Transportation Authority.

The Hatem Bridge was temporarily closed at about 1 p.m. for de-icing.

Harford's public works department was struggling to get the roads "under control" early Sunday afternoon, but Ayers said there had still been "too many to count" in the first few hours of snowfall.

The Emergency Operations Center was activated to Level 2, out of three activation levels.

That meant emergency staff and select county agencies, including county highways, Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police and fire officials, were activated, Ayers said.

Events around the county were being canceled in reaction the unexpected snowfall.

Harford Community College closed at 11:45 a.m. and canceled all classes, programs and events. The library was closed and both performances of "The Nutcracker" and "Fairytale Courtroom" were canceled.

Havre de Grace's Candlelight Tour was postponed to Dec. 15.

The Harford County Fire and EMS Association posted the following notice just before 11:45 a.m. Sunday on its web site:

"An update to the weather from a NWS conference call. The snow will switch to a sleet/snow and freezing rain mixture. This will continue all afternoon and through the night most likely for all of Harford County from Rt. 1 North. The Southern part of our County along the I-95 corridor may switch over to all rain sometime overnight. A 1/4" of ice is expected.

Please use caution on the roads. They are in very poor condition and driving is extremely hazardous. Auto collisions are occurring all over the county"

The Snow Emergency Plan went into effect at about 11:30 a.m., according the Harford Fire Blog.

Although there were no reports of power outages, downed wires or related problems by about 1 p.m., Ayers said "if we get a lot of sleet and freezing rain, that could change."

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