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Montgomery Says Its Ready To Go For Major Snow Storm

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 2/12/2014, 5:20pm  ET

County Executive Isiah Leggett meets with snow plow operators in Rockville on Wednesday Salt and plow trucks line up at the county's Bethesda Depot on Wednesday A worker cleans off snow removal equipment at the county's Bethesda Depot before Wednesday night's snow storm Salt and plow trucks line up at the county's Bethesda Depot on Wednesday Salt and plow trucks line up at the county's Bethesda Depot on Wednesday

Schools are already cancelled for Thursday, a Snow Emergency has been declared for 9 p.m. and the National Weather Service has upped its snow projections to 7-12 inches for Montgomery County.

All signs point to Wednesday night and Thursday’s snowstorm as the area’s biggest this winter.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation is gearing up. On Wednesday afternoon, County Executive Isiah Leggett visited the county’s Bethesda Depot (on Seven Locks Road in Rockville) to assess storm preparations and thank staff and contractors — some of whom have cots set up for an overnight stay at the depot.

“We’ve put in a great deal of preparation. Every year that I’ve been county executive, I’ve come right here to a snow summit, where we engage with our contractors, we’re looking at the gameplan for the year, looking at eventualities that may or may not happen,” Leggett said. “We’ve enhanced the technology. We’ve put resources in our budget to hopefully have the money necessary to provide for these types of emergencies. When you’ve had the number of emergencies we’ve had in the last few years, it certainly tests us in terms of what we have available to fund.”

Keith Compton, Highway Services Division chief, said the county will have about 425 pieces of equipment on county roads split between seven depots. There will also be at least 150 other people in operational capacities around the county, organizing plow runs and moving supplies.

The county is over-budget this winter in snow removal operations, but Leggett said it won’t stop MCDOT from a full schedule of salting and plowing this week.

Compton said the county has enough salt to deal with the storm thanks to increased capacity in new salt shed facilities.

County officials are urging people to move their cars off the roads. Leggett said county garages will be open and Compton encouraged neighborhood residents to move cars into driveways and garages.

“We will do what is necessary to succeed and we hope we can get cooperation from citizens,” Leggett said.

Here’s the latest from Pepco, which is warning of power outages from heavy snow and downed wires:

 Pepco is closely monitoring Wednesday evening’s approaching winter storm. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Wednesday evening through Thursday evening that is expected to bring snow and sleet into the service territory. The total accumulation for our region is expected to be several inches.

Heavy, wet snow can weigh down tree limbs and bring them into contact with power lines causing power outages. Wet snow can also adversely affect saturated soil and allow trees already weakened by previous storms to fall onto power lines and equipment to cause power outages. Outages can also occur due to drivers skidding into utility poles along icy and snow-covered roads.

In addition to damaging the electric system, snow and ice may considerably slow crew efforts to reach substations and outage areas to make repairs. Utility crews — or highway crews when available — must first clear snow to gain access. Icy roads make travel impossible, so crews cannot start repair work until roads become safely passable.

Pepco will schedule and adjust its workforce with the timing of the weather and any resulting customer outages. Pepco has about 150 internal linemen and more than 450 contractors already working on its system who are available if needed. We will work around the clock to restore any outages that may occur, but customers need to be prepared for the possibility of power outages, especially given the forecast for cold temperatures.

The snow is expected to start around 8 p.m. Wednesday. Stick with BethesdaNow.com for frequent updates. Also, good luck!