Snowfall totals vary greatly in Maryland. Garrett County in far western Maryland often receives as much snow as areas of the central plains and interior areas of New York and New England. Areas of the lower Eastern Shore often have little or now snow during a winter season. In the populous central part of the state, snow totals can vary greatly from one season to the next.
The heaviest snowfall on record in central Maryland was the three-day President’s Day weekend storm in 2003, dumping more than 32 inches of snow on the region. Maryland is prone to quick warm-ups after major storms, which sometimes leads to flooding problems. Winter storms in Maryland also may include sleet (ice pellets) and freezing rain (rain that freezes on contact with roads, sidewalks and other surfaces). Winter in Maryland sometimes also brings extreme cold, which can present health problems for the ill, the elderly, infants and the homeless, especially when reliable heating sources are not available.
At home and at work
Primary concerns are the potential loss of power, heat and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day.
Make sure to have available:
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-powered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather radio to receive emergency information. These radios may be your only link to the outside.
- Extra food and water. High energy food such as dried fruit or cereal bars. Food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best.
- Extra medicine and baby needs.
- First-aid supplies.
- Heating fuel. Fuel providers may not reach you for days after a severe storm.
- Emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove space heater, etc.
- Learn to use it properly to prevent a fire
- Have proper ventilation
- Fire extinguisher and battery-powered smoke detector
- Test units regularly to ensure that they are working properly
In cars and trucks:
- Plan travel and check the latest weather reports to avoid the storm.
- Check and winterize your vehicle fully before the winter season begins.
- Carry a winter storm survival kit
- Blankets/sleeping bags
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- High calorie, non-perishable food
- Extra clothing to keep dry
- A large empty can and plastic covers with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
- A smaller can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water
- Sack of sand or cat litter
- Windshield scraper and brush
- Tool kit
- Tow rope
- Booster cables
- Water container
- Compass and road maps
- Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines
- Try not to travel alone
- Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes
If you do get stuck..
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up into the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
- As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
- Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
On the farm
- Move animals to sheltered areas. Shelter belts, properly laid out and oriented, are better protection for cattle than confining shelters such as sheds.
- Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
- Have a water supply available. Most animal deaths in winter storms are from dehydration.
Dress to fit the season
- Wear loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing in several layers.
- Trapped air insulates.
- Remove layers as necessary to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill.
- Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellant and hooded.
- Wear a hat. Half of your heat loss can be from your head.
- Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
- Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
- Try to stay dry.