BALTIMORE, MD — Wind speeds have backed off across Maryland, leaving toppled trees, downed power lines and white-knuckle driving conditions on the state’s major bridges in the wake of a nor’easter. The state’s emergency management website said Saturday morning that 224,548 Maryland utility customers remain without power, down from a peak of about 489,000 outages on Friday. Warming centers have opened in Baltimore, Harford and Anne Arundel counties to ward off the wind chill today.
The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement Saturday morning that said while winds have died down, drivers and pedestrians should use caution; loosened objects like tree limbs or other debris may topple over. Wind gusts of 40 to 45 may persist until the early afternoon, so additional power outages are possible.
Traffic on the state’s major bridges halted for hours at a time Friday because of the winds. The Hatem Bridge closed twice after the winds knocked trees onto the roadway, and then closed because of high winds. The Maryland Transportation Authority said gas was given to drivers in need after some vehicles waited eight hours to drive over the structure that links Harford and Cecil counties via US 40 across the Susquehanna River.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is open Saturday, but it will likely operate with restrictions throughout the weekend. High winds will likely prevent two-way operations (when one lane of eastbound traffic travels on the westbound span) at the Bay Bridge during Saturday’s afternoon rush-hour period. Drivers may experience eastbound delays. Officials warned drivers to be prepared for wind warnings, restrictions and the potential for temporary traffic holds at MDTA bridges into Sunday, March 4.
First responders spent Friday racing from one emergency to the next. In Prince George’s County, winds lifted the roofs of several buildings at an apartment complex, forcing the entire complex to be evacuated. A 77-year-old woman was killed in Kingsville by a falling tree branch Friday afternoon, according to public safety officials. She was outside her home getting her mail when the accident happened.
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And in a rescue that drew condemnation on social media, five paddleboarders on the Severn River were rescued during Friday’s nor-easter. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police and Anne Arundel County Fire Department crews searched the river near Yantz Creek and Boone Trail for the missing water enthusiasts. All five were pulled from the Severn River near Yantz Creek; no injuries were reported in the mishap.
But some Marylanders were outraged that the daredevils had ventured out onto the water in such poor conditions. "What the heck were they doing out there during a Nor’easter? Oh my god!" said one Patch reader on Facebook, a view echoed by others.
Bridge status: Get real-time updates on major incidents on Twitter and see live traffic camera images on MDTA roadways at mdta.maryland.gov. Or follow the MDTA on Facebook at facebook.com/TheMDTA.
Important Maryland Utility Numbers Include:
PEPCO: 1-877-737-2662Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E): 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123First Energy/Potomac Edison: 1-888-544-4877SMECO: 1-877-747-6326 or 1-888-440-3311Washington Gas: 1-800-752-7520Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission: 1-800-828-4002
Power Outage Tips:
Plan for at least three days of supplies. Recommended items to include are bottled water, non-perishable food, battery-operated radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, first aid kit, pet food, prescription medications and copies of important documents (i.e., insurance policies, bank accounts, identification).Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting in anticipation of a power outage. Open the door only when necessary and close quickly. Frozen food in a half-full freezer should remain safe for up to 24 hours, and in a full freezer, up to 48 hours.During a power outage use flashlights and battery-powered lanterns for light. Avoid using candles which pose a fire risk.Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as personal cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill a bathtub or other large container with the water. This is particularly important for those whose water runs off of an electrical system.Use care around downed power lines. Assume a downed wire is a live wire.Watch out for overhead hazards such as broken tree limbs, wires and other debris.Make sure backup generators are well ventilated. Never use grills, generators or camping stoves indoors.
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Photo courtesy of the Aberdeen Police Department