By ADRANISHA STEPHENS
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The National Weather Service has issued a forecast of heavy snow for the Eastern Panhandle, which is expected to drop approximately eight to 12 inches. The storm started overnight and is set to last throughout this morning.
“Residents are encouraged to stay indoors and not drive on the roads unless it is an emergency,” said Randy Lilly, emergency manager of Berkeley County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The NWS said the heaviest snow is estimated to have accumulated overnight and into this morning.
“We are forecasting around a foot of snow. Eight to 12 inches in Martinsburg itself, with 12 to 18 inches closeby in northern Maryland,”said Brian Laforsa, a meteorologist. “Temperatures will be in the low ranges. Stay inside if you can and let the road crew do their work.”
Residents are encouraged to stock up on batteries, food, matches, first aid supplies, road salt and any other necessities they might need.
“We sent out a statement encouraging the community to prepare for a possible couple-day event. The department of highways have got their trucks ready to go. Our crew is ready to work 24- hour shifts. We are encouraging everyone to have enough food and water for a couple days, along with medications,” Lilly said. “Also, in events like these, we encourage the community members to be mindful about their pets that are outside — just take care of them.”
Residents should also be alert about safe practices with mechanical equipment during the storm.
“In the event of a power outage, and when you are running generators, we encourage community members to keep the generator at least 10 feet away from their home or structure for safety issues,” Lilly said.
At this time, there are no cold weather shelters being opened for the impending weather. However, plans are in place just in case.
“We are on alert. We are keeping an eye on things, and we have been in touch with the Red Cross. In the event that we do need to open up a shelter, we can do that pretty quickly,” Lilly said.
Road safety is crucial in snow storms, Lilly said. Snow is usually accompanied with heavy winds, so it is important to anticipate and plan on staying indoors when possible.
“I would like to add that we are also encouraging the community that when it starts snowing to please stay off the roadways unless it is an emergency. That way the department of highways can get out there and do their job and get the roadways back open, emergency services can do their job, and just for the overall safety of the community,” Lilly said.
Jefferson County is also on full alert for the storm.
“We are going to be monitoring the storm. But we are not anticipating emergency operation center activation at this time,” said Brandon Vallee, public information officer for the Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
“I would stress the importance of having people prepare for power outages. This is going to be a heavy, wet snow,” Vallee said.
Residents can prepare for the storm by having alternate sources of power, from flashlights to candles, car chargers for your cellphone to battery operated radios.
“There is a possibility for downed trees and downed power lines. There is more of a capability of that happening from this storm, so we encourage people to check on their neighbors, we encourage people to check on the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses. Just make sure you have a plan to prepare for potential power outages as a result of the storm,” Vallee said.
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