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Hazards Affecting Anne Arundel County

Current Hazard Impacting the County:  Severe Winter Storm
(See Mitigation Plan for description on all hazards)

2015 Winter Season Outlook:

NOAA  predicts a cooler and wetter weather forecast for the Southern Tier states, with above-average temperatures in the west and nothern states.  This year should see a stronger than normal El-Nino pattern which should influence weather and climate patterns impacting the Pacific jet stream. Other factors in determining the winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation which influences the number or arctic air massees that penetrate into the South and nor'easters on the East Coast.

The Precipitation Outlook favors:

  • Above-average precipitation in the Southern tier, from central and southern California, across Texas, to Florida and up the East Coast to southern New England.
  • Above-average precipitation for southeastern Alaska, while dryer-than-average precipitation for Hawaii, central and western Alaska, parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, and for areas near the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

The Temperature Outlook favors:

  • Above-average temperatures in Western states and Northern half of the contiguous United States. 
  • Temperatures are also favored to be above-average in Alaska and much of Hawaii. 
  • Below average temperatures are most likely in the southern Plains and Southeast.

Prior to, and during a severe winter storm, residents are encouraged to do the following:

  • Listen to local news sources or visit for information on shelters
  • Prior to the storm make preparations to wait out a winter storm at home.
  • Familiarize yourself with proper generator use and safety.
  • Take extreme caution when using space heaters and candles
  • Learn ways to winterize your home
  • Protect plumbing to reduce the chance of frozen and bursting pipes.
  • Visit, for more information on what to do before, during and even after a severe winter storm.
  • Where should I go to find out what is happening locally?
    When severe weather is forecast, it is important for residents and business owners to monitor the situation and act proactively to protect themselves, their family and their property.  Local officials have a variety of ways to get information to the public. 
    Surviving The Storm: Anne Arundel County's Official Guide to Emergency Preparedness has information on emergency preparedness kits, local shelters and evacuation routes, creating a plan including one for your pet, as well as a list of important phone numbers and websites that you should keep handy in the event of an emergency. Open/Print a Guide.
  • Who do I contact if I need my road plowed or salted?   
    Visit DPW's Snow Information page for more information.
  • Get Involved!
    Be apart of the county 4-wheel driver program to assist in the transport of residents to dialysis. Contact OEM at 410-222-0600 for more information or to volunteer.
    Develop a buddy network of concerned residents and volunteers that will check on elderly or disabled citizens. See Volunteer.
  • What Qualifies as a Severe Winter Storm?      
    A severe winter storm event includes a storm with heavy snow, ice, or freezing rain - all of which can cause significant problems for residents. The County's greatest winter stroms are "Nor'easters."
  • What is a Nor'easter?
    A strong low pressure system that affects the Mid Atlantic and New England States. It can form over land or over the coastal waters. These winter weather events are notorious for producing heavy snow, rain, and tremendous waves that crash onto Atlantic beaches, often causing beach erosion and structural damage. Wind gusts associated with these storms can exceed hurricane force in intensity. A nor'easter gets its name from the continuously strong northeasterly winds blowing in from the ocean ahead of the storm and over the coastal areas.
  • What is the difference between and Advisory, Watch and Warning?
    An Advisory Highlights special weather conditions that are less serious than a warning. They are for events that may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.
    Watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so.
    Warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property.
  • Common Winter Storm Terminology:
    Snow Squall - A snow squall is an intense, but limited duration, period of moderate to heavy snowfall, accompanied by strong, gusty surface winds and possibly lightning (generally moderate to heavy snow showers). Snow accumulation may be significant.

    Winter Storm Watch - This product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.
    Winter Storm Warning - This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations. The criteria for this warning can vary from place to place.
    Ice Storm Warning - This product is issued by the National Weather Service when freezing rain produces a significant and possibly damaging accumulation of ice. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state, but typically will be issued any time more than 1/4" of ice is expected to accumulate in an area.
    Blizzard Warning - Issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.
    Winter Weather Advisory - This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a low pressure system produces a combination of winter weather (snow, freezing rain, sleet, etc.) that present a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria.
    Freezing Rain Advisory - Issued when freezing rain or freezing drizzle is forecast but a significant accumulation is not expected. However, even small amounts of freezing rain or freezing drizzle may cause significant travel problems.
    Wind Chill Advisory - The National Weather Service issues this product when the wind chill could be life threatening if action is not taken. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state.
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