This story was updated at 11:20 a.m. Friday
Weather, highway and school officials are preparing for a fast-moving storm Friday afternoon that has already resulted in early dismissal times at Howard County and Carroll County Schools and could make for a potentially difficult commute.
Howard County Public Schools will close 1.5 hours early Friday in anticipation of the storm and Carroll County schools will close two hours early.
Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Montgomery schools are also among those that have announced earlier on Friday that they will close schools early Friday.
A Hazardous Weather Outlook and Winter Weather Advisory have been issued by the National Weather Service Friday, and both include Howard and Carroll counties.
The winter weather advisory is in effect from 2 to 9 p.m. Friday afternoon and and is calling for 1 to 3 inches of accumulation.
“Roads will become snow covered and slippery resulting in hazardous travel during the afternoon and evening commute,” according to the advisory, which warned also that the storm could cause limited visibility.
Winds will be between 5 and 10 miles per hour and temperatures will be around 20 degrees.
State Highway Administration officials in Maryland are also warning motorists to take precautions.
“Rush hour and winter precipitation are a terrible combination since SHA’s snow removal efforts can be severely hampered by traffic, crashes and disabled vehicles – making it difficult for crews to salt and plow the highways,” said Melinda B. Peters, SHA Administrator, in a release.
The SHA, in a press release, also offered the following tips to drivers for Friday afternoon:
• Fill your gas tank, make sure you have window washer fluid, an ice scraper, a charged cell phone and an alternate travel plan should crashes or other incidents block your normal route.
• Listen to commercial traffic reports so you know the latest traffic impacts. Call 511 using a hands-free device.
• If snow starts mid-day, considerer delaying travel until after the snow stops. SHA crews work to achieve bare pavement within four hours after a storm stops. If you do travel, have realistic expectation and be patient.
• Drive focused – Maryland law prohibits hand-held cell phone use and texting while driving.
• Buckle up! It’s the law in Maryland and your number one defense in a crash.
• Move over to an adjacent travel lane away from emergency personnel - a new Maryland law requires it.
• Allow extra time for unexpected delays.
• Slow down and pay attention, avoiding distractions such as cell-phone use, changing CDs and eating. Observe all posted speed limits.
• Never drink and drive! Designate a sober driver.
• Drivers with cellular phones can dial #77 or 911 to report suspected aggressive or drunk drivers.