Skip Navigation

Baltimore County iWatch Logo

Public Safety News


Baltimore County Police and Fire News

Official News Blog of Baltimore County police, fire, homeland security and emergency management. Call 911 to report crimes in progress and emergencies.
Keyword: emergency management

​During Maryland Severe Storms Awareness Week, Baltimore County Emergency Management -- along with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the  National Weather Service (NWS) -- promotes awareness of spring weather threats.

Maryland Severe Storms Awareness Week is April 7 to 13.

NWS, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), uses this opportunity to emphasize that every year the mid-Atlantic region is at risk for flooding, damaging winds, tornadoes, hail, and lightning storms. Maryland experiences severe storms regularly during the spring and is particularly at risk for flooding.

Baltimore County and nearby Howard County experienced devastating historic flooding last May.

Hailstorms and tornadoes also can occur in the region, especially in spring and summer. Nearly 100 tornadoes have occurred in Maryland over the past ten years.

Preparing for Weather Emergencies

“If you hear thunder or see lightning, try to get inside right away,” said Jay Ringgold, director of the Baltimore County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "When flooding occurs, never try to drive across flooded roadways. If you need to leave your shelter due to damage or an emergency, bring your emergency kit and a charged cell phone with you.”

Residents can be “weather prepared” by ensuring that they know how to receive a warning, have a plan, and practice safety tips.

“Every year, Maryland gets severe thunderstorms that target localized communities” said Christopher Strong, NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office. “If Marylanders receive National Weather Service warnings from phone apps and/or weather radio, and have a plan for what to do, they can all stay safe from damaging winds, hail, flooding, tornadoes and lightning."

Baltimore County Emergency Management works closely with NWS and MEMA to identify and monitor severe weather systems, develop preparedness plans and safety information and coordinate a response to sever storms.

Residents should take the following protective actions: 

  • During flooding, never drive over an area where water is flowing over the road and you cannot see the pavement. Turn around, don’t drown!
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued or strong winds occur, get to a sturdy shelter and stay indoors and away from windows.
  • With the right conditions, tornadoes can form rapidly. If NWS issues a tornado warning of if you see a tornado, quickly get inside and go to the lowest floor available.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck from a fringe lightning strike. More than 98 percent of lightning casualties occur outdoors. Get inside a building or vehicle, if possible.

Additional information is available through NWS's "Weather Ready" web site; MEMA; and Baltimore County's Emergency Management web site,

Residents can also download the Maryland Prepares mobile app .





Division Chief Jay RinggoldDivision Chief Jay Ringgold, a 33-year BCoFD veteran with extensive experience in Emergency Management, has been appointed the County's Director of Emergency Management by Gov. Larry Hogan.

State law requires the Governor, upon the recommendation of a jurisdiction's top elected official, to appoint a local Director of Emergency Management. The gubernatorial appointee oversees all Emergency Management issues and reports to the jurisdiction's top elected official -- in Baltimore County, the County Executive -- regarding these issues.

The Governor confirmed Ringgold's appointment earlier this week. County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced it at yesterday's winter storm exercise, held in the Baltimore County Emergency Operations Center.

Division Chief Ringgold has supervised Emergency Management operations under the supervision of the Fire Chief since February 2018. He has been actively involved in Emergency Management operations since 2006.

Emergency Management officials this afternoon will conduct an exercise designed to refine the County's preparedness for winter storm emergencies.

The exercise will be held in the Emergency Operations Center and will include representatives from Public Works, Fire, Health & Human Services, Police, Aging and other relevant agencies. It asks EOC representatives to respond to a hypothetical scenario involving a serious snow/ice event.

The EOC activates for major emergencies involving a coordinated, multi-agency response.

A briefing for media representatives is scheduled at 2 p.m. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and top emergency management, public safety, public works and public health officials works will provide an overview of current, agency-specific preparedness issues.

"Our top priority during weather emergencies is the safety of our residents and visitors,” County Executive Olszewski said. “Training is part of preparation for events that will affect our county, sooner or later. We are committed to helping the County get back to business quickly and efficiently. We must do everything we can to ensure roads are passable as soon as possible; we recognize how important it is to minimize time lost at school and at work."

Winter Storm Emergencies

In the Baltimore region, winter storm emergencies requiring EOC activation typically involve significant amounts of snow and/or ice. Concerns include power outages and difficulty or inability to clear roads.

"With this exercise, we've designed an especially challenging, worst-case scenario involving power outages, building collapses and logistical problems responding to the needs of vulnerable people," said Jay Ringgold, Director of the Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management. "We want every agency to prepare for the unexpected and for unusual obstacles."

Emergency Management officials will use this opportunity to remind every Baltimore County household and business of the importance of personal emergency preparedness, including looking after vulnerable relatives and neighbors.

Following national protocols, Emergency Management recommends that everyone prepare to get through three days without power. Preparation should include:

  • Having flashlights and batteries on hand
  • Charging electronic devices and obtaining a battery-powered radio to receive information during extended emergencies
  • Stocking up on water, non-perishable foods, medicines, infant supplies and pet supplies

Fire and Emergency Management officials remind residents who use generators as an alternate source of power to place them a safe distance from the home to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Staying Informed

Information about weather emergencies, including snow removal, is shared on Twitter @BaltCoEmergency. Please follow us. 

For residents who choose not to use Twitter, all @BaltCoEmergency posts are shared on our "Stormfighter" web resource. Storm-related concerns and complaints may be submitted on the "Stormfighter" site.

Revised June 27, 2017