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Keyword: storm

In cooperation with BGE, the Baltimore County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) encourages residents to review their readiness to handle winter energy costs and to maintain home heating systems.

Each year in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control estimates, excessive cold kills more than 1,300 people; this figure is likely higher than that, experts say. Recognizing that heating costs pose a challenge for many, HSEM is sharing the following information from BGE.

Dealing With Heating Expenses

During the colder months, heating systems typically account for more than 40 percent of customers’ energy bills because extreme weather can triggers significant increases in energy use at home. BGE.COM provides resources for households that face challenges meeting energy costs: 

  • BGE's 2019-2020 Community Resource Guide.  This is a guide to federal, state and local resources, as well as programs from BGE and non-profit providers, targeted to households with trouble managing their heating bills. A Spanish language version is available. 

  • The BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®  lists energy efficiency and conservation programs available to customers, including appliance rebates, lighting discounts, and free Quick Home Energy Check-Ups.

Energy Saving and Safety Steps

HSEM encourages energy saving steps, including:

  • Maintain heating systems. Most cold weather energy expenses are related to heating your home. Schedule service for your heating system now to find out what maintenance is required to keep your system operating efficiently.
     
  •  Lower Water Heating Costs. Water heating accounts for about 18 percent of the energy consumed in your home. For savings, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F).
     
  •  Adjust the Temperature. When you are at home and awake, set your thermostat as low as comfortable for you. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours; this should save around 10 per cent a year on heating bills. Use a programmable thermostat for easy adjustments. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
  • Keep Natural Gas Appliance Vents Clear. Know where your natural gas appliances vent to the exterior and ensure the vents are clear.  Some high-efficiency gas appliances, such as water heaters and furnaces, vent along the foundation of buildings. If these vents become blocked by snow or ice, exhaust may back up resulting in deadly carbon monoxide buildup or a release of natural gas.        

Local emergency management experts will conduct a severe storm preparedness exercise tomorrow morning, May 15, for agency representatives to Baltimore County's Emergency Operations Center. 

The exercise, hosted by the Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, will pause at 10:30 a.m. for a press briefing in the EOC with County Executive Johnny Olszewski and the heads of agencies involved with emergency response. **Media should report to the Security Desk in the Historic Courthouse, 400 Washington Ave., 21204, to be escorted to the EOC.

The exercise will feature a realistic hypothetical scenario involving flooding from a Category 1 or 2 level hurricane impacting the County's coastal east side communities.

"Recent history shows that coastal areas like Bowleys Quarters, Turner Station and Miller's Island are extremely vulnerable to tropical systems affecting the mid-Atlantic. An effective response to these events requires preparation and partnership with our residents and businesses," Olszewski said.  

National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Strong is scheduled to attend the exercise and present an overview of the forecast for the 2019 Atlantic storm season. Hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through November 30.

Threats to Baltimore County

Threats to Baltimore County during hurricane season include coastal flooding and storm surge, the subject of tomorrow's exercise. 

Inland communities along creeks and rivers are vulnerable to flooding during heavy rain events.

High winds with the potential to bring down power lines and trees can cause power outages anywhere in Baltimore County.

The Olszewski Administration believes it is crucial to prepare for flooding events that are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change and rising sea levels. 

Preparation and Response

Disaster response training for first responders --including swiftwater and dive teams, helicopter rescue units and other specialized units -- occurs throughout the year. Prior to an approaching storm, routine preparedness includes equipment checks and outreach to mutual aid and private partners to ensure contacts and mutual aid agreements are current.

Exercises like the one tomorrow are held several times a year in the EOC to refresh agency representatives on processes and procedures used during an activation. EOC activations occur when an emergency requires a coordinated multi-agency response.

Public education and outreach occurs continually. "Prepared, engaged residents are essential to our ability to respond to disasters," said Jay Ringgold, Director of HSEM; the greater the number of households that assemble emergency kits, secure flood insurance and plan for pets and vulnerable family members, the better the County's ability to withstand a severe weather event.

Emergency Communications Platforms

Before, during and after emergencies, Baltimore County provides information via Twitter, @BaltCoEmergency. For those who choose not to register for Twitter, posts are shared on the County's "Stormfighter" web page.

 

 

 

 

 

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Towson neighborhoods are recovering this morning from yesterday's short-lived but severe thunderstorm that felled large tree branches, brought down power lines and left thousands without power.

The storm tore through Baltimore County around 5 p.m., following a National Weather Service severe thunderstorm warning, in effect until 5:30 p.m. The Towson area took the brunt of the storm; damage also was reported in Pikesville. Other areas of the county were impacted little, if at all.

The storm brought swirling winds and driving rains. In Towson, BCoFD crews responded to reports of fallen trees and branches that blocked roads, and several incidents involving trees that fell on houses.

The storm caused numerous power lines to fall across roadways. West Joppa Road remains closed this morning while BGE crews repair the lines. Motorists should avoid this area.

Some traffic lights in Towson remain out of service; motorists should use caution at these intersections.

At the height of the storm, 29,000 households were without power due to the weather. That number had dropped to about 4,000 this morning.

No injuries are reported.

Emergency Management officials said this storm illustrates how quickly summer thunderstorms can evolve into destructive events, and how difficult it is to predict exactly where such storms -- which can be isolated and small in scope -- will hit.

Residents should:

  • Be prepared at all times for power outages. Battery-powered flashlights and lanterns are a "must."
  • Maintain large trees, especially aging trees, to reduce the risk of fallen branches and uprooting.
  • Get indoors, if possible, when thunderstorms threatens and especially following a severe thunderstorm warning.
  • Motorists should never attempt to drive through standing water and, if possible, should pull over during violent storms such as yesterday's.
  • Avoid trees, water and landline phones to reduce the risk of electrocution and injury during a lightning strike.

Additional information about severe thunderstorms is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

 
 
Revised June 27, 2017