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Ready for Winter?

More snow than last year expected.

— Winter weather has arrived. How cold will it get? How much snow will fall? Is everyone prepared? These are some of the questions area residents and merchants are asking.

“We are anticipating a wet winter. We have some extra heavier merchandise than what we would usually stock,” Strosniders hardware store manager Steve Butler said.

Stosniders has snow shovels, ice scrappers, ice melt, and snow blowers prominently displayed and Bulter says the items are selling though not at a high clip.

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Photo by Tazeen Ahmad

Strosniders Hardware store in Potomac.

“Some people are playing it safe instead of coming in when the rush is on and they need one right away. They are being proactive and getting things earlier,” Butler said.

Meteorologist Bob Ryan from ABC7/WJLA-TV says there are early indications of lower temperatures and more precipitation this winter compared to the milder winter we had last year.

“The patterns and the hints that we have seen in late October and November indicate that we are going to be seeing at least an average cold winter and more snow than last winter,” Ryan said. Ryan also anticipates at least a couple of chances of some big storms coming up along the coast.

Anthony Loconte, a program manager at the Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, says the county is ready for more snow this winter and any chance storms that may come this way. Loconte encourages residents to be prepared.

“Remain alert to the weather forecast. If you start to hear that a weather event might be coming you should sign up for the county alert system for updates. Remain vigilant because things do change,” Loconte said.

The county alert system sends out public warnings and alerts during a major crisis, emergency or severe weather events. Residents can go to the county website at http://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov to register to receive updates on county closures, road closures and other important information before and after an emergency.

“Prepare a 3-4 day supply of food and water, make sure you have enough quantity of your medication for the same time period. Have your important papers in a Ziploc bag so you can grab them and run out of the house and leave if you need to,” Loconte said. “Evacuations are never a planned thing. There is usually never a heads up.”

“We see extreme weather events from one season to another that a lot of areas don’t see,” Loconte said. “Our planning is all hazards. We don’t pick a specific hazard to concentrate on at any given point. We plan for all of them together.”

While the county is preparing for what the winter might bring, Michael Lavin, manager and designer of the landscape division of Good Earth Garden Center on Falls Road, offers some advice on what residents can do to protect plants and trees in their yards during the cold weather.

“We used to cut back roses, chrysanthemums, and green perennials but now what we have found out is that the green stems of all of these plants continue to photosynthesize through the wintertime, so we recommend that you don’t cut back anything that has green on it until the springtime,” Lavin said.

Lavin also warns against heavy pruning of evergreen shrubs in the fall, and piling up of mulch against tree trunks or any plant that has a bark on it because he says it will rot the bark over the wintertime.

“It is also a good idea when shoveling snow to not pile it on top of plants, and as far as snow fall on plants you can very gently knock snow off with a broom but never try to dig plants out,” Lavin said.