WBOC NewsWatcher Michael Matthews took this photo in downtown Ocean City on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012.
UNDATED- A massive coastal storm is nearly upon Maryland with heavy rain, high winds, widespread power outages and a coastal storm surge expected to begin later Sunday.
Hurricane Sandy is a huge slow moving storm with wide-ranging impacts already being felt on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The State Highway Administration said its crews prepared by clearing drains, fueling up, stocking road signs and readying chain saws and other equipment.
The Town of Ocean City has initiated mandatory evacuations for residents and visitors in low lying flood-prone areas (17th Street and south) as a result of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to pass offshore the Maryland's coastline early Monday morning. SHA advises motorists leaving the Eastern Shore of Maryland to consider alternates routes other than U.S. Route 50 (Ocean Gateway).
"Travelers should expect to encounter road closures due to high water or trees down. SHA crews are adjusting signal timing and will post warning signs wherever possible," said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. "Remember, a new law enacted Oct. 1 mandates drivers must treat intersections with non-functioning traffic signals as four-way stops. Do not assume you or the other driver has the right-of-way; make eye contact if possible and proceed safely through the intersection."
Only one lane of westbound US 50 approaching US 301 is open near the outlet shopping area in Queenstown, where a bridge replacement project is currently under construction. Motorists traveling westbound on US 50 are urged to use US 13 or US 113 and go north through Delaware. If you do plan to use westbound US 50, we encourage motorists to turn right (north) onto MD 213 at Wye Mills, then left on US 301 and proceed to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
The Worcester County Commissioners, which have authority for all areas in the county outside of the Town of Ocean City, have ordered waterfront property owners to immediately evacuate residences due to the imminent threats from Hurricane Sandy. This includes all properties in the West Ocean City area, including the communities of Cape Isle of Wight, Mystic Harbour, Snug Harbor, The Landings and Assateague Pointe. Also included in the Worcester County mandated evacuation are any properties east of the parkway in Ocean Pines and other waterfront properties throughout Worcester County due to anticipated flooding.
To keep traffic moving smoothly, the SHA said it will:
Provide real-time traffic information and storm-related road closures through Maryland's 511 phone system and at WWW.MD511.ORG as well as www.roads.maryland.gov where you can click on CHART to see live traffic cameras.
Program overhead Variable Message Signs along major roadways and Traveler Advisory Radios to inform motorists of crashes, delays and route diversions. However, smaller routes prone to flooding may not be listed as they happen quickly and often go unreported. Just because a road isn't listed as problematic on these resources, conditions change quickly, so use caution and allow extra time regardless.
In conjunction with other agencies and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the SHA is monitoring the storm from the Statewide Operations Center near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. During hurricanes, snow storms and other crises, the SOC doubles as SHA's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) providing access to hundreds of camera images, constant contact with field personnel and quick response to changing conditions. From the EOC, SHA communicates with local jurisdictions, neighboring states, emergency responders and the media.
For the most up to date highway traffic information, call 511 or 1-855-GOMD511 or visit www.md511.org , which also includes weather. Sign up to personalize travel route information through MY511 on the website. Remember to use 511 safely – Maryland law prohibits hand-held mobile phone use and texting while driving.
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