NEW FOR WEDNESDAY: Emergency Officials Issue Storm Warnings, Information On Power Outages

OCEAN CITY — With conditions rapidly declining, state and local officials late Wednesday afternoon are reminding area residents and visitors to stay indoors if possible and use extreme caution and common sense if they must go out.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">

The State Highway Administration (SHA) on Wednesday afternoon issued a few warnings and reminders about a major problem with power outages of traffic signals at intersections. SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said about half an hour ago the traffic signal at the intersection of Routes 90 and 589 has been out for about an hour, creating a dangerous situation at the crossroads and others where signals are not functioning.

“People have a tendency to ignore non-functioning signals and not pay attention, which creates the potential for serious accidents,” he said. “Maryland law requires intersections with non-functioning traffic signals to be treated as four-way stops, meaning drivers are required to come to a complete stop and look both ways, then look both ways again before proceeding through.”

Gischlar said the Chesapeake Bay Bridge has been closed for several hours due to high winds. He said an empty tractor-trailer blew over on the westbound span and was leaning against the support stanchions. Gischlar said the Bay Bridge will be closed indefinitely until the storm passes and conditions improve.

Gischlar did, however, dismiss a circulating rumor that the Route 50 bridge into Ocean City was going to be closed.

“We’re keeping an eye on that situation and the wind is really howling up there, but there has been no decision to close it for now,” he said. “Again, we don’t recommend anybody traveling and if they must, to avoid bridges and flooded areas. If they must drive, we’re urging them to keep both hands on the wheel, be vigilant and don’t succumb to distractions. In short, just use common sense.”

Meanwhile, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office around 5 p.m. announced a temporary, pet-friendly shelter will open at 9 p.m. tonight at Stephen Decatur Middle School by those displaced by the storm. The sheriff’s office is requesting residents to stay in and not be out on the roads.

Worcester is currently experiencing high winds, causing trees to fall. The sheriff’s office is urging residents and visitors to use common sense during the storm and stay safe.

In Ocean City, the latest advisory discouraged motorists from the south end of town.

“Due to minor flooding and standing water, Ocean City Emergency Personnel are advising Citizens to avoid the south end of ocean city.  There is standing water south of 5th Street on coastal highway which is unsafe for car traffic, however truck traffic may proceed with caution,” the alert read. “All vehicular traffic is advised to avoid the south end of the city, the Rt. 50 bridge and to use Rt. 90 if possible.”