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County operations came to a standstill Thursday as snow blanketed the area.

Charles County government and schools shut down for the day, and many businesses across the area closed, including many stores at the Waldorf Marketplace shopping center.

Snowfall first began in the county about 7 p.m. Wednesday. At first, it began as a slushy mix. The heavier snow began to fall in the early hours of the morning. By the time county residents awoke Thursday morning, a thick white blanket had covered the entire county.

Darren Lagana, president of Covenant Builders, said he and his crew were out at 10 p.m. Wednesday removing snow from shopping centers. By Thursday afternoon the crew had finished Brandywine Crossing, Rosewick Crossing and Waldorf Marketplace I and were plowing the lots and shoveling sidewalks at Waldorf Marketplace II where the only car in the parking lot was a small passenger car that looked as though it hadn’t been moved since before the first snowflake fell.

Lagana said the storm wasn’t anything unexpected, but it was a wet storm causing heavy snow. He said it was important to start on snow removal early to limit any damage to equipment from wet heavy snow.

County government spokeswoman Crystal Hunt said Thursday morning that about 6.5 inches of snow fell around Ironsides, while the St. Charles area received 5.8 inches, and 6.7 inches fell in Bryans Road.

“Everything’s been smooth so far,” Hunt said.

Charles County Public Schools announced Wednesday evening that the system would close Thursday, code red for employees on the code system.

There are four built-in snow days in the calendar that do not have to be made up. The system has six missed school days due to inclement weather so far this year, and added a seventh, announcing schools would be closed Friday at about 3 p.m. Thursday.

The board of education adopts the school calendar two years in advance and approved using Presidents Day as the first inclement weather makeup date for the 2013-14 school year, if needed. That makeup day was approved earlier this month to makeup the fifth missed day.

Additional inclement weather days will be added to spring break in the following order: April 14, 15, 16 and 17.

Any decision to waive a missed day would have to be requested by Superintendent Kimberly A. Hill to the Maryland State Department of Education for its approval, school system spokeswoman Katie O’Malley-Simpson said. Essential employees worked Thursday to clear parking lots and sidewalks and check buildings for electricity, she said.

Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said Thursday morning he was pleased with the county’s progress through the storm.

“I think they did a really good job, actually,” Robinson said of the weathermen’s predictions for the storm. “Based on the forecast over the next few days, this might not stick around long.”

Robinson lauded the county’s measures to buckle down for the storm before it could actually hit.

“By taking early precautions, we’re probably talking some lives,” Robinson said.

Charles County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Diane Richardson said by noon Thursday, a total of 296 calls for service had gone out during the storm. Eighteen of those were for car crashes, she said, and one involved an injury.

Richardson also said that Sgt. Tony Verdiglione stopped to pick up a man he saw walking on the side of the road during the storm. Verdiglione learned that the man had recently undergone heart surgery and was walking to find a hotel. The sergeant drove him to one.

By Thursday afternoon, there was the potential for a second round of snowfall to hit the area, accompanied by strong winds up to 29 miles per hour, according to data from the National Weather Service. Winds were expected to die down some in the evening, and the forecast called for 1 to 3 more inches of snow. Temperatures were expected to reach the high 30s on Friday, with light rain and snow possible Friday evening.

lrenner@somdnews.com