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Maryland Department of Emergency Management

What does a “State of Emergency” mean?

What does a “State of Emergency” mean?

In preparation for Tropical Storm Ophelia, Governor Wes Moore has asked State departments and agencies to launch a coordinated effort to keep Marylanders safe and informed in the upcoming days. Governor Moore signed Executive Order 01.01.2023.13 declaring a state of emergency in Maryland on Friday, September 22, 2023.  Here is information on what a state of emergency means.

Not all states of emergency are the same. Each state of emergency is different and can change depending on the severity of the event or emergency.  Be sure to check with your local news and with MDEM for updated information related to states of emergency.

A state of emergency has been declared in order to allow Maryland to coordinate and request emergency resources and support. A state of emergency allows the Governor to access certain resources, like the National Guard, in order to increase the State’s response.

A state of emergency is a good indicator that residents should remain alert and follow officials’ orders, news stations, and weather forecasts in order to be informed of the situation.

Here is additional information about this state of emergency:

Will schools be closed?

States of Emergencies typically do not mandate school closures. It usually is the local school district’s decision to stay open or to close. Check with your school for up-to-date closure information.

Will stores and businesses be open?

This state of emergency does not require employers to close. We ask that all employers consider employee safety at all times.

Can I drive on the roads?

Most of the time, motorists are not prohibited from driving. However, this depends on the situation and the limitations set in each particular State of Emergency. Each State of Emergency is different.  If you are a motorist and must drive and cannot change your plans, you should drive carefully and use common sense. You should also:

  • Allow extra time to get to your  destinations.
  • Let family or/and friends know what roads you plan to take and expected arrival times.
  • Contact family/friends after you arrive to your destination.



  • Stay vigilant, use common sense, and continue to monitor the forecast
    • We are asking all Marylanders to remain vigilant, to stay tuned to local news stations for the latest updates, and to follow any instructions local officials may provide during this state of emergency.
    • We are expecting an extended period of strong winds, heavy rainfall, and elevated tides. Conditions will deteriorate throughout Saturday. Highest impacts expected during the day Saturday, lasting into Sunday morning. 
  • Those under a tropical storm warning should be prepared and exercise caution during this multiple-day event. 
    • Widespread power outages are possible, so we urge people to keep their devices charged and monitor trusted local forecasts for your part of the State. 
      • Always use extreme caution near downed power lines and wires. For your own safety, assume that they are live and carrying electricity.
      • Keep a distance of at least 30 feet and report it to 9-1-1 from a safe location.
      • NEVER drive over downed wires. If you are driving in an area with downed trees or utility poles, slow down, scan the road and stay away from any debris that may be caught in a downed wire.
      • If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed wire, STAY INSIDE! Call 9-1-1 to request assistance and if someone approaches your car, roll down your window and ask them to keep their distance.
    • Follow any protective actions recommended by local officials.
    • Make sure to have an emergency supply kit stocked with non-perishable food, a three day supply of water, and other necessities
    • Make sure you stock items for those with special needs and pets.
    • Try to avoid outdoor activities and travel during the storm if at all possible.
    • Know the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING.
      • WATCH: conditions are favorable for a hurricane, tropical storm, flooding, or other severe weather event.
      • WARNING: ACT NOW! Severe weather is happening; take immediate precautions.
  • Don’t walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters. Remember: Turn around, don’t drown!

We are tracking this storm moment-by-moment and we are ensuring we are prepared for all possible impacts to our state.