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Winter storm passes with little damage

January 15, 1998

Winter storm passes with little damage

By AMY WALLAUER

Staff Writer

A winter storm that moved into the Tri-State area early Thursday wasn't as bad as predicted, but problems such as power outages and downed trees began to crop up as temperatures dipped toward evening.

Downed tree limbs were responsible for an 8:30 p.m. power outage that affected about 100 residents in the areas of Belview Avenue and Woodland Way, said Mitch Gladhill, line foreman with Hagerstown City Light.

Power was restored within about an hour, he said.

There also were reports of power outages on Jonathan Street.

Emergency Services in Washington County were called out for downed wires, some burning, in a number of areas including Virginia Avenue, Saint Clair Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

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A downed tree on Broadfording Road at Salem Avenue and another at Shindham Road blocked streets, according to emergency services. Jim Sterling, assistant superintendent of Washington County's Department of Transportation, said about 10 trees had to be cleared from roads by 10 p.m.

Frederick County Emergency Services also reported downed trees.

The freezing rain and sleet that began early Thursday was expected to create hazardous driving conditions for much of the Tri-State area by afternoon. Schools in Washington and Frederick counties, Franklin County, Pa., and Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties in West Virginia closed in anticipation of severe weather.

Most of the precipitation turned to rain by early afternoon and temperatures gradually rose throughout the day. Problems arose Thursday night, when power lines and trees became heavy with ice.

Most roads in Washington and Frederick counties were clear, thanks to advanced salting by road crews.

"We have a few icy spots here and there, like in the areas where it's shaded, but other than that we're in pretty good shape," Ted Wolford, superintendent of the county's transportation department, said late Thursday afternoon. "We did get a little head start on it, which I think helped."

Maryland State Police in Hagerstown said a car struck a tree on northbound Interstate 81 after hitting a patch of ice just south of Maugans Avenue at about 3 p.m. The driver was treated for minor injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said.

In Jefferson County, W.Va., officials said it appeared most drivers had heeded the warning of bad weather and either stayed home or were driving cautiously.

Jefferson County Emergency Services Director Darrell Penwell said a heavy rain had fallen farther south in Virginia on the Shenandoah River.

Pennsylvania State Police in Fulton and Franklin counties, and emergency services in both counties, reported no incidents in relation to the icy travel early Thursday.

The worst should be over for the Tri-State area, said Jim Decarufel, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. Light snow headed for the area this evening shouldn't create any serious problems.

"Just flurries. Nothing to get excited about," Decarufel said. "You're out of the woods."

Sterling said the roads should be clear this morning, as long as the temperature stays high enough to prevent refreezing.

"The temperatures are supposed to hold at about 32, 34 degrees," Sterling said. "We're still applying some material."

Rain in Hagerstown was expected to taper off in the pre-dawn hours today, with high temperatures in the 35-degree to 40-degree range, according to the National Weather Service. Scattered drizzle is possible throughout the day with some flurries tonight.

Staff writers Clyde Ford and Lisa Graybeal contributed to this report.

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