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Winter mess hampers travel

January 08, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

A storm dumped 4 1/2 inches of snow on the Tri-State area Friday, slowing down motorists and giving students an early start to their weekend.

The snow started about 3:30 a.m. and tapered off by 2 p.m., said Greg Keefer, Hagerstown weather observer.

By Friday night, major roads were clear but side roads were treacherous in spots, authorities said.

"It's kind of a mess out there," said Sgt. William Wright of the Hagerstown City Police.

Shortly before 9 p.m., freezing rain began to ice up the roads, officials said.

In Washington County, more than a dozen accidents were reported on Interstates 81 and 70. Most were minor, but brought traffic to a standstill in some places, a dispatcher said.

Authorities in West Virginia said there were at least three acccidents on Interstate 81, including one at the Potomac River bridge near the Maryland line, two at the 23-mile marker and three on W.Va. 45 east of Martinsburg, all near the same location.

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Pennsylvania officials said they were investigating four or five wrecks, including one at Exit 3 on I-81.

The precipitation was expected to change to rain by this morning, said forecasters at the National Weather Service.

Throughout the day, Tri-State area police contended with minor traffic accidents, they said.

"The roads are snowy but passable," said Dennis Monn, emergency management director for Franklin County, Pa.

For some, the sidewalks were more hazardous than the roads because the snow concealed last weekend's ice storm.

Sledding accidents in Berkeley County, W.Va., sent two people to the hospital, officials said.

About 3:30 p.m., the Back Creek Valley Fire Department was called to Hampshire Grade Road, a dispatcher said. Further information was unavailable at press time.

Shortly before 5 p.m., a 12-year-old Martinsburg, W.Va., boy was hit by a pickup truck while sledding, said Officer Eric Heavener.

The boy came down a sloped alley slid and into West Addition Street, where he was hit by the truck driven by David Sheffler, 39, of Martinsburg, Heavener said.

He was treated and released at Martinsburg City Hospital, a nursing supervisor said.

Schools across the Tri-State area were closed.

Brothers Justin and Daniel Peterson, playing in the snow in Hagerstown City Park, seemed more enthusiastic about not having to go to school than being able to play in the snow, though they were covered in enough white to suggest they had done plenty of playing.

Justin, 13, said he preferred last week's ice storm.

"It was more fun to run around and sled on than today. I just like the snow and not having school," Daniel, 11, said.

There were no complaints about Friday's storm from the Lichtenberger family.

Mother and father, Diane and Mike Lichtenberger, were in front of their South Prospect Street home shoveling, while son Lucas - who his parents said awakened at 6 a.m., half an hour earlier than he normally would for school - played behind the house.

Diane Lichtenberger, who was shoveling the walk with her 1997 Christmas present from her husband, said she was happy to have had the day off work.

"I can remember as a child I used to love playing in the snow," she said. She's glad her children can experience the fun of winter.

Some events today were canceled, including the Washington County Board of Education's Coffee and Conversation and the 1999 County Band auditions.




Staff writers Richard F. Belisle and Jason Myers contributed to this report.

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