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Season's first snowfall blankets area

January 07, 2002

Season's first snowfall blankets area



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI
kimy@herald-mail.com


The season's first snowfall Sunday afternoon made roads snow-covered and slick, causing traffic accidents throughout the Tri-State area and closing or delaying classes at some schools, authorities said.

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"It's the busiest night I can remember in a long time," Maryland State Police Cpl. Greg Spickler said Sunday evening.

Spickler said he was forced to have five troopers from dayshift work through the evening to handle accident calls.

"I lost count after 25 (accidents)" he said.

The snow started in Hagerstown around 3:30 p.m. and was falling heavily by 4 p.m. The weather changed to rain and sleet briefly before changing back to snow, said meteorologist Dewey Walston with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Three to six inches were predicted to fall and by 8:30 p.m., 3 1/2 inches of precipitation were recorded in the city by Hagerstown Weather Observer Greg Keefer.

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As of Sunday evening, Washington County schools were calling for a two-hour delay for today's classes as a result of the snowfall.

School in Jefferson County, W.Va., is canceled today because of the snow, officials said.

Berkeley County, W.Va., school officials could not be reached Sunday night to determine if schools there would be open.

Officials with the Franklin County Emergency Services Department said there were about 30 reported accidents Sunday afternoon and evening, resulting in a couple of minor injuries.

Pennsylvania State Police said all roads, including Interstate 81, were snow-covered and in bad condition Sunday night.

In Chambersburg, Pa., a Fayetteville, Pa., Fire Co. volunteer lost control of the utility vehicle he was driving on his way to a call Sunday evening, Pennsylvania State Police said.

Justin Martin, 24, of Shippensburg, Pa., escaped injury when his 1997 Jeep traveled to the north side of Lincoln Way East in Greene Township, Pa., entered a yard and rolled onto the driver's side, police said.

Maryland State Police were called to accidents at Md. 63 and State Line, Md. 34 near the Potomac River Bridge and on Interstate 70, Spickler said.

Many of the accidents were cars driving off the road into the medians, he said.

The snow took some drivers by surprise and they found themselves losing control on the icy roadway, he said.

There were a flurry of car accidents in Berkeley County between 2:30 and 5 p.m., but none was serious, police and dispatchers said.

Emergency officials estimated they responded to about 25 calls for car accidents during the period.

The main problem was trying to stay on the roads, West Virginia State Police Trooper Richard Shockey said.

Shockey said troopers were "slip-sliding" on roads going from one accident to the next.

"It's pretty bad," Shockey said.

Many roads in the Eastern Panhandle were snow-covered early Sunday evening, Shockey said.

Hagerstown City Police were called to several minor accidents in the city, including one involving a police cruiser.

A car and a city police cruiser collided after the car slid through the intersection of Locust and Baltimore streets around 3:30 p.m., police said.

Both drivers were uninjured and the cars received minor damage, police said. Washington County Sheriff's deputies were also inundated with accident calls, including one with injuries on Mount Aetna Road, a deputy said.

Sunday's precipitation was the result of low pressure in the Gulf Coast moving to the East Coast, Walston said.

The precipitation is likely to melt by the start of the week, as warmer temperatures are expected, he said.

In Hagerstown, scattered snow showers were predicted for today with highs in the 30s.

Weather through the week will be in the 30s and 40s with partly cloudy skies Tuesday and Wednesday.

Scattered rain showers are likely to hit Thursday, Walston said.

- Staff writers Dave McMillion and Stacey Danzuso contributed to this story.

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