It's a white Christmas

Snow falls on holiday

Snow falls on holiday

December 26, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

TRI-STATE - Mother Nature must have been feeling sentimental.

For the first time in nine years, she graced the Tri-State area with a white Christmas.

According to area weather observers, residents woke up Christmas morning to more than 4 inches of snow from a storm that began Tuesday afternoon, let off during the night then picked up steam again Christmas morning.

According to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site, 1.4 inches fell Christmas Eve and 3.9 inches more fell Christmas Day. Keefer said the only other time significant snow fell on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was in 1962, when 5 inches fell.

Waynesboro, Pa., weather observer Todd Toth reported 4 inches on the ground late in the day Wednesday.

The last time snow fell on Christmas in the area was in 1993, the weather observers said.

Motorists were sliding off the slick roads and getting into minor accidents Christmas morning, but no serious crashes were reported, Tri-State area police said.


Maryland State Police in Hagerstown put a snow emergency plan advisory into effect Tuesday and lifted it at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Drivers were cautioned that there still were slippery patches here and there.

Drivers heading to work this morning should have few problems, said Ronnie Allen, foreman for the West Virginia Department of Highways in Martinsburg, W.Va. Allen said roadways in Berkeley County were more than 60 percent clear by late afternoon Wednesday.

Ted Wolford, director of the Washington County Highway Department, said things were in good shape there, too. The burst of heavy snow that fell between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday slowed the crews some, but there were no problems.

"Traffic was light," he said.

On Christmas Day, a snow-removal crew from PennDOT was clearing the parking lots at the Welcome Center in the northbound lane of Interstate 81 in Greencastle, Pa.

Crews in Franklin County plowed until midnight. They returned to work at 6 a.m. Wednesday and continued until 5 p.m.

A frame outbuilding on Winchester Grade Road in Morgan County, W.Va., burned to the ground around 10:30 p.m. Christmas Eve because firefighters had trouble getting to it on the slippery roads, said Bryan Michael, assistant chief of the South Morgan Fire Department. Their efforts saved a nearby mobile home.

Units from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and Frederick County, Va., also responded.

Some have to go to work

Terry Appleby missed Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with his family. He's among those who had to work on the holiday.

Appleby works for PennDOT and was out with the crews clearing snow off Franklin County, Pa., roads.

He hoped to be done by 5 p.m. Wednesday to share dinner and open presents with his wife, Melissa, and three sons, Seth, 18 months, Trevor, 12, and Tyler, 14.

He said his family would wait until he got to his Chambersburg, Pa., home so they could celebrate together.

Dave Shockey, a tow-truck driver in Greencastle, Pa., said he had responded to about 20 calls for minor accidents and hauled vehicles out of the snow.

"It's been crazy today," he said. "We had four guys out on four trucks all morning, but we're pretty well caught up now."

He did manage to sneak in a one-hour break in the middle of it all to enjoy Christmas dinner with his family, he said.

Paula Wishard of Waynesboro, Pa., missed Christmas dinner at "Grandma's house" for the first time, she said.

Wishard is a sales clerk at the general store in the Travel Centers of America truck stop on John Wayne Drive in Greencastle. She said this is the first year she had to work on Christmas. She worked from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"Everybody in my family goes to Grandma's house in Rouzerville (Pa.)," she said. "My children and my sisters will be there. Dinner was at 1 p.m. and I missed it. I'm going after I get off work. I'll exchange the gifts I bought when I get there. My family told me to call in sick, but I couldn't do that. I was scheduled to work."

Tracey Diffenbaucher, 17, a student at Greencastle-Antrim High School, is a waitress in the truck stop's restaurant. She worked from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday. She said she worked on Christmas last year, too.

"It was very busy last year, but it was really slow today. People weren't coming out because of the snow."

Joe Gress, a truck driver, was on his way from Pottstown, Pa., to Charlottesville, Va., with a load of home-improvement supplies.

He was having a cup of coffee.

He said he always drives on Christmas. When he's home in Pittsburgh for the holiday, he gets in the middle of his grown children, who want him to spend Christmas at their respective homes.

"There's not enough hours on Christmas. I'm always being pulled both ways, so I drive," he said. "I saw them last week and I'll see them again next week."

Holly Shawen, assistant dining room manager at the Bavarian Inn and Lodge in Shepherdstown, W.Va., was at her station Wednesday. She said she worked Christmas last year too, she.

"This is a hotel and lodge. We're open 365 days a year. Holiday work is mandatory," she said. "The whole dining room and kitchen staff, about 35 of us, is working, plus housekeeping.

"If I wasn't here, I'd be home playing with my dog in the snow."

Denise Sullivan was managing things at the ticket counter at Hagerstown Regional Airport, where she's a station supervisor.

Planes were flying all day despite the snow, she said.

"We fly the US Airways schedule," she said.

Less than a dozen people were milling around the airport waiting for flights, fewer than on a regular travel day, she said.

Sullivan said she knows many business travelers by name who fly in and out of the airport regularly.

She volunteered to work Christmas.

"If I wasn't here, I'd be sitting home by myself," she said.

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