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February going out like a lion

February 27, 2003|from Staff reports

The season's latest snowstorm moved through the Tri-State area a little ahead of schedule Wednesday, dusting roads and obscuring icy patches left over from last week's record accumulation.

With temperatures hovering well below freezing, roads and streets rapidly began icing up, forcing Washington County Schools to close two hours early Wednesday and stretching the resources of police agencies swamped with accident calls.

While most other area schools followed suit and sent students and staff home early, some, such as Berkeley and Jefferson counties, in West Virginia, never opened Wednesday.

In Jefferson County, school officials had already decided Wednesday night to close schools for today Word was not available on any other districts Wednesday night.

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Car accidents in Berkeley County ranged from multiple car pile-ups to single cars off the road.

"There are so many of them you can't get one done before you have to head to another," said Kenneth Lemaster, chief deputy with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

State Police in Berkeley County said several wrecks had been reported on Interstate 81.

A buildup of chemicals from last week's storm, which dumped around 20 or more inches of snow across the region, may have helped keep roads clear, said Ronnie Allen, foreman with the Division of Highways in Martinsburg.

In Huntingdon County, Pa., there was a serious head-on collision on U.S. 522 about 5:30 p.m., said a spokesman for the McConnellsburg Volunteer Fire Co.

One person was seriously injured in the crash, which occurred about two miles from the Fulton County border in the Shade Gap area, the spokesman said.

In Berkeley County, W.Va., a collision involving a South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Co. ambulance and possibly up to five other cars occurred at the intersection of W.Va. 51 and Sulphur Springs Road, said a dispatcher.

Rescue crews were at the scene of the crash Wednesday night.

The dispatcher said there had been 12 wrecks in the county since she started work at 4 p.m.

Pennsylvania State Police in McConnellsburg, Pa., said people had been sliding off the road all day.

By 7 p.m. Wednesday, about two inches of snow had fallen in Hagerstown, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that indicated the storm could track into the region and intensify today and into Friday. Forecasters are predicting from 6 to 12 inches of snow through Thursday night.

The snow started earlier Wednesday than forecasters predicted, she said, and the weather service included Washington County in the storm warning because the storm's path was so uncertain.

"The streets in Hagerstown are very icy," said Sgt. Mark Renner of Hagerstown City Police Wednesday night. "The salt trucks are out but there have been several accidents."

Shortly after 6 p.m., police responded to several snow-related wrecks at Prospect and Walnut streets and later at Prospect and Baltimore streets, Hagerstown Police Officer Tim Rossiter said.

"No one was hurt in any of those accidents except for the first one at Prospect and Walnut where the witness who called it in fell down on the icy street and hit his head," Rossiter said. No medical treatment was required.

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