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Wintry weather creates hazards

January 19, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A storm system that dropped snow and freezing rain over the Tri-State area this weekend left car accidents and other problems in its wake, law enforcement officials said Sunday.

The storm was the result of a "very strong cold front" moving through the area, said Neal DiPasquale, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

The storm has left the area and no more precipitation is predicted in the region until next weekend, DiPasquale said.

Hagerstown received about 1 inch of snow Saturday night, according to an Internet site run by Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

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Freezing rain began about 7:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the Web site. In all, about 1.2 inches of snow and ice fell during the weekend, according to the site.

Spokeswomen for the city of Hagerstown and Allegheny Power reported no storm-related outages Sunday.

One commercial flight out of Hagerstown Regional Airport was delayed due to fog, and a flight from Pittsburgh to Hagerstown was canceled due to the poor weather, Airport Manager Carolyn Motz said.

Washington County Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said the biggest problem Sunday night was water on the roads freezing, making driving dangerous.

Maryland State Police Sgt. Mike Hegedus said there were numerous calls for service, but none of them involved serious or life-threatening injuries.

"From the calls we're getting, we know it's bad," he said.

Hagerstown City Police Sgt. Timothy Wolford said there was only one crash reported within city limits before 6 p.m. Sunday. At approximately 4 p.m., a Mazda slid off the side of the road on Summit Avenue near the intersection of Surrey Avenue and slammed into the back of an older model car, Wolford said. A full report of the crash was not available.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Cpl. James Grimm said there were at least a dozen weather-related calls Sunday.

"It's terrible - there's accidents everywhere," he said.

Among the roads in Washington County where weather conditions led to crashes were Pen Mar Road in Cascade, Blue Grass Drive and Leitersburg Pike in Leitersburg, and National Pike in Hagerstown.

West Virginia State Police Sgt. David Boober said his department responded to "loads of accidents" Sunday. Although conditions were slushy due to the mix of snow and rain, most of the accidents were caused by motorists driving too fast, Boober said.

Highway crews in West Virginia were facing a "no-win situation" Sunday night with falling temperatures, a state Division of Highways worker said. Water that was running off roads treated when the temperatures were warmer earlier in the day was freezing Sunday night, said Tony Thomas, a foreman for the Division of Highways office in Jefferson County, W.Va.

Although roads mostly were dry in Berkeley County, patches of ice were developing, said Joann Pitzer, spokeswoman for the Division of Highways office on Rock Cliff Drive in Martinsburg, W.Va. Crews were treating the ice with salt, Pitzer said.

Highway workers in Berkeley County were scrambling to stay ahead of the wintry weather earlier in the day, when a mix of snow and rain covered roads, Pitzer said.

In Morgan County, W.Va., 911 dispatchers were advised of "black ice" that could form on roads overnight due to the windchill factor.

Despite the challenging conditions, dispatchers in the three Eastern Panhandle counties said there had not been many accidents as of early Sunday night.

Pennsylvania State Police in Franklin County reported a number of snow-related crashes Saturday and Sunday, most of which did not involve injuries.

One that did involve injuries occurred at 11:08 a.m. Sunday in the 7900 block of Molly Pitcher Highway in Southampton Township, Pa. Police said Tiffany Triplett of Shippensburg, Pa., was southbound in a 2003 Ford F-150 pickup when she tried to slow down to avoid hitting a 2000 Chevrolet S-10 driven by Edwin Sprecher of Shippensburg. Triplett's truck swerved into the center turn lane and struck the driver's side of Sprecher's truck before spinning around three times and hitting a utility pole. Police said her truck burst into flames.

Triplett was treated at Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital and released, a nursing supervisor said.

At 9:09 a.m. Sunday, Donald Carbaugh II of Chambersburg, Pa., was driving a 1994 Pontiac Sunbird south in the 600 block of Black Gap Road near Fayetteville, Pa., when it slid off the road and hit a utility pole, police said. Carbaugh was treated for minor injuries at Chambersburg Hospital, police said.

Staff writers Don Aines, Dave McMillion and Brian Shappell contributed to this story.

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