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Schools shut, but no accidents

January 26, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Between 6 to 7 inches of snow fell in Washington County overnight, burying cars and roads in a thick veil of white, but emergency crews say they're prepared to plow through the elements should a disaster call.

According to local weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site, 7 inches of snow fell in Hagerstown overnight, making the month's total snowfall 15.6 inches. Schools in Washington County were closed today.

Luis Rosa, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said the Hagerstown area would be "lucky to hit 20 degrees today."

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Occasional freezing drizzle will fall today, Rosa said, and overnight freezing rain will fall, accumulating up to a quarter inch of ice.

Freezing rain will continue through Tuesday, he said, and by Wednesday precipitation will turn to a light snow, bringing between one to three inches.

"Hopefully, Thursday the sun will come out and temperatures will be above freezing," Rosa said. "We're pretty confident the sun won't come out 'til Thursday now."

No accidents were reported overnight, a dispatcher with Washington County Emergency Services said.

John Snyder, an emergency medical technician with Community Rescue Service, said, "This is really powdery snow so we're cutting through pretty easily."

He said crews placed shovels and salt in their ambulances this morning.

At the Hagerstown Fire Department, crews have shovels built into their units that they may use for snow, said Kyd Dieterich, battalion chief for the fire company.

"We do go out and shovel out hydrants but there are so many of them, we can't get them all," he said.

Dieterich said it would be helpful if residents would shovel out hydrants near their homes or cars.

So far, firefighters haven't had to put chains on their vehicles' tires to gain traction, but Dieterich said if the area gets freezing rain overnight, there's a good chance they will do that.

The Snow Emergency Plan for the county was put into effect on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. because of hazardous driving conditions caused by snow and ice on the roads.

When the plan is in effect, all vehicles driving on designated snow emergency routes must have chains, snow tires or all-season radial tires. Any vehicle parked on a snow emergency route when the plan is in effect is subject to being towed or fined.

Hagerstown City Police Lt. Mike King said police didn't hear of many accidents overnight.

"We expect (accidents) as the roads get clear," he said.

King said police have four-wheel drive vehicles prepped to respond to any emergency call.

Sheriff's Department Cpl. Christopher Howard said county police also received no calls overnight for accidents.

He said the only thing county police can do to prepare for slippery weather and the accidents that inevitably follow, is to have four -wheel drive vehicles on hand to respond to emergencies.

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