Weather relief could be on the way

January 28, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

Forecasters are predicting relief today from the snow and icy conditions that have made driving on Washington County roads hazardous for several days.

The Hagerstown area received another 3 inches of snow and about 1/4 inch of ice during winter storm conditions Tuesday, according to an 8:25 p.m. update of the I4 Weather Web site monitored by weather observer Greg Keefer.

National Weather Service Program Manager John Newkirk said snow was expected to end by midnight, though the Weather Service's Web site indicated a 30 percent chance of snow showers early this morning.


Newkirk said the freezing rain that was forecast for Tuesday did not stay over the area for as long as expected because the storm turned.

Representatives from Allegheny Power and City Light reported no problems with service.

School officials in Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties in West Virginia decided Tuesday to cancel school today for the third consecutive day. Washington County Board of Education representatives made no announcement Tuesday evening about the status of classes today.

Officers from the Hagerstown Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Department said they had no reports of crashes Tuesday up to 9 p.m., despite what one deputy described as "miserable" road conditions.

Maryland State Police Sgt. Kevin Lewis said there were several minor crashes throughout the county.

"(It was) just like normal, cars sliding all over the road - into guardrails, up embankments, down embankments," he said.

There was a crash between a tractor-trailer and a snowplow at about 4 p.m. on Interstate 81 near the Interstate 70 interchange. The road was not blocked and no one was hospitalized.

Washington County Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said he expected crews to plow through the night Tuesday and early today.

Crews from the county, city and state have been plowing and treating roads in the area for the better part of five days, starting with a surprise storm Friday night.

"They're on 12 (hours), off 12, but still, after three or four days of this it kind of gets old," he said.

Wolford said crews caught a break Tuesday because there was more snow and less ice than they expected, and because there already was powder covering many roads.

"There's not much we can do with freezing rain. At least with snow, we can plow," Wolford said. "When it freezes on the bare road, it's an ice skating rink. There's nothing you can do."

Hagerstown Public Works Manager Eric Deike said city crews have just been trying to keep up while snow was falling, waiting to be able to properly treat and clear roads at the end of the storm.

"Now, it's a matter of doing the detail work," he said.

Deike said slightly warmer temperatures, expected to be in the 30s Thursday, will help the clearing efforts.

"The temperatures have stayed in the low 20s or the teens, so anything that dropped, stayed," Deike said. "It looks like (today) we're going to get a break."

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