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Snow arrives

January 22, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

TRI-STATE - The season's first measurable snow fell Sunday and contributed to fender-benders across Washington County, but police and emergency services dispatchers said there were no major accidents.

A Washington County Sheriff's Department dispatcher said Sunday night that deputies responded to 31 crashes, and a Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher reported "very, very numerous" fender benders.

Pennsylvania State Police in Franklin County reported responding to more than 20 accidents, and cars were sliding off roads and driving conditions were described as "treacherous" in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

The Frederick (Md.) Police Department responded to 28 accidents, a press release states.

A National Weather Service meteorologist said freezing drizzle could hit the area this morning, but weather watchers predicted the brunt of the storm was tapering off late Sunday. As of 9 p.m., Hagerstown had received seventh-tenths of an inch of snow, according to a Web site maintained by Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

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In one accident Sunday, a Hagerstown Police Department cruiser slid into vehicles as it responded to an accident, Sgt. Chad Woodring said.

"The police vehicle slid down into three other vehicles that had been involved in a previous accident," Woodring said.

The accident happened at about 4:10 p.m. on a steep hill near Lanvale Street and Elgin Boulevard, Woodring said.

The cruiser's headlight and bumper were damaged, but no one was hurt, Woodring said.

In Franklin County, officials requested that Pennsylvania Department of Transportation crews clear roads, including a problematic curve on Mentzer Gap Road in the southeast portion of the county. Fire police were called to reroute traffic around various accidents.

Accidents occurred on both rural roads and highways, a Franklin County 911 dispatcher said.

Pennsylvania State Police in Fulton County responded to four accidents, three on Interstate 70.

Cars were sliding off roads and driving conditions were described as "treacherous" Sunday afternoon in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

After snow began falling, Interstate 81 "turned to ice," said Darrell Parsons, acting administrator of the state Division of Highways maintenance office in Berkeley County.

"It was pretty treacherous," Parsons said.

Vehicles were going off roads throughout Jefferson County, but there were no reports of serious injuries, an emergency dispatcher said. Roads in Morgan County were "very bad" and cars were sliding into ditches, a dispatcher there said.

Though Jan. 21 is late for the season's first measurable snowfall, it isn't a record for Hagerstown. During the winter of 1900-01, no measurable snow fell until 8 inches came down Jan. 25, according to Keefer's records.

Snowfall like Sunday's can require dumping about 1,000 tons of salt, said Ed Plank, director of the Washington County Highway Department. He expected crews might hit the roads again this morning to prepare the way for school buses.

"We've been very fortunate this winter. Temperatures (have) been very good, but you never know what Mother Nature's going to throw at you, and that's where we're at," Plank said.

Staff writers Jennifer Fitch and Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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