Drivers slide their way through first snowstorm of the winter

January 23, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - The director of Washington County's highway department warned drivers to be careful this morning of roads that could have become icy overnight.

Ed Plank said Monday's cold temperatures, on the heels of Sunday's snowfall, could cause roads to ice quickly.

Sunday's snowfall hit western and southern Washington County the hardest, Plank said. It started snowing first near Keedysville and Sharpsburg, he said.

All of his department's 32 trucks were out Sunday afternoon, laying salt and chipped stone throughout the county, he said. By 4 a.m. Monday, trucks were back on the roads working with school officials to identify key areas. Washington County Public Schools operated on a two-hour delay Monday.

School officials were especially concerned by conditions around Clear Spring, schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said.

Local residents said their routines weren't disrupted too much by the weekend's snow, but they took extra caution.

Marion Maynard of Hagerstown said he saw a lot of minor accidents on Interstate 81 when he was traveling to and from work.


"People weren't ready for snow. They drove too close, hitting their brakes and sliding," Maynard said. "You've got to take caution when you're driving around."

Maxine Blake, also of Hagerstown, takes her time when she drives through winter weather, she said.

"I refuse to do anything that would cause me to have to brake," she said.

Most of Hagerstown's roads were cleared Sunday night, said Eric Deike, director of public works. City trucks started dumping more than 180 tons of salt by 12:30 p.m. Sunday, he said.

About 1,000 tons of salt and chipped stone were dumped on roads in the county, Plank said. Salt helps to melt the ice, and the chipped stone creates traction if conditions remain icy, he said.

Roads officials said they were surprised by Sunday's snowfall. Forecasts called for one-tenth of an inch of snow, Plank said.

Deike agreed that Sunday's snowfall "turned worse than what was forecasted."

With Monday cold and misty, Plank said he hoped the sun arrived today to help melt away icy road conditions.

"It's hard to believe something as minor as a half an inch of snow can cause so much aggravation," he said.

The forecast for today is for a high temperature of 39 degrees. Snow flurries are possible Thursday and Friday, meteorologists said.

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