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'A very different snow'

Tri-State area cleans up following Valentine's Day storm

Tri-State area cleans up following Valentine's Day storm

February 15, 2007|From Staff reports

The wintry mix that accumulated Wednesday in the Tri-State area proved challenging for road crews, which in many cases had to adjust their typical plan of attack.

"It's a different snow, a very different snow," Waynesboro (Pa.) Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

Crews in his municipality actually stopped plowing snow overnight when they realized that by clearing roads, ice was able to freeze on the pavement's surface. Instead, officials opted to have ice accumulate on top of snow, so plows then could grab onto the snow for removal of the mix.

The method led to many complaints from residents, but it was necessary because plows cannot move ice, Hamberger said.

Washington Township (Pa.) Manager Mike Christopher said phones in his municipal offices were ringing with resident complaints.

"We had a lot of trouble with very heavy snow," Christopher said.

Plows kept tripping and were significantly slowed in their snow removal, he said.

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"They started at 3 o'clock this morning and have been working all day," Christopher said late in the afternoon Wednesday.

Snow removal in the Borough of Waynesboro stopped again around 9 a.m. when a water main broke. The problem in Eastland Hills was fixed by noon, but it took workers away from plowing.

It was the second water main break in two days. Both have been blamed on cold weather.

Anyone who wielded a snow shovel Wednesday knew this was a particularly heavy wintry mix. Chambersburg weather observer Jerry Ashway said the snow measured 2 inches on Tuesday by 11 p.m., and was topped by 2 inches of mostly sleet overnight.

"Fortunately, we didn't get too much ice to break tree branches and bring down power lines," Ashway said.

The rule of thumb is that one inch of water precipitation equals about 10 inches of snow, Waynesboro weather observer Todd Toth said. The sleet and freezing rain, however, made the ratio much lower, with the 4 inches that fell Tuesday and Wednesday melting to 2.28 inches of water, he said.

Washington Township and Waynesboro police reported few weather-related accidents.

Schools in Franklin County were closed Wednesday. Chambersburg School Board member Stanley Helman said Wednesday night's meeting also was canceled.

The Chambersburg district's Web site stated schools will be on a two-hour delay today with a modified morning kindergarten.

Christopher closed the Washington Township Transfer Station on Wednesday for the first time.

In West Virginia

Mark C. Baker, West Virginia Division of Highways assistant supervisor for Berkeley County road maintenance, said Wednesday night that DOH crews' treatment of "primary" thoroughfares with salt and No. 8 stone was "pretty much done."

With the exception of a few icy patches, "primaries are in excellent shape," Baker said.

"Some are even dry," he said.

Baker said Interstate 81 also was in good shape, and that staff had diverted their attention to secondary roads.

Other than occasional reports of vehicles being stuck because of the snow, emergency officials said a tractor-trailer jack-knifed Wednesday afternoon on I-81, but didn't overturn and no one was seriously injured. Traffic was stopped for about 20 minutes, Berkeley County Sheriff W. Randy Smith said.

In Jefferson County, a large amount of sleet that fell after midnight became packed down by traffic and was hard to remove in some areas, said Craig Thompson, assistant manager of the state Division of Highways office in Leetown, W.Va.

Highway crews delayed removing the sleet for a period of time because if it is plowed too soon, so-called "black ice" can form, Thompson said.

In downtown Charles Town, W.Va., snow was piled up in the middle of Washington Street, and road crews were working Wednesday night to remove the snow.

Dispatchers reported no serious problems because of the slick conditions.

Staff writers Don Aines, Jennifer Fitch, Dave McMillion and Matthew Umstead contributed to this story.

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