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No major problems reported on area roads

winter storm warnings, Snow Emergency Plan lifted

January 21, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

Winter storm warnings for Washington County and the surrounding area were lifted Saturday morning after a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain coated the region, the National Weather Service said.

The warning for Washington County, Md., and Morgan, Berkeley and Jeffrerson counties in West Virginia, was canceled at 10:25 a.m. the weather service said. A subsequent winter weather advisory was lifted by 12:30 p.m.

A winter storm warning for Fulton County, Pa., and a winter weather advisory for Franklin County, Pa., were lifted at 10 a.m., according to the weather service.

A total of 2.8 inches of snow and ice fell in Hagerstown, according to weather observer Greg Keefer's website.

The Snow Emergency Plan which went into effect in Washington County at 11:30 p.m. Friday was lifted at noon Saturday, Maryland State Police announced. When the plan is in effect, all vehicles traveling on designated snow emergency routes must be equipped with tire chains, snow tires, or all-weather radial tires.

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Frederick County, Md., also lifted its snow emergency plan at noon, according to the Maryland State Police barrack there.

Emergency communications dispatchers Saturday morning reported no major accidents or road closures due to the snow and freezing rain from overnight in the Tri-State area.

"Thank God, no. Just little piddly stuff," said a dispatcher in Morgan County, W.Va.

A dispatcher in Jefferson County, W.Va., said power was out to part of east Charles Town due to an accident on U.S. 340 that took out a utility pole on U.S.. 340, but Potomac Edison crews were expected to have that restored later in the morning.

Roads crews treated roads overnight and continued to do so Saturday morning, he said.

Motorists should have little trouble "as long as people take their time to get where they are going," he said.

There were no major accidents, just motorists skidding off roads overnight, said a dispatcher in Washington County. No roads were closed, he said.

In Franklin County, Pa., a dispatcher said there were no reports of roads having been closed and no major accidents or other weather-related incidents.

The Franklin County Department of Emergency Services reported two early-morning accidents on Interstate 81, the first at 3:43 a.m. on southbound I-81 in Antrim Township, Pa., and the second at 5:28 a.m. on southbound I-81 in Greene Township, Pa.

"We didn't have any problems at all," said a Fulton County, Pa., dispatcher.

Shortly after 8 a.m. the Maryland Department of Transportation's 511 Traveler Information website reported a vehicle accident with injury on eastbound Interstate 70 near Exit 42 (Md. 17) near Myersville, Md., in western Frederick County. The right eastbound lane of I-70 was closed, but had reopened by 9 a.m.

The Maryland State Highway Administration dispatched salt trucks to Western and Central Maryland roads on Friday afternoon to prepare for the storm.

“We want to make sure once the first flakes fly, we are out and rolling,” SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said by midafternoon. "We already have salt on the ground in parts of Western Maryland."

Gischlar said if people do go out, they should drive slowly and make sure they have enough gas.

Truckers can use certain park-and-ride lots that can accommodate large trucks if there are 6 or more inches of snow, instead of parking along highway ramps and shoulders, according to an SHA news release.

Gischlar said tow trucks that can handle large trucks will be out near the highways and ready in case of an accident.Truckers can also use a new "mobile app" that helps them navigate the park-and-ride lots, and existing truck parking can be found on SHA’s website, www.roads.maryland.gov.

"An accident involving a large truck can really slow down traffic," Gischlar said. "Our crews are stuck in the same backups as the motorists in incidents like that."

Gischlar also advised motorists not to pass SHA crews on the highway.

"Every year, we see somebody try to pass a snowplow," he said. "Stay behind the snowplows."

The weather service forecast for Saturday in Washington County called for freezing rain, mainly before 10 a.m. with a high near 33. On Sunday, there's a chance of rain or freezing rain after noon, with highs around 35.

Staff Writer Caleb Calhoun contributed to this story.

* For live radar reports, updated weather forecasts, road conditions and school closures or delays, go to The Herald-Mail Online Weather Page.

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