LIght snows leads to numerous crashes
A surprise snow squall was causing numerous accidents in Central Maryland at mid-day Friday as light accumulations created slippery conditions on some roadways.
"We have dozens of accidents right now," said a state trooper at the Westminster barracks of the Maryland State Police. "Fortunately, right now, it appears everything at this point is property damage."
"We also have numerous disabled vehicles, either getting stuck or skidding into ditches," said the trooper, who identified himself only as Sgt. Eways.
Salt trucks were dispatched around noontime, but Eways said, "We would encourage anybody who doesn't have an absolute need to be driving in Carroll County not to."
The State Highway Administration's CHART system was reporting four collisions on I-70 from Washington County to Howard County. A tractor-trailer overturned on I-270 in Montgomery County. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Vehicles were pulling to the side of the road because of slippery conditions on I-68 in Cumberland.
SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said that in many cases drivers moving at speeds better suited for dry conditions.
"What we're trying to do is get folks to slow down a little for the conditions," he said. "The speed limit is set for ideal conditions, and when they're not ideal, you have to slow down."
Traffic cameras showed clear pavement, but with some snowy patches, at I-70 and U.S. 29 in Howard County, as well as at I-70 and I-270 in Frederick.
State highway officials said salt trucks were sent out, but the roads were not pretreated because the forecast had called only for flurries.
Howard Silverman, a meteorologist at the National Wetaher Service in Sterling, Va., said reports received there indicated no more than a few tenths of an inch of snow.
"It hasn't been a consistent, widespread band of accumulating snow, but there are consistent flurries moving across Virginia and Maryland," he said. "But with temperatures right around freezing, that's not to say it's not capable of creating slippery conditions, and it has been. But it's not a lot of snow."
The possibity of snow today, and its potential impacts, had been discussed by meteorologists, Silverman said. "It was not off the probabilities. But it was not a definite forecast, either."
Temperatures have been well below average in recent days, he noted, and that has probably cooled pavement temperatures and contributed to the traffic problems.
The little storm was expected to pass by after an hour or two, leaving no more than a dusting, Silverman said. "But that's about all it takes."