Dozens of accidents as fast-moving storm heads through Appalachians toward Northeast
Saturday, January 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
States and cities sent out hundreds of snowplows and salt spreaders onto highways Saturday as a fast-moving storm spread ice and up to a foot of snow along a path through the Appalachians toward the Northeast.
It was the first measurable snowfall of the winter for areas including Philadelphia, which had 4 to 8 inches by early afternoon.
Winter storm warnings were posted for parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
Dozens of cars and trucks slid off roads.
Locally heavy snow blanketed West Virginia and some neighboring areas of Kentucky and Virginia during the morning.
Northbound Interstate 79 was closed by a tractor-trailer accident near Fairmont, W.Va., and dozens of other accidents were reported elsewhere around West Virginia, where 5 to 9 inches of snow was possible. The speed limit on the hilly West Virginia Turnpike was lowered to 35 mph.
``The driving conditions are terrible,'' said Joe Coen, a supervisor at Metro 911 in Charleston, W.Va.
Up to a foot of snow blanketed northeastern Kentucky by the time a storm warning was lifted for most of the area late in the morning. An exit off I-64 near the West Virginia state line was closed because a group of tractor-trailer rigs slid off the pavement.
``It's a bunch of mass mayhem there,'' said Kentucky state police dispatcher Keith Samson in Ashland.
At Yeager Airport in Charleston, flights to and from Cincinnati and flights to Atlanta were canceled. ``We can't keep up with it,'' said Don Bennett, an airport police officer.
New York City had 1,400 snowplows ready to roll as the storm approached. The city also said it had 353 salt spreaders loaded and 2,800 workers prepared to work around the clock.
Maryland got a head start on the storm, sending 1,500 highway workers out statewide with salt trucks and other equipment during the morning, and most major highways were still clear by afternoon. As a precaution, many colleges, churches and other organizations had called off activities planned for Saturday.
More than 400 state trucks hit major roads in eastern Pennsylvania by late morning, officials said.
Accumulated snow was not expected to last long in the Philadelphia area, where temperatures were expected to rebound into the upper 30s on Sunday.
``Easy comes, easy goes. So enjoy the snow while it is here,'' said Bill Goodman at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J.
Elsewhere, even the tropics got a taste of winter. The National Weather Service in Hawaii issued a winter storm warning Saturday for the 13,000-foot summits and upper slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, saying the volcanic peaks could expect freezing temperatures, snow and sleet.