Sleet pulls the rug out from under the morning rush


March 17, 1992|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Staff Writer William B. Talbott contributed to this story.

A fast-moving band of rain, sleet and freezing rain wreaked havoc with drivers all across the Baltimore area during today's morning traffic rush, causing a slew of accidents and backups.

"You name it, we got it. Every major road or interstate in the county has 10 or 12 accidents," said Sgt. Lloyd Russell at the Golden Ring State Police barracks in Essex.

Police in the region said bridges and overpasses were icing up the most. Portions of the Baltimore Beltway had to be closed for some periods while road crews spread salt.

Slick roads didn't slow some people down, Sergeant Russell said, as accident reports continued to mount. "You know how people drive."

pTC Bridges and overpasses in the city were particularly slick. Accidents, most of them minor but some involving three or more cars, clogged the Orleans Street Viaduct, the Hanover Street Bridge and other roads.

Two people were injured in an accident in northeast Baltimore on a bridge over Herring Run in the 2300 block of Argonne Drive, police said. One victim was taken to the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center and another to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Police in the region did not report any fatal accidents.

On Interstate 95 south of downtown and in the Arbutus area, drivers reported multiple accidents on icy bridges or curves.

Minor accidents also were reported on Interstates 95 and 70 in Baltimore and Howard counties, as well as on U.S. 29 in Howard.

Dick Diener, a National Weather Service forecaster at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, said the precipitation seemed to fall between 7 and 7:30 a.m. in the area. Temperatures were just below freezing, he said.

"This storm came at the wrong time," Mr. Diener said.

The storm moved through the area at 40 to 50 mph, he said.

In some areas, it lasted just 10 minutes. That, apparently, was enough to turn the traffic on its ear.

"Most of the precipitation did not reach the ground -- it evaporated aloft," Mr. Diener said.

Most of it had ended by 9 a.m.

"We don't anticipate any more [freezing precipitation] today," Mr. Diener said. "We're looking for temperatures to move up rather smartly."

Highs were expected in the mid-50s.

Forecasters predict more rain over the next several days, but they are not expecting a recurrence of icy conditions.

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