Ice Surprises Motorists

February 01, 1994|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,Sun Staff Writer

An unexpected early morning snow squall snarled rush hour traffic around Baltimore today, triggering dozens of accidents and backups on the Beltway and other roads.

Police and state highway officials said that once the sun rose and cars started to hit the highways, the pavement turned to sheets of ice in many spots, mostly north and west of the city.

Accident reports started to flood the State Police switchboard about 6 a.m. Within three hours, between 25 and 50 accidents were reported on the interstate system, state police spokesman Michael McKelvin said.

"Not many people were expecting this," Mr. McKelvin said.

By rush hour, traffic was crawling on all sides of the Beltway -- tripling the commuting time for many drivers.

On Interstate 795, traffic was backed up for nearly 19 miles, from the Beltway to Reece Road and Westminster.

Traffic reporters said that by 8 a.m. the Beltway was paralyzed from Essex to Pikesville.

In the city, the light snow quickly turned to water, causing far fewer problems for motorists. Downtown traffic moved a little slower than normal, and few accidents were reported to city police.

"The roads were icy earlier," said Baltimore Police Sgt. Jack Spicer. "But it's been relatively quiet."

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