Ice sends motorists skidding

February 08, 1994|By Melody Simmons and Scott Higham | Melody Simmons and Scott Higham,Sun Staff Writers

An ice storm hit the metropolitan area after rush hour this morning, glazing many roads and bridges and prompting numerous highway accidents.

The third such storm in the past two weeks sent police and emergency vehicles scurrying as mid-morning traffic was reduced to a crawl -- and sometimes to a stop.

Baltimore County schools were to close one hour early, and Carroll and Harford counties announced plans to close two hours ahead of time. But schools in the city and Anne Arundel and Howard counties were on regular schedules.

Police said the sleet began to fall around 9 a.m. and froze immediately on sidewalks, roads and highways.

City police closed Hillen Road near Northern Parkway, the site of a serious accident involving a fire truck and several cars, police said.

"Accidents are everywhere, all over the place," added Bill Boyd, a 911 operator in Howard County. "There are so many . . . we can only respond if there are injuries."

Traffic on Interstates 95 and 70 crawled as emergency vehicles sped past on the shoulder of the road.

Bob Melrose, a National Weather Service forecaster, said the storm was part of a stationary front that will remain in the area through tomorrow. But that's when temperatures are expected to rise to nearly 50, he said.

Mr. Melrose said the state's northern counties -- Garrett to Cecil -- have been issued winter storm warnings with ice accumulations of 1 to 3 inches expected in Cecil and Harford counties. He said there would be no ice accumulations in the city, but predicted a sloppy commute home for the evening rush hour with a mix of sleet and rain.

"Everything is sort of getting flip-flopped around," Mr. Melrose said. "It came and went within a half-hour. Now we're waiting for phase two. We're waiting for the rest of the front to move through."

Despite predictions of rising temperatures, today's first challenge was to cope with the ice. Vanessa C. Pyatt, spokeswoman for the city Department of Public Works, said all major city roads were salted just after the storm hit.

City police spokesman Sam Ringold said that six accidents were reported in just over one hour and that icy conditions forced the closing of Perring Parkway from the Beltway to Northern Parkway.

Numerous accidents also took place on the Jones Falls Expressway, including a serious wreck at Ruxton Road and I-83 North when a truck slammed into a guard rail.

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