GRANTSVILLE — A spring storm packing a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain created hazardous travel Monday, forcing dozens of accidents and temporarily closing sections of several area roadways as first-responders waited for plow trucks to clear and treat them.
Many of the initial accidents occurred Monday morning on Interstate 68’s west lanes between Finzel and Grantsville, but roads in about every local county were eventually affected by fast-deteriorating conditions.
“For everyone calling about the roads. Please, if you do not need to travel stay in. Mount Storm is a mess. There are multiple cars and tractor and trailers stuck,” the Grant County, West Virginia, Sheriff’s Department said in a Facebook post around noon.
About 4:45 p.m., a tractor-trailer traveling east on the interstate reportedly hauling forklifts rolled on its side near the Finzel weigh station. The truck was on the should of the highway, and no lanes were blocked.
In addition to Interstate 68, difficult travel was reported in Allegany County on U.S. Route 40 near Frostburg, state Route 36, West Virginia Route 46 near Fountain and U.S. Route 50 in Hampshire County, among others.
Both Garrett and Allegany counties activated snow emergency plans — at 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively — meaning snow tires or chains are required on vehicles and parking is prohibited on snow emergency routes.
The heaviest snow fell in western Allegany, western Mineral and eastern Garrett counties, according to the National Weather Service.
By late afternoon, 4 inches had fallen in Cumberland, 6 in Frostburg and 2 in Grantsville, said Chad Merrill, prognosticator for the Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack and a Cumberland native.
“This storm will surpass the previous most snowy April for Cumberland, which was in 1985 when 2.0 inches accumulated,” Merrill said by email Monday afternoon.
Cumberland averages about a tenth of an inch of snow in April and Garrett County 3 inches.
“Nor’easters such as this one are not uncommon in April, but it is uncommon for this much cold air to get pulled into the system for snow to accumulate as much as it did with this storm,” Merrill said by email Monday afternoon.
Merrill said gusty winds will over spread the region Tuesday, with peak gusts at 40 mph. Lake-effect snow showers could add another 2-3 inches of snow in Garrett county Monday night and Tuesday, he said.
“Roads will be slippery tonight for sure but melting will quickly commence Tuesday east of Route 36 where more peaks of sunshine are expected,” he said. Roads will dry out east of Route 36 on Tuesday. Once again Tuesday night, roads will become slippery in Garrett County as road temperatures drop below freezing.”
The storm also downed trees on the city’s West Side and on alternate state Route 28 in Ridgeley, West Virginia.
With the cold snap, Merrill cautioned about covering planted flowers, as temperatures will drop under 32 degrees Tuesday and Wednesday mornings before rebounding Thursday, when a high of 70 is forecast.