Interstate traffic

A Maryland State Highway Administration truck drops salt on Interstate 68 eastbound Friday morning. Traffic was at a standstill after freezing rain slickened roadways.

CUMBERLAND — First-responders were pressed into action at first light Friday when freezing rain created icy road surfaces throughout the region.

"Extreme ice conditions" were reported just after 8 a.m. by an Allegany County 911 dispatcher alerting volunteer units to respond to an accident on New Georges Creek Road in the area of the landfill.

Dispatchers at Allegany County's 911 center answered 98 emergency calls and 170 administrative calls in the hour-and-a-half period after freezing rain began, according to the Department of Emergency Services.

"Our center began handling emergency calls around 7:30 a.m., reporting crashes along Interstate 68 between Frostburg and LaVale," said Communications Chief Bryan Miller.

Both eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 68 were temporarily closed between Frostburg and LaVale, as was the Crosstown Bridge in Cumberland due to the hazardous road conditions.

Accidents were also reported on U.S. Route 40 in the Narrows outside the city limits and at various locations in nearby Mineral County, West Virginia. A rollover crash on I-68 in the Flintstone area reportedly involved several vehicles.

None of the mishaps involved serious injuries, according to emergency officials.

"As the rain fell, it began freezing on bridges and road surfaces, causing a chain reaction across the county,” Miller said.

A winter weather advisory posted Thursday by the National Weather Service continued to 6 p.m. Friday. It warned of the potential for freezing rain and hazardous driving conditions.

Allegany County schools were initially placed on a two-hour delayed opening, but classes were canceled for the day by 8:30 a.m. Schools in Mineral, Hampshire, Grant and Hardy counties in West Virginia were also closed.

The snow emergency plan was placed in effect in Allegany County at 8:30 a.m. and 30 minutes later in Garrett County, according to Maryland State Police. Both counties had lifted those plans by 2:15 p.m.

In Pennsylvania, the state transportation department reduced speeds along interstates 70 and 99 in Bedford County and restricted commercial vehicle travel because of the slick conditions.

At mid-morning, Cumberland Police urged residents to stay off roadways.

"There are multiple disabled vehicles and crashes throughout the city," said a Cumberland Police spokesman. "Please stay off the roadways unless you have an emergency to allow the state highway and city crews to treat the roadways or until conditions improve."

Saturday's forecast includes rain, but more wintry precipitation is possible Monday.


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