snow

Right: Ten-year-old Michael Smith and his sister Brooke, 8, remove snow from their mother’s van outside the home on Offutt Street in Cumberland Saturday morning.

CUMBERLAND — The first measurable snowfall of the 2009-2010 winter season hit Cumberland at first light Saturday, creating picturesque scenes across the region but also causing injuries to several motorists.

The snow emergency plan was placed in effect in Allegany County at 8:30 a.m. and about 45 minutes earlier to the west in Garrett County as heavy wet snow quickly complicated travel conditions. The snow emergency plan requires vehicles to be equipped with chains, snow tires or all-season radial tires.

Just before 10 a.m., an automobile traveled out of control on U.S. Route 40 at Frostburg just west of state Route 36, sending at least one person to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center by Frostburg Area Ambulance. Allegany County Bureau of Police was also on the scene.

A short time later, a motorist was reportedly ejected from an SUV that overturned on U.S. Route 220 two miles north of the Allegany-Bedford county line. Details of the accident were not available from Pennsylvania State Police at Bedford where troopers were dispatched to various accidents throughout the county. Numerous accidents were also reported in Somerset County.

“We have a couple of inches of snow. There have been so many accidents,” said Cpl. Kent Bernier at Bedford.

In Frostburg, the Christmas parade on Main Street scheduled for 10:30 a.m. was canceled by to the snowstorm, according to Police Communications Officer Mary Gracie of the Frostburg Police Department. Main Street is a snow emergency route.

Frostburg city workers plowed snow and applied abrasives throughout the day. Vehicles had reportedly slid off the roadways in West Main and Armstrong Avenue, Braddock Road, Braddock Street and Hill Street by late morning as snow continued to fall. At mid-afternoon, an accident was reported at Main and Grant streets, prompting alert of Frostburg fire and ambulance units.

In Garrett County, four inches of snow was measured by the Maryland State Police barrack at McHenry at about 12:30 p.m., according to Sgt. David Broadwater.

“We handled at least a dozen disabled vehicles or motor vehicles off the roadway and into the median but there have been no major injuries,” said Broadwater. He said roads were snow-covered and hazardous early Saturday afternoon, prompting his advice for motorists to “stay home until the storm is over.”

A Maryland State Highway Administration official at Keysers Ridge said four inches of snow was logged there as of 1:30 p.m., and roads were said to be “plowed and treated” at that time. He said Saturday’s storm was the third storm recorded in Garrett County by the SHA this winter season.

In Mineral County, Keyser Police said no accidents were reported in the city by early Saturday afternoon. City streets workers were called out for snow removal at about 9:30 a.m., according to a police dispatcher. The Mineral County 911 center handled numerous calls involving weather-related accidents.

Portions of West Virginia’s eastern panhandle got up to eight inches of snow, and slippery roads caused problems throughout the state.

The National Weather Service reported Saturday that areas of Pendleton County received up to eight inches of snow. Portions of Mineral, Grant and Hardy counties reported seven or more inches.

On Saturday evening, the West Virginia Department of Transportation Web site reported that most interstates remained wet, with some slushy and icy spots.

While it didn’t get as much snow as other areas, Kanawha County reported more than 50 traffic crashes, most along the interstates.

No deaths were reported.

The National Weather Service posted a winter storm warning early Saturday afternoon for Allegany and Garrett counties and surrounding areas where an additional two to four inches of snow was predicted. The warning continued until 7 p.m.

In Cumberland, steady snow covered rooftops, trees and grassy areas while streets remained slushy and wet at mid-afternoon. No accidents were reported in the city.

“This is the first measureable snow we've had in the city. We’re all used to driving on dry roads so now we have to slow down and pay more attention,” said Tim Thomas, National Weather Service observer in Cumberland.

The snowstorm also apparently contributed to two other weather-related calls Saturday afternoon — downed trees on Route 220 north of the city limits and on Route 220 south near the entrance to the Western Correctional Institution at Cresaptown. Volunteer firefighters were dispatched to each area.

In another report, electrical lines were reported down on Route 40 west of the Maryland State Police barrack shortly before 2 p.m.

Accuweather meteorologist Kerry Schwindenhammer said snowfall accumulations measured one to three inches across the region by late morning and the storm was expected to end Saturday evening.

“It looks like we are pretty much as the end of the tunnel. The snow is beginning to diminish back toward Morgantown now (2 p.m.) and it should pretty much be over by 5 to 6 p.m.,” he said.

Icy conditions on roadways, he said, would continue to be of concern for travellers temperatures remained in the freezing range.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at jlalderton@times-news.com.



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