Snow, freezing temps ice East Coast
A winter storm of snow, freezing rain and bonechilling temperatures socked the nation’s midsection and East Coast on Saturday, causing hundreds of accidents on icy roads and putting a crimp on Christmas shopping.
At least nine deaths were blamed on the slick roads and authorities were investigating a few other traffic fatalities as possibly weather-related. Perhaps the biggest accident happened in Baltimore, when a tanker carrying gasoline skidded off a highway and exploded, authorities said.
Two people died in the nearly 70-vehicle pileup on Interstate 95, authorities said. Hospital officials said nearly two dozen people were treated for injuries including broken bones and head trauma.
Baltimore City Fire Chief Roman Clark said it was too early to determine the cause of the crash.
It was unclear whether the pileup started before the tanker crash or was caused by it. The northbound lanes of I-95 were closed while crews cleaned up the mess.
Winter weather advisories were posted from Denver to Bangor, Maine. Airports reported hundreds of flight delays or cancellations, interstates and toll roads reduced speed limits and authorities urged drivers to use extreme caution.
The nasty weather put a damper on holiday plans for Luke Perez, who was hoping to make it home to Los Angeles on Saturday for a family party. Perez’s flight out of D.C., where he is in graduate school, was canceled, so he said he’s going to try again Sunday.
“My family has a Christmas party ... and I was hoping to make it to that tonight, but that’s not going to happen anymore,” the 23year-old said.
There were dozens of crashes in Indiana — two of them involving fatalities — due to freezing rain and ice, officials said. It was not immediately clear how many people were killed. The roads were so slick that authorities had to move motorists stranded on an overpass with a ladder.
In Ohio, a Columbus woman died Saturday when her car skidded off a slick road, authorities said. In another accident in Baltimore, six people were taken to the hospital after a crash on I695 involving 15 to 20 vehicles, Baltimore County tweeted. In Nebraska, Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies said one person was killed Friday night when his car slid off an icy road north of Omaha, hit a tree and burst into flames.
Temperatures plummeted and people braced for the cold. Temperatures in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area were expected to drop to minus-20 degrees overnight. People were advised to stay indoors for the weekend. The low temperature was expected to reach 4 degrees in Chicago on Sunday. Portions of six states, from Missouri to Mississippi, were under the threat of tornadoes or severe thunderstorms.
In North Carolina, police and emergency workers reported more than 100 crashes overnight in Raleigh and Charlotte as the drizzle combined with temperatures below freezing to create dangerous icy patches.