Snow, freez­ing temps ice East Coast

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST -

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.

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