Deep freeze closes school through Tues­day

Times-Record - - News - By CON­NIE CON­NOLLY cconnolly@ches­pub.com

DENTON — The Satur­day night de­par­ture of win­ter storm He­lena al­lowed the stars to shine down on a snowy Mid-Shore land­scape, but sub-freez­ing driv­ing con­di­tions well into Sun­day con­tin­ued to plague mo­torists and keep first re­spon­ders busy.

The first sig­nif­i­cant snow­fall of the sea­son cov­ered the area with al­most 2 inches of fresh snow in St. Michaels to nearly 9 inches in Ridgely on Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to un­of­fi­cial to­tals posted on­line by the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice sta­tion in Mt. Holly, N.J. The area re­ceived a dust­ing Thurs­day night de­spite fore­cast­ing for 1 to 2 inches of snow.

The storm forced the clo­sure of Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools on Mon­day and Tues­day with se­condary roads in the county cov­ered in a layer of snow and ice.

Many state roads had the same fea­ture, which is what a woman trav­el­ing east on U.S. Route 404 ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand on Satur­day.

At 10:30 a.m., she her job in Cen­tre­ville and turned east onto Route 404 from U.S. Route 50 at Wye Mills, head­ing home to Denton. The woman, who pre­ferred not to be iden­ti­fied, was driv­ing in heavy snow­fall at about 30 mph when her car be­gan “go­ing in cir­cles.”

“The next thing I know, I’m go­ing side­ways into the ravine,” she said. “I just kept say­ing, ‘Don’t flip over, don’t flip over.’ When I landed, there was a jolt, and I thought, Am I okay?”

Trapped in the car, she called 911 from her cell phone, but be­cause her white car was so well cam­ou­flaged in the heavy snow­fall and brush, po­lice couldn’t find her, and she couldn’t say ex­actly where she was. “If I had been un­con­scious, no one would ever have found me,” she said. “What re­ally up­set me is that there was a car fol­low­ing me and saw what hap­pened, but they didn’t stop or call 911.”

Ac­cord­ing to Trooper My­ers of the Mary­land State Po­lice Eas­ton Bar­rack, he and an­other trooper tried to find her near 84 Lum­ber, the land­mark she re­ported.

How­ever, her car was “at an an­gle where we couldn’t see, with the blow­ing snow, a white ve­hi­cle,” My­ers said, who re­ceived the call as he was pa­trolling near Trappe.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween po­lice, dis­patch­ers and Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion ve­hi­cles con­tin­ued as the troop­ers “went up and down 404” try­ing to find the ve­hi­cle, My­ers said. She was fi­nally lo­cated at the 1.5 mile marker, about a mile east of 84 Lum­ber.

Mean­while, the driver was bun­dled up in a heavy coat and boots, and turned off her car, not know­ing if the tailpipe was clogged. She didn’t know that she couldn’t been seen from the road. Af­ter she said she waited about an hour, she called 911 again.

This time, the troop­ers were able to find her. She wasn’t hurt, but she was helped from her car while traf­fic was stopped for about 20 min­utes and a tow truck got her muddy car back onto the road in driv­able con­di­tion.

The Honda driver wasn’t the only one in dif­fi­culty.

The in­crease in the num­ber of “ve­hi­cle in­ci­dents from snow and ice” on Satur­day was “sig­nif­i­cant,” Stamp said.

Al­though main roads were cleared by Sun­day morn­ing, high winds blow­ing snow across roads con­tin­ued to cre­ate haz­ardous con­di­tions through­out the Mid-Shore area on Sun­day, prompt­ing nu­mer­ous calls trans­mit­ted through the Caro­line, Dorch­ester, Queen Anne’s and Tal­bot County pub­lic safety ra­dio scan­ner.

Im­paired road con­di­tions can turn dan­ger­ous in an in­stant. “It just scares you be­cause it hap­pens so fast,” the driver of the white Honda said on Sun­day morn­ing. “I’m still shook up. It was scar y.”

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DON MULRINE

Snow blan­kets down­town Denton Satur­day, Jan. 7.

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