Deep freeze closes school through Tuesday
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.”
Snow blankets downtown Denton Saturday, Jan. 7.