Wintry mix of snow, freezing rain pummels mid-Atlantic
RICHMOND, Va. — A winter storm that contributed to at least five deaths in the Midwest pummeled the mid-Atlantic region for a second day Sunday, bringing with it an icy mix that knocked out power, cancelled flights and contributed to hundreds of car accidents.
Virginia State Police said the driver of a military surplus vehicle was killed late Saturday after he lost control on Interstate 81 because of slick road conditions.
Police said Ronald W. Harris, 73, of Gainesville, Georgia, died after his vehicle was struck by two tractor-trailers. The two tractor-trailer drivers were taken to a hospital for injuries that were not considered life-threatening. The state medical examiner was expected to determine later whether Harris’ death was storm-related.
Virginia State Police said they responded to more than 230 traffic crashes and helped more than 100 disabled vehicles in Virginia from midnight to noon Sunday.
The storm knocked out power for nearly 200,000 people in Virginia and North Carolina on Sunday, according to PowerOutage.us.
In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Sunday, seeking to help utility crews restore electricity more quickly after power lines fell due to freezing rain, ice and toppled trees. Areas of the state’s western mountains and foothills were hardest-hit along with the western Piedmont region and nearly 1,000 state transportation workers were called out to clear ice and snow.
The wintry mix was also causing problems at airports in the region, including more than 250 flight cancellations Sunday at the three main airports serving the nation’s capital.
The storm caused a variety of cancellations and closings.
The Maryland Zoo was closed to the public, with only essential employees told to report to work. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority cancelled its planned track work for the weekend.
In Baltimore, a man was fatally shot as he shoveled snow early Sunday morning. Police said a 43-year-old man was outside shoveling at 4:40 a.m. when an unidentified suspect shot him in the shoulder and head. The man died at a hospital.
The National Weather Service reported close to a half-inch of ice in some sections of western North Carolina, leading to fallen trees and power lines. The remainder of the state received mostly a cold rain or freezing precipitation that caused few problems
By late Sunday afternoon, the Washington, D.C. metro area, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland had total snowfall accumulations ranging from five to eight inches (12-20 centimeters). Central Virginia, including Richmond, had much smaller accumulations — as little as one inch (2.5 centimeters)— but the snow was followed by hours of sleet and freezing rain.
Marc Chenard, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said parts of the region could expect snow to continue falling into Sunday evening.
“At this point, it is just going to head out to sea once it exits here this evening,” Chenard said.
Most public school systems in northern Virginia and Prince George’s County schools in suburban Maryland said classes would be cancelled Monday.
Among those killed in the Midwest during the storm was an Illinois state trooper struck by a car when he responded to a three-vehicle crash Saturday in suburban Chicago.
State Police Director Leo Schmitz told reporters that 34-year-old Christopher Lambert was headed home when he pulled over and got out of his squad car to respond to the accident. Schmitz said Lambert positioned his squad car to protect the other three cars and “took on the danger himself.”
For Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard Jeff Allen, there was a bright spot during the storm when a Good Samaritan helped pull his vehicle out of the snow after he got stuck on his way to Arrowhead Stadium for the divisional playoff game Saturday.
Allen said he made it on time for the Chiefs’ victory over the Indianapolis Colts because of the man’s help. The man who helped Allen didn’t know he was a Chiefs player at the time.
Allen turned to Twitter to track down the Good Samaritan. When they connected Sunday morning, Allen thanked him and promised him tickets to next week’s AFC Championship game.