By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Slick conditions the day before Thanksgiving kept first responders busy as vehicles went into ditches or became stuck as snow continued to fall. Travelers are being urged to continue using caution today.
Crashes were reported in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia throughout Wednesday. In Virginia, secondary routes in Buchanan County and most primary routes in Bland and Tazewell Counties had ice and snow patches, according to Michelle Earl, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation. Most roads in Wythe County were wet but clear; however, snow and ice patches were reported.
Road crews were also out on West Virginia’s highways and secondary roads. All lanes of Interstate 77 and U.S. Route 460 were wet, but open Wednesday afternoon, said Tom Camden, District 10 administrator for the West Virginia Department of Highways. He added that to the best of his knowledge, other main roads were open. Conditions were expected to become more hazardous when temperatures started to drop. Road crews have spread salt to melt snow and ice, but the salt is not effective when temperatures drop. A low of 11 degrees was forecasted for Wednesday evening.
“Tonight the biggest concern will be when the temperatures drops,” Camden said. “Then it will be really cold and the salt doesn’t work, and there is risk of freezing.”
Camden urged motorists to use extra caution, especially on bridges and in places where water can pool.
A winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., was scheduled to end 1 a.m. today.
Mostly sunny skies are expected Thanksgiving Day with temperatures as high as 32 degrees.
Tonight the conditions are forecasted to be mostly clear with a low of 22. Friday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 44 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Most 911 centers and law enforcement agencies reported minor crashes Wednesday morning. In McDowell County, the sheriff’s office and the West Virginia State Police reported handling incidents such as cars sliding off roadways and going into ditches.
In Tazewell County, law enforcement and rescue squads responded to several weather-related accidents, according to a 911 dispatcher.
“It’s slicker than a peeled onion,” he said of Wednesday morning’s road conditions.
The most serious incident was a vehicle striking a tree in the vicinity of Pounding Mill, Va. The female driver left the scene, but was later found and described as “shaken” by the accident,” the dispatcher said.
Two minor accidents occurred at 7:25 a.m. and 7:53 a.m. on Falls Mills Road near Bluefield. No injuries were reported in either of the multi-vehicle crashes. There were other calls of vehicles becoming stuck in ditches throughout Tazewell County.
In neighboring Mercer County, 911 dispatchers had reports of cars sliding off the roadways. A multi-vehicle crash was reported on Grassy Branch Road near Bluefield at approximately 9:30 a.m., according to dispatchers.
A wreck in Sun Valley, near the Summers County line, was reported at approximately 1 p.m. One injury was reported.
Rain that fell Tuesday froze and created patches of black ice under the new snow in some areas, another Mercer County 911 dispatcher said.
High winds in Wythe County, Va., knocked over two tractor-trailers at the 3-mile marker of Interstate 77, according to a dispatcher with the Virginia State Police. Both incidents happened at approximately 7 a.m., and no injuries were reported. The trucks were cleared away within two hours.
The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office had reports of vehicles in ditches. The main highways were being cleared, but secondary roads were still hazardous.
“I think everybody’s staying home. It’s the day before Thanksgiving and everyone wants to be safe,” said a Richlands Police Department dispatcher.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org