Snow delights some in Frederick, but snarls traffic -- Gazette.Net


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Following a white Christmas, a winter wonderland was transformed into a snowy mess for some Frederick County commuters returning to work Wednesday morning.

Emergency operators handled numerous calls for crashes, mostly between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m., said Chip Jewell, head of emergency communications in Frederick County’s Emergency Management Division.

Most of the incidents were minor, with no serious injuries reported, Jewell said.

With schools closed and many people still off work or out of town for the holiday, Jewell said he was hopeful the evening commute would go more smoothly as temperatures crawled above freezing.

The National Weather Service called for a continued mix of rain, sleet and freezing rain into early Thursday morning, then more snow and sleet during the day.

Troopers from the Maryland State Police’s barrack in Frederick had responded to about 18 crashes by early Wednesday afternoon, most of which caused only minor property damage, according to barrack commander Lt. Todd May.

They also responded to several crashes in which people were hurt, including two in which vehicles had rolled over, but all the injuries were minor, May said in an email.

State police put a snow emergency plan into effect for Frederick County at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, requiring motorists to only operate vehicles equipped with snow tires or chains, and designating major area roads as snow-emergency routes.

The county emergency routes were U.S. 15 and Business 15, U.S. 340 and U.S. 40 and Alternate 40, Interstates 70 and 270, and numerous state routes, including Md. 17, 26 and 85.

May emphasized that people should avoid going out unless absolutely necessary while the emergency plan was in effect.

Frederick police also were busy Wednesday, responding to traffic incidents around the city, said Lt. Clark Pennington, a department spokesman.

Market Street in the northern part of the city was backed up with heavy traffic after a minor crash in the morning, and officers were responding to other accident reports as they came in around the city, Pennington said.

The department was still compiling figures on the number of crashes as the calls continued to come in, he said.

The winter weather caused the county’s curbside recycling program to be canceled, as well as several other events across the area.

The Tourism Council of Frederick County canceled its candlelight tour of Frederick churches scheduled for Wednesday evening.

With the bad roads and the snow emergency plan in effect, people had to decide whether to venture out for the event, and organizers wanted everyone to be safe, said Michelle Kershner, a spokeswoman for the tourism council.

Kershner said she believed it was the first time in the event’s 26-year history that it had been canceled.

But for people who weren’t trying to drive in it, the snow added a nice touch to the holiday season.

About 1-2 inches of snow also fell on Frederick County on Christmas Eve.

As Tom Nikirk shoveled his front walk on West Second Street in Frederick on Wednesday, he admired the view of the freshly fallen snow in Baker Park across the street.

“I’m retired, so it’s just another chore to do,” Nikirk said.

On West Church Street, Samantha McGinnis was happy to see the snow as she shoveled and salted the sidewalk in front of her house.

McGinnis, 25, said her father usually took care of the shoveling, but her parents had gone away for the holiday.

She said she’d gone to work in Rockville on Wednesday morning, but decided to work from home in the afternoon.

McGinnis thought the snow was nice to see for the holiday.

“It’s beautiful. It’s nice that it snowed on Christmas,” she said.

rmarshall@gazette.net