A winter storm that contributed to at least five deaths in the Midwest pummeled the mid-Atlantic region for a second day Jan. 13, 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 Jan. 12 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 life-threatening. The state medical examiner determined Jan. 13 that Harris’ death was storm-related, police said.
Virginia State Police said they responded to more than 300 traffic crashes and helped nearly 200 disabled vehicles in Virginia from midnight to late Jan. 13 afternoon.
The storm knocked out power to nearly 200,000 people in Virginia and North Carolina at its height Jan. 13, according to PowerOutage.us.
In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Jan. 13 to help utility crews restore electricity more quickly after power lines fell because of freezing rain, ice and toppled trees. 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 National Weather Service reported nearly a half-inch of ice in some sections of western North Carolina, leading to fallen trees and power lines but other areas of the state got mostly a cold rain or freezing precipitation that caused few problems
The wintry mix did, however, cause problems at airports in the region, including more than 250 flight cancellations Jan. 13 at the three main airports serving the nation’s capital.
In Baltimore, a man was fatally shot as he shoveled snow early Jan. 13 morning. Police said a 43-year-old man was outside shoveling at 4:40 a.m. when an unidentified suspect shot him in the head and shoulder. The victim died at a hospital.
By late Jan. 13 afternoon, the Washington, D.C. metro area, northern Virginia and parts of Maryland had total snowfall accumulations ranging from five to eight inches. Central Virginia, including Richmond, had much smaller accumulations—as little as one inch—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 Jan. 13 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 Jan. 14.
Class cancellations also are planned Jan. 14 in areas of central Illinois hit by record snowfall.
Springfield’s State Journal-Register reports the state capital broke a 55-year record for daily snowfall on Jan. 12. It cited the National Weather Service as saying the 8.4 inches of snow that day in Springfield broke the previous record for a Jan. 12 in 1964 of 6.6 inches. Some 11.5 inches of snow fell on Springfield over three days.
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 Jan. 12 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 Jan. 12.
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 Jan. 13 morning, Allen thanked him and promised him tickets to next week’s AFC Championship game.
By Denise Lavoie