2009-12-24 / Front Page

Snowstorm To Be Followed By Wintry Mix

Southern Fulton, Christian School remain closed following storm
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Looking to the sky, weather forecasters are not painting a rosy picture for travelers this Christmas season.

Officials at the National Weather Service are predicting a 40 percent chance of precipitation Christmas Eve to be followed by a 70 percent chance Christmas Day. Meanwhile, residents continue to struggle with digging their way out of this past weekend’s snowstorm that blanketed the area with as much as 18-inches of fluffy snow.

Work crews with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and local municipalities worked diligently throughout the weekend’s inclement weather that got under way late Friday night. PennDOT officials have at their disposal this winter a budget totalling $375,000, accompanied by 4,550 tons of salt and 11,000 tons of anti-skid to use on 737 snow lane miles.

Despite PennDOT’s efforts, some motorists encountered difficulties maneuvering their way through the deepening snow. Pennsylvania State Police from the McConnellsburg substation reported among those travelers was 80-year-old Breezewood resident Wilmer I. Lashley.

Troopers were dispatched to Brush Creek Township to assist Lashley along the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 Friday evening at 10:56 p.m. Lashley’s 2008 Suzuki sedan was found along the right-hand berm having suffered minor damage to the rear bumper and three flat tires. Due to the progressively worsening weather conditions, Town Hill Auto was brought to the crash scene to remove Lashley’s car.

Lashley, who was allegedly driving under the influence, informed state police that after his vehicle slid off the roadway he continued to drive until the three flat tires halted his travel.

A short time later at 12:10 a.m. on Saturday, December 19, state police troopers were sent to a second accident in Brush Creek Township along Interstate 70. Anthony L. Baldwin of Washington, D.C., was heading eastbound when he was unable to negotiate a right-hand curve in the snowcovered roadway.

Police said Baldwin lost control of his 2010 Chevrolet Impala, which slid counter-clockwise and ended on its roof. Baldwin, 41, suffered minor injuries but did not require medical transport. He was cited for driving a vehicle at safe speeds.

At 4:41 a.m. on Saturday, Warfordsburg area resident Donald E. Swope crashed along Alpine Road in Bethel Township. The 51-year-old man failed to negotiate a left-hand curve, causing his 2005 Ford F-250 to slide off the snowy berm. Swope’s truck struck a tree head-on.

Swope fortunately escaped harm during the accident. He was charged by state police with driving on roadways laned for traffic.

Motorists heading out to do their holiday shopping or travelling for Christmastime gatherings weren’t the only ones expecting difficulties on county and township roadways. To give van and bus contractors ample driving time, the Central Fulton and Forbes Road School districts operated on a two-hour delay Monday and resumed normal operations Tuesday.

Meanwhile, students at the Southern Fulton School District and neighboring Fulton County Community Christian School are getting a bit of an extended vacation this week. As of Tuesday, the schools’ doors remain closed with some roads apparently unnegotiable by either bus and van.

Undoubtedly the largest snowstorm to sweep through the area during 2009, the snowfall surprisingly did not result in any road closures. The Fulton Counhigher ty Emergency Management Agency (EMA) confirmed on Tuesday its office did not receive any reports or notices of municipal roadways being closed to motorists.

The last big storm in Fulton County occurred in February 2003 when the county dug itself out from a blanket of snow measuring between two and three feet. State of emergencies were declared in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and New Jersey, and locally the EMA office declared an emergency in county and activated the county’s Emergency Operations Center.

The Todd Township Board of Supervisors also announced an emergency when one of their plows broke down during the storm but still managed to get their roads open and passable during the storm that was dubbed a variety of names such as The Storm of the Century, Blizzard 2003, the Big Dawg and the Presidents Day Storm.

Other top ranked storms occurred in January 1996. The area received 22 inches of snowfall in one day and 38 inches overall. Major accumulations in Fulton County also occurred in March 1942, February of 1964 and over a two-day period in March of 1993.

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